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Introduction Principles of Microeconomics 2013 Boris Nikolaev.

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1 Introduction Principles of Microeconomics 2013 Boris Nikolaev

2 Why bother studying economics? "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back." -- Maynard Keynes It matters.

3 Diversity of Ideas (How vs What) Classical Liberalism Anarcho Capitalist Public Choice Chicago School Natural Rights Austrian Economics Institutionalism Keynesian Economics Evolutionary Economics Neoclassical Behavioral …and the list goes on.

4 Interdisciplinary Approach Evolved out of the field of moral philosophy. Economics as the study of human action.

5 Economics… Gives you a unique perspective about the world. Challenges you to think about variety of ideas. It matters. And, ultimately, is related to the other social sciences. And, yes, it is FUN.

6 Short history of economics Tradition – 99% of human history Authority – around 5000BC Free-markets. Meritocracy.

7 Life in Early 1900s

8 New York in 1900s

9 A Typical Street in the 1900s


11 Economics theories o Classical economics - up until the 1930s. o Limited government, economy is self-regulating. o Keynesian Economics. 1930s GD. o Need for government intervention. Animal spirits. o Monetarism. 1970s stagflation. o Crisis are caused by monetary policy. Supply-side is also important. o The Great Recession o Economics has failed to predict the crisis. Revision of economic assumptions and ideologies. Other schools: Institutional, Marxist, Evolutionary, Austrian.

12 Some questions that economists try to answer? o Which economic system is better -- capitalism or communism? o Why do we have a government? What is the proper role of government in the economy? o What is the effect of war on the economy? o Should we legalize drugs? …or prostitution? o Is the minimum wage law effective? What about rent control? o We live in the richest society ever. But are we happier? o Can economist determine prices? o Should we have anti-trust laws? – i.e. Is big business better for the economy than small business?

13 Unintended Consequences o Actions have unintended consequences. o Could be good or bad, desired and undesired. o Example 1 – cotton subsidies. o Do you support government price support? GOOD INTENTIONS GOOD RESULTS o Example 2: Endangered Species Act

14 Example: The Prisoners Dilemma Game The dark side of rationality

15 Evolutionary Economics/ Psychology Conclusions:

16 The Prisoners Dilemma Game Lets see how the prisoners dilemma game plays itself out in the real world.

17 What is Economics? Economics is the study of man in the ordinary business of life Alfred Marshall Study of choices humans make to attain their goals under scarcity. Textbook CHOICE + SCARCITY = ECONOMIC PROBLEM

18 Methodological Issues 1.Positive vs Normative Economics Problems with the view that economics should be merely a descriptive science.

19 Methodological Issues 2. Is economics a science? 3. What kind of a science economics is? 4. How much abstraction is legitimate?

20 Economic Foundations Five basic economic ideas / assumptions: 1.People are rational & self-interested 2.Value is subjective. 3.Incentives matter. 4.People make decisions at the margin. 5.Information is costly.

21 People are rational & self-interested Assumption: People are rational & self-interested agents that act to maximize their utility (happiness, satisfaction). Friedman on Greed [watch here]watch here Self-Interest vs Egoism

22 The Virtue of Selfishness Ayn Rand: The Virtue of Selfishness Moral theory called Objectivism. Atlas Shrugged also by Rand. Ayn Rand on Objetivism and Altruism [watch here]watch here

23 Value is subjective.

24 People respond to incentives What do you think?


26 The surprising truth about … …what motivates us [watch here]watch here

27 Thinking … at the margin.

28 Hedonistic Calculus The right action is the one that maximizes the NET happiness. This is based on Benthams Utilitarian moral theory (aka calculus of hedonism). Max (Benefits – Costs) John Stuart Mill

29 Information is costly Why is it rational to stay ignorant?

30 Basic Economic Lessons Opportunity cost (what is unseen). Mutual gains from trade. Division of labor creates wealth. Property rights & prosperity Comparative advantage. Spontaneous Order Markets fail. Externalities.

31 Microeconomics Stimulus Project Microeconomics 2013, Spring 2012 [watch here]watch here Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man H.Hazlitt

32 Opportunity Cost (what is unseen) The value of your next best alternative. [watch here]watch here

33 The Cost of College Education

34 The Opportunity Cost of the War in Iraq

35 Q&A Would it be a good economic decision for Oprah to pick up a $10 banknote that she found on the street? (hint: last year Oprah made $300 million).

36 Opportunity Cost Economics (and life) is about trade-offs. REMEMBER: When you decide what to do with your resources (time, money, etc…), you are also choosing what NOT to do with them. There aint no such thing as a free lunch. [watch here]watch here

37 Mutual gains from trade. Trade is NOT a zero sum game (all parties benefit). Lets demonstrate this.

38 Comparative Advantage

39 Division of Labor & Prosperity Specialization and trade produces wealth. How much of what you consume you actually produced? DL depends on the extent of the market. Do you think DL is good? [watch here]watch here

40 The Economic Way of Thinking

41 9 month project at Oxford

42 Property Rights & Prosperity The Tragedy of the Commons.

43 Spontaneous Order Adam Smiths invisible hand.

44 Markets fail. Externalities: unintended side effects from otherwise useful transactions. Could be positive or negative. Public goods: Useful services that tend to be underprovided by the market system. Asymmetric Information: market transactions fail because one of the parties has better information than the other. Moral hazard, adverse selection.

45 Governments fail too

46 Economic Fallacies Money is wealth.

47 Miscellaneous Micro vs Macro Inductive vs Deductive Reasoning The Scientific Method Generalizations Ceteris Paribus (other things equal, all else constant)

48 Economics as a career

49 (Home) We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

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