Introduction to Macroeconomics
Prof. Gary R. Evans
Welcome to Economics 53, Introduction to Macroeconomics. Three years ago this course began at a time when we were recovering from a severe recession. Two years ago we were watching Europe struggle with an enormous sovereign debt problem and and wondering how that might affect us. Last year, after a significant election the U.S. economy appeared to be on a shaky course of recovery but likely to encounter many obstacles. This year at the time this course starts the Federal Reserve System will begin to roll back their aggressive and controversial Quantitative Easing (QE3) program while the Congress confronts a politically explosive debt ceiling law. This course is inherently topical. We will read talk about these subjects and many others that are related.
In this course we will study the economic topics that you often read about in the newspaper: inflation, interest rates, unemployment, international trade, the financial markets, business cycles, national production, taxes, Social Security, and so forth. In a few words, we will investigate the American economy at an introductory level.
You are not required to purchase a textbook for this course. This course uses online reading material, audio podcasts, and videos only. We will use six chapters from an internet-based macroeconomics modeling book written by me. These chapters are placed on the web site for this class in Adobe PDF format. This will enable you to display and print them as you need them. Many of the reading assignments for this course are drawn from U.S. government and other web sites. The reading assignments and the sources are found on the Course Calendar page.
Much of the material for this class, including a copy of this course outline and course calendar, and also many class assignments, will be made available on the web site for my classes, which is found at
Some homework information and important reminders are sent out to the class master list by email. Therefore, please make sure that you are on this list! If you are a Harvey Mudd student and you registered for the class last fall, you are already on the list. If you are a student from another campus or sign up for the class after registration, you probably are not subscribed. Early in the first week I will send out an email check to all of you after announcing it in class, so wait until I do that before you panic. If you are not on the list, then subscribe automatically by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and in the main body of the text (not the subject line) write
COURSE OBJECTIVES: In this class I offer a general overview of the U.S. economy. We explore such topics as economic growth, business cycles, the structure of the economy, employment and unemployment, inflation, and government monetary and fiscal policy. To some extent I hope to show you how economists identify and think about economic problems. There is some exposure to theory and modeling in this class so you can see how we organize general economic concepts into analytic models.
READING STRATEGY: It really helps if you read the assigned material (or listen to it or watch it) before lectures on the subject (it helps me, actually). The reading sets the stage and in some cases eliminates my need to talk about certain things. Instead of a single expensive textbook, we are drawing our reading material from a variety of sources, all of which are free. You must try to discipline yourself to check the Course Calendar for the weekly or sectional reading assignments, to find them on the internet, to print them and to read them.
LECTURE SLIDES and other support material: All of my lectures are posted in two different PDF formats (1 per page and 2 per page) always prior to the actual lecture. Some are posted just before the lecture (because I work on them sometimes right up until the lecture) but always be posted. I send the class an email when that material becomes available. These are yours to use as you please. In recent years students using tablets taking notes on these slides seem to benefit from this arrangement. These slides are found on the Course Materials page.
GRADES: Your grade will be based upon your total point accumulation at the end of the course. I will obtain a distribution for the class. Your placement in that distribution will determine your grade. You will take two examinations during the semester and a final consisting of two parts, in class and a take-home. All exams are weighted equally (the two-part final is treated as a single exam in the weighting). Because of the large enrollment in this class there are no assigned papers. I give essay exams.
You have the right to protest the grading of exams. If you are dissatisfied with a grade, submit your complaint to me in writing on an 8 ½ by 11 inch sheet of paper attached to the relevant exam. This request for reevaluation must be submitted to me within a week of the date on which I returned the exam to you.
Policy on Pass/No Pass: I automatically allow any student who wishes to take the course on a P/NP basis to do so if the student is eligible. HOWEVER, to receive a passing grade the student must have accumulated enough points to receive the equivalent C- or better! Prior to the final, do not ask me how many points you must earn on the final to pass. I will not tell you because I will not know. Your final grade will depend upon the final distribution after the final has been taken. Also, if you are P/NP status, to earn a passing grade for this class, regardless of your prior scores, you must pass the final exam in-class exam and the final take-home exam. If you receive a score on the final exam alone that I deem to be a failing grade, and you are registered as a P/NP student, I will assign an F for the course. This policy does not necessarily apply to students taking the course for a grade (because you are merely going to get a very low grade, possibly an F).
CLASS ATTENDANCE: I don't require students to attend all of my classes - few teachers here do. However, please understand that this is a lecture-based course. I pull a lot of material together in the lectures. From years past I have noticed that there is some correlation between class attendance and grades. Because many students do miss class, I now impose certain rules. First, if you are absent for any reason it is your responsibility to obtain the class material that you missed, but given that all of it is online, including lecture slides, that shouldn't be a problem. Finally, although I sometimes allow students to reschedule exams for legitimate reasons (typically job interviews, clinic excursions, or illness), I generally do not to this for students who miss class at lot and I never do it because a student is behind in the work. And, alas, I cannot reschedule exams for students who are overloaded with work. Please realize that if you anticipate a heavy schedule around exam time, try to schedule your work so that there is less of a crush.
VIDEO AND AUDIO: You are not allowed to use video or audio recording equipment in my classroom without my express written permission (permission by email constitutes written permission). If you have some reason to do it, you might ask and I might allow it. There are two reasons for this: (1) all of my material including oral presentations is my copyrighted material and I have the right to control it, and more important, (2) unauthorized recordings can have a stifling affect upon free and open speech. What goes on in the classroom is between you and me, not you and me and everyone who watches YouTube.
HOW TO CONTACT ME: Although I am often in my office, Parsons 1261, the best way to reach me is by appointment via email at garyrevans at gmail dot com or to evans at g dot hmc dot edu. My formal office hours this semester are after this class, from 1:00 until 2:30 on Tuesday and Thursday, but I am also typically available on Monday and Wednesday between 11:00 and 1:00 (but I can't promise that so check by email).
Good luck! Let's learn a lot and have some fun.