Introduction to Economic Theory and Policy

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Economic theory attempts to explain urgent economic questions such as the causes of growth and depression, unemployment, inflation, poverty, and discrimination. Economic policy attempts to achieve desired outcomes. Yet, there is considerable controversy among theorists over the answers to economic questions and widespread dissatisfaction with the policy outcomes. This course will seek the basis for the controversy by examining the development of economic theory and the application of the theory in policy practice. The approach will emphasize the differing views offered by contending schools of economic thought and make the connection between theoretical assumptions and policy applications. Readings will include both theoretical and concrete policy-oriented writings. Topics will include the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, the effectiveness of public investment, the effects of globalization on the U.S economy, the effects of mergers and concentration on the behavior of US firms, and the use of government intervention to combat discrimination and poverty.