ECON 480-495 Seminar Descriptions, 2018-19

Seminars open to eligible BAH 4th year ECON/APEC students only.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING REQUESTS: July 3, 2018
Please read carefully.

STUDENTS MAY TAKE ONLY ONE SEMINAR BUT MUST MAKE A FIRST & SECOND CHOICE

Note: Attendance is mandatory in all seminar classes, scheduled meetings, presentations (Department of Economics Policy). Students who fail to attend seminar classes/presentations, complete assignments on time, or miss scheduled meetings with the instructor, will forfeit grades for class participation and other grade sanctions as appropriate. Repeated absences will result in a course failure.

Click on course number to view the description: Fall 481 - A. Stewart
Fall 485 - J. Hartwick
Fall 482 - U. Berkok
Winter 480 - R. De Souza
Winter 483 - J. Hartwick
Winter 484 - A. Stewart
Winter 491 - M. Kennedy
Fall 492 - A. Gregory

ECON 480
Seminar in Microeconomics

Winter Term 2019

Instructor: R. De Souza
Time Slot: 34 Tuesday 10:00 Friday 8:30

Philosophical Issues in Economics

This seminar seeks to examine the philosophical issues raised by standard economic analysis, as well as the nature of the discipline itself. The seminar will cover three broad areas.

First, what image of the human person emerges from standard economic premises? Does that comport with how people actually act, or, perhaps more provocatively, should act? Concepts such as rationality, scarcity and utility-maximization will be looked at. Are standard economic arguments for free exchanges rooted only in efficiency grounds, or is there also implied a certain desirable compatibility with human liberty?

Second, economics seeks to measure various phenomenon - an aspect of the discipline recently given a higher profile by the commercial success of Steven Levitt's Freakonomics, for example. Does the desire for quantitative results influence what economists choose to study? What is left out of the human picture by the need for measurement? Part of what is measured in economics is value. What is something worth? Only what a buyer is willing to pay to a willing seller? Is there inherent value in some things, or in people? How well does the subjective value principle work in other fields - aesthetics, academia, music, sports, philosophy? What might be the consequences for a culture that adopts the subjective value principle across society?

Third, what role does economics play in telling us about what constitutes the good life - for nations, or for individuals? For example, how do we measure development? Is it economic growth alone? If not, isn't economic growth at least the most important factor? What is added by the "capabilities" approach, or the work of say, Amartya Sen, in defining development as freedom? On the individual level, how does our standard economic model contribute to, or reward virtuous behaviour? Or does it? What about family life - can economics help understand what makes for successful families?

The first half of the course will consist of lectures and tutorials by the instructor. The lectures are intended to introduce students to the issues and to provide an example of how one might think about philosophical issues in economics. The second half of the course will be devoted to student seminar presentations and their discussion. Students will be graded on their major paper, seminar presentation and class participation.

Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

ECON 481
Seminar in Microeconomics

Fall Term 2018

Instructor: A. Stewart
Time Slot: Monday 10:00; Wednesday 8:30

Public Policy in Canada

Students will be required to write a paper that uses a microeconomic model to analyze a public policy issue. Typically, this will require: reading the relevant literature, determining the most appropriate modeling approach to the policy issue, extending or adapting the model as appropriate, working through the results, and writing up the relevant conclusions. Students may write in any of the following policy areas: social policy (including pension policy, most labour market policy, income maintenance policy, and health policy), policy towards amateur and/or professional sports, and/or tax policy. The paper must be focused on Canadian policy issues, although it may be framed in an international comparative context. Students will be required to make a presentation of their model and findings in class. Other details with respect to grading, length of paper and nature of the presentations will be issued at the beginning of the term.

Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

ECON482
Seminar in Microeconomics

Fall Term 2018

Instructor: U. Berkok
Time: Monday 1:00 Wednesday 11:30 Dunning 213

Healthcare Economics and Policy

Full Description available through the OnQ site.

Attendance in all classes, meetings, and presentations is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

ECON 483
Seminar in Microeconomics

Winter Term 2019

Instructor: J. Hartwick
Time: Tuesday 8:30 Friday 10:00 Watson 401

Urban Canada

Stat Canada has much data on cities in Canada, including spatial data by "dissemination areas" and "census tracts". This opens up the possibility of easy statistical analysis of density, commuting, job distribution, housing, land values, etc. (Even labour market analysis is done quite often.) The course is built around the original research paper, based on a test of a hypothesis. Most people end up constructing their paper around a regression analysis. Two efforts have been awarded the essay prize, one on women in the labor market and one on housing supply in Canada. Statistics Canada seems to tilt in favor of data classified by city and so there is much more besides the spatial bits mentioned above.

Each student undertakes an empirical test, often with some CANSIM data. Most empirical tests involve running a regression using STATA. Econometrics is important for these projects.

The final grade is based on the quality of the research paper and participation in critiquing other people's presentations, and on one's own presentation in class. Attendance is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

ECON 484
Seminar in Microeconomics

Winter Term 2019

Instructor: A. Stewart
Time: Monday 1:00 Wednesday 11:30 Mac-Corry C508

Economics and Canadian Public Policy

Students will be required to write a paper that uses a microeconomic model to analyze a public policy issue. Typically, this will require: reading the relevant literature, determining the most appropriate modeling approach to the policy issue, extending or adapting the model as appropriate, working through the results, and writing up the relevant conclusions.

Students may write in any of the following policy areas: social policy (including pension policy, most labour market policy, income maintenance policy, and health policy), policy towards amateur and/or professional sports, and/or tax policy. The paper must be focused on Canadian policy issues, although it may be framed in an international comparative context.

Students will be required to make a presentation of their model and findings in class. Other details with respect to grading, length of paper and nature of the presentations will be issued at the beginning of the term.

Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

ECON485
Seminar in Microeconomics

Fall Term 2018

Instructor: J. Hartwick
Time: Tuesday 4:00 Thursday 2:30 Watson 207

Primary Products and Trade

Canada's trade is considered to be dominated by primary exports (eg. Oil, lumber, wheat, etc.). This leads to the view that our exchange rate moves directly with sales of oil and the world price of oil. We have a commodity exchange rate, by some definitions. The Bank of Canada has published research on this. Oil prices have had an influence on macro-adjustment. James Hamilton has published articles showing that recessions have been preceded by world oil price "run-ups". Political events around the world have been heavily influenced by significant changes in world oil prices. These topics will be taken up in this seminar. Students will locate some data and do some original empirical research. (Time series regressions tend to be quite distinct from non time series regressions. This must be considered.)

Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is mandatory.

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

END OF MICRO SERIES - [GO TO SELECTION FORM]

ECON 490 Series Seminars in Macroeconomics 2018-19

ECON 491
Seminar in Macroeconomics

Winter Term 2019

Instructor: M. Kennedy
Time: Monday 8:30 Thursday 10 Watson 207

Current Global Macroeconomic Developments and Policy Responses

The world economy in 2008-09 experienced its most severe recession since the Second World War - actually since the Great Depression - and this has presented the economics profession with a number of unprecedented challenges. From a cross-country perspective, this course will ask students to use their knowledge of macro and.

Completion of a major research paper (of no more than financial-market economics, as well as econometrics if desired/needed, to evaluate a number of facets of these developments, the various policy responses as well as the recommendations being made regarding future prevention (5000 words) is the most important requirement to successively finishing the course. This research topic has to be agreed upon by the end of the third week of classes and must be finished by the end of term. Students will also be required to make a short presentation of their initial proposals (around the fourth week of the term) as well as a longer presentation of their finished product to the class (final weeks). Comments on the work of others will be an important part of students' work and final assessment.

While students will be choosing their own research topics (in consultation with the instructor) these topics must focus upon the current economic crisis. A non-exhaustive list of potential areas (which themselves are not mutually exclusive) from which a research topic could be drawn is shown below.

Causes and consequences

  • what factors drove the current downturn;
  • why was it so sharp and global in nature;
  • why have some countries been hit so much harder than others;
  • what was new in these developments and what was not.

Policy frameworks and responses

  • were existing monetary policy frameworks, with their focus on low inflation, adequate;
  • should these frameworks have been broadened to include asset market developments;
  • were fiscal policy frameworks been up to the task;
  • were the various policy responses (fiscal as well as monetary) appropriate/effective.

Lessons and recommendations

  • what risks are posed by existing policy actions;
  • are these risks worth taking;
  • what are the policy implications (monetary and fiscal) once the economy starts to recover (as it surely will).

To provide students with a context for choosing their research topics, the first few weeks of the course will involve a series of lectures and class discussions on recent developments and the types of economic frameworks/models that are being used to analyse these events as well as to evaluate policy responses. Students will also be made aware of some of the relevant literature - which is vast, recent and ongoing - as well as data sources.

Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is compulsory as is participation in class.

ECON 492
Seminar in Macroeconomics

Fall Term 2018


Instructor: A. Gregory
Time: Tuesday 8:30 Friday 10 Watson 207

Relative Economic Performance: Canada vs. The World

Since the financial crisis and the recession of 2008, we have often heard from our federal government: "Canada is the envy of the World". Such a broad statement will undoubtedly prove false across all indicators of well-being. This course asks you to evaluate relative economic performance by

  1. Since the financial crisis and the recession of 2008, we have often heard from our federal government: "Canada is the envy of the World". Such a broad statement will undoubtedly prove false across all indicators of well-being. This course asks you to evaluate relative economic performance by
    and
  2. A country to compare with Canada.

You will collect data (electronically) on both Canada and your chosen country. The first task will be to document and compare relative performance of the two for your chosen indicator. Comparisons will involve econometrics that you have learned in Economics 250 and 351. You will also find relevant literature (academic and popular press), economic models and any other pertinent information to understand the relative positions. In some cases, this may lead to additional econometric modelling.

The first two weeks of class I will be providing some Canadian data on various indicators and illustrations using Stata. All of my programs on Stata will be posted on our Moodle page and this will assist many in developing their own work. After documenting the data students will meet with me regularly to go review their progress and prepare for the seminar and paper.

Evaluation

  1. Meetings and progress throughout the term (10%)
  2. Mid Way get together-5 min rotating discussion (10%)
  3. PowerPoint Deck for presentation (10%)
  4. Presentation (20%)
  5. Paper (50%)

Completion of the research paper (approximately 5000 words) is the critical part of the course but there are important milestones along the way. The research topic should be agreed upon by the end of the third week of classes and must be finished by the end of term. Students will also be required to present their initial proposals in a round-robin fashion (around the 5th or 6th week of the term) as well as the finished product to the class (final weeks). Attendance in all classes, meetings and presentations is mandatory.

Some Ideas

  1. Real GDP Growth
  2. Labour Force Participation Rates (Gender and Age)
  3. Poverty Rates
  4. Housing Costs
  5. Income Distribution
  6. Welfare
  7. Immigration
  8. Exports/Imports
  9. Education
  10. Health

[BACK TO SEMINARS MENU]

[GO TO SELECTION FORM]

NOTE: ATTENDANCE WILL BE TAKEN IN SEMINAR CLASSES. ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY/MANDATORY IN ALL CLASSES, MEETINGS, PRESENTATIONS.