Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wolfson prize

Some of you are writing about the Euro/currency zones for the final. You might consider writing the paper as a hypothetical submission to the Wolfson Prize committee, which is a cash grant which will be awarded to the best proposal for ending the Euro. The info is here. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Readings for 11.21

Here's a few articles about the state of the auto industry:

This one tries to define the current state of the industry.

This one talks a bit about the bankruptcies/bailouts.

That should be enough, but post some more things on your blogs if you find something interesting. Bring your questions as well.

And remember to bring your computers on Monday.

Update: One more (unrelated) thing that you might find interesting. The European Central Bank has a game that allows you to play the role of a central banker. The game reveals a number of things about the bank that are important.

First, the only indicator that matters for your score is inflation. This is because unlike the Fed, the ECB has only one mandate, namely, to provide 2% inflation (although the Fed is not acting like it has a dual mandate recently).

Second, the challenge of the game is that inflation is like a raging bull--it's always fluctuating all over the place and often very hard to control. There's no reason to assume that inflation would act like this in normal circumstances and, furthermore, it's the job of the central bank to help manage inflation expectations and thus keep it stable. So in a way, the setup of the game already assumes in advance that the ECB is not doing part of its job. This probably explains any reluctance to do major action to address unemployment even on the part of the Federal Reserve--the sense that inflation might fly out of control, and that it will not be possible to reign this in for a long period of time, is deeply ingrained.

This article critiques the premise of the game. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just a bit more on the final

Here's the simple version of the instructions for the final paper: write up the paper you proposed on your blog. The paper is due the last day of class, Monday, December 5th. It should be 7-10 pages long in 12 point Times New Roman font with 1 inch margins and contain 7+ sources.

To say a bit more to clarify some of the questions that I have received recently: The basic idea behind the paper is to produce a policy primer/policy analysis/position paper that, first of all, argues for a particular policy or a way of understanding existing policy. In addition to that, the paper should be informative, interesting, and analytically incisive: in a relatively short space, it should clarify the most important aspects of an issue, compares some of the different ideas out there on the topic, compare and contrast the merits and demerits of those policies, and most importantly, convincingly establish why we should lean toward a specific policy (or if the paper is less about advocating and more about analyzing, why we should lean toward a specific way of understanding a policy.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Readings for 11.16

For this week, check out Luke's post and the linked articles.

For some additional background reading, check out this article on planned obsolescence and these articles, one which explains Apple's dominance in the market for tablets, another which explains Apple's longer term business plan, and another short one which analyzes consumer preferences and includes a nice graph.

For some background, refer to the Wikipedia entry on Moore's law, which talks generally about improvements in technology over time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Final paper proposal and TBA readings

Update: Check out this piece, this piece, and this piece first, then as many of the ones below as you have time for.

For next week, check out the articles Manuel linked to on his blog. Keep updated on the situation by checking the news regularly, as the situation is evolving on a minute by minute basis.

For more background on the crisis, check out these articles by KrugmanBaker, and Baker (all are relatively short, and the last post contains a link to an interesting press conference if you want some audio to change things up)

Also check out Baker's take on Argentina circa 2001, as it helps explain one possible resolution to the crisis that might be on the horizon. There's a few other links to some earlier post as well as to an NPR podcast that originally started the exchange, which are all worth checking out.

Now to briefly discuss paper proposals for the final essay.

We will do some workshopping/brainstorming/and researching this coming Friday (bring your laptops). Then the proposals are due the following week. Basically, in a short proposal, I want you to describe the following:

- What your general topic is and the specific way in which you will narrow down the focus.

- What your general position on the particular issue will be. This final paper will be a detailed "policy primer," meaning that it should do a little bit of everything we have done so far in the assignments: explain the background of the issue in a way that helps understand the need for your proposal, discuss different potential policies in relationship to the one you are proposing, and explain the effects of your proposal, including any negative ones, and detail why you feel those are the best results.

- Include an annotated bibliography (meaning you include 4-6 sentences summarizing the source along with the citation information) of 6+ sources (not including general information websites or encyclopedias).

You can post this on your blog for class on Friday, November 18. Actually writing it up won't take very long (it may not even exceed one paragraph)--the real challenge comes from actually finding sources, narrowing down your topic, and defining your position.