2023-2024 Catalog

ECON 404 Big Ideas in Economics

This is a survey course of big ideas in economics-the kind of ideas that transformed the way we understand economics today.We begin by developing an understanding of economics as a set of often-competing models, rather than as a discipline defined by a general theory of economics (despite the titles of some of the works that we will read). We then turn to the foundational work of Adam Smith and the formalization of his work by Arrow and Debreu in the Fundamental Theorems of Welfare Economics. The remaining breakthroughs include Akerlof's work on information asymmetry; the Stopler-Samuelson theorem on the relationship between tariffs and wages; Nash's equilibrium and game theory; Keynes' thinking on fiscal stimuli; and the Mundell-Flemin Trilemma. For each of the big ideas, we will identify the critical assumptions of the models so that we can better understand how/when they are applicable. [W]


ECON 251, ECON 252 and ECON 253