Economics 504, Economics for Noneconomists

Spring 2004

Tuesdays, 5-7:30 pm, 108 DeBartolo


Office: 410 Decio
Telephone: 1-6434
Office hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-4 pm, and by appointment

There are four parts to this reading list and course. Part 1 is an introduction to economic theories and economic history. There are many economic theories in the world today. The most prevalent in the United States is called neoclassical economics. Neoclassical economic theory arose within the social (economic, political, and cultural) conditions of the the development of capitalism in the late-nineteenth century. The first part, therefore, covers the basic theoretical debates between neoclassical and other economic theories, the history of capitalism, and the history of neoclassical economic theory.

According to neoclassical economists, all economies and economic events can be understood in terms of supply and demand. Part 2 concentrates on this neoclassical theory of supply and demand. After reviewing the basic concepts of supply and demand, we investigate the following question: what determines the supply and demand behavior of individuals and firms? Within neoclassical theory, given aspects of nature-preferences, technology, and endowments-are the underlying determinants of supply and demand and, thus, of market prices and the distribution of income. Therefore, the second part examines the concepts and method of the neoclassical "theory of value," from the initial determinants to the final outcomes, together with some of the main extensions and criticisms of neoclassical theory.

Marxian economics is one of the principle alternatives to neoclassical theory in the world today. Therefore, Part 3 is focused on the method of Marxian economics, the basic elements of the Marxian theory of value, and applications of that theory to contemporary economies and societies.

We then return, in Part 4, to the issue of theoretical differences and the importance of these theoretical differences for economic policymaking and other economic decisions we make on a daily basis. The remainder of this final part of the course is left to investigate specific topics. The themes and readings will be chosen based on the disciplinary background and research interests of the students in the course.

Together, these four parts form an introduction to economics for noneconomists: first, to different economic theories and their history; then, to the concepts of supply and demand and the neoclassical theory of value; then, to Marxian economic theory; and, finally, to the contemporary uses of economic analysis on specific topics and themes.

Course Requirements. All students are expected to complete the assigned readings, before the material is covered in class, and to participate fully in classroom discussions. In addition, grading will be based on three research papers, each 8-10 pages, after the second, third, and fourth parts of the course outline. Each of these papers will make up one third of the final grade. A list of resources for these papers is available on my web site.

Three books have been ordered for the course: Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical, by Richard D. Wolff and Stephen A. Resnick (hereafter, Wolff & Resnick); Michel Beaud, A History of Capitalism, 1500-2000; and Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus, Economics, 17th edition (hereafter, Samuelson & Nordhaus). The readings for the fourth part are either available as pdf files (see links below) or as books that you will need to purchase.



Introduction: Economic Theories and History (20 & 27 January)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 1

Michel Beaud, A History of Capitalism, 1500-2000


The Basic Concepts of Supply and Demand (3 February)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 2 (pp. 38-50)

Samuelson & Nordhaus, Chapters 3, 4 & 8 (pp. 155-57)

International Trade and Comparative Advantage (10 February)

Samuelson and Nordhaus, Chapter 15

From Human Nature to Price and the Distribution of Income (17 February)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 2 (pp. 50-87)

Samuelson & Nordhaus, Chapters 5 (including Appendix 5), 12, 13 (pp. 243-53), 14 (pp. 274-82), 6 (pp. 108-15), 7 (pp. 125-34) & 8 (pp. 147-55)

"Invisible Hand" and Keynes (24 February)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 2 (pp. 88-124)

Samuelson & Nordhaus, Chapter 8 (pp. 157-62), Appendix 14 & Chapter 20
PAPER 1 (2 March)


Marxian Tradition and Concepts of Class(2 March)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 2 (pp. 125-54)

Marxian Value Theory (16 March)

K. Marx, "The Commodity," in Capital, vol. 1, 125-77 (New York: Vintage, 1977)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 3 (pp. 155-79)

Extensions (23 March)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 3 (pp. 179-235)
PAPER 2 (30 March)



Theoretical Differences (30 March)

Wolff & Resnick, Chapter 4

Ethics and Alternative Economies (6 April)

Philippe van Parijs et al., What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch? (Beacon Press, 2001)

G. F. DeMartino, “Distributive Justice and Economic Heterodoxy,” in Global Economy, Global Justice: Theoretical Objections and Policy Alternatives to Neoliberalism, 91-127 (New York: Routledge, 2000) [pdf]

J. K. Gibson-Graham, “Enabling Ethical Economies: Cooperativism and Class,” Critical Sociology 19 (2003): 123-61 [pdf]

Globalizations (13 April)

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003)

Jagdish Bhagwati, Free Trade Today (Princeton University Press, 2003)

Arturo Escobar, “Beyond the Third World: Imperial Globallity, Global Coloniality, and Anti-Globalisation Social Movements.” Third World Quarterly 25 (2004): 207-230 [pdf]

Developments (20 April)

Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Anchor, 2000)

David F. Ruccio, “Power and Class: The Contribution of Radical Approaches to Debt and Development,” in Radical Economics, ed. B. B. Roberts and S. F. Feiner199-227 (Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1992)[pdf]

Emma Crewe and Elizabeth Harrison, Whose Development? An Ethnography of Aid (Zed, 1999)

Economic Journalism (27 April)

The Economist (print edition), "Argentina and the IMF: Which Is the Victim?" 4 March 2004 [link]

BBC News (UK Edition), "IMF Owns Up to Argentina Errors," 25 March 2004 [link]

Matt Moffett and Geraldo Samor, "Brazil's da Silva Is Victim of High Expectations,"
Wall Street Journal, 16 April 2004 [link]

Bob Hebert, "We're More Productive. Who Gets the Money?" New York Times, 5 April 2004 [link]

The Economist (print edition), "Global Economic Inequality: More or less equal?" 11 March 2004 [link]

The Economist (print edition), "Anti-Globalisation: From Anarchy to Apathy" 1 April 2004 [link]

Sarah Anderson and John Cavanaugh, "Toward a Progressive View on Outsourcing," The Nation, 4 March 2004 [link]

Naomi Klein, "Outsourcing the Friedman," The Nation, 4 March 2004 [link]

Arundhati Roy, "The New American Century," The Nation, 22 January 2004 [link]

John Infranca, "Rethinking Worldly Justice," The Observer, 2 April 2004 [link]

Juzhong Zhuang and Malcolm Dowling, "Causes of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis: What Can an Early Warning System Model Tell Us?" Asian Development Bank, ERD Policy Brief #7, June 2002 [pdf]

Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Huizdala (Vintage, 1991) [pdf]

PAPER 3 (5pm, 4 May)