NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College

ECON-UB.0001.013 (C30.0001): MICROECONOMICS

Spring 2012

Instructor Details

Collard-Wexler, Allan

wexler@stern.nyu.edu

Tuesday 11:00-12:30

KMC 7-80

 

Course Meetings

TR, 9:30am to 10:45am

Tisch T-UC19


Final Exam: Friday 11 May 2012
 

 

Course Description and Learning Goals

 Economics is the study of production and allocation of scarce resources, and how agents make decisions under conditions of scarcity and uncertainty. This course provides a rigorous introduction to economics, with special emphasis on microeconomics. It will introduce you to economics as a discipline and as a way of thinking. It will also provide you with a set of tools, which will be very useful in other economics courses.

 

We will first study the behavior of individual consumers and firms. Then we will give you some insight into how markets work and whether market outcomes are desirable.  We will also look at situations in which the firm is a monopolist, or competes with a limited number of rivals. Some of the key concepts we will introduce include economic incentives, marginal analysis, opportunity cost (which costs matter), market efficiency (what does it mean for a market to work) and strategic behavior (how to predict and respond to your rivals’ decisions).

 

The tools that you will be acquainted with in this class are fundamental for most upper division courses of the Economics major as well as classes in Finance, Accounting and Marketing.


 

Course Pre-Requisites

 This course assumes familiarity with multivariate calculus and high school algebra. In addition, we will have a review section on most essential mathematical tools.

 

Course Outline

 Week 1:

Tuesday Jan 24:  Introduction and Preliminaries: what is Economics?  The study of how a society uses its limited resources to produce, trade and consume goods and services.

Sections 1.1, 1.2

 

Thursday Jan 26: The Basics of Supply and Demand. The demand Curve describes consumers’ choice, while the Supply Curve describes how much firms will produces. Equilibrium of Supply and Demand through price.

Sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5

 

Week 2:

Tuesday Jan 31:  Consumer Behavior (1): preferences and their representation by a utility function. How do consumers make a decision given the alternatives that are available?

Sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5

 

Thursday Feb 2:  Consumer Behavior (2): Budget Constraints.

Sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5

 

Week 3:

Tuesday Feb 7: Consumer Behavior (3): utility maximization. How do consumers maximize their utility given the budget constraint. The use of utility maximization to derive Marshallian demand curves.

 

Thursday Feb 9:  Individual Demand: Study how utility maximizing choice of a good varies as Income Changes (Engel Curve), and as the price of the good itself changes (Demand Curve).

Sections 4.1, 4.2 page 122, Appendix to Chapter 4 pages 149-155

 

Week 4:

Tuesday Feb 14: Market Demand:add up individual demands to get market demand. Discuss Elasticity of Demand, the responsiveness of demand to price.

Sections 4.3, 4.6

 

Tuesday Feb 16: Production Part I: We introduce firms and how they decide to produce. A firm is described by how it can transform inputs such as labor and capital into outputs, which is called a production function. We also discuss marginal versus average product of labor and capital.

Sections 6.1, 6.2

 

 

Week 5:

 

Tuesday Feb 21: Production Part II: Production with two inputs. The tradeoff between using more labor or capital is called the marginal rate of technical substitution. As well we discuss returns to scale, i.e. are larger plants more productive?

Sections 6.3, 6.4

 

Thursday Feb 23: The Cost of Production: We discuss the difference between sunk costs and fixed costs and costs in the short run versus the long run.

Sections 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, Appendix 7 pages 264-268.

 

 

Quiz 1 in class the week of Feb 20

 

Week 6:

Tuesday Feb 28 1: Profit Maximization and Competitive Supply. We look at the firm’s decision to produce in a perfectly competitive market. If a firm is maximizing profits, then it sets marginal costs to marginal revenue.

Sections 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5

 

Thursday March 1: The Analysis of Competitive Markets. We use the tools of Consumer and Producer Surplus to analyze the effect of a tax or rent control on the efficiency of a market. Pareto Efficiency.

Sections 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.6

 

Week 7:

 

Tuesday March 6: Topics Left over.

 

Thursday March 8: Midterm Review Lecture.

 

Thursday March 8: Midterm at 8-9:30 PM location TBD 

 

March 12-March 16 Spring break

 

Week 8:

 

Tuesday March 20: Externalities and Public Goods. In many situations your actions affect others indirectly. Does this affect market efficiency?  We will talk about the failure of several fisheries due to the externality problem.

Sections 18.1, 18.2, 18.6, 18.6,

 

Thursday March 22: Market Power: Monopoly and Monopsony (I). We analyze firms with market power that do not take the market price as given, but can choose the price of their products.

Section 10.1 up to page 357

 

Week 9:

 

Tuesday March 27: Monopoly, Market Power and Antitrust (II): The social cost of monopoly and

laws against monopoly: the antitrust laws.

Sections 10.2, 10.3,10.4

 

Thursday March 29: Pricing with Market Power. We look at Price Discrimination, the practice of setting different prices for different types of consumers (such as students discounts or quantity discounts).

Sections 11.1, 11.2

 

 

Week 10:

 

Tuesday April 3: Choice under Uncertainty. Expected Utility and Risk Preferences. How do we make choices when certain variables such as income and prices are uncertain (making choices with risk)?

Sections 5.1, 5.2, 5.3

 

Thursday April 5: Game Theory (I): Simultaneous moves. We examine strategic decision making, when you are interacting with a competitor. We look at dominant strategies and a solution concept called Nash Equilibrium.

Sections 13.1, 13,2, 13.3

 

 

Week 11:

Tuesday April 10: Game Theory II: Games Trees, Commitment & Threats. We look at sequential games in this lecture and the strategic role of commitment and threats.

Sections 13.5, 13,6, 13.7

 

Thursday April 12: Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly. We examine how firms set price or quantity when they have a single competitor (Bertrand and Cournot Competition).Part I

Section 12.2 up to page 455, 12.3

 

 

Week 12:

Tuesday April 17: Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly. We examine how firms set price or quantity when they have a single competitor (Bertrand and Cournot Competition).Part II

Sections 12.2 from 455 on

 

Thursday April 19: Asymmetric Information I: Adverse Selection & Signaling. Frequently a seller or producer knows more about the quality of the product than the buyer does. How does asymmetric information affect economic outcomes?

Sections 17.1, 17.2

 

Quiz 2 in class week of the 16th of April

 

Week 13:

Tuesday April 24: Asymmetric Information II: Adverse Selection & Signaling. Frequently a seller or producer knows more about the quality of the product than the buyer does. How does asymmetric information affect economic outcomes?

Sections 17.3, 17.4

 

Thursday April 26: Applications of Game Theory: Auctions Section 13.8

 

Week 14:

 

Tuesday May 1: Applications of Game Theory on Public Goods, (or topics left over depending on the time we have left)

Section 18.6

 

Thursday May 3: Final Review Lecture

 

Required Course Materials

 Robert S. Pindyck, and Daniel L. Rubinfeld:  Microeconomics (7th Edition), Prentice-Hall Series in Economics.

 

Assessment Components

 Presentations 5%

Problem Sets 20%

Quiz 10%

Midterm 30%

Final 35%

 

Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.

 

Grading

At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well you actually perform in this course.

 

Re-Grading

The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.

 

Professional Responsibilities For This Course

Attendance

 
Participation

In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:

 

Assignments

 

Classroom Norms

 

Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 

 

Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 

 

Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.

 

Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.

 

Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes

 

Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.

 

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