Senior Seminars Description

FALL 2017
economics senior Seminar Descriptions

Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL PREREQUISITES (ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412) must be successfully completed before the seminar may be taken—not after and not concurrently, otherwise the seminar will not count towards the major. Check the CC/GS bulletin for all seminar prerequisites and details. 

DAYS, TIMES and CLASSROOMS can be found on the Registrar's DIRECTORY of CLASSES website:

GU4911 (Sec. 1) Seminar in MICROECONOMIC Theory
Instructor: Dr Sunil Gulati
Topic: Sports Economics
This seminar will focus on an economic analysis of the sports industry.  Topics covered will include economics of sports leagues, the labor market for professional athletes, sports marketing and broadcasting, economic impact of teams & stadiums and antitrust policies. A number of guest speakers from the sports world (including the professional leagues and media industry) will be featured. One textbook and a number of separate readings will be assigned. Seminar students are expected to actively participate in class discussions, make an in class presentation of selected readings and of original work and write a term paper on an agreed upon topic.

GU4911 (Sec. 2)
Instructor: Dr Neal Masia
Topic: Public Policy, Economics and the Healthcare Industry
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The healthcare industry accounts for nearly 20% of GDP in the United States.  This seminar will explore the links between major public policy events - for instance, healthcare reform or recent Medicare and Medicaid changes - and the financial prospects and implications for various healthcare industry sectors.  Lectures will examine how current and potential public policy decisions impact the bottom line and the behavior of key industry sectors including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, nursing homes, and others.  Each student will conduct research on an industry sector and a live public policy or regulatory issue of their choosing.  Students will be expected to use their quantitative and analytic toolkit to evaluate how a key government policy (or potential policy within the health reform context) is likely to affect the industry's fortunes and behavior going forward, with implications for consumers, investors, and future policymakers.

GU4911 (Sec. 3)
Instructor: Dr. Caterina Musatti
Topic:  Poverty, Inequality and Mobility
This seminar examines the nature, causes and effects (both individual and social) of poverty, inequality and income (im)mobility in the US and in other rich nations. Over the semester we will address questions like: What is poverty? Who are the poor? Is poverty transmitted from parents to children, like a genetic disease? If so, why? How important are parental income and wealth in shaping a child's future? Is the American dream alive and well? Why is inequality increasing in rich nations? Are public programs the answer or the question?

GU4911 (sec. 4)
Instructor:Prof Tri Vi Dang
Topic: Private Equity & Hedge Fund Investing

** This seminar is ONLY OPEN to FINANCIAL ECONOMICS MAJORS, and satisfies the financial economics seminar requirement . **
This seminar course discusses the economics of professional asset management with special focus on private equity and hedge fund investing. The aim of this seminar is to provide the students with the analytical skills and conceptual frameworks necessary to significantly deepen their understanding of asset management. The first part of the course examines how private equity funds and hedge funds as the two most prominent alternative investment vehicles are raised and structured. The second part of the seminar discusses the deal making of private equity managers as well as various investment strategies of hedge fund managers.

GU4911 (sec. 5)
Instructor: Prof Michael Riordan
Topic: Microeconomics in Theory and Practice
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The seminar format combines readings, class discussions, and lectures to demonstrate how microeconomic analysis sheds light on contemporary policy issues for health care, financial, and telecommunications markets.

GU4911 (sec. 6) - Not offered.


GU4913 Seminar in MACROECONOMIC Theory (Sec. 1)
Instructor:  Prof Irasema Alonso
Topic: Topics in Modern Macroeconomics
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The purpose of this seminar is to study some topics in macroeconomics using modern methodology: the economy is dynamic and described using standard microeconomic principles, including forward-looking consumers but also a range of market frictions. We will study some central policy questions. For example, does it matter if the government finances its expenditures with taxes or by borrowing? Should the government aim at a balanced budget? Are policy rules better than discretion? We will also study the core new business-cycle model and compare it to data. Unemployment will be studied based on explicit search frictions, allowing us to study the effects of unemployment insurance and other policies. We will then review asset pricing puzzles: why is the equity premium much higher in the data than in the standard consumption-based asset pricing model? This discussion will also involve the role of insurance frictions and precautionary saving for financial markets and asset prices. Finally, we will look into some topics in finance and consumer choice: what are the effects of world trade on financial markets? What is the optimal choice of stocks and bonds for different age groups?

GU4913 (Sec. 2)
Instructor: Dr. Maxim Pinkovskiy
Topic: Empirical Economics of Institutions and Development

This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
Why are some countries rich and others poor? We will review the modern literature on the fundamental causes of cross-country growth differences in the long run – geography, culture and institutions -- with a particular emphasis on how institutions affect development. Sample topics will include the impacts of property rights on development, the interrelationship between democratization and development, and the persistence of indirect impacts of institutions that no longer exist. The crucial advance of this literature has been to rigorously identify causal estimates of the effects of institutions on developmental outcomes by exploiting “natural experiments in history” to hold confounding factors fixed. We will look at many such natural experiments, drawing examples from the dawn of humanity to the 2010s, and from the developed and developing world. We will also study the modern econometric methods in establishing causal links between variables that these papers rely upon to convert these natural experiments into estimates. In particular, we will discuss the method of instrumental variables, differences-in-differences techniques and advanced panel data analysis, as well as regression discontinuity design. A goal of the seminar will be to broaden students’ horizons on what inferences can be drawn from data (and what kinds of data to look for) in preparation for the seminar paper.

GU4913 (sec. 3)
Instructor: Dr. Waseem Noor
Topic: Topics in International Trade
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The seminar will discuss the impact of international trade and the winners and losers from increased globalization.  Over the past 50 years, due to the influence of international organizations and through multi-lateral negotiations, countries have successfully lowered tariff barriers and significantly increased trade.  This has led to overall greater global prosperity and has also led to regional and class disparities.
     Although protectionist voices have always been prevalent, over the past couple of years these perspectives mostly nationalist in nature have won elections in major industrial economies like the US and UK, as well as economically emerging countries like India and Brazil.  This seminar will focus on the rise of protectionism and will try to understand the underlying causes.
     Topics will include: What are the reasons for countries to trade?  Does trade boost growth?  Who primarily benefits and loses from trade globally and within countries?  Why are anti-trade and anti-globalization arguments coming from both conservative and liberal parties?
     By the end of the seminar, students will be able to discuss these relevant topics, will have gained familiarity conducting original research, and will have produced a paper that may illustrate their research skills to prospective employers and/or graduate admissions committees


GU4918 Seminar in ECONOMETRICS (Sec. 1)
Instructor:  Prof Serena Ng
Topic: Econometric Methods for the Evaluation of Policy Changes
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
This applied course will introduce students to econometric methods for evaluating counter-factual outcomes. Part A focuses on micro-economic programs such as tax credits and school vouchers. The potential outcome framework will be used to estimate the causal effects of policy interventions using micro level data. Estimation of average treatment effects by linear IV methods and regression discontinuity will be explored. Part B focuses on problems of macro-economics problems. The Structural VAR framework will be used to estimate the dynamic causal effects of exogenous shocks, such as to fiscal policy and oil price. The role of big data in policy evaluation will be examined.