Senior Seminars Description

SPRING 2015
economics senior Seminar Descriptions


Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors. All prerequisites (Econ W3211, W3213, W3412) must be 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:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/
 

W4911 (Sec. 1) Seminar in MICROECONOMIC Theory
Instructor: Prof Bentley MacLeod
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Economics, Law, Public Policy
Commerce and manufactures can seldom flourish long in any state which does not enjoy a regular administration of justice, in which the people do not feel themselves secure in the possession of their property, in which the faith of contracts is not supported by law, and in which the authority of the state is not supposed to be regularly employed in enforcing the payment of debts from all those who are able to pay.  Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chap. III.  As the quotation from Adam Smith makes clear, economic development cannot occur in the absence of a stable legal system. The purpose of this course is twofold. First, the course reviews some of the modern develop-ments in economics that are relevant for the study of institutions. Second, it uses these tools to explore the structure of the law, and its impact upon economic performance. The goal is to provide a foundation for the understanding of legal institutions that goes beyond national boundaries, and can help better understand the challenges that rapid economic growth and globalization pose for policy makers.  Topics include property law, contract law, tort law, employment law. Other selected topics might include corruption, discrimination law, and intellectual property law.



W4911 (Sec. 2)
Instructor: Prof Sunil Gulati
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
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.


W4911 (Sec. 3)
Instructor: Prof Jagdish Bhagwati
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Globalization: Assessing the Critiques
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The topics will include social and economic critiques, but looking at them intensively and analytically instead of in populist terms, whether pro or con, as is often done even by well-known economists who should have higher standards of professionalism and integrity. The financial (and economic) crisis and its implications for Globalization--- again, there are some who say that this is the end of Globalization as We Knew It --, and the populist fascination with the top 1% (an arbitrary cut off point that makes no sense), will also be included.  After 3 classes by Professor Bhagwati, students will pair up & prepare papers for presentation and discussion. Grades will be awarded on the basis of the final, revised papers, plus attendance. If you do not plan to attend regularly, you should not take the seminar, as many are turned away owing to space caps.
Special Notice: Professor Bhagwati will expect students to have purchased and read the paperback 2008 edition of his book, IN Defense of Globalization. Best to order it from Amazon.com - no copies are being ordered at the Bookstore. Other readings will be distributed in the class by topic.

 

W4911 (sec. 4)
Instructor: Prof Tri Vi Dang
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: 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.
 

W4911 (sec. 5)
Instructor: Prof Alessandra Casella
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Political economy in the laboratory
The purpose of this course is to give the students the chance to write an original research paper using experimental methods. “Political economy” is interpreted widely, including, for example, questions of public economics, or group behavior. The focus is on experimental methods: how experiments are done, what political economy questions have been studied; how a simple experiment can be designed. The students will be required to design and run their own experiment. The final paper and active participation in class are the two requirements. Attendance to class is mandatory."


W4911 (sec. 6)
Instructor: Dr. Neal Masia
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Public Policy 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.


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W4913 Seminar in MACROECONOMIC Theory (Sec. 1)
Instructor: Prof Edmund Phelps
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: The Main Influences on Economic Activity
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The slowdown that started in the early 1970s and the accompanying decline of employment in more recent years pose a major challenge for the West and especially America, which saw itself as having the world's finest example of the good economy. These developments raise anew the question of the key determinants of growth, innovation, employment, wages and job satisfaction. The economy is not a machine that can be cranked up as desired: It is a living, organic entity, composed of all those who participate in it and their ideas and culture. The developments of the past several years are also beginning to raise questions about prosperity: benefits versus rewards, material versus non-material, the good life and a life of quality.


W4913 (Sec. 2)
Instructor: Prof Sally Davidson
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: The Financial Crisis, Financial Markets and Official Interventions
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
We will look at the causes of the financial crisis, focusing on the links in the chain of the securitization process.  Disturbances in the financial markets will be examined, along with official interventions in those markets and future challenges for policy makers, especially large, complex financial institutions.  We will end with a consideration of the crisis in a historical perspective.


W4913 (Sec. 3)
Instructor: Dr Paul Bennett
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Contemporary Macroeconomic Issues
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
This seminar will challenge advanced economics majors to increase their understanding of key issues facing macroeconomic policy makers in the post-crisis era.  One set of topics will include identifying appropriate central bank goals, strategies, tools and tactics, comparing approaches by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Peoples Bank of China, and others.  Students also will be asked to assess the impact of important financial intermediaries on economic activity and stability, to identify sources of systemic weaknesses, and to develop appropriate policy recommendations to increase the economy’s robustness in the face of adverse shocks.  We will take a close look at the US housing market and its institutions to gain a better understanding of boom-bust cycles that affect spending and investment, and to evaluate related policy proposals


W4913 (Sec. 4)
Instructor: Prof Irasema Alonso
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
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?


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W4918 ECONOMETRICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof Seyhan Arkonac
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Topics in Macroeconomics and Finance
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
This is an applied econometrics seminar focusing on macro and financial econometric applications about domestic and international markets and stock exchanges. The Great Recession of 2008 clearly verifies the need for a deeper examination of links between volatility in financial markets and fluctuations in macroeconomic aggregates. In this seminar, we will criticize and improve empirical papers that examine this link. We will study models on macroecon-omic series and their forecasts, as well as their mutual predictive power on equity and bond markets. We will learn about ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average), VAR (Vector Autoregression) VECM (Vector Error Correction Models), and discuss published articles about predictability of asset returns focusing on recent empirical literature and learn about models for measuring normal performance, as well as measuring and analyzing abnormal returns.  We will also discuss empirical evidence for and against benchmark cross section models such as CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Models), Intertemporal CAPM and APT (Arbitrage Pricing Theory). We will further discuss stochastic volatility models and discrete-time model ARCH (Autoregressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity process of Engle and many of its extentions). We will read and analyze empirical evidence on expectations hypothesis (yield spreads and interest rate forecasts) and on Affine-Yield models. Students are expected to choose a topic from a list of research topics provided by the professor and write a paper using econometric methods discussed in this seminar.

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W4921 (Sec.1) POLITICAL ECONOMY Seminar: *Priority given to SENIOR ECON-POLITICAL SCIENCE majors*
Instructor: Prof Navin Kartik
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Elections: Preference and Information Aggregation
Additional Prerequisite: ECON W4370
What is the purpose of an election?  This seminar develops the perspective that elections, both in small and large scale, are usefully viewed as mechanisms through which individuals' preferences and information are socially aggregated.  We will study different electoral systems from this point of view.  We will begin with the preference-aggregation approach known as social choice theory, tackling both practical issues and foundational results such as the Arrow and Gibbard-Satterthwaite impossibility theorems.  We will then move on to the information-aggregation approach, discussing results such as the Condorcet jury theorems and addressing issues such as "roll off" voting in presidential elections.  While the course is geared around substantive questions, it will encourage logical and formal analysis; some background in game theory may be helpful but is not a requirement.
 

W4921 (Sec.2) POLITICAL ECONOMY SEMINAR: *Priority given to SENIOR ECON-POLITICAL SCIENCE majors*
Instructor: Prof Sakvatore Nunnari (Political Science Dept)
DAY/TIME/CLASSROOM: can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (see above)
Topic: Political Economy of Institutions and Development
Additional Prerequisite: ECON W4370
The focus of this seminar will be on formal models of democratic decision-making (voting, lobbying, and legislative bargaining) that analyze the effects of different political institutions on economic and social policies in modern democracies. We will also address the differences in growth trajectories that may arise from political institutions, with particular emphasis on electoral rules and regime types. The course will ask students to develop an original formal model or design an original empirical study (based on rigorous theoretical predictions).
 

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