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Senior Seminars Description


SPRING 2020

Economics Senior Seminar Description

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:

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

GU4911 (Sec. 1) Seminar in MICROECONOMIC Theory
Instructor: Prof Andrew Abere, Wed 12:10-2 pm
Topic: Economics of Antitrust and Regulation
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The subject of this seminar course is government regulation of firms in the context of issues classified as antitrust and regulation. Sample questions include: Should a social media platform be broken up into a number of platforms? Will a merger of rivals lead to higher or lower prices? Should a firm be required to sell the products or services of its rivals on nondiscriminatory terms? Should prescription drug prices be regulated by the government? Attendance and a paper will be required. An effort will be made to bring in guest speakers from government agencies and the business community.

GU4911 (Sec. 2) Seminar in MICROECONOMIC Theory
Instructor: Dr. Sunil Gulati, Wed 4:10-6 pm
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. 3) 
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Kosenko, Fri 10:10-12 pm
Topic:  The Economics of Information
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
This seminar will focus on fundamental models of information economics; information (and in particular, imperfect and asymmetric information) plays an enormous role in decision-making, and as such, is crucial to economic behavior. We will discuss what economists mean by “information”, the significance of having (or not having) it, survey the basic models of information that are used in economics, and finish the didactic part by discussing some of the empirical evidence on the implications of information asymmetries. The second part of the seminar will consist of student presentations of their work..

GU4911 (Sec. 4) Not Offered.

GU4911 (Sec. 5) 
Instructor: Prof Ben Ho, Tues 6:10-8 pm
Topic:  The Economics of Trust
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
Civilization is built on cooperation and cooperation is built on trust. Yet while the likes of Ken Arrow and Amartya Sen noted that only a “rational fool” would neglect the importance of relationships and trust, it’s not something that comes up often in economics classes. Using the tools of behavioral economics, experimental economics, and game theory, we investigate the institutional history of trust from its origins in human biology to the advent of blockchain. Along the way we will investigate the institutional origins of religion, international trade and the rule of law, examine the role of trust in modern markets and financial systems, and examine how trust is central to solving the greatest challenges in human cooperation today from public health to climate change..

GU4911 (Sec. 6)
Instructor: Prof Don Davis, Wed 8:10- 10 am
Topic: Cities and Economics
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
A quarter billion Americans occupy the 3 percent of the US devoted to cities. Our world is urban. Why are we so concentrated in so few places? When do cities work, when do they fail? For whom do they work or fail? Why? This seminar will focus on close reading and discussion of selected books. These include books by very distinguished economists. But they also include books by historians and other social scientists. The aim is to ask how you can take all you have learned in your undergraduate education in economics and apply it to think through social and public policy questions of pressing interest. For the large majority of students who will not pursue advanced training in economics, this is a seminar that will consolidate your ability to think carefully about the kind of social questions and problems that you will confront as a citizen and possibly as a policy maker. For those who do plan to pursue advanced training in economics, this will strengthen your ability to identify interesting problems in a broad social science literature that can be addressed more formally with the tools of economics. The seminar requires strong preparation for weekly discussions of the books, short weekly write-ups, and a term paper on a topic relevant to the seminar.

GU4911 (sec. 7)
Instructor: Prof Brendan O’Flaherty, Tues 12:10-2 pm
Topic: Homelessness in Rich Cities
Since the end of the Great Recession, American homelessness has become more and more concentrated in a few big, rich cities.  The seminar will try to understand why this is happening, and what can be done about it.  Emphasis will be on New York and Los Angeles.  We will look at: basic background information about modern American homelessness, the current state of knowledge about rich cities, housing market and inequality trends, and a wide variety of interventions and policies, both targeted and general.

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GU4913 Seminar in MACROECONOMIC Theory (Sec. 1)
Instructor: Prof Emilion Gouin-Bonenfant, Mon 8:10-10 am
Topic: Distributional Macroeconomics
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
Economic growth does not benefit all workers and firms equally. This seminar provides an overview of how economic growth is measured and how we can use micro-data to understand who benefits from it. We will cover macroeconomic models that incorporate heterogeneity at the micro level and will discuss recent trends such as rising wealth inequality, declining business dynamics, and increasing market concentration. Seminar students are expected to actively participate in class discussions, make an in class presentation of selected readings and write a term paper on an agreed upon topic.

GU4913 (Sec. 2)
Instructor: Dr. Carey Leahey, Tues 4:10-6 pm
Topic: The Financial Crisis of 2007: Causes and Consequences
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
This course will involve a wide ranging discussion of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis of 2007.  We will first put the 2007 experience into a broad historical perspective, discovering that financial markets, while necessary for modern capitalist economies, are fragile and sometimes break.  In 2007, a combination of hubris, greed, debt, poorly understood financial innovation, and inadequate regulation and supervision contributed to the crisis and eventual “great” recession, the worst since the 1930s.  We will learn how the crisis and recession were global in scope and how policymakers responded with varying degrees of success.  We will compare the aftermath of the 2007 experiences with that of the “average” of other major disruptions, including the Great Depression.  We will finish with a look at how the aftershocks of the 2007 crisis are contributing to the societal discomfort both in the U.S. and around the globe.

GU4913 (sec. 3)
Instructor: Prof Joseph Stiglitz and Dr. Karla Hoff, Wed 10:10-12 pm
Topic: Behavioral Insights into Economic Development
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
What is development economics about?  Traditional development economics is about increasing GDP per capita through improvements in markets, technology, and public goods.  It is based on the view that individuals are rational actors:  they process information in an unbiased way; they have fixed (exogenous) preferences over all possible choices they may face; and given their beliefs, they choose those actions that best satisfy their preferences.  In contrast, new development economics is about societal and individual transformation.  (⁋) At the simplest level, the new field takes account of the responses of a quasi-rational actor.  Work in this field has led to advances in many kinds of policies that increase welfare—for example, to higher savings rates, immunization rates, learning, and productivity.  For specific behaviors that are inefficient and undesirable, government can often design “nudges” to help people avoid making choices they would later regret.  But such policy is not about changing people—their aspirations, self-efficacy, and how they process information.  (⁋) The traditional perspective contrasts with “new development economics,” which is about moving to a new kind of society, sometimes referred to as modernity.  New development economics is based on a psychologically and sociologically more realistic agent—the quasi-rational, enculturated actor.  How this actor thinks and what he wants are shaped by the social structures and cultures that he has experienced or to which he has been exposed.  Even remote history can affect him.   A society can get stuck with dysfunctional beliefs and norms. (⁋) Controlled and natural experiments show how widely shared concepts, identities, and narratives are factors in the choices all of us make, and that they can be changed to make us better off.  Behavioral insights into economic development help explain societal rigidities and give scope for new kinds of interventions to foster economic development.

GU4913 (sec. 4)
Instructor: Prof Tamrat Gashaw, Mon 4:10-6 pm
Topic: Topics in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Based Investing
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
The purpose of this seminar is to study some topics in sustainable economics and finance/investing using current empirical researches in this area. In this seminar, topics such as corporate social responsibility, sustainable investing, performance of companies that pay attention to sustainability indicators, diversity in management/board, worker’s happiness, and pollution/environmental issues will be covered. In particular, questions like: 1) Do companies that pay attention to sustainability (triple-bottom line) outperform others or the market portfolio? 2) Can welfare be enhanced if Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing is followed?  3) Does resource scarcity in the long run imply companies to follow ESG based investing? 4) Does social pressure lead to ESG based resource allocation?

GU4913 (sec. 5)
Instructor: Prof Fatih Karahan, Wed 6:10-8 pm
Topic: Macroeconomics of Labor Markets: Contemporaneous Issues and Policy Responses
This seminar satisfies the seminar requirement for the financial economics major.
There are various issues that the US labor market is facing today. Some of these pertain to long-run factors such as population aging, a declining pace of business formation, and global forces such as import competition and outsourcing, while others are about higher frequency fluctuations in unemployment and its consequences for individuals. In this course, we will analyze these issues through the lens of simple theories of the labor market (taught in class) and investigate them empirically. We will also talk about the effects of various policies such as unemployment benefits and minimum wages.

GU4913 (sec. 6)
Instructor: Dr. Maxim Pinkovskiy, Thurs 6:10-8:00 pm
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.

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GU4918 Seminar in ECONOMETRICS
Instructor: Dr. Seyhan Erden, Thurs 12:10-2 pm
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 criticize and improve empirical papers that examine this link. We study models on macroeconomic series and their forecasts as well as their mutual predictive power on equity and bond markets. We learn about ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average), VAR (Vector Autoregression) VECM (Vector Error Correction Models), volatility models such as ARCH (Autoregressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity process of Engle and many of its extentions). Additional topics include capital asset pricing models (CAPM), spurious regression, Structural VAR models, TAR (Threshold Autoregressive Models), Factor Models, IRFs (impulse response functions) and FEVD (forecast error variance decomposition). Students will learn how to conduct – and how to critique – empirical studies in financial and applied time series econometrics and related fields. Students are expected to choose a topic from a list of research topics provided by the professor and write a paper using econometric methods we discuss in this seminar.

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1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.