Senior Seminar Descriptions
Economics Senior Seminar Descriptions
Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors.
NOTE: All seminars will satisfy the FE major for this semester.
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 (www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/)
GU4911 (Sec. 1) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Sunil Gulati
Day/Time: Wed. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
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) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Lena Edlund
Day/Time: Wed. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Seminar in Gender Economics
This seminar will take a critical look at the family. We will discuss the social, biological and material origins of different family systems, as well as consequences thereof, with a particular focus on the status of women. Sample questions include: Why would sons be considered more valuable than daughters, and why more so in China and India than in the West? Despite similar levels of son preference, women’s status appears greater in China than India, is that correct and if so why? Medieval Europe and 20th century East Asia are prominent examples of growth miracles; what do they have in common? Is contemporary Western family post-patriarchal? #MeToo, why now? Is surrogate motherhood the future? Active class room participation and a term paper are required.
GU4911 (Sec. 3) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Neal Masia
Day/Time: Wed. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Public Policy, Economics and the Healthcare Industry
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. 4) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Tri Vi Dang
Day/Time: Tues. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Private Equity & Hedge Fund Investing
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) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Prajit Dutta
Day/Time: Mon. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: Economics of the Arts
The seminar will survey the art market. Readings will include exploration of the business model and common practices of for-profit art galleries and the primary and secondary markets for art sales. Art appraisals, auctions, art collectors and art as investment will be discussed in detail. Students will be required to attend an art auction.
GU4911 (Sec. 6) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Abere
Day/Time: Tues. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Economics of Antitrust and Regulation
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. 7) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Guillaume Haeringer
Day/Time: Tues. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Cryptocurrencies and the Economics of Blockchain
Ten years after its inception Bitcoin became a household name, periodically making the headlines of newspapers, blogs and other media. As of today, there are more than a thousand cryptocurrencies competing with each other and that could potentially disrupt monetary policies. The technology behind Bitcoin, the so-called blockchain, has also triggered a staggering number of potential applications for other purposes than managing a payment system.
The objective of this course is to provide a clear and concise understanding of Bitcoin’s design, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. The course will also consider recent developments around cryptocurrencies and non-currency applications of the blockchain technology. Emphasis will be made around the economic aspects of cryptocurrencies, distributed ledger technology, and smart contracts. The course will consist of examining recent research that uses tools from Game Theory and Industrial Organization (although no specific knowledge is needed, students who are already acquainted with these areas are encouraged to enroll).
GU4913 (Sec. 1) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Miles C. Leahey
Day/Time: Tues. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: The Financial Crisis of 2007: Causes and Consequences
This course will involve a wide-ranging discussion of the causes and consequences of modern economic crises, most notably the financial crisis of 2007 and the pandemic crisis of 2020. We will first put the 2007 and 2020 experiences 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. In 2020, a self-induced economic lockdown reduced the pandemic health threat but caused an even deeper but shorter recession compared to 2007. The financial crisis has proven much different than 2007 with Wall Street doing much better than Main Street. We will learn how both situations were global in scope and how well economic policymakers handled them. We will compare economic and financial market performance with that of the “average” of other major disruptions, including the Great Depression. We will finish with a look at how the aftershocks of both crises are contributing to the societal discomfort both in the U.S. and around the globe.
GU4913 (Sec. 2) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Émilien Gouin-Bonenfant
Day/Time: Mon. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Distributional Macroeconomics
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 microdata 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 inequality and declining business dynamism. 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. 3) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Thomas Piskula
Day/Time: Wed. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: The Fixed Income Market and Investor Heuristics
The process of investors creating expectations of the future requires that they make estimates of the unknowable future return probabilities. Investors rely on quantitative tools and they also rely on human thought processes called heuristics, which are sometimes predictably inaccurate. Focusing on the fixed income market, this seminar will examine movements in investor sentiment, with the perspective that heuristics may be involved.
Students will be introduced to different aspects of the fixed income markets, and various measures of investor expectations and sentiment. Students will also be introduced to a number of the known heuristics. Additionally, there will be concise coverage of time series econometric techniques, which will be a streamlined introduction for some students and a review for others. Using whichever econometric tools are comfortable, students will be encouraged to pursue an investigation into a return or expectations aspect of the fixed income markets.