If you’ve been thinking of brushing up on your freshman economics, or if you have never had the chance to learn the basic principles of the dismal science, now’s your chance. UC Berkeley economist and blogger extraordinaire J. Bradford DeLong is teaching Introduction to Economics (feed) this semester.
This is good news on several different levels. For one, DeLong is making his lecture notes, slides and problem sets available to the general public on his course website. This is especially useful when DeLong begins to use mathematical models, as you can go back and review his equations.
Also, DeLong’s acerbic, dry sense of humor sets just the right tone for an introduction to the fundamentals of economics. For example, he illustrates Say’s Law by postulating a hypothetical Berkeley economy made up of baristas, yoga instructors and pottery makers. If hyper-caffeinated Berkeley students decide to cut back on their lattes and seek more inner peace, demand for baristas will decline and demand for yoga instructors will rise. Eventually, according to Say’s Law, the economy will return to equilibrium when the unemployed baristas get retrained as yoga instructors.
Because the recent financial crisis and subsequent recession are in the forefront of everyone’s mind, DeLong starts the course with four lectures about depression economics, and the different economic schools or “sects,” that attempt to explain the crash and prescribe remedies. Although a reader of DeLong’s openly partisan blog might expect him to praise the Keynesian approach and disparage the monetarists, he is remarkably evenhanded in discussing the pros and cons of each approach.