Professor Gregory Mankiw is coming to campus to talk Economics

Yep, that’s the same Gregory Mankiw who wrote your Principles of Economics (ECON0110) textbook that you’ve come to know so well.In addition to calling attention to the regal character of his children’s names (Nicholas, Catherine, and Peter), Professor Friedberg probably informed you that he’s the chairman of the Economics department at Harvard. But did you know that he’s also the former Chief Economic Advisor to the Bush Administration? Or that he blogs?Obviously, the man(kiw) has a lot to say about economics—you’ve definitely gotten a taste of this through scouring the Principles textbook. But there’s a lot more where that came from.

Prof. Mankiw is coming to campus on Wednesday, November 13 to give a talk entitled “The Long-Term Fiscal Problem: It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” The event is sponsored by Brown Women in Business and will take place at 8 p.m. in Salomon 001. There will be time for a Q&A… and to enjoy free food from Meeting Street!

If you’re interested in hearing what this seasoned economist has to say about the economy, curious to see what the author of your Principles textbook looks like, or really into free Meeting Street sandwiches and cookies, you should definitely stop by to Salomon 001 on Wednesday night. Check out the Facebook event here.

This post is sponsored by Brown Women in Business.

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That [Survey Course] Kid

You may know that kid from the first row of Principles of Econ, or from the Canvas page for Social Psychology. Having trouble spotting him? Look for a glint in his eyes when he talks about Environmental Studies or Neuroscience. That [Survey Course] Kids are everywhere.

Survey courses have the potential to induce this fervor and enthusiasm  in any and all students, especially when we’re feeling uninspired — trolling for a passion. And as indecisive American college students, we’re always ready to hop on the bandwagon of the next big thing. Trust me. I read the Social Psychology textbook cover to cover last year and proceeded to tout it as my second concentration. I now actively insert terms like “cognitive dissonance” into my everyday conversations. It’s infectious.

Here are some course offerings that tend to ignite such enthusiasm. Keep them in mind as you take a look at what you’ve just pre-registered for. Any of the mentioned courses could be just what you (underclassmen) are looking for in a new direction:

Humans, Nature, and the Environment: Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century (ENVS0110): First you’ll start recycling. Then you’ll purchase a bike on Craigslist. And before you know it, you’ll be making your own granola every week. This introduction to Environmental Studies offers a perfectly relevant platform for an invigorating academic obsession. With discussion section in Brown’s quaint University Environmental Laboratory — where one finds him/herself surrounded by a kitchen and an organic garden while discussing sustainability on the reg — it’s hard not to feel the cool factor of this area of interest. Everyone who passes through this building seems to have the passion that you seek. It’s tempting. Continue Reading

Incognito man is watching you

Stalking Period

Incognito man is watching youBecause I’m a Banner demigod, I have absolutely no classes on Friday (yeah, that’s right, be jealous). But rather than sleep in or nurse a hangover, I decided to take the ultimate shopping trip: find a random person, go with them to class, repeat.

Here are the field notes, observations, and petty rants of shopping period.

9-9:50: ECON0110, Principles of Economics

8:59: Oh, freshmen. They’re still eagerly introducing themselves. Hi Carol and Jack! I remember doing that a year ago way back when. Now I bolt for the nearest spot open next to someone I vaguely know.

9:02: First thing the professor asks: “Who wasn’t here Wednesday?” She’s onto me.

9:04: Content of computer screens in the third row: MS Word, MS Word, MS Word, Spotify, Facebook, MS Word, Stickies, Gmail.

Continue Reading

The True Principle of Economics

Attentive students in Salomon Auditorium /

As observed throughout 17 ECON0110 (Principles of Economics) lectures:

One cough has the negative externality of inciting a rapid succession of coughs (up to two dozen) throughout the lecture hall. This chorus of coughs, in turn, produces the additional negative externality of preventing the scores of attentive students from hearing the lecture. This tends to occur during the first half of the spring semester, with several of these “bursts” per 50 minute lecture.

The most interesting aspect of the Cough Principle of Economics Lectures is that it, at least in my research, is exclusive to economics courses. Other large lectures tend to have a much lower coughing rate, so what makes barking so much more prevalent in Econ? Maybe it’s because it’s so early in the morning. Or maybe it’s Professor Friedberg’s tendency to use cigarettes as an example. Most likely, however, everybody is just cough-cursing N. Gregory Mankiw’s tendency to assert the general ineffectiveness of most government regulations — coughBushAdministrationcough. How can we solve this problem? Internalize the externality, of course! Hold that cough in or get yourself some Halls (or the perfect substitute CVS brand). For further confirmation of this phenomenon, a blogger at Princeton observed a similar situation in her ECO101 class.

Yo, Glenn Loury

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that Larry Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, would be leaving his post in Washington at the end of the year and go back to teaching at some school in Boston.

Glenn Loury, the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, debates Fox News’ James Pinkerton about Summer’s legacy and Obama’s economic policies in a recent Bloggingheads video: Was Summers a Mistake?


A brief guide to choosing your classes

Harvard Professor N. Gregory Mankiw — best known at Brown as the author of the ECON0110 textbook —  recently penned a column for the New York Times, outlining the course load he believes each of us need “for the game of life.”

From his vantage point, we should all learn “some economics,” “some statistics,” “some finance” and “some psychology.” So for those of you out there enrolled in ECON0110: “Principles of Economics,” SOC0110 “Introductory Statistics for Social Research” and ECON0710: “Financial Accounting,” you’re doing pretty well for yourself. Sadly for the professor, we don’t really have psychology anymore.

But Mankiw also says to “ignore advice as you see fit.” So although you may have to take him at his word when it comes to your first ECON0110 exam (seriously, read the textbook), the rest is up to you. The game of life has a few more variations than his outline might suggest.