Section 1: The Forces of Competition (Lectures 2-9)
You review the fundamentals of antitrust policies and shifts in thinking about antitrust policy.
You explore whether government deregulation of airlines, banking, and trucking has worked and you examine the current deregulation of telecommunications and electricity.
You study the U.S. health-care industry, the most expensive in the world, which does not measurably improve our health. What can the experience of other countries teach us? How should we reform health care?
You examine the savings and loan crisis and the "universal" banks that may be the future of this industry.
You assess environmental regulations. Many have worked, yet controversial issues remain, including Superfund, the Endangered Species Act, and the possible "greenhouse effect."
You conclude this section by examining the growing privatization of industries and government outsourcing.
Section 2: America's Workers (Lectures 10-17)
Professor Taylor opens this section by exposing the two widely held misconceptions about the nature of jobs and unemployment, and what follows once these fallacies are exposed.
In this section, you study:
whether the jobs created by the American economy in the past few decades have been good jobs—or whether we are becoming a nation of fast-food workers
why there has been a growth of wage inequality in the U.S. since the mid-1970s and what, if anything, can be done about it
the causes and effects of the decline in U.S. unions
the economic view of race and gender discrimination and the economic consequences of immigration.
Concluding this section, Professor Taylor offers a concise introduction to welfare and poverty that is a "must" for anyone who wants to understand this complex and controversial subject.
Section 3: Investing in America's Future (Lectures 18-22)
The U.S. economy has been the world's leader in this century. Will the U.S. lose its leadership? To answer this question, you need to understand what causes national economic growth. You learn:
U.S. rates of personal saving and investment in physical capital are quite low and what steps we might take to boost them.
Education is a key to growth, yet the performance of U.S. public schools has been declining. Should we adopt educational reforms such as school choice?
Basic infrastructure—roads, bridges, power lines, and so on—is essential to growth. How does "pork-barrel" politics make building needed infrastructure more difficult?
How new technology raises living standards and whether we can improve our support for research and development.
U.S. stock prices skyrocketed in the 1980s and 1990s to levels far above historical norms. What are the main indicators that show how high the stock market "should" be? (This course was recorded in 1998—yes, Professor Taylor saw a drop coming, and also rightly predicted that it would not cause a depression.)
Section 4: Fiscal and Monetary Policy (Lectures 23-34)
This section examines government spending and taxation. You'll study several hot policy topics:
supply-siders, who stress the value of tax-rate cuts to economic growth, and their critics
the shift from farming to manufacturing to services to information
the economic effects of the federal deficit
the means available to prevent the insolvency of Social Security
how we can get the most bang for our buck in defense spending
how we can manage the enormous costs of Medicaid and Medicare
whether the U.S. tax burden is too high
whether we should adopt a flat tax
why the Federal Reserve has so much power.
Section 5: Trade and the U.S. Economy (Lectures 35-38)
You study why many economists believe so strongly in free trade, and why they would urge the U.S. to practice such a policy even if no other country did so.
In everyday discussions, the trade deficit often gets mixed up with disputes about free trade. You learn how to untangle these conceptually distinct, but often-confused topics, and gain a clear understanding of each.
You examine what can be done about the unevenly distributed costs and benefits of trade policies and whether we should put safeguards for environmental and labor standards into trade pacts.
Section 6: A Tour of the World Economy (Lectures 39-47)
Western Europe. Taken together, the nations of Western Europe have the world's biggest economy. What issues are raised by Europe's economic integration?
Eastern Europe. Much remains to be done before formerly communist countries will have market economies. Who can help?
Japan. Well into the 1980s, Japan maintained surging growth rates that some observers credited to its trade barriers and government subsidies to industry. You see that Japan must now chart a new course toward growth.
The East Asian "Tigers." Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia achieved very rapid sustained growth. First they were models, and since 1997 they have become cautionary tales.
China. The world's most populous country has undergone extremely rapid development. Is a leading position in the world economy a possibility?
India. With a population almost the size of China's, India is the world's biggest democracy. Its economic potential is extraordinary. How did it begin making progress in that direction in 1991?
Latin America. These economies began to recover in the 1990s from their dismal showing during the 1980s. What changes led to this? What potential for growth exists?
Africa. Africa's economies have been stagnating or even regressing. Is there a way out? Can foreign aid help?
The concluding lecture stresses themes and connections that can be missed amid talk of discrete policy issues. What have economists learned over the last few decades that is true and useful?
You run across stories like these in the media every day as you try to keep track of the economic issues that profoundly affect you as an investor, a worker, or a taxpaying citizen. You know you can’t afford not to be informed on these questions, but just keeping up with the news is a struggle, and the jargon that journalists and experts sometimes use can perplex even the brightest layperson. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a stock of knowledge and analytical tools that you could apply to what you read and see, getting to the vital essence of economic debate and reportage with the swift comprehension that you need?
Professor Timothy Taylor’s course on Contemporary Economic Issues can give you that knowledge and analytical acumen. Whether it’s the shifting stock market, changes in the tax code, the size and shape of the post-Cold War "peace dividend," or vigorously contested subjects like health-care reform, immigration, foreign aid, deregulation, international-trade policy, and welfare programs, Professor Taylor offers clear and balanced explanations of what economics can teach you. Grasp the Issues That Shape Your World
Clearly, economics is a huge force in your life, but you won’t need any special background to get the most out of this course. With Professor Taylor’s knack for clearly communicating ideas and skillfully choosing examples, you’ll learn to go "behind the headlines" with a deeper and more systematic understanding built on the knowledge you’ll gain.
But what if you do have some formal training in economics and some considered views on the issues discussed? You may find that these lectures confirm and reinforce some of your opinions, while challenging you to rethink others. Then too, you may find yourself arriving at informed opinions on new subjects, while on still others you may conclude that suspending judgment is the wisest course, but even then you’ll be in a better position to evaluate fresh evidence or arguments.
Whatever you conclude about the subjects that Professor Taylor explores, you can rest assured that your opinion will be the product of fresh thought fueled by this engaging and superbly taught lecture series. Look through the lecture descriptions and see if your interest isn’t piqued. If you save and invest, work at a job or profession, and pay taxes, it certainly should be. Contemporary Economic Issues offers a wealth of important information that you won’t find so readily available anywhere else. It’s a superb investment for anyone who wants to be better informed.
Professor Taylor taught previously at Stanford, where his lecturing ability earned him the student association’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He also serves as managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, a leading review of new scholarship and ideas in his field.
Lecture 1: Economizing, the Economy, Economics, and Economic Policy
Lecture 2: America’s Competition Policy—Antitrust and Mergers
Lecture 3: The Great Deregulation Experiment—Airlines and More
Lecture 4: Frontiers of Deregulation—Telephones and Electricity
Lecture 5: Financing the Health Care Industry
Lecture 6: Competitiveness in Banks and Savings and Loans
Lecture 7: Re-Inventing Regulation
Lecture 8: Issues in Environmental Regulation
Lecture 9: Privatization—Steering, not Rowing
Lecture 10: Medicine for Unemployment—What Works, What Doesn’t
Lecture 11: Are America’s Jobs Decreasing in Quality?
Lecture 12: The Growing Inequality of Wages
Lecture 13: The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of American Unions
Lecture 14: Discrimination Against Women and Minorities in the Labor Market
Lecture 15: Taking the Economics out of Immigration
Lecture 16: Welfare Reform
Lecture 17: Raising Wages for the Working Poor—Minimum Wages, Wage Subsidies, and Job Training
Lecture 18: The Race for Global Economic Leadership
Lecture 19: Can We Increase U.S. Savings and Investment?
Lecture 20: Reform of K-12 Education
Lecture 21: The Delicacies of Investing in Infrastructure
Lecture 22: Technology, Research and Development
Lecture 23: Is the Stock Market Headed for a Crash?
Lecture 24: The Supply-Side Economics Movement
Lecture 25: Sectoral Evolution—Farming, Manufacturing, Services, the Information Age?
Lecture 26: Federal Budgets—Deficit, Balance, or Surplus
Lecture 27: The Shaky Foundations of Social Security
Lecture 28: Defense Spending and the Uncertainties of the "Peace Dividend"
Lecture 29: The Government in Health Care—Medicare and Medicaid
Lecture 30: The American Tax Burden in Perspective
Lecture 31: Flat and Flatter Taxes
Lecture 32: Inflation—Why the Measure Matters
Lecture 33: The Federal Reserve and Inflation Fighting
Lecture 34: Economic Interpretations of Federalism—What Should States Do?
Lecture 35: Foreign Trade—What’s Really at Issue?
Lecture 36: Free Trade vs. Labor and Environmental Standards
Lecture 37: The Trade Deficit—What Are the Real Issues?
Lecture 38: Can Anything Be Done About International Financial Crashes?
Lecture 39: A Single European Currency
Lecture 40: The Economics of European Union
Lecture 41: From Communism to a State of Transition in Russia and Eastern Europe
Lecture 42: Has Japan’s Economic Miracle Come and Gone?
Lecture 43: Lessons from the East Asian (Rumpled) Tigers
Lecture 44: China’s Economic Surge
Lecture 45: India
Lecture 46: Market Economics Comes to Latin America
Lecture 47: Africa’s Plight
Lecture 48: What Economists Know, and Don’t Know, About Economic Policy
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