Essay Assignment (75 points) Due on Thursday, April 19
As a social science, economics studies how individual behavior affects societal outcomes under conditions of scarce resources being allocated among competing uses. Societal outcomes include the efficient use of resources, transportation and infrastructure, the character of neighborhoods, arts and culture, political leadership, school quality, the nature of economic opportunity, environmental quality, health of the population, equality and justice, respect for diversity, and freedom of expression.
The objective of this written assignment is to critique two news reports that discuss macroeconomic events, policy decisions, and societal outcomes. You will have an opportunity to exhibit the skills of logical reasoning, discerning judgment, economic analysis and composition of a well-crafted essay.
Learning Objectives: 1, 5, 7, 9
- Making Sense: Paul Solman reports for the PBS News Hour on July 28, 2014
“Top Down or Middle Out: Debating the Key to Economic Growth”
- Making Sense: Paul Solman reports for the PBS News Hour on October 29, 2014
“Why the Fed Frets About Both Jobs and Inflation”
After watching the videos, write an essay of 1375 words in which you answer the following six questions in paragraph format.
From “Top Down or Middle Out: Debating the Key to Economic Growth”
- Summarize Nick Hanauer’s reasoning for why an increase in the minimum wage would be a “good” economic policy and Richard Epstein’s reasoning for why it is “bad” economic policy.
- Identify one societal outcome that is affected by the minimum wage and explain how this societal outcome would be influenced by a significant increase in the federal minimum wage.
- How would Nick Hanauer represent a significant increase in the minimum wage on an aggregate supply/aggregate demand diagram?
- How would Richard Epstein represent a significant increase in the minimum wage on an aggregate supply/aggregate demand diagram?
For questions 3 and 4, you don’t necessarily need to draw the AS/AD diagram. You can simply report which curve would shift and in which direction, along with the direction of the change of the variables measured on both axes. Explain why the designated curve would shift. If you wish to draw the diagram as part of your essay, be sure to label the variables on both axes.
From “Why the Fed Frets About Both Jobs and Inflation”
- Why is the tradeoff between price stability and full employment often viewed as a division between “rich” and “poor”?
- In response to a news report picturing Janet Yellen meeting with unemployed Bostonians, Charles Calomiris asks “What message is she sending now?” What message do you think she was intending to send?
Your essay should be written in paragraph form with complete sentences, not a bullet list nor an outline. Pay attention to creating a smooth transition between paragraphs and incorporating comments about both videos in one integrated essay. Use what you have learned about economic growth to demonstrate an intelligent economic understanding of perspectives represented by people speaking in the news story.
The essay must include your own thoughts and interpretation of the videos. Papers that contain significant passages of wording identical to the essay of another student will be considered plagiarism and will receive no credit.
You must hand in a printed paper copy of your essay. Submissions by e-mail will not be accepted under any circumstances. Include the word count along with your name and section number at the top of the first page.
The due date is Thursday, April 19. Papers handed in during the two-week period following this date will lose 7 points. After May 3, papers will not be accepted, and the student will receive a grade of 0 for this assignment. You have the option of handing in a rough draft of your assignment two weeks prior to the due date. I will be able to indicate whether you have addressed all required elements of the assignment. If revisions are necessary, I will provide guidelines for improving the content of the essay.
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