Analysts predict that in 2020, the U.S. government will spend over $1 trillion U.S. dollars more than it brings in in revenue (i.e., that the deficit for that year will exceed $1 trillion) and that the total the U.S. government owes to public and private lenders, both within the U.S. and abroad, will rise from over $21 trillion today to over $33 trillion by 2028. Internationally, the sum of all government debts already exceeds $63 trillion U.S. dollars. At the same time, a 2018 survey of 16,000 employees and retirees in 15 countries (The New Social Contract: A Blueprint for Retirement in the 21st Century) reveal that 75 percent of employees globally and 68 percent in the U.S. believe they are not on course to meet their needs in retirement, including their estimated benefits from social security and welfare programs. Further, global reductions in government benefits, increased life expectancy, volatility in financial markets, changes in labor market demographics, and the more than 15-year period of prolonged low interest rates put more pressure on not only workers and retirees but on their governments to provide for their populations’ welfare in the future. These statistics illustrate a global problem on both the individual and the national levels: people, governments, and organizations have not planned adequately to meet their economic goals.
This course introduces students to concepts and tools to help them make good economic decisions. We explore the following questions: What does it mean to be an informed, globally-minded person? How do individuals, businesses, and governments allocate resources, and what should you do to prepare for financial security later in life? How do government policies and national budgets affect wealth and income? What economic tools should you understand now to ensure a secure financial future? Examining these questions will allow students to gain an understanding of the environment in which resource decisions are made. Note that the focus of this course is economic analysis rather than investments; however, we do discuss, briefly, very basic finance concepts. (This is not a course in investing!)
In the course, we examine how economics confronts these questions by looking at how individuals, firms, and nations confront the central problem of scarcity. The instructor will provide students with an introduction to the concepts of economics in a global world including supply and demand, rational individual and business decisions, types of economic systems, measures of wealth and income, national budgets and economic pressures, inflation, social security, government regulation and concepts underlying investing. Theoretical material given during mini-lecture sessions will be supplemented by discussion sections and group work.
Students will engage with the instructor and one another in problem solving, case study analysis, and project work using technology, data, and the Internet to analyze and predict economic and financial trends. Students are encouraged to bring their own electronic devices (laptops, phones, etc.); however, these are not required.
By the end of the class, students will leave with an ability to better analyze resource allocation decisions made by individuals and organizations and the impact of the decisions not only on themselves, but on local, national, and world economies. Students will take away important economic tools and problem-solving skills that they will build upon in college and find useful in understanding the world around them.
Prerequisites: The course does not require any prior training in economics, but does require some basic training in mathematics, particularly in understanding graphs.
Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.Visit Program Page Information Sessions Learn How to Apply