Master E&B: Understanding the world economy


Understanding the world economy


Nicolas Coeurdacier
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Course overview and learning objectives

Macroeconomic events are a fundamental source of changes in the business environment, markets, and society. The purpose of this course is to give you a better understanding of the macro-economy, to familiarise you with the workings of the global economy and the main factors that determine the incomes of nations and their fluctuations. We will consider a range of questions such as: why are some countries growing faster than others; how does technology and institutions affect the economy; why do business cycles occur; what are the determinants of exchange rates and inflation; what is driving unemployment; what are the principles and motivation underlying monetary and fiscal policy.

After this course, you should be able to recognise and construct logical economic arguments, understand when, why and how the government makes important policy decisions, read policy reports and non-technical academic papers that can be used for the writing of policy notes. The aim is to provide a set of general skills portable across a range of industries, professions, and countries, which will make it possible to understand the forces that will dominate the domestic and global business environment in the immediate future as well as over the coming years.

The course consists of twelve lectures. Sessions 1 to 5 cover the long-run while 6 to 12 covers the short/medium-run. Classroom participation is essential. You are encouraged to contribute with insights from your own experiences. Classroom participation will enhance your ability to think critically and to organize your thoughts in a clear and insightful manner. Throughout, theoretical concepts are backed and illustrated by real-world examples from a macroeconomic perspective and from a corporate perspective. The focus of the course will be on policy oriented questions and not as theoretical and model oriented as a standard macroeconomics course in a research oriented master. However, students are expected to handle very basic algebra.

Reading material

Possible textbooks: Macroeconomics, S. Williamson, 4th edition.
Macroeconomics, Charles. I. Jones, 3rd edition.

In addition, the course contains additional readings available on the course website.


Grades are based on a group homework (40%) and a final examination (60%)

Homework: by groups of 4. To be handed back in class the week of lecture 9; choose a policy YES/NO question which deals with a current issue in macroeconomics (some suggestions will be provided in class but students can come up with their own question).  Using policy and academic articles (see among others IMF, World Bank, ECB, Federal Reserve, Economic Policy, NBER, CEPR discussion papers, see also in VOX the columns that refer to research articles) or press articles (FT, The Economist...), provide a critical answer to the question. You are expected to define precisely the question and provide an answer weighting the pros and cons in a 6 pages document (max. 4000 words). Providing data to justify your conclusions would be appreciated.

Final exam: Multiple choice questions, exercises and short essays - Correction

The files below contain sample questions to practise for the exam. On the quantitative side, students are expected to handle basic calculus. The sample quantitative exercise is for those interested in technical exercises and beyond what can be expected for the final exam.

Sample multiple choice  - Grading policy for multiple choice

Sample short exercises and essays

Sample quantitative exercise [more technical than exercises for final exam]


Session 1  Introduction - National accounting and the wealth of nations [slides]

What is macroeconomics? The key debates.
GDP/Value Added and Welfare. Real and nominal variables.
Income distribution.
GDP and the production function.

Cornucopia: The Pace of Economic Growth in the 20th Century, B. de Long, NBER WP 7602. [pdf]
Nations seek beyond GDP, Wall Street Journal, 2011. [pdf]
Rising wealth-to-income ratios, inequality, and growth, T. Piketty and G. Zucman, vox column, 2013. [link]

More technical: Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time, C. Jones and P. Klenow, American Economic Review, 2016. [pdf]                                                   

Sessions 2 and 3:  Long-term economic growth
Growth and factors of production [slides]

Why are some countries richer, some emerging and some stagnant? Determinants of productivity. Neoclassical growth model. Capital accumulation and the return on capital. Steady state and the importance of investment. Growth miracles and growth disasters.

The Myth of the Asian Miracle, Paul Krugman, Foreign Affairs, 1994. [pdf]The Myth of the Asian Miracle, Paul Krugman, Foreign Affairs, 1994. [pdf]
Is China's Growth Miracle Over?, Zheng Liu, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter, 2015. [link]


Total Factor Productivity and Technological Progress [slides]

What makes countries efficient – the role of institutions, markets and culture? How does technological progress produce growth? What determines how much R&D a country does? Endogenous growth and technology transfer.

Institutions as a fundamental cause of long-run growth, Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson, 2005, chapter 6, Handbook of Economic Growth. Read pdf until p53 [pdf]
The strange and evil world of Equatorial Guinea, The Guardian, 2011 [link]
The death of innovation, the end of growth, TED Talk, Robert Gordon [video link]

Session 4 - Labor Market and Unemployment [slides]

Stylized facts about labor markets.  Wages and productivity. The determinants of unemployment rates. The role of institutions, policy and labor market reform. Government legislation on wages and employment and its impact on corporate decisions.

Why have Spanish and French unemployment rates differed so much during the Great Recession?, Bentolila, Cahuc, Dolado, Le Barbanchon, vox column, 2011. [link]
Understanding the decline in the labour force participation rate in the United States, Braun, Coglianese, Furman, Stevenson and Stock, Vox column, 2014. [link]
Why long-term unemployment in the euro area is so high?, The Economist, 2015. [link]

More technical: European Unemployment: The Evolution of Facts and Ideas. Oliver Blanchard, NBER working paper 11750, November 2005. [pdf]

Session 5 - Money and Inflation [slides]

Measurement and history of inflation. Costs of inflation. What is money? Banks and the money multiplier. Quantity theory of money and long run inflation. Seigniorage and hyperinflation.

The Bolivian Hyperinflation and Stabilization, Jeffrey Sachs, The American Economic Review, Vol. 77, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Ninety-Ninth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association. (May, 1987), pp. 279-283 [pdf]
Zimbabwe after hyperinflation: in dollars they trust. The Economist, 2013. [link]

Sessions 6-7 - Business cycle fluctuations [Part 1 slides] [Part 2 slides]

Definition of the business cycle. The output gap.  Business cycles across different economies and different sectors. Business cycles facts. Causes of business cycles. Real business cycle and demand-driven business cycles. Business cycles and unemployment. Business cycles and asset markets. International business cycles.

Basu, Susanto, and Alan M. Taylor. 1999. Business Cycles in International Historical Perspective. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 13(2): 45-68 [pdf]
The World Economic Outlook, IMF, October 2016. Chapter 1 covers the the growth forecasts around the world. These should be your main readings. There are lots of other information in this publication: pick your favourite topic and see whether by now you can understand a thorough discussion of recent developments, growth prospects and risks. [link]
Kalemli-Ozcan and Papaioannou, 2012. Banking integration: friend or foe, vox column, 2012. [link]

Web Link: Job creation and destruction across the US [link]

Session 8 - Monetary Policy [slides]

Stabilisation policy using monetary policy. The trade-off between inflation and unemployment.  Rational expectations and the importance of credibility. Monetary policy rules used in practice. How do central banks set interest rates? How does this affect the economy? Great recession: new monetary policy tools.

The European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve, Stephen Cecchetti and Roisin O’Sullivan, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 2003. [pdf]
The Transmission Mechanism of Monetary Policy, Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. [pdf]
Monetary policy in extraordinary times, David Miles interviewed by Viv Davies, Vox, 2011. [interview link]

Session 9 - Fiscal Policy [slides]

How much do governments spend and why? Where do governments raise their revenue? Principles of taxation. Deficits and debt. How much debt should a government have? When are deficits allowed? Fiscal policy and stabilization policy. Debt sustainability.

C.M. Reinhart & K.S. Rogoff, 2010. Growth in a Time of Debt. NBER WP 15639 [pdf].
Why does the laffer curve bend, The Washington Post, 2010. [link].
T. Sargent, An american history lesson for Europe, 2012, Wall Street Journal, based on T. Sargent's Nobel Prize lecture (US then, Europe Now). [pdf].
America's deficit: confronting the monster, The Economist, 2010. [link]
Measuring the output responses to fiscal policy, Auerbach and Gorodnichenko, Vox column, 2010. [link]

Session 10-11 – Open economy macroeconomics and exchange rates
Open economy macroeconomics and exchange rates - Part 1 [slides]

Definitions of exchange rates – real, nominal and effective. The Law of One Price and Purchasing Power Parity. Balance of payments. Balance of payments theory of exchange rates. Global imbalances.

The Purchasing Power Parity Debate, A.M. Taylor and M.P. Taylor, NBER WP 10607, 2004. [pdf]
Donald Trump's Tax Proposals Could Double The Trade Deficit, L. Burman, Tax Policy Center, 2016. [link]

Open economy macroeconomics and exchange rates - Part 2 [slides]

Exchange rates and asset markets. Interest rates and Uncovered Interest Parity. Stabilization policies in open economies. Currency unions.

How do UK based Foreign Echange Dealers think their market operates?, Cheung, Chinn and Marsh, International Journal of Finance and Economics. [pdf]
Revenge of the Optimum Currency Area, P. Krugman, NBER Macroeconomics Annual, 2012. [pdf]
How big are fiscal multipliers? New evidence from new data, Mendoza, Vegh and Ilzetzki, vox column, 2009. [link]

Session 12 – Financial crisis [slides]

Currency crises. Self fulfilling prophecies. Financial factors and amplification. Sovereign debt crises. Financial crisis and the great recession.

This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises, Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, NBER WP 13882, 2008. [pdf]
More technical: Jeanne, Olivier D., Currency Crises: A Perspective on Recent Theoretical Developments, CEPR Discussion paper, 2000. [pdf]