Wednesday, May 1, 2013


According to Keynes, big economies seek equilibrium.  I'm learning about that for free at Coursera in an on line course on the Principles of Macroeconomics taught by Nilss Olekalns, a Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne.

The course is half-way through its eight-week run.  It wouldn't be very hard to catch up if you are interested, though I suppose you might not be able to take some of the quizzes.  There's a lot of terminology to learn, and the modeling equations can look daunting at first, but it is all really just basic high school algebra.

My goal in taking the course is to acquire some basis for assessing news and opinions about economic matters.  Much of what one sees in the news about the economy has very little to do with real macroeconomic analysis, but focuses on moralistic and political objectives.  I generally trust what Paul Krugman has to say on the subject as he is an actual economist.  I also like the mathbabe, Cathy O'Neil, whose number-crunching abilities are right up there with Nate Silver's, but she's a lot more sophisticated and engaged politically.

One of the most interesting economic news items I've come across recently is The Debt We Shouldn't Pay by Robert Kuttner; it is a lengthy review of a book by David Graeber entitled Debt: The First 5,000 Years.  The review and the book give some depth( ! ) to the discussion of debt, starting with the fundamental fact that our current economic crisis is due almost entirely to private rather than public debt transgressions.

Happy May Day!

re: Coursera
Just saw this article on 28 new on line courses for K-12 teachers.

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