AP  Macro-Economics 

On-Line for 2012-2013 School Year

Teacher: Dr. Howard Richman

Email: howard@pahomeschoolers.com

Costs and Requirements:

·         Textbook: Online Textbook: Principles of Macroeconomics by Libby Rittenberg and Timothy Tregarthen. This textbook can be read free online at: http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/catalog/editions/609. If desired, a paper version ($44.95) or a kindle version ($34.95) can be purchased from our class website at flatworldknowledge.com (http://students.flatworldknowledge.com/course/940889).  Students will not use any of the additional materials from that website other than the free online copy or the black and white paper copy or the kindle copy since I will be making up my own questions to go with the textbook and they will get feedback from our own class website online after they answer them.

·         Lectures: The lectures for the course will be The Great Courses economics lectures (audio or video) by Prof. Timothy Taylor (third edition) Course #550 available from http://www.thegreatcourses.com. The Great Courses puts them on sale (e-mail me if you missed the sale). Their usual sale prices are (1) audio downloads for $49.95, (2) audio CDs available on sale for $69.95, (3) DVDs available for $99.95. Alternatively, PA Homeschoolers has used DVDs (when available) for $60 in its online store (http://www.pahomeschoolers.com then click on "AP Online Classes" once you have entered the store), which were purchased for $50 from 2011-2012 students. If you buy DVDs or CDs you will probably be able to sell them back to PA Homeschoolers at the end of the class, unless the Teaching Company updates to a new edition.

·         Scanner or Digital Camera: Although this is not required, a scanner or digital camera for uploading hand-drawn economics graphs will save you time. (You can make do, although it takes longer, by drawing simple graphs using either Microsoft Word or a computer drawing program such as Paint or Photoshop.)

·         Gmail Account: I am available for live chat most of the time. I often publish these chats afterward on the class website. Gmail accounts are free. Just go to Google.com and register for an e-mail account.

·         Microsoft Word or Open Office: Students often post their essays as Microsoft Word documents, so you will need to download Open Office (which is free) if you don’t have Microsoft Word.

·         Internet Access. Internet access is required. High speed access is not needed.

Highly interactive rated 3: Students discuss economics, respond to each others’ essays, and play economics games on the class website. Students are expected to log on to the website every weekday, but there are no class “chats” that would require logging on at any particular time of the day.

Time Requirement: This class requires an average of about 90 minutes per weekday from Labor Day until the end of February with two weeks off for Christmas and 1 week off for Thanksgiving.

Class Description: Are you the sort of person who likes to talk about the effects of government policies and what the government should or should not do? You may be a born economist. Macroeconomics is the part of economics that studies government actions and looks mostly at problems of the economy as a whole such as inflation, unemployment, recession, international trade, and long-term growth. We will specifically learn about economics theories of important economists from Adam Smith, to Keynes, to Milton Friedman.

In this class, you will learn how to predict the effects of government actions. For example, "What happens to unemployment rates when the government raises the minimum wage or cuts taxes?"

You will learn the skills necessary for analyzing economics problems: how to use the vocabulary of economists, how to draw “supply” and “demand” curves, how to read economics graphs, and how to pull the economy out of recessions or inflationary spirals.

The most fun part of the class is the economics simulation games. Each game will be played twice (each run lasting two weeks), and there will be four games during the year.

  1. The Business Game: You will either be a burger retailer or a wholesaler. Wholesalers arrange sales to retailers and decide whether or not to build new factories and/or invest in improved technology. Retailers sell to a fictional public and the amount they sell depends upon their market share, price, and advertising. This game teaches the microeconomics of supply and demand through a business simulation.
  2. Guns or Butter Game: You are the absolute dictator of a country and you need to decide how to spend your money. You can also trade with your allies to take advantage of each country’s comparative advantages. But watch out, if you don’t build enough weapons you could be attacked. This game teaches about the importance of investment, maintaining defensive strength, and comparative advantage in international trade.
  3. Capital Gains Game: You will play a game in which you buy and sell generic stocks with your fellow students and try to make a profit.
  4. International Growth Game: You are both a government and an investor. As a government you use fiscal and monetary policies to try to attract investment. As an investor you try to pick the best countries (from among the other countries) for your new factories. This game teaches some of the relationships between money supply, government spending, taxation, interest rates, and private investment.
  5. Economic Warfare Game: You will be either the business or the government segment of a country. Businesses are trying to make more money than other businesses and governments are trying to advance their economy while using currency manipulations, spies, and counterspies to gain competitive advantages over other countries. This game requires an understanding of international capital movements and foreign trade, the main factors that affect the relative prices of currencies.

Throughout the year, class participation, good quality work, and extra-credit work will be encouraged and the harder that students work the more points they will earn. Your final grade will be determined by a combination of the number of points accumulated and your score on an actual AP Macroeconomics exam which I use as the final exam.

We will finish up all of the macro-economics class work in early March. You would just need to review in order to prepare for the AP Macroeconomics exam in May. If you also want to prepare for the AP Microeconomics exam, the textbooks and tapes for the macro-economics class cover both macro and micro, so you wouldn’t have to buy any additional materials.

Who can apply: Registrations will only be accepted for homeschooled students who will be in 11th or 12th grades during the 2012-2013 school year. All 11th or 12th grade homeschooled students who pay tuition on or before August 15 (or until 50 students have registered, whichever comes first) will be accepted. There are no class prerequisites.

How to register: Simply pay the tuition using the online store at www.pahomeschoolers.com. There is no application.

Teacher qualifications: This will be my eleventh year teaching this class to homeschoolers over the Internet. I graduated with a BA in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and I co-authored a 2008 economics policy book, Trading Away Our Future: How to Fix Our Government-Driven Trade Deficits and Faulty Tax System Before it's Too Late with my father, a Professor Emeritus in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, and my eldest always-homeschooled son, a professor of political science at Old Dominion University.

Class Goals:

  1. To help you learn how to use the vocabulary and graphs of economics so that you will do well on the AP test. Most of the assignments are designed to get you reading and writing using the vocabulary of economics.
  2. To get you familiar with the original writings of important economists who are passionate about their opinions so that you will come to enjoy economics. For several of your weekly essays during the first half of the year, you will read and write about an original work by a important economist of your choice.
  3. To help you see how economics applies to real-world issues. During the first half of the year, you will often apply what you learn to a current policy question of your choice. (During the second half of the year, you will be applying what you learn to AP Macroeconomics questions from past AP exams.)
  4. To help you learn how to succeed with a college level class. I insist that you keep up with assignments, which is the main thing that you need to do to succeed in college.
  5. To give you the opportunity to engage in Internet discussions with other homeschooled students who are just as interested in the world as you are.

Class Schedule: The class will basically be on a five week rhythm. Every week you will read a new chapter in the textbook and you will often listen to or watch a lecture on a Super Star Economist tapes. The first week in every five will focus on the new game we are about to begin, while the second to fifth weeks will require you to write an essay.

Almost every weekday you'll be expected to log on to the web site and do all of the following while you are there:

The class will start the day after Labor Day with two weeks off for Thanksgiving when I will send a midterm report home and two weeks off in the winter that include Christmas Day and New Years Day. The daily classes and assignments will end in early March, but you will still be expected to take a final exam (that your parents administer at home) in late April. I will score your exam before the end of April and send you a final report home about how well you did in the class and on the exam.

Those who plan to take the AP Microeconomics exam as well can study for that test in March and April.

Those who want to do some advanced reading for the class are encouraged to read any of these original books by important economists. You should be able to find some of them at your local library:

Grades and standards: I expect everyone to succeed with the class work and to do well on the AP exam, and I will try to make sure that you do so:

Usually from 2/3 to 3/4 of my students get "4's" or "5's" on the actual AP exam, the equivalent of a college “A” or “A+”. During my most successful year so far, the 2008-2009 school year, I had 29 students in my class. 28 of those students took the AP exam; the other did not. Those 28 students had the following scores on the actual AP exam:


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