On-Line for the 2021-2022 School Year
Teacher: Dr. Howard Richman
Costs and Requirements:
- Class tuition fee: $675 if paid by July 1, $695 thereafter.
- Textbook: Free Online Textbook: Principles of Economics Version 1.0 (or 2.0) by Libby Rittenberg and Timothy Tregarthen (available in html, kindle and pdf formats).
- Recorded Lectures: The lectures for the course will be The Great Courses economics lectures (audio or video) by Prof. Timothy Taylor (third edition) Course #550. Until March 11, 2021 this course is on sale for just $30 (instant video) or just $40 (DVD) if you use catalog code 189709 when ordering by phone (1-800-832-2412) or on the web. If you miss this sale, the highest price that you'll have to pay will be the "Professor's discount" which in 2020 was $49.95 for the instant videos and $69.95 for the DVDs. To get the professor's discount you'll have to mention my name (Howard Richman) or Mr. Burns name (Daniel Burns) and Reference Code 29.
- Class Discussions. A camera and a microphone on the student's computer is recommended because Zoom discussions will take place approximately once a week. All discussions will be recorded so that they can be watched later on the website by those who are unable to attend. At the beginning of the school year, an attempt will be made to find a time during weekday afternoons when everyone can attend. During the 2020-2021 school year all of the class discussions took place at 2pm, usually on a Monday or a Thursday.
- 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.)
- 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 required but is helpful.
- Time Requirement: This class requires an average of about 90 minutes per weekday from the week before Labor Day until the end of January with two weeks off for Christmas and one week off for Thanksgiving. There will be continuing review assignments in February and March to help students prepare for the AP exam, but daily class work will end at the end of January.
Who can apply: Now that 25 students have registered, you can no longer pay for this course in the AP Homeschoolers online store. However, students whose siblings (or parents) were in my class can still register (by sending a check to AP Homeschoolers).
Microeconomics Option: Some students will want to take the AP Microeconomics exam as well. If so, you can study for it on your own or you can take Dan Burns second semester microeconomics class, also available from PA Homeschoolers Online. Dan Burns class will start when the active portion of my class ends, using the same textbook.
Highly interactive: 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.
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, how to pull the economy out of recessions or inflationary spirals and how to promote long-term economic growth.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Investment 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.
- 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.
Class Schedule. The class will start the last week of August with one week off for Thanksgiving and two weeks off in the winter, including Christmas Day and New Years Day. The daily classes and assignments will end at the end of January. You would still need to review in order to prepare for the final exam that parents administer in April and the actual AP Macroeconomics exam in May.
Want to Get a Head Start? I recommend two excellent video series that you can watch before class starts:
- Hillsdale's free online Economics 101 course: https://online.hillsdale.edu/home/register
- An excellent series by Milton Friedman from PBS TV which applies economics to real world problems: http://www.freetochoose.tv/
Teacher qualifications: This will be my 24th 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, and a 2014 economics book Balanced Trade with my father, a Professor Emeritus in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, and my eldest always-homeschooled son, an associate professor of political science at Old Dominion University.
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