University of Vermont

EC11: Introduction to Macroeconomics

Instructor: Bill Gibson

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The class is on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30-12:45 pm in 301 Williams Hall. The goal of the course is to enhance understanding of basic principles of macroeconomics. Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites. Exams: There will be two midterms and a final exam. Exams will consist of a mixture of problems, short answer and essay questions and will cover material from lectures and the readings. Software: Most homework problems will be done in Launch Pad and submitted electronically. There will also be homework in Excel. The course syllabus is updated throughout the semester.


Grades are determined based on the midterms, the final exam and homework, all equally weighted. You will be assigned a nom de guerre--a name of a well-known economist--and you can look up your grades and class standing at any time. You are encouraged to do so to make sure that there are no errors or discrepancies in your grades. There many students in this class and it is not uncommon to have two students with the exact same name. So we must all be careful to get homework and test scores properly recorded. There are NO MAKEUP EXAMS. Exam solutions are posted immediately after the exam so that answers will be available. This is the reason no make-up exams are given. Exams are 40 multiple choice questions and 3 short-answer questions. If you miss an exam for a valid reason, pre-approved, then your grade will be based on one midterm, the final and homework, again all equally weighted. You cannot miss the comprehensive final exam and still pass the course. Homework on Launch Pad must be done on time. You cannot turn in homework past the due date since the solutions will be posted. The lowest homework will be dropped to account for any illness or other reason a homework could not be handed in. Access students cannot take exams in the proctoring center since solutions will be available immediately after the exam. Access students should contact the professor to ensure that the exam is begun early enough to be completed by the end of the exam period. Exams turned in after this time will not be accepted under any circumstances.

The teaching assistant

The teaching assistant is Myles Schulze. Myles holds office hours twice every week: Mondays from 2-4 pm in 236 Old Mill and Thursdays from 5:30-7:30 pm in L202 Lafayette. Myles is available for any kind of consultation with respect to the material of the class. He will respond to e-mails, Google chat, or even Skype if you like (Google Chat: and Skype name: myles.schulze)

The book and electronic homework

The textbook is Cowan and Tabarrok Modern Principles of Macroeconomics. Get it from Coursesmart or from the UVM bookstore, Amazon or Better Planet Books. Launch Pad is required for the class and includes an electronic copy of the book. If you are not sure that you are going to take the class, it is best to sign up for 21-day temporary access. Please register with same name as used by the UVM registrar (i.e. no nicknames or variations on your official UVM name). Then enter your e-mail address, select a password and password hint. If you have problems with Launch Pad it is best to contact technical support by phone at 800-936-6899 or online at Tech support. You will get help much more quickly than contacting Prof. Gibson or Myles. When you sign up for Launch Pad be sure to do so with your UVM registered name and e-mail. If you fail to do this you run the risk of losing your homework. No late assignments are accepted by the system. Neither Myles nor Prof. Gibson will be available on the night the homework is due. Therefore you must not procrastinate. We encourage questions anytime up to the evening the homework is to be turned in. You should try the practice homework first. You have as many tries as you want and so you can keep going until you get a perfect score on the practice questions. Then on the actual homework assignment, you will have one try to get the right answer with no ability to change your answer once submitted. Your homework score is based on a total of 20 points. This will count, along with the Excel homework, in computing your final grade according to the weights in the grading section above. There is also the Learning Curve, which is useful to aid your understanding after reading the chapter. This is a new program, however, and may have some bugs in it. Complain directly to the publisher.

Excel homework

Part of the homework for this class will be done in Excel. You will become proficient in the program and learn how to enter and manipulate data, create and run models and prepare graphs. If you are not already familiar with Excel use any one of a number of tutorials available on the web. A good one is Excel Tutorial. You will be sent a homework set as an Excel spreadsheet keyed to your student number. You must turn in this spreadsheet. You student number is encoded in various places in the spreadsheet, so it will not be possible to copy someone else's and turn it in as your own. If there is a student number conflict both students will get a zero for that assignment. When you are done with the assignment rename the worksheet and file with your 9-digit student number (for example: 954-42-8312.xls) with dashes as shown and e-mail it as an attachment to Myles. Before you send the e-mail, check to see that the file you intend to send is actually the right one. It should have your student number only in the file name--no other characters. You may use any version of Excel you wish, so the extension could be or .xls or .xlsx. You will get a confirmation from Prof. Gibson that you have successfully submitted your Excel homework. If you don't get the confirmation, the spreadsheet has been incorrectly submitted and you may not get credit for your work. There are no make-ups for the Excel homework but, again, the lowest score is dropped in computing your final grade.

Material covered

Macroeconomics is an enormous field of study. You are encouraged to read the text, listen to podcasts of EconTalk, Freakonomics and Planet Money, watch the recommended videos and monitor blogs, such as MarginalRevolution, read the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the New York Times. Our book has more information than we can possibly cover in one term, so we must be selective. You should read the first five chapters of the book if you have no background whatsoever in economics and the economic way of thinking. You will not be tested over this material, however, nor will there be homework assignments drawn from the first five chapters. This information is largely the province of microeconomics and therefore will be covered in detail in EC12. For our purposes the most important material is in chapters 6-16. Exams will cover all material to date and will be cumulative. The two macroeconomic models covered in the course are the Keynesian model and the Solow growth model. You should be familiar, after reading the material, with the verbal, graphical and mathematical presentations of these two models. This is essentially the material of the course.

The class schedule

Important dates
Events Dates Notes
First Day of Classes Tues 26 Aug Ch. 6
Last Day to Add Classes without Instructor Permission Fri 29 Aug
Add/Drop, Pass/No Pass, Audit Deadline Mon 8 Sept
Excel Tues 9 Sept Excel Tutorial
The Wealth of Nations and Economic Growth Thus 11 Sept Ch. 7
Growth, Capital Accumulation and the Economics of Ideas Tues 16 Sept Ch. 8
First midterm exam Thurs 25 Sept
Savings, Investment, and the Financial System Thurs 2 Oct Ch. 9
Unemployment and Inflation Thus 7 Oct Ch. 11-12
Business Fluctuations: AD/AS Tues 14 Oct Ch. 13
Transmission and Amplification Mechanisms: Solow Tues 21 Oct Ch. 14
Last Day to Withdraw Mon 27 Oct
The Federal Reserve System and Open Market Operations Tues 28 Oct Ch. 15-16
Second midterm exam Thurs 6 Nov
Thanksgiving Recess M-F 24-28 Nov
Last Day of Classes Tues 2 Dec
Final Exam: Comprehensive 1h 15 min. Thurs 11 Dec 1:30-2:45 pm in 301 Williams UVM Final exam schedule