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Economics 421 – Investments

Unfortunately, the catalog description for this course has not been undated to reflect the changes made last year (and this year.) Below you will the appropriate description.

ECON 421
Investments
This course blends a web-based course on investment philosophies with classroom discussion of economic and valuation principles. It aims for students to develop an understanding of contemporary financial markets and instruments as well as how economic fundamentals apply to the evaluation of investment alternatives and strategies. Students will apply such knowledge to craft their own economic philosophies and implementation strategies. Units: 6.
Prerequisite: I-E110 and at least one of ECON 300, ECON 320, and ECON 380.

The class is scheduled to meet Tuesdays from 9:50 to 10:50 and Thursdays from 9:00 to 10:50. I will NOT necessarily attend the Tuesday sessions; however, during reading period week, the class will meet from 9:00 to 10:50 (Tuesday, October 18th) as a replacement for the Thursday session.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me or to come to the first session next Tuesday at 9:50.

Innovation in Everything

What distinguishes the ‘scientific’ economist from all the other people who think, talk, and write about economic topics is a command of techniques that we class under three heads: history, statistics, and ‘theory.’ The three together make up what we call Economic Analysis.

That’s Joseph Schumpeter in Chapter 2 of his famous History of Economic Analysis. He believed that economics programs should emphasize and connect all three of those approaches. Those of us in ECON 405, The Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, have been working to do just that, or at least the history and theory bit. To take a break from immersing themselves in the history of innovation and mathematical models of innovation and entrepreneurship, students have been exploring innovation in a variety of fields, and recording their journeys weekly on a blog. So, you can also learn about theatrical innovationmicrofinance in Pakistan, the habits of the poor, private equity and innovation, innovation in the construction industry, multisided markets, telematics, or big data and consumer goods. Enjoy!

Provisional Schedule 2015-16

Click here if the times are bleeding into your right margin.

Note UPDATES IN BOLD.  Also, ECON 421 Investments will be offered in a special, directed study format on Tuesdays at 12:30.

Term  # Title Instructor Time
Fall 100 Introductory Microeconomics Lhost MWF 1:50-3
Fall 290 Health Economics Finkler TR  9-10:50
Fall 271 Public Economics Gerard TR 12:30
Fall 208 Sustainable China Brozek TR 2:30
Fall 211 Pursuit of Innovation Galambos MWF 11:10
Fall 300 Intermediate Micro Gerard MTWR 8:30
Fall 405 Innovation & Entrepreneurship Galambos MWF 8:30
Fall 460 International Development Caruthers MWF 1:50-3

 

Term # Title Instructor Time
Winter 100 Introductory Microeconomics Caruthers MWF 9:50-11
Winter 245 Law & Economics Lhost TR 12:30
Winter 200 Development Caruthers TR 2:30-4:20
Winter 380 Econometrics Lhost MTWR 3:10
Winter 420 Money & Monetary Policy Finkler TR 12:30
Winter 444 Political Economy of Regulation Gerard TR 9
Winter 601 / 602 Senior Experience T / R 2:30

 

Term # Title Instructor Time
Spring 100 Introductory Microeconomics Gerard MTWR 8:30
Spring 215 Comparative Economic Systems Galambos MWF 11:10
Spring 225 Decision Theory Lhost MWF 1:50-3
Spring 280 Environmental Economics Gerard TR 12:30
Spring 295 Special Topics: Finance Vaughn MWF 12:30
Spring 320 Intermediate Macro Caruthers MTWR 9:50
Spring 320 Intermediate Macro Caruthers MTWR 3:10
Spring 481 Advanced Econometrics Lhost MWF 11:10
Spring 410 Game Theory Galambos MWF 8:30

 

 

Coming Soon

Behold!, the schedule for the remainder of the year.  Click here to see a less jumbled version.   Click here for the Registrar’s version.  Grab an econ professor if you have any questions.

 

WINTER TERM

● ECON 100 ● INTRODUCTORY MICROECONOMICS ●  08:30-09:40 MWF BRIG 423 ● Hillary Caruthers

● ECON 200 ● ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ● 01:50-03:00 MWF BRIG 217 ● Hillary Caruthers

● ECON 225 ● DECISION THEORY ● 12:30-01:40 MWF BRIG 223 ● Adam Galambos

● ECON 380 ● ECONOMETRICS ● 03:10-04:20 MTWF BRIG 223 ● Jonathan Lhost

●ECON 380 ● ECONOMETRICS ● 08:30-09:40 MTWF BRIG 223 ● Jonathan Lhost

● ECON 410 ● ADV GAME THEORY & APPLICATIONS ● 09:50-11:00 MWF BRIG 217 ● Adam Galambos

● ECON 415 ● INDIVIDUALITY & COMMUNITY ● 12:30-02:20 TR BRIG 225 ● Steven Wulf

● ECON 425 ● ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURES ● 11:10-12:20 MWF BRIG 223 ● Gary T. Vaughan

● ECON 444 ● POLITICAL ECONOMY OF REGULATION ● 09:00-10:50 TR BRIG 217 ● David Gerard

● ECON 601 ● SENIOR EXPERIENCE: READING OPTION ● 12:30-02:20 T BRIG 217 ● David Gerard

● ECON 602 ● SENIOR EXPERIENCE: PAPER ● APR ● 12:30-02:20 R BRIG 217 ● Merton D. Finkler

 

SPRING TERM

● ECON 100 ● INTRODUCTORY MICROECONOMICS ● 01:50-03:00 MWF BRIG 223 ● Hillary Caruthers

● ECON 223 ● QUANTITATIVE DECISION-MAKING ● 09:00-10:50 TR BRIG 223 ● David Gerard, Alan Parks

● ECON 245 ● LAW AND ECONOMICS ● 12:30-02:20 TR ● Jonathan Lhost

● ECON 255 ● START-UP THEATRE ● APR ● 02:30-04:20 TR ● Timothy X. Troy

● ECON 280 ● ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS ● 12:30-02:20 TR ● David Gerard

● ECON 295 ● TOP: FINANCE ● 12:30-01:40 MWF BRIG 223 ● Gary T. Vaughan

● ECON 320 ● MACROECONOMIC THEORY ● 03:10-04:20 MTWR BRIG 223 ● Merton D. Finkler

● ECON 460 ● INTERNATIONAL TRADE ● 09:50-11:00 MWF BRIG 217 ● Hillary Caruthers

● ECON 495 ● TOP: APPLIED ECONOMETRICS ● 03:10-04:20 MWF ● Jonathan Lhost

Intermediate Micro on the Horizon

Undergraduates are not yet like the white queen, willing to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast.  — Rakesh Vohra

Not sure what about that quote is so amusing to me.

Professor Vohra is blogging on his re-imagining of the intermediate theory course.   I am not certain that I am ready for a wholesale overhaul, but I will be following this one closely.

 

 

Course Cancellations and Adds, Part 2

Here are what we hope are some of the final changes to the 2014-15 schedule.   We would appreciate your patience as we clean this up.

Click here for the non-garbled page view.

FALL
ADD ECON 300: INTERMEDIATE MICRO MTWR 9:50-11 Gerard
ADD ECON 200: DEVELOPMENT MWF 9:50-11 Staff
ADD ECON 495: TOPICS: MARKETS AND INNOVATION MWF 1:50-3 Galambos and Gerard
CANCEL ECON 444 (Moved to Winter)
CANCEL ECON 500 (Changed to tutorial)
WINTER
ADD ECON 444: POLITICAL ECONOMY OF REGULATION TR 9:00-10:50 Gerard
ADD ECON 215: COMPARATIVE ECONOMIC SYSTEMS MWF 8:30-9:40 Galambos
CANCEL ECON 400

A Great Leap Forward, Thursday at 4:30

Alexander J. Field from Santa Clara University will be on campus Thursday to deliver a public lecture based on his book, A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth  (Amazon link here).

Professor Field argues that despite the bottoming out of aggregate demand, total factor productivity growth increased faster during the Great Depression than any other decade in U.S.  history.   My read of the book makes the assertion almost uncontroversial, yet the notion of rapid productivity growth disrupts conventional views on the role of World War II in terms of “getting the US out of the depression,” and also in terms of setting the stage for the post-WWII economic boom.  Field makes this case quantitatively, walks through some of the implications, and puts it in historical context, including his thoughts on some recent events.  This is very high quality economics and should play very well with economics students and a general audience.

You can read a brief interview with Field on his work in the New York Times.

The talk is Thursday, May 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Wriston Auditorium.

This is the Phi Beta Kappa lecture as part of the Visiting Scholars Series.  We are fortunate that the Senior Experience is providing funding to bring Professor Field to campus. 

Cadillac Desert, Wednesday and Thursday in Briggs 223

I will be showing the PBS Series, Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water, Wednesday and Thursday night in Briggs 223.  The episodes will go off on the hour each night.  Episode summaries are here.

The documentary series is based on Marc Reisner’s epic novel about western water development, and particularly the role of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers in shaping that destiny (NYT review here).  The first episode is about the delivery of water to Los Angeles and how that shaped the development of that urban area.  The second focuses specifically on the Colorado River and how that is divvied up.  The third episode looks at agricultural development in California’s Central Valley.

9 p.m.  Mullholland’s Dream 

10 p.m. An American Nile

11 p.m. The Mercy of Nature

For you homebodies, the YouTube playlist is here.

Econ Tea Monday — Pre-Registration Advising and Major Consultation… and, Look, the Pie!

We will host an Economics Tea on Monday, April 21 at 4:30 in Briggs 217 to convene for lively discussion and delicious pie.  Faculty will be available to discuss pre-registration and give advice to anyone interested in learning more about the department major.  We will once again be offering various types of pie.

For the Google-impaired amongst you, here is a link to the major and minor requirements.

Key things for potential majors to know:

The core series sequence is Micro Theory (ECON 300), Econometrics (ECON 380), and Macro Theory (ECON 320).  These are generally offered once per year, with ECON 300 in the fall, ECON 380 in the winter, and ECON 320 in the spring.  We believe that taking these back-to-back-to-back is a good strategy.

You need calculus (MATH 140 OR MATH 120 & MATH 130) in order to take Econ 300.

You need calculus in order to take Introduction to Probability and Statistics (MATH 207).  Math 207 is only offered in the fall term each year.

You need MATH 207 and either ECON 300 or ECON 320 in order to take Econometrics (ECON 380).  We recommend that you take MATH 207 in the fall and ECON 380 in the winter.

The full schedule is right here.

391 DS – Readings in Organizational Economics

2 or 3 Units.  Professor Gerard

Prerequisites:  ECON 400  or 450, ECON 380, Junior or Senior Standing, and Permission of Instructor

This reading group is a continuation of Economics 450, intended for students with a continuing interest in organizational economics.  Click for the provisional reading list:  Continue reading 391 DS – Readings in Organizational Economics

Spring Forward!

Here are some courses, updates, etc… germane to the Spring term on Briggs 2nd:

(NEW) ECON 495: Mathematics for Economists   ARRANGED  Professor Rhodes.   This course is a 400-level course emphasizing some of the fundamental mathematical theory and practice common in the economics profession.   We are in the process of coordinating times and places, so please contact Professor Rhodes or Gerard ASAP is you are interested.

ECON 495: Individual and Community  TR 12:30-2:20 in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Wulf.

Professor Steve Wulf (!) is cross-listing his fabulous course for the economics department for the first time. That being the case, here is the course description:  This course studies a variety of theoretical responses to the emergence of open societies in the West. Topics include the competing demands of individuality and community in religious, commercial, and political life.   The course promises a very healthy dose of history of economic thought.

ECON 460:  International Trade   MWF 8:30-9:40 in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Devkota.

ECON 405:  Innovation and Entrepreneurship  9:50-11:00 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Galambos.

For those of you looking for some theoretical foundations to thinking about innovation & entrepreneurship, look no farther.  An excellent complement to IO and Theory of the Firm.

ECON 320:  Intermediate Macroeconomics MTWR Briggs 223.

Always a highlight!

CANCELLED ECON 295:  Labor Economics 3:10-4:20 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Rhodes

ECON 200: Development Economics 11:10-12:20 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Devkota 

This is also a good bet for next term, especially for those interested in understanding economic growth across countries.

ECON 225:  Decision Theory  MWF 1:50-3:00 Briggs 223, Professor Galambos

This class is not full, but enrollment is heavy (30+).  We have committed to offering this in 2014-15 and expect it will be offered in 2015-16.

ECON 280:  Environmental Economics TR 12:30-2:20, Briggs 223, Professor Gerard

This class is full and the current wait list is at about 8 or 9.  It is offered each year, including Spring 2015.

ECON 120:  Introduction to Macroeconomics  MWF 12:30-1:40, Briggs 223, Professor Rhodes

The longest journey begins with the first step… and then the second step.  This could go either way, as ECON 100 is not a prerequisite.

Interdisciplinary Area in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Over the past six years, a group of Lawrence faculty members have developed several courses and course modules in innovation and entrepreneurship. By now, several hundred Lawrence students have taken those courses. The Lawrence faculty has now voted to create a formal academic program in innovation and entrepreneurship: the Interdisciplinary Area in I&E. Students from all majors with an interest in innovation or entrepreneurship are invited to explore the new IA. The rest of this post gives a general idea of the new IA. Look for more details on the I&E website in the near future. Continue reading Interdisciplinary Area in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Spring Term Courses

Though Spring does not appear to be right around the corner, the Spring Term is closer than you think!  Here are some of the highlights from Economics for the Spring Term.

ECON 495: Individual and Community  TR 12:30-2:20 in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Wulf.

Professor Steve Wulf (!) is cross-listing his fabulous course for the economics department for the first time. That being the case, here is the course description:  This course studies a variety of theoretical responses to the emergence of open societies in the West. Topics include the competing demands of individuality and community in religious, commercial, and political life.   The course promises a very healthy dose of history of economic thought.

ECON 460:  International Trade   MWF 8:30-9:40 in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Devkota.

ECON 405:  Innovation and Entrepreneurship  9:50-11:00 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Galambos.

For those of you looking for some theoretical foundations to thinking about innovation & entrepreneurship, look no farther.  An excellent complement to IO and Theory of the Firm.

ECON 320:  Intermediate Macroeconomics MTWR Briggs 223.

Always a highlight!

ECON 295:  Labor Economics 3:10-4:20 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Rhodes

If you are looking for a 200-level economics course next term, this is a good bet.  This should be excellent prep for Econ 300 in the Fall.

ECON 200: Development Economics 11:10-12:20 MWF in the Econ Seminar Room, Professor Devkota 

This is also a good bet for next term, especially for those interested in understanding economic growth across countries.

ECON 225:  Decision Theory  MWF 1:50-3:00 Briggs 223, Professor Galambos

This class is not full, but enrollment is heavy (30+).  We have committed to offering this in 2014-15 and expect it will be offered in 2015-16.

ECON 280:  Environmental Economics TR 12:30-2:20, Briggs 223, Professor Gerard

This class is full and the current wait list is 9.  It is offered each year, including Spring 2015.

ECON 120:  Introduction to Macroeconomics  MWF 12:30-1:40, Briggs 223, Professor Rhodes

The longest journey begins with the first step… and then the second step.  This could go either way, as ECON 100 is not a prerequisite.

The Winter Term is Upon Us

Here is the upcoming schedule for the winter term:

ECON 100 ● INTRODUCTORY MICROECONOMICS  ● 09:50-11:00 MWF BRIG 223 ● Adam Galambos

ECON 180 ● THE ART OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ● 11:10-12:20 MWF BRIG 223 ● Adam Galambos, Gary T. Vaughan

ECON 290 ● ECONOMICS OF MEDICAL CARE ● 12:30-02:20 TR BRIG 224 ● Merton D. Finkler

ECON 295 ● SPECIAL TOPIC:  FINANCE ● 12:30-01:40 MWF BRIG 217 ● Gary T. Vaughan

ECON 380 ● ECONOMETRICS  ● 01:50-03:00 MWF BRIG 223 03:10-04:20 T BRIG 223 ● Satis C. Devkota

ECON 380 ● ECONOMETRICS  ● 08:30-09:40 MWF BRIG 223 09:00-10:50 R BRIG 223 ● Satis C. Devkota

ECON 450 ● ECONOMICS OF THE FIRM  ● 09:00-10:50 TR BRIG 217 ● David Gerard

ECON 495 ● TOP: SPORTS ECONOMICS ● 03:10-04:20 MWF BRIG 217 ● M. Taylor Rhodes

ECON 601  SENIOR EXPERIENCE: READING OPT  02:30-04:20 T BRIG 217  David Gerard

ECON 602  SENIOR EXPERIENCE: PAPER   02:30-04:20 R BRIG 217  Merton D. Finkler

There is also a high probability that I will be handling a DS on advanced environmental topics, so if that is of interest, you should get in touch with me.

Senior Experience: A Great Leap Forward

This year’s Senior Experience: Reading Option features Alexander Field’s A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth  (Amazon link here).   Field argues that technology advanced faster during the Great Depression than any other 10-12 year period in U.S.  history, throwing a wrench into much of the conventional wisdom concerning the depression, World War II,  and American economic growth.   Field makes his case quantitatively, walks through some of the implications, and puts it in historical context, including his thoughts on some recent events.  This is very high quality economics.

Indeed, it is rarefied economic history that finds its way into the New York Times (!) .  

We are fortunate to have Professor Field coming to campus on Thursday May 15 to meet with our seminar students and give a public lecture on his work as part of the Phi Beta Kappa lecture series.   

Our first meeting is Tuesday, January 6 at 2:30 p.m. in Briggs 217 (I am also in process of scheduling a second time for those who cannot meet in the Tuesday slot).  By our first meeting, you should have read the introduction and background (Chapter 1) through about page 40.  I also recommend you go back and review your macro notes on economic growth (e.g., Mankiw Chapters 8 & 9).  

If you are interested in reading but are not part of the Senior Experience cohort, see me about setting up a directed study for 2-3 units.

 

Pre-Registration for Winter and Spring

Advance registration for winter and spring terms will resume next Monday, October 14, and continue through the last day of classes for the term, Thursday, November 21.  Only degree-seeking, Waseda, and visiting/exchange students are eligible to advance register for classes.

Pre-registration for Winter and Spring resumes October 14, and I encourage you to sort your schedule out, especially so that the instructors can plan for classes appropriately.  We tend to do things differently in classes with enrollments of 25 than with 10, for example.  

Here is the full schedule.  Here are some of the highlights:

WINTER:

  • Finance (ECON 295) with Professor Vaughn.  This is a continuation of the financial accounting course (ECON 170), and it looks excellent.
  • We have opened a second section of Econometrics (ECON 380) in the winter.  We currently have 26 registered in one section and two in the other.  Professor Devkota is teaching both sections. 
  • Sports Economics (ECON 495)  with Professor Rhodes, MWF at 3:10.  The prerequisites are the intermediate micro and econometrics courses (ECON 300 and ECON 380). 
  • Both Senior Experience options are open.  Professor Finkler is in charge of the paper option (ECON 602) and you must clear the topic with him.
  • The Senior Experience reading option (ECON 601) will feature Alexander Field’s A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth.  Tyler Cowen calls it a “masterpiece.”  Professor Field will be on the campus in the Spring to meet with students and give a public lecture.  For advanced sophomores and juniors (i.e., those who have had econometrics), I will offer a 2-3 unit directed study (a Junior Experience). 

SPRING:

  • Professor Devkota will offer Economic Development (ECON 200).   This is potentially a great second class for someone who has had ECON 100 or ECON 120 and wants to take a second course.   He is teaching it this term, so there is some information out there from someone other than me (it sounds like an excellent class).
  • We are also offering Decision Theory (ECON 225) and Environmental Economics (ECON 280).   If you are planning to major or minor, we strongly encourage you to take Decision Theory during your time here.
  • Professor Devkota will offer International Trade (ECON 460) for the major set.
  • Professor Rhodes will offer a 400-level math-econ course (ECON 495), available to anyone with calculus and ECON 300. 

If you have any questions, get in touch with Professor Finkler, Professor Galambos, or Professor Gerard in terms of how you might schedule a major or minor, or simply what courses make sense given your academic and extra-academic interests.  If you have questions about the particular courses, you can direct inquiries to the instructor.

New Faculty in the Economics Department

Who is teaching all of these additional courses?, you ask.   Well, here we go:  The Economics Department is pleased to welcome two visiting professors, M. Taylor Rhodes and Satis Devkota, for the 2013-14 academic year.

Professor M. Taylor Rhodes hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, where he completed his doctorate in economics at UNC Greensboro in the Spring of 2013. Other stops along the way include the University of Virginia and Penn State.  At Lawrence, he is teaching introductory macroeconomics (Fall and Spring), advanced topics in Sports Economics (Winter), and labor economics (Fall).  He has an active research agenda in applied microeconomics, including local economic policies, topics in sports economics, and the introduction of new beer brands in the US beer industry.  He has four years of teaching experience, both in the classroom and online.  In his spare time (?) he is something of a computer jock — listing his hobbies as desktop Linux, open source software and network and cloud computing.  His aspirations for the year include the creation of his own cloud.

Professor Satis Devkota, completed his doctorate at Wayne State University in 2012, focusing on Health Economics and Comparative Health System.  This year he will be teaching development economics (Fall and Spring), two sections of econometrics (Winter), and international trade (Spring). He also has an active research agenda in applied microeconomics focusing on health economics (sustainable policy, comparative effectiveness and health care disparity), education economics (socio-economic determinants of disparity in education and access to schooling), development economics (farmer’s productivity, inequality and poverty) and international trade (exchange rate and trade).  He has more than 12 years of teaching experience at the collegiate level, including a stint teaching MBAs this past year as a visiting professor at the University of South Dakota.

And, of course, the indefatigable Professor Gary Vaughan will be back this year with an expanded role for the innovation & entrepreneurship program.  Once again he will be teaching sections of financial accounting (ECON 170) in the Fall and Spring, as well as playing a role in the entrepreneurship courses (ECON 180 and ECON 211).  In addition, he will be offering a follow-up to his financial accounting course, Topics in Finance (ECON 295) in the Winter term.  Professor Vaughn is the founder and runs Guident Business Solutions in Appleton, and sits on the board of several organizations, including Board of Advisor member to College of Buisness and Legal Studies at Concordia University and the Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) Organization.

Welcome to Professors Rhodes and Devkota and welcome back to Professor Vaughn.  We hope to have a welcome Econ Tea in the next week or two.

Course Additions for Fall 2013

For those of you looking for a delicious addition to your schedule this fall, the economics department has augmented its fall schedule with several courses.

And, here they are:

ECON 120 (5939)  INTRODUCTION TO MACROECONOMICS ● 12:30-01:40 MWF ● Mr. Rhodes

ECON 200  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT  08:30-09:40  Mr. Devkota

ECON 295 ● TOPICS : LABOR ECONOMICS 03:10-04:20 MWF ● Mr. Rhodes

 

Competition in High Tech

That’s the topic for the Spring Reading Group, featuring Liebowitz and Margolis’ Winners, Losers, and Microsoft: Competition and Antitrust in High Technology. For those of you who plowed through the book in IO, I am compiling an auxiliary set of readings to complement (and update) the Liebowitz and Margolis book.   

We will meet Thursdays from 11:10 to 12:15 in Briggs 217. The sign-up sheets are posted on the board outside of Professor Gerard and Professor Galambos’ office. 

The BI5 team?

How simple can it get?

It may not be as exciting and mysterious as the MI5 unit, but the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team could be the economist’s version of influencing the world from the shadows. BIT is also known as the “Nudge Unit.” As The  Telegraph explains,

The unit’s work is described by them as “libertarian paternalism”, a phrase coined in the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness by Chicago University professor Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (now required reading for the Coalition front bench). And yet while their language might sometimes seem worryingly close to management-speak – using “choice architecture” to create “rational economic optimisers” – it belies some basic common sense.

Cass Sunstein now has a new book (to be published April 9th), Simpler: The Future of Government. Sunstein has some experience in putting his ideas to practice, as this Fortune article describes:

Cass Sunstein, a friend of Obama’s from his University of Chicago Law School days, spent the last four years running the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It’s an obscure but exceedingly powerful perch that enabled Sunstein to put his imprint on everything from fuel efficiency standards and the redesign of the food pyramid to the rules for the landmark health care and Wall Street overhauls.

Sunstein used his office as a laboratory for his brand of “libertarian paternalism” — his self-described and seemingly paradoxical approach to structuring prompts for people that promote their welfare by protecting them from their more self-destructive impulses.

I suppose we are bound to hear more and more about libertarian paternalism. This is not new to those of you who just took Comparative Economic Systems, and neither are the warnings of Harvard’s Ed Glaeser on the dangers of “soft paternalism.” That leaves just one last question: What would Hayek say? Economics student Ryan Kottman answered that question for the Comparative Economics crowd in his presentation on “libertarian paternalism:” Hayek would worry very much about the government’s nudging leading to less individual responsibility. Kottman quotes Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty: “We assign responsibility to a man, not in order to say that as he was he might have acted differently, but in order to make him different.”