19 Feb Choose one of the following options for your Post: Option #1: Art & Writing After reading Heineman’s interview with ‘Chris Melissinos,’ Kirschenbaum’s chapter, ‘Word Processing as a Lit
Choose one of the following options for your Post:
Option #1: Art & Writing
After reading Heineman's interview with "Chris Melissinos," Kirschenbaum's chapter, "Word Processing as a Literary Subject," and Pequeño Glazier's chapter, "Jumping to Occlusions," in the Required Learning Materials, please do the following:
- Identify and explain two specific ways that technological developments have changed our understanding of what art or writing is and how it can be created.
- Looking carefully at Kirschenbaum's chapter, "Word Processing as a Literary Subject," and Pequeño Glazier's chapter, "Jumping to Occlusions," describe one way artists and writers are resisting how digital technology is changing their fields. Then try to relate this resistance to an unintended consequence of the use of digital technology in these fields. What information from the resources leads you to this conclusion?
- Do you think that technological determinism or social constructivism plays a stronger role in how digital technologies shape the arts? Briefly explain your answer.
- Use two quotes from any of your resources to support or explain your points. Make sure to provide in-text citations for both quotes in MLA format.
- Provide references for all sources in MLA format.
Option #2: Digital Music
After reading Prior's article "Beyond Napster" and Heap's commentary "Blockchain Could Help Musicians Make Money Again," please do the following:
- Identify and briefly explain one way the digitization of music has changed the creation, distribution or consumption of music.
- Explain one unintended consequence of the rise of digital music. What problem(s) did this create in the music industry?
- Do you think Heap's proposed solution to music ownership could work? Why or why not?
- Relate some of the history of digital music to how your music consumption changed over the past ten years.
- Share one example of some of the first digital music you knew about.
- Use two quotes from any of your resources to support or explain your points. Make sure to provide in-text citations for both quotes in MLA format.
- Provide references for all sources in MLA format.
Option #3: Digital Humanities
After reading Terras' chapter, "Digitization and digital resources in the Humanities," please do the following:
- Identify and explain one advantage and one disadvantage of the digitization of Humanities resources.
- Explain the difference between a digital repository and a digital project.
- Find a specific digital repository OR digital project online and do the following:
- Provide a brief description of it. Include things like where it is housed, who created and maintains it, what kinds of information it contains, what subject in the Humanities it covers (art, music, history, religion, literature, languages, theater, film, etc.)
- Examine and describe how the information is presented. For instance, do you have to use a search engine? Are there subject guides? Does it use a mapping tool?
- Point out any difficulties you had navigating the information or any particularly well-designed features for the user.
This week, the text readings include a discussion of inflation. While you are already familiar with the basics of inflation, do read the text with care, as it gives you useful fuller detail on the relationships between money supply, monetary policy, and inflation.
But at the moment, the world isn't facing any meaningful inflationary pressure. But there are numerous signs of potential deflation. And that has several central banks nervous.
However, we rarely discuss deflation in economics courses. The last time it happened in the US was during the Great Depression. Japan dealt with deflation during the 1990s and off and on since then. China has come close, but central bank actions seem to have prevented it. And now the Euro Zone is facing possible deflation to which the European Central Bank has finally started to respond.
This week, explore the causes of deflation, why it is considered to have negative consequences for an economy, and how it can be prevented or stopped once started. Is there a linkage between inflation and deflation?
Do respond to all of these parts so as to provide a complete picture.
Following are some recent articles from The Economist, which should be helpful. You will, of course, want to do additional research.
The Dangers of Deflation
The Euro Zone Slides Towards Deflation
What is Deflation and What Does It Mean for You?
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This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as
requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
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Preface We have written a fundamentally different text for principles of economics, based on two premises:
1. Students are motivated to study economics if they see that it relates to their own lives. 2. Students learn best from an inductive approach, in which they are first confronted with
a question and then led through the process of how to answer that question.
The intended audience of the textbook is first-year undergraduates taking courses on the principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics. Many may never take another economics course. We aim to increase their economic literacy both by developing their aptitude for economic thinking and by presenting key insights about economics that every educated individual should know.
Applications ahead of Theory
We present all the theory that is standard in books on the principles of economics. But by beginning with applications, we also show students why this theory is needed. We take the kind of material that other authors put in “applications boxes” and place it at the heart of our book. Each chapter is built around a particular business or policy application, such as (for microeconomics) minimum wages, stock exchanges, and auctions, and (for macroeconomics) social security, globalization, and the wealth and poverty of nations. Why take this approach? Traditional courses focus too much on abstract theory relative to the interests and capabilities of the average undergraduate. Students are rarely engaged, and the formal theory is never integrated into the way students think about economic issues. We provide students with a vehicle to understand the structure of economics, andwe train them how to use this structure.
A New Organization
Traditional books are organized around theoretical constructs that mean nothing to students. Our book is organized around the use of economics. Our applications-first approach leads to a fundamental reorganization of the textbook. Students will not see chapters with titles like “Cost Functions” or “Short-Run Fluctuations.” We introduce tools and ideas as, and when, they are needed. Each chapter is designed with two goals. First, the application upon which the chapter is built provides a “hook” that gets students’ attention. Second, the application is a suitable vehicle for teaching the principles of economics.
Learning through Repetition
Important tools appear over and over again, allowing students to learn from repetition and to see how one framework can be useful in many different contexts.
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Each piece of economic theory is first introduced and explained in the context of a specific application. Most are reused in other chapters, so students see them in action on multiple occasions. As students progress through the book, they accumulate a set of techniques and ideas. These are collected separately in a “toolkit” that provides students with an easy reference and also gives them a condensed summary of economic principles for exam preparation.
A Truly International Book
International economics is not an afterthought in our book; it is integrated throughout. Many other texts pay lip service to international content. We have taught in numerous countries in Europe, North America, and Asia, and we use that expertise to write a book that deals with economics in a globalized world.
Rigor without Fear
We hold ourselves to high standards of rigor yet use mathematical argument only when it is truly necessary. We believe students are capable of grasping rigorous argument, and indeed are often confused by loose argumentation. But rigor need not mean high mathematical difficulty. Many students—even very bright ones—switch off when they see a lot of mathematics. Our book is more rigorous yet less overtly mathematical than most others in the market. We also include a math/stat toolkit to help students understand the key mathematical tools they do need.
A Textbook for the 21st Century
We introduce students to accessible versions of dynamic decision-making, choice under uncertainty, and market power from the beginning. Students are aware that they live in an uncertain world, and their choices are made in a forward-looking manner. Yet traditional texts emphasize static choices in a world of certainty. Students are also aware that firms typically set prices and that most firms sell products that are differentiated from those of their competitors. Traditional texts base most of their analysis on competitive markets. Students end up thinking that economic theory is unrealistic and unrelated to the real world. We do not shy away from dynamics and uncertainty, but instead introduce students to the tools of discounted present value and decision-making under uncertainty. We also place relatively more emphasis on imperfect competition and price-setting behavior, and then explain why the competitive model is relevant even when markets are not truly competitive. We give more prominence than other texts to topics such as basic game theory, statistics, auctions, and asset prices. Far from being too difficult for principles students, such ideas are in fact more intuitive, relevant, and easier to understand than many traditional topics.
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At the same time, we downplay some material that is traditionally included in principles textbooks but that can seem confusing or irrelevant to students. We discuss imperfect competition in terms of market power and strategic behavior, and say little about the confusing taxonomy of market structure. We present a simplified treatment of costs that— instead of giving excruciating detail about different cost definitions—explains which costs matter for which decisions, and why.
A Non-Ideological Book
We emphasize the economics that most economists agree upon, minimizing debates and schools of thought. There is probably less ideological debate today among economists than there has been for almost four decades. Textbooks have not caught up. We do not avoid all controversy, but we avoid taking sides. We choose and present our material so that instructors will have all the tools and resources they need to discuss controversial issues in the manner they choose. Where appropriate, we explain why economists sometimes disagree on questions of policy. Most key economic ideas—both microeconomic and macroeconomic—can be understood using basic tools of markets, accounting identities, and budget sets. These are simpler for students to understand, are less controversial within the profession, and do not require allegiance to a particular school of thought.
A Single Voice
The book is a truly collaborative venture. Very often, coauthored textbooks have one author for microeconomics and another for macroeconomics. Both of us have researched and taught both microeconomic and macroeconomic topics, and we have worked together on all aspects of the book. This means that students who study both microeconomics and macroeconomics from our book will benefit from a completely integrated and consistent approach to economics.
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Chapter 1 What Is Economics?
You are just beginning your study of economics, but let us fast-forward to the end of your first economics course. How will your study of economics affect the way you see the world? The final exam is over. You are sitting at a restaurant table, waiting for your friends to arrive. The place is busy and loud as usual. Looking around, you see small groups of people sitting and talking animatedly. Most of the customers are young; this is not somewhere your parents visit very often. At the counter, people line up to buy food. You watch a woman choose some items from the menu and hand some notes and coins to the young man behind the counter. He is about the same age as you, and you think that he is probably from China. After a few moments, he hands her some items, and she takes them to a table next to yours. Where are you? Based on this description, you could be almost anywhere in the world. This particular fast-food restaurant is a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, but it could easily have been a McDonald’s, a Burger King, or any number of other fast-food chains. Restaurants like this can be found in Auckland, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Denver, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, and nearly every other city in the world. Here, however, the menu is written in French, and the customer paid in euros (€). Welcome to Paris. While you are waiting, you look around you and realize that you are not looking at the world in the same way that you previously did. The final exam you just completed was for an economics course, and—for good or for ill—it has changed the way you understand the world. Economics, you now understand, is all around you, all the time. 1.1 Microeconomics in a Fast-Food Restaurant
1. What kinds of problems do we study in microeconomics?
You watch another customer go to the counter and place an order. She purchases some fried chicken, an order of fries, and a Coca-Cola. The cost is €10. She hands over a bill and gets the food in exchange. It’s a simple transaction; you have witnessed exchanges like it thousands of times before. Now, though, you think about the fact that this exchange has made both the customer and the store better off than they were previously. The customer has voluntarily given up money to get food. Presumably, she would do this only if having the food makes her happier than having the €10. KFC, meanwhile, voluntarily gave up the food to get the €10. Presumably, the managers of the store would sell the food only if they benefit from the deal as well. They are willing to give up something of value (their food) in exchange for something else of value (the customer’s money). Think for a moment about all the transactions that could have taken place but did not. For the same €10, the customer could have bought two orders of fried chicken. But she didn’t. So even though you have never met the person, you know something about her. You know that—at this
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moment at least—she prefers having a Coca-Cola, fries, and one order of fried chicken to having two orders of fried chicken. You also know that she prefers having that food to any number of other things she could have bought with those euros, such as a movie theater ticket, some chocolate bars, or a book. From your study of economics, you know that her decision reflects two different factors. The first is her tastes. Each customer likes different items on the menu. Some love the spicy fried chicken; others dislike it. There is no accounting for differences in tastes. The second is what she can afford. She has a budget in mind that limits how much she is willing to spend on fast food on a given day. Her decision about what to buy comes from the interaction between her tastes and her budget. Economists have built a rich and complicated theory of decision making from this basic idea. You look back at the counter and to the kitchen area behind it. The kitchen, you now know, is an example of a production process that takes inputs and produces output. Some of the inputs are perhaps obvious, such as basic ingredients like raw chicken and cooking oil. Before you took the economics course, you might have thought only about those ingredients. Now you know that there are many more inputs to the production process, including the following:
The building housing the restaurant The tables and chairs inside the room The people working behind the cash register and in the kitchen The people working at KFC headquarters managing the outlets in Paris The stoves, ovens, and other equipment in the kitchen used to cook the food The energy used to run the stoves, the ovens, the lighting, and the heat The recipes used to convert the ingredients into a finished product
The outputs of KFC are all the items listed on the menu. And, you realize, the restaurant provides not only the food but also an additional service, which is a place where you can eat the food. Transforming these inputs (for example, tables, chickens, people, recipes) into outputs is not easy. Let us examine one output—for example, an order of fried chicken. The production process starts with the purchase of some uncooked chicken. A cook then adds some spices to the chicken and places it in a vat of very hot oil in the huge pots in the kitchen. Once the chicken is cooked, it is placed in a box for you and served to you at the counter. That production process uses, to a greater or lesser degree, almost all the inputs of KFC. The person responsible for overseeing this transformation is the manager. Of course, she doesn’t have to analyze how to do this herself; the head office provides a detailed organizational plan to help her. KFC management decides not only what to produce and how to produce it but also how much to charge for each item. Before you took your economics course, you probably gave very little thought to where those prices on the menu came from. You look at the price again: €5 for an order of fried chicken. Just as you were able to learn some things about the customer from observing her decision, you realize that you can also learn something about KFC. You know that KFC wouldn’t sell an order of fried chicken at that price unless it was able to make a profit by doing so. For example, if a piece of raw chicken cost €6, then KFC would obviously make a loss. So the price charged must be greater than the cost of producing the fried chicken.
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KFC can’t set the price too low, or it would lose money. It also can’t set the price too high. What would happen if KFC tried to charge, say, €100 for an order of chicken? Common sense tells you that no one would buy it at that price. Now you understand that the challenge of pricing is to find a balance: KFC needs to set the price high enough to earn a good profit on each order sold but not so high that it drives away too many customers. In general, there is a trade-off: as the price increases, each piece sold brings in more revenue, but fewer pieces are sold. Managers need to understand this trade-off between price and quantity, which economists call demand. It depends on many things, most of which are beyond the manager’s control. These include the income of potential customers, the prices charged in alternative restaurants nearby, the number of people who think that going to KFC is a cool thing to do, and so on. The simple transaction between the customer and the restaurant was therefore the outcome of many economic choices. You can see other examples of economics as you look around you— for example, you might know that the workers earn relatively low wages; indeed, they may very well be earning minimum wage. Across the street, however, you see a very different kind of establishment: a fancy restaurant. The chef there is also preparing food for customers, but he undoubtedly earns a much higher wage than KFC cooks. Before studying economics, you would have found it hard to explain why two cooks should earn such different amounts. Now you notice that most of the workers at KFC are young— possibly students trying to earn a few euros a month to help support them through college. They do not have years of experience, and they have not spent years studying the art of cooking. The chef across the street, however, has chosen to invest years of his life training and acquiring specialized skills and, as a result, earns a much higher wage. The well-heeled customers leaving that restaurant are likewise much richer than those around you at KFC. You could probably eat for a week at KFC for the price of one meal at that restaurant. Again, you used to be puzzled about why there are such disparities of income and wealth in society—why some people can afford to pay €200 for one meal while others can barely afford the prices at KFC. Your study of economics has revealed that there are many causes: some people are rich because, like the skilled chef, they have abilities, education, and experience that allow them to command high wages. Others are rich because of luck, such as those born of wealthy parents. Everything we have discussed in this section—the production process, pricing decisions, purchase decisions, and the employment and career choices of firms and workers—are examples of what we study in the part of economics called microeconomics. Microeconomics is about the behavior of individuals and firms. It is also about how these individuals and firms interact with each other through markets, as they do when KFC hires a worker or when a customer buys a piece of fried chicken. When you sit in a fast-food restaurant and look around you, you can see microeconomic decisions everywhere.
In microeconomics, we study the decisions of individual entities, such as households
and firms. We also study how households and firms interact with each other.
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CHECKING YOUR UNDERSTANDING
List three microeconomic decisions you have made today.
1.2 Macroeconomics in a Fast-Food Restaurant
1. What kinds of problems do we study in macroeconomics?
The economic decisions you witness inside Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) are only a few examples of the vast number of economic transactions that take place daily across the globe. People buy and sell goods and services. Firms hire and lay off workers. Governments collect taxes and spend the revenues that they receive. Banks accept deposits and make loans. When we think about the overall impact of all these choices, we move into the realm of macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the study of the economy as a whole. While sitting in KFC, you can also see macroeconomic forces at work. Inside the restaurant, some young men are sitting around talking and looking at the newspaper. It is early afternoon on a weekday, yet these individuals are not working. Like many other workers in France and around the world, they recently lost their jobs. Across the street, there are other signs that the economy is not healthy: some storefronts are boarded up because many businesses have recently been forced to close down. You know from your economics class that the unemployed workers and closed-down businesses are the visible signs of the global downturn, or recession, that began around the middle of 2008. In a recession, several things typically happen. One is that the total production of goods and services in a country decreases. In many countries, the total value of all the goods and services produced was lower in 2008 than it was in 2007. A second typical feature of a recession is that some people lose their jobs, and those who don’t have jobs find it more difficult to find new employment. And a third feature of most recessions is that those who do still have jobs are unlikely to see big increases in their wages or salaries. These recessionary features are interconnected. Because people have lower income and perhaps because they are nervous about the future, they tend to spend less. And because firms are finding it harder to sell their products, they are less likely to invest in building new factories. And when fewer factories are being built, there are fewer jobs available both for those who build factories and for those who work in them. Down the street from KFC, a large construction project is visible. An old road and a nearby bridge are in the process of being replaced. The French government finances projects such as these as a way to provide more jobs and help the economy recover from the recession. The government has to finance this spending somehow. One way that governments obtain income is by taxing people. KFC customers who have jobs pay taxes on their income. KFC pays taxes on its profits. And customers pay taxes when they buy their food.
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Unfortunately for the government, higher taxes mean that people and firms have less income to spend. But to help the economy out of a recession, the government would prefer people to spend more. Indeed, another response to a recession is to reduce taxes. In the face of the recession, the Obama administration in the United States passed a stimulus bill that both increased government spending and reduced taxes. Before you studied macroeconomics, this would have seemed quite mysterious. If the government is taking in less tax income, how is it able to increase spending at the same time? The answer, you now know, is that the government borrows the money. For example, to pay for the $787 billion stimulus bill, the US government issued new debt. People and institutions (such as banks), both inside and outside the United States, buy this debt—that is, they lend to the government. There is another institution—called the monetary authority—that purchases government debt. It has specific names in different countries: in the United States, it is called the Federal Reserve Bank; in Europe, it is called the European Central Bank; in Australia, it is called the Reserve Bank of Australia; and so on. When the US government issues more debt, the Federal Reserve Bank purchases some of it. The Federal Reserve Bank has the legal authority to create new money (in effect, to print new currency) and then to use that to buy government debt. When it does so, the currency starts circulating in the economy. Similarly, decisions by the European Central Bank lead to the circulation of the euro notes and coins you saw being used to purchase fried chicken. The decisions of the monetary authority have a big impact on the economy as well. When the European Central Bank decides to put more euros into circulation, this has the effect of reducing interest rates, which means it becomes cheaper for individuals to get a student loan or a mortgage, and it is cheaper for firms to buy new machinery and build new factories. Typically, another consequence is that the euro will become less valuable relative to other currencies, such as the US dollar. If you are planning a trip to the United States now that your class is finished, you had better hope that the European Central Bank doesn’t increase the number of euros in circulation. If it does, it will be more expensive for you to buy US dollars. Today, the world’s economies are highly interconnected. People travel from country to country. Goods are shipped around the world. If you were to look at the labels on the clothing worn by the customers in KFC, you would probably find that some of the clothes were manufactured in China, perhaps some in Malaysia, some in France, some in the United States, some in Guatemala, and so on. Information also moves around the world. The customer sitting in the corner using a laptop might be in the process of transferring money from a Canadian bank account to a Hong Kong account; the person at a neighboring table using a mobile phone might be downloading an app from a web server in Illinois. This globalization brings many benefits, but it means that recessions can be global as well. Your study of economics has taught you one more thing: the idea that you can take a trip to the United States would have seemed remarkable half a century ago. Despite the recent recession, the world is a much richer place than it was 25, or 50, or 100 years ago. Almost everyone in KFC has a mobile phone, and some people are using laptops. Had you visited a similar fast-food restaurant 25 years ago, you would not have seen people carrying computers and phones. A century ago, there was, of course, no such thing as KFC; automobiles were still a novelty; and if you cut your finger on the sharp metal edge of a table, you ran a real risk of dying from blood poisoning. Understanding why world economies have grown so
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spectacularly—and why not all countries have shared equally in this growth—is one of the big challenges of macroeconomics.
In macroeconomics, we study the economy as a whole to understand why economies
grow and why they sometimes experience recessions. We also study the effects of different kinds of government policy on the overall economy.
CHECKING YOUR UNDERSTANDING
If the government and the monetary authority think that the economy is growing too
fast, what could they do to slow down the economy?
1.3 What Is Economics, Really?
1. What methods do economists use to study the world?
Economists take their inspiration from exactly the kinds of observations that we have discussed. Economists look at the world around them—from the transactions in fast-food restaurants to the policies of central banks—and try to understand how the economic world works. This means that economics is driven in large part by data. In microeconomics, we look at data on the choices made by firms and households. In macroeconomics, we have access to a lot of data gathered by governments and international agencies. Economists seek to describe and understand these data. But economics is more than just description. Economists also build models to explain these data and make predictions about the future. The idea of a model is to capture the most import
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