Archive for May 24th, 2009

Guess what, kids? More of the same!

Events have been changing so quickly that we teachers are having trouble keeping up. Syllabuses are often planned months in advance, and textbooks are revised only every few years.

But there is another, more fundamental reason: Despite the enormity of recent events, the principles of economics are largely unchanged. Students still need to learn about the gains from trade, supply and demand, the efficiency properties of market outcomes, and so on. These topics will remain the bread-and-butter of introductory courses.

Nonetheless, the teaching of basic economics will need to change in some subtle ways in response to recent events.

The four ways are, indeed, quite subtle. I appreciate that change number four is a recognition of the limits of forecasting. I also appreciate that number one involves the word “institutions,” although I think an appreciation of a broader set than financial institutions is called for. For some deeper solutions, check out Toxic Textbooks (and Mankiw’s is one of the primary culprits).

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