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Dr. Róbinson Rojas Sandford  on  basic knowledge on economics

Róbinson Rojas (1997) on
Basic knowledge on economics

1.- Introduction to the subject matter of economics:

The economic problem. Resource allocation: alternative approaches, the free market versus central planning. Discuss the meaning of "resource allocation" and outline the main alternative methods of allocating resources.
Concepts for Review: Economic resources, resource allocation, production possibility curves, supply, demand, competition, profitability and the free market, central planning and bureaucracy, factors of production,  distribution of income, factor mobility

  1. Notes on the philosophy of the capitalist system
  2. Notes on economics: assuming scarcity
  3. Notes on economics: about obscenities, poverty and inequality
  4. Adam Smith: The wealth of nations
  5. Adam Smith: The theory of moral sentiments
  6. K. Marx/F. Engels: Bourgeois and proletarians
  7. Karl Marx: Capital, and other early works
  8. F. Engels: Introduction to K. Marx's "Wage-labour and capital"
  9. Karl Marx: Wage-labour and capital
  10. Albert Einstein: Relativity: The Special and General Theory

Andre Gunder Frank (1992) on:
Marketing Democracy in an Undemocratic Market
"...When Gandhi was asked what he thought of "Western Civilization," he answered "it would be a good idea." We can say as much of development and democracy as well. However, for the Third World, "democracy" is likely to become no more real in the future than "development," or Western Civilization for that matter, did in the past. Instead like the latter, "democracy" may well become a flag - or the figleaf - for continued exploitation and oppression of the South by the North.

2.- The history of economic thought [1]:

Classical economics: the economic thought of Smith, Ricardo -problems of value, production and distribution, and economic growth. Karl Marx and the role of surplus value in the capitalist system of production. Discussion of the central principles of classical economics. Value theory and the long-term prospects for the capitalist economy in the classical and marxist thought.
Concepts for review: Free market, competition, Smith's theory of value, the invisible hand, laissez faire, the labour theory of value, Marx's concept of surplus value, the rate of profits, capital accumulation, business cycles, Marx's concept of crises.

3.- The history of economic thought [2]:
Principles of neo-classical economic thought; price theory and allocation of resources. Post 1945 economic thought: the rise and fall of keynesianism and monetarism. Outline the main differences between the neo-classical, keynesian and monetarist schools of thought as related to inflation, unemployment, economic growth and state involvement in the economy.
Concepts for review: Price determination, allocation of resources, supply and demand, Say's law, aggregate demand and aggregate supply, the quantity theory of money, the public sector borrowing requirement.

4.- The theory of production [1]:

The firm's costs and revenues. Price and output determination in conditions of perfect competition. Allocation of capital and labour. The perfect competition model of price and output determination. How real?
Concepts for review:Fixed costs, variable costs. Total, average and marginal costs. Total, average and marginal revenues. Profit maximization ( normal and abnormal profits ) in the long and short run.

5.- The theory of production [2]:

Oligopoly and Monopoly. Effects of oligopoly and monopoly on levels of employment, price and output. Contradiction between maximization of profits and maximization of employment. Globalization and oligopolies: transnational corporations. Comparing perfect competition and monopoly competition. The case of environmental damage.
Concepts for review: Economies and dis-economies of scale. Efficiency of production. The role of abnormal profits in research and development. The role of abnormal profits in patterns of consumption. The role of abnormal profits in distribution of income.

A typical textbook on capitalist economics:
Introduction to Economic Analysis

by R. Preston McAfee
California Institute of Technology

6.- The theory of distribution:

Determination of the returns to factors of production: rent, interest, profits, and  wages. The labour market and wage determination. Demand for labour as "derived". Wage differentials. What determines wage rates? Why do wage rates differ? How  do they differ in the U.K.?
Concepts for review: Marginal productivity. Law of diminishing returns. Supply of and demand for factors of production. Competitive ( deregulated ) labour markets. Monopolies and monopsonistic labour markets. Trade  unions bargaining power: economic effects.

7.- The economics of income distribution:

Causes of income inequality. Trends in income inequality. The case against income inequality. The case for income inequality. The "invisible" poor. Two points of view: personal shortcomings?  Social victims? The rationale of a social security system. Discuss, bringing some evidence to the discussion, the cases against and for income inequality in a capitalist system
Concepts for review: underemployment, relative poverty, absolute poverty, welfare state.

- Inequality/social exclusion
- Poverty
- Informal sector
- Microfinance
- U.S. economic inequality, poverty, social exclusion and corruption
- Economic inequality, poverty, and social exclusion in Latin America
- Economic inequality, poverty, social exclusion and corruption in China
8.- The national income:

Definitions and measurements. Problems of measurements. Uses and reliability of national income statistics. Outline some of the uses of national income figures, and discuss the reliability of the statistics in relation to these uses.

9.- National income determination [I]:

Circular flow of income. Investments, government spending and exports. Saving, taxation, imports. The concept of equilibrium level of national income. The concept of aggregate demand - consumption, investment and government expenditure. Use circular flow analysis to explain the concept of the equilibrium level of the national income.

10.- National income determination [II]:

Aggregate demand - theories of consumption, investment, and government spending. What factors determine aggregate consumption?

11.- National income determination [III]:

Aggregate demand and Aggregate supply and the equilibrium level of national income.The multiplier and accelerator principles and changes in national income.

12.- Money and Banking:

Functions and measurement of money. The process of credit creation. The relationship between central bank and the commercial banks, The demand for money and the rate of interest.
What is the 'money supply', and what determines its rate of expansion?

13.- Managing the Economy [I]:

The main objectives of macroeconomic policy and the conflicts between these objectives.The instruments of policy - fiscal and monetary  polices, prices and incomes policies, exchange rates and import controls. Explain why there are likely to be conflicts between the major objectives of economic policies.

14.- Managing the Economy [II]:

Unemployment - definitions and measurement. Recent trends in unemployment. Causes of unemployment. Inflation and unemployment. Keynesian and Monetarist approaches. What is meant by 'full employment'? Critically discuss the view that full employment is no longer an achievable objective of economic policy in the U.K.

15.- Managing the Economy[III]:

Inflation - definition and measurement. Causes and cures. Keynesian and Monetarist explanations. What caused the significant rise in inflation at the end of the 1980's in the U.K.
See also Inflation in The Róbinson Rojas Archive

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
on Rethinking Development Economics:

  1. A Brief Note on the Decline and Rise of Development Economics
  2. An Agenda for the New Development Economics
  3. Beyond Macroeconomic Concerns to Development Issues
  4. Challenges of Economic Development
  5. Development Economics: A Call to Action
  6. Development Economics: Coping with New Challenges, Especially Globalization
  7. Development Studies or Development Economics: Moving forward from TINA
  8. Economic Development and the Revival of the Classical Surplus Approach
  9. Enclavity and Constrained Labour Absortive Capacity in Southern African Economies
  10. For an Emancipatory Socio-Economics
  11. Inequality and Poverty as the Condition of Labour
  12. International Economic Policy
  13. Lessons from Transition Economies: Strong Institutions are More Important than the Speed of Reforms
  14. Notes on Development Economics
  15. On Rethinking Development Economics
  16. Opening Space for Development
  17. Producing a New Generation of Practising Development Economists
  18. Reclaiming the Right to Development
  19. Reflections on the Restoration of Development Economics
  20. Reviving Development Economics: Eight Challenges and Dilemmas
  21. Some Issues in Development Economics
  22. Some Thoughts on the Agenda for Development Economics
  23. Some Thoughts on the Implications of Increasing Returns for Economic Development
  24. The Developmental Agenda in the Age of Neoliberal Globalization
  25. The Need to Rethink Development Economics
  26. The Neo-Liberal Doctrine and the African Crisis
  27. The "Washington Consensus" and Development Economics
  28. Thoughts and Proposals on Reviving Development Economics
  29. Towards Developmental Democracy: A Note
  30. Women, Politics and a Development Economics Renaissance
16.- International Economic Relationships:

An overview of the current status of relationships between the major trading blocks and their relations with Less Developed Countries. Discuss some of the main areas of policy conflict that exist between the major trading blocks the international economy, and estimate the chances of achieving concerted action to solve these problems.

  1. On Globalisation
  2. Notes on structural adjustment programmes
  3. Agenda 21 revisited (notes)
  4. 15 years of monetarism in Latin America: time to scream
  5. Latin America: a failed industrial revolution
  6. Latin America: the making of a fractured society
  7. Latin America: a dependent mode of production
  8. The 'adjustment' of the world economy
  9. The transnational corporate system in the late 1990s
  10. A market-friendly strategy for development
  11. Notes on agribusiness in the 1990s
  12. Transnational corporations in developing countries
  13. Latin America: blockages to development
  14. Development Studies: Researching for the big bosses?
  15. Journal of World System Research
  16. International capital and intellectual dishonesty
17.- An examination of the political and economic reasons for the collapse of central planning in bureaucratic socialist societies ( especially Soviet Union ):

Concepts for review: Economic efficiency and social efficiency as relative notions. Welfare and profits. Cold War. Bureaucratic socialism. Perestroika. The social role of employment.

1.- The end of the Chinese revolution (1978)
2.- Notes on class analysis in socialist China (1978)
3.- Class stratification in the Chinese countryside (1979)
4.- The Chinese attempt to build a socialist society (1997)
18.- Appendix.- Notes on Balance of Payments:

Understanding the dynamics of balance of payments. The political economy of balance of payments. The balance of payments and the concepts of globalization, dependence, dominance and comparative advantage. Patterns of consumption and aggregate demand.

19.- Making sense of development studies

The story of less developed societies after 1945 is the story of geographical zones of economic and political influence where Africa was a hunting ground for Western European capital, Latin America for United States transnational capital, and East and South East Asia under the "guidance" of Japanese corporate capital. All of it parallel to the political aim of 'encircling' the two former 'evils': Soviet Union and satellites, and People's Republic of China and North Viet Nam.

  1. Sustainable development in a globalized economy? The odds. 1999
  2. Sustainable development in a globalized economy. 1997
From the IMF
Understanding economics
Back to Basics
Finance & Development explains some fundamental concepts of economics

On Development Economics
The Future of Development Economics
The New Economy in Development
The Need to Rethink Development Economics
Development Economics
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Basic knowledge on economics

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