Lectures on Microeconomics
The Big Questions Approach
344 pp., 8 x 9 in, 66 figures
- Published: August 21, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: July 27, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Economic concepts and techniques presented through a series of "big questions," models that show how to pose a questions rigorously and work toward an answer.
This book helps readers master economic concepts and techniques by tackling fundamental economic and political questions through a series of models. It is organized around a sequence of “big questions,” among them: When do markets help translate individuals' uncoordinated, selfish actions into outcomes that are best for all? Do markets change people, and, if so, for worse or better? Translated into the language of modern economics, do Marx's ideas have merit? Why is there so much income inequality? Or is there too little? The arguments are in the theorem-proof format, distinguishing results derived in the context of fully specified models from educated speculation. Readers will learn how to pose a question rigorously and how to work toward an answer, and to appreciate that even (especially!) the broadest and most ambitious questions call for a model. The goal of the book is not to indoctrinate but to show readers how to reason toward their own conclusions.
The first chapter, on the Walrasian model of general equilibrium, serves as the prerequisite for the rest of the book. The remaining chapters cover less conventional topics, including the morality of markets; matching theory; Marxism, socialism, and the resilience of markets; a formalization of Kant's categorical imperative; unintended consequences of policy design; and theories of justice. The book can be used as a textbook for advanced undergraduate or graduate students or as a resource for researchers in disciplines that draw on normative economics.
Romans Pancs has written a text that applies state-of-the-art microeconomic analysis to big topics that are usually considered to be on the periphery of economic theory, including morality, the jungle, socialism, exploitation, artificial intelligence, and Kantian cooperation. His imaginative approach will stimulate advanced undergraduates looking for something new, and will surely enlighten all who study it.
John E. Roemer, Elizabeth S. & A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science & Economics, Yale University
Standard intermediate micro textbooks make students into experts in the mechanical techniques of problem solving and accomplish little more than brainwashing them with traditional concepts. This thought-provoking book is 'only' for students who wish to question the fundamentals underlying microeconomics before calculating an equilibrium.
Ariel Rubinstein, Tel Aviv University and New York University
A good economics textbook—of which there are several—inspires students to embrace powerful, compelling ideas that permanently sharpen their intellectual vision. A great economics textbook—which you might be holding in your hand—also does the same for the instructor. No matter how many times you've taught this material, this book will widen and deepen your understanding. Your students are about to be launched on a great voyage of intellectual discovery. Prepare to go along for the ride.
Steven Landsburg, Professor of Economics, University of Rochester; author of Can You Outsmart an Economist?