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Simon Kuznets pioneered the idea of measuring Gross Domestic Product and National Income Product Accounts in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Since colonial times, statisticians had been measuring various measures of the economy from employment to prices to import and exports. Statistics are dry and boring, right? Well, incredibly, these measures of economic well-being are increasingly the subject of partisan interpretation. In this course we will look at the economic indicators ourselves to find real values and trends and explain them in layperson’s terms to try to make sense of the numbers. We will look at present and historical GDP, employment and unemployment, inflation, consumer confidence, trade deficits and tariffs, budget deficits and national debt, stock and bond prices, housing prices, and more to see if we can uncover the truth. What should be a dry straightforward subject turns out to be anything but that.
GROUP LEADER: William O’Brien holds a PhD in Economics from Northeastern University and is Professor of Economics at Worcester State University. His research interests range from public choice to the effect of taxes on economic behavior to the determinants of MCAS scores to globalization. The subject of his PhD dissertation was public choice.
REQUIRED BOOK: The Secrets of Economic Indicators, 3rd Edition, Bernhard Baumol, Pearson Education FT Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0132932073.
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609