MBA Course Descriptions


Behavioral economics has revealed a variety of systematic ways in which people deviate from being perfectly selfish, rational, optimizing agents. These findings have important implications for government policy and firm behavior. This course will explore these implications by answering two main questions: (1) what does behavioral economics imply for when and how the government should intervene in markets? (2) What does behavioral economics imply for firms' pricing and production decisions? The course will present the standard economic approaches to answering these questions and then explore how answers change when we consider that people act in behavioral ways. Towards the end of the course, we will investigate specific policy questions, allowing us to debate solutions while hearing from policy makers operating in a world of behavioral agents.

BEPP708 - HOUSING MARKETS (Course Syllabus)

This course is designed for students interested in the economics and operationsof housing markets. It is primarily a U.S. focused course, but does include a limited amount of international material for comparative purposes. The class is divided into four sections: (1) supply and demand for housing, including the operations of homebuilders and rental landlords; (2) house prices, including cycles and price dynamics; (3) international comparisons; and (4) public policy analysis applied to a current housing markets-related issue. This course presumes knowledge of intermediate economics, as we will apply that knowledge throughout the semester. For Wharton students, this means you must have passed BEPP 250 (undergrads) or MGEC 611 and 612 for MBA's. Non-Wharton students should have taken the equivalent course in the College. Lecture with discussion required.

Prerequisites: MGEC 611 AND MGEC 612

Other Information: Lecture with discussion required.


Many dimensions of firms' strategies including agreements with suppliers and competitors, mergers and acquisitions, pricing and technology standards development, among others, are subject to the oversignt of regulatory bodies and governmental agencies. This course studies how public policy impacts firms' strategic choices in a host of economic environments. We will analyze pricing strategies includng versioning and budling; product standardization decisions; the management of complementarities between products; the role of network effects and platform competition; and how firms can take advantage of the regulatory environment they operate in when making such decisions. We will study, for example, why Sony won the Blu-Ray format war against the widely supported HD-DVD format; how the FCC plans to incentivize television broadcasters to return spectrum holdings for auction to wireless broadband providers; and how contracts with content providers affect firms' strategic interactions in the e-reader market. To understand how firm strategy and public policy interact, the course will rely on a mix of simple but rigorous analytical models and case studies.

Prerequisites: MGEC 611 AND MGEC 612

BEPP761 - RISK ANALY & ENV MGMT (Course Syllabus)

This course will introduce students to concepts in risk governance. We will delve into the three pillars of risk analysis: risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication. The course will spend time on risk financing, including insurance markets. There will be particular emphasis on climate risk management, including both physical impact risk and transition risk, although the course will also discuss several other examples, including management of environmental risks, terrorism, and cyber-security, among other examples. The course will cover how people perceive risks and the impact this has on risk management. We will explore public policy surrounding risk management and how the public and private sector can successfully work together to build resilience, particularly to changing risks.

BEPP763 - ENERGY MARKETS & POLICY (Course Syllabus)

Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy. Traditional fossil fuel and electricity markets have been seen a partial shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives, while rising environmental concerns have led to a wide array of new regulations and "environmental markets". The growth of renewable energy could be another source of rapid change, but brings with it a whole new set of technological and policy challenges. This changing energy landscape requires quick adaptation from energy companies, but also offers opportunities to turn regulations into new business. The objective of this course is to provide students with the economist's perspective on a broad range of topics that professionals in the energy industry will encounter. Topics include the effect of competition, market power and scarcity on energy prices, the impact of deregulation on electricity and fossil fuel markets, extraction and pricing of oil and gas, geopolitical uncertainty and risk in hydrocarbon investments, the environmental impact and policies related to the energy sector, environmental cap-and-trade markets, energy efficiency, the economics and finance of renewable energy, and recent developments in the transportation sector.

BEPP770 - PUBLIC FINANCE & POLICY (Course Syllabus)

This course explores the economics and politics of public policy to provide an analytic framework for considering why, how, and with what success/failure government intervenes in a variety of policy areas. Particular attention will be paid to important policy issues relating to taxation, social security, low-income assistance, health insurance, education (both K-12 and higher ed), the environment, and government deficits. The costs and benefits of alternative policies will be explored along with the distribution of responsibilities between the federal, state, and local governments. While the course will focus primarily on U.S. policies, the topics covered (e.g. tax reform, deficits versus austerity, etc.) are currently at the center of the policy debate in many other industrialized countries as well.

BEPP773 - URBAN FISCAL POLICY (Course Syllabus)

This course will examine the provision of public services for firms and people through cities. Why cities exist, when fiscal policy fails, investments in infrastructure, realities of local governments such as inequality, crime, corruption, high cost of living, congestion, and unfunded pensions and debt, will be covered. We will pay special attention to recent topics, such as partnerships with the private sector, enterprise zones, the role of technology, environmental challenges, and real estate policies that promote housing affordability, such as rent control and inclusionary zoning.


This course will examine how and when data can be used specifically to infer whether there is a causal relationship between two variables. We will emphasize (a) the critical role of an underlying economic theory of behavior in interpreting data and guiding analysis, as wel as (b) a range of advanced techniques for inferring causality from data, such as randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity, difference-in-difference, audit study (mystery shopping) approaches and stock-market event studies. The issue of causality, and the relevance of thinking about models and methods for inferring causality, is just as central and important for "Big Data" as it is when working with traditional data sets in business and public policy. The emphasis will not be on proofs and derivations but rather on understanding the underlying concepts, the practical use, implications and limitations of techniques. Students will work intensively with data, drawing from examples in business and public policy, to develop the skills to use data analysis to make better decisions. All analysis will be conducted using R. The goals of the course are for students to become expert consumers able to interpret and evaluate empirical studies as well as expert producers of convincing empirical analysis themselves.


This course is intended to deepen understanding of the major contemporary issues in the world economy. The focus is on the "big picture" of global economic developments and the evolution of economic thought over the last one hundred years. The topics include: financial market booms and busts; business cycles; monetary and fiscal policies; inequality; the social welfare state; technological change and economic growth; and international trade and financial arrangements. The time period covers: the Roaring Twenties; the Great Depression, the post war Golden Age (1945-1973); the stagflation of the 1970s; the Washington Consensus era of the market liberalization (1980-2007); and the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession; and the recent rise of populism. This course also explores different schools of thought. The course will chronicle and compare economic policy and performance of the United States, Europe, Japan and emerging markets (Asia, Latin America, Africa).

Prerequisites: MGEC 611 AND MGEC 612

BEPP805 - RISK MANAGEMENT (Course Syllabus)

The last financial crisis and subsequent recession provide ample evidence that failure to properly manage risk can result in disaster. Individuals and firms confront risk in nearly all decisions they make. People face uncertainty in their choice of careers, spending and saving decisions, family choices, and many other facets of life. Similarly, the value that firms create by designing and marketing good products is at risk from a variety of sources. The bankruptcy of a key supplier, sharp rise in cost of financing, destruction of an important asset, impact of global warming, or a liability suit can quickly squander the value created by firms. In extreme cases, risky outcomes can bankrupt a firm, as has happened recently to manufacturers of automobile parts and a variety of financial service firms. The events since the Global Financial Crisis also offer stark reminders that risk can impose significant costs on individuals, firms, governments, and societ6y as a whole. This course explores how individuals and firms assess and evaluate risk, examines the tools available to successfully manage risk, and discusses real-world phenomena that limit the desired amount of risk-sharing. Our focus is primarily on explaining the products and institutions that will serve you better when making decisisions in your future careers and lives.


The growing connectivity of global economies and financial markets has produced widespread risk contagion, resulting in increased volatility and an ever-increasing demand for risk capital. This course focuses on understanding the drivers of risk contagion and ways to restore confidence in worldwide markets for pure and financial risk. The class begins with an evaluaton of recent financial and pure risk events: for example, the sovereign debt crisis, Japanese earthquake, and BP Deepwater Horizon. We explore how these events are being financed in innovative ways via the capital and insurance markets. Next we emphasize the role of risk management in the preservaton and creation of value, helping firms identify, measure, monitor and manage/finance risk. Doing so results in risk-adjusted returns (or return on risk-adjusted capital) that exceed the cost of capital. We devote substantial focus on the practical implementation of effective risk management/financing, given evolving regulatory and governance standards. In addition, we explore opportunities for corporate growth as well as public/private partnerships. The course will conclude with a discussion of emerging markets and the role of risk management in developing a middle class needing new forms of risk transfer/financing.


The increased frequency and severity of pure risk events hinders corporations' abilities to execute strategy and deliver sustainable financial results to stakeholders. Prominent recent examples include disruptions from Hurricane Katrina, Japan's earthquake/nuclear disaster/supply chain breakdowns, Thai floods, U.S. wildfires, and global terrorist attacks. At the same time, both industrialized and emerging economies understand that the management and financing of pure risk is critical to the success of their economies. Consequently, the rising demand for risk capital has ushered in several capital market innovations and public/private partnerships necessary for managing and financing pure risk. This course investigates these issues, beginning with an introduction to pure risks, their centers of gravity and global consequences for corporations, consumers, and the macroeconomies. Next we move on to traditional sources of risk capital provided to corporations and governments via insurance and reinsurance mechanisms. The course concludes with a discussion of new sources of risk capital provided by capital markets including catastrophic risk bonds, securitization of mortality and liability risk, and other forms of insurance-linked securities. Our focus is on the supply of risk capital to corporations and economies, recognizing the unique position of emerging economies in this nexus. Throughout, the class emphasizes current real-world cases to illustrate the competitive differences in strategies taken by hedge funds, private equity pools, and insurers, as they address the increasing need for risk capital around the world. This course complements BEPP 811, Risk and Crisis Management, which focuses on how firms can use various types of hedging instruments to manage pure risks (that is BEPP811's emphasis is primarily on the demand side of markets for pure risks whereas BEPP 812 examines the supply side of these markets). However, BEPP 811 is not required as a prerequisite. Format: Lecture and discussion, midterm and final.


This course presents an analysis of overall private wealth management. This includes planning for disposition of closely-held business interests; the impact of income taxes and other transfer costs on business interests and other assets; integration of life insurance, disability insurance, medical benefits, and long-term care insurance in the financial plan; planning for concentrated asset (e.g., common stock) positions, diversification techniques, and asset allocation strategies; distribution of retirement assets; lifetime giving and estate planning; and analysis of current developments in the creation, conservation, and distribution of estates. Attention also is given to various executive compensation techniques (including restricted stock and stock options) and planning for various employee benefits. The course also covers sophisticated charitable giving techniques and methods for financing education expenses. Readings consist of textbook, case studies, and bulk pack articles. This course should be attractive to most students to help them plan for their own or their families' financial affairs. It also should be particularly attractive to students specializing in entrepreneurship, wealth management finance, and law.


This course analyzes housing finance systems and housing market outcomes across the globe. In the US, the course focuses on the development of securitization markets and addresses the current challenges of housing finance reform, including the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Internationally, the course covers issues of access to housing and housing informality in developing countries, financial crises arising out of the housing sector, and market-oriented and public policy solutions. The course features a wide array of speakers in finance, government and academia who contribute their perspectives to pressing issues of mortgage market design.

Prerequisites: FNCE 613

BEPP851 - FUND OF ACTUARIAL SCI I (Course Syllabus)

This course is the usual entry point in the actuarial science program. It is required for students who plan to concentrate or minor in actuarial science. It can also be taken by others interested in the mathematics of personal finance and the use of mortality tables. For future actuaries, it provides the necessary knowledge of compound interest and its applications, and basic life contingencies definition to be used throughout their studies. Non-actuaries will be introduced to practical applications of finance mathematics, such as loan amortization and bond pricing, and premium calculation of typical life insurance contracts. Main topics include annuities, loans and bonds; basic principles of life contingencies and determination of annuity and insurance benefits and premiums. Prerequisite: One semester of calculus.


This specialized course is usually only taken by Wharton students who plan to concentrate in actuarial science and Penn students who plan to minor in actuarial mathematics. It provides a comprehensive analysis of advanced life contingencies problems such as reserving, multiple life functions, multiple decrement theory with application to the valuation of pension plans.

Prerequisites: STAT 851 OR BEPP 851


This course covers models for insurer's losses, and applications of Markov chains. Poisson processes, including extensions such as non-homogeneous, compound, and mixed Poisson processes are studied in detail. The compound model is then used to establish the distribution of losses. An extensive section on Markov chains provides the theory to forecast future states of the process, as well as numerous applications of Markov chains to insurance, finance, and genetics. The course is abundantly illustrated by examples from the insurance and finance literature. While most of the students taking the course are future actuaries, other students interested in applications of statistics may discover in class many fascinating applications of stochastic processes and Markov chains. Prerequisite: Two semesters of statistics.


The ASP is intended to generate an interchange of ideas and perspectives and to provide the student with an opportunity to pursue a narrow topic in depth. ASP topics will be chosen by the student with advice from the instructor. The seminar instructor will act as coordinator for the projects. Other members of the department will serve as unofficial advisers to students according to expertise and interests.


This course establishes the micro-economic foundations for understanding business decision-making. The course will cover consumer theory and market demand under full information, market equilibrium and government intervention, production theory and cost optimization, producing in perfectly competitive and monopoly markets, vertical relations, and game theory, including simultaneous, sequential, and infinitely repeated games. Finally, we will wrap up game theory with an application to auctions. Students are expected to have mastered these materials before enrolling in the second quarter course: Microeconomics for Managers: Advanced Applications.

MGEC612 - MICROECON FOR MGR - ADV. (Course Syllabus)

This course will cover the economic foundations of business strategy and decision-making in market environments with other strategic actors and less than full information, as well as advanced pricing strategies. Topics include oligopoly models of market competition, creation, and protection, sophisticated pricing strategies for consumers with different valuations or consumers who buy multiple units (e.g. price discrimination, bundling, two-part tariffs), strategies for managing risk and making decisions under uncertainty, asymmetric information and its consequences for markets, and finally moral hazard and principle-agent theory with application to incentive contacts.