MBA Course Descriptions

BEPP620 - BEHAVIORAL ECON, MARKETS (Course Syllabus)

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.

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.

BEPP765 - ECONOMICS OF DIVERSITY

This class will cover the economics of gender, race, and discrimination guided by economic theory and empirical evidence. Topics on gender will include workplace discrimination, policies to promote gender equality, the historical evolution of economic gender roles in the US, and initiatives to promote women's empowerment in developing countries. Topics on race will include an overview of historical economic exclusion and its consequences, the empirical measurement of discrimination, models of discrimination and their shortcomings, and how understanding hidden biases and historical barriers can increase firms' equity and performance. This course is complementary with MGMT 224/624, and material will not overlap, so students especially interested in diversity issues should seek to take both courses. While MGMT 224/624 focuses on evidence-based solutions for managing diversity, this course focuses on the economic science of race, gender, and discrimination: How do economists model bias? What does empirical evidence say about the benefits of diversity, and the harms of discrimination? How do we measure whether discrimination is still taking place, despite a growing awareness of diversity and inclusion? What is unique about women as economic agents, and how do we understand gender equality in the workplace in light of this? This class will equip students with economics models and empirical evidence that can serve as a toolkit to analyze both policy and business decisions. The format will be discussion based, with a short lecture each session and then active class discussion, drawing parallels between research and current events and news articles. Students will also present on various topics throughout the semester. The final project can be either a) an original research project, based on one of the topics discussed in class, or b) a case-style analysis of a modern management or policy dilemma building upon the class material.

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.

BEPP780 - APPLIED DATA ANALYSIS

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.

BEPP789 - ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION (Course Syllabus)

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.

BEPP811 - RISK AND CRISIS MGMT

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.

BEPP836 - INT'L HOUSING COMPARISNS (Course Syllabus)

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.

BEPP852 - FUND OF ACTUARIAL SCI II

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

BEPP853 - ACTUARIAL STATISTICS (Course Syllabus)

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.

BEPP893 - ADV STUDY PROJECT

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.

MGEC611 - MICROECONOMICS FOR MANAG (Course Syllabus)

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.