Undergraduate Course Descriptions

BEPP201 - Public Finance and 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.

Prerequisites: BEPP 250.

BEPP203 - Business in the Global Political Environment. (Course Syllabus)

This course examines the non-market components of business and the broader political, regulatory, and civil context in which companies function. This course addresses how businesses interact with political and regulatory institutions, as well as the general public, with a focus on the global economy. The first portion examines the realities associated with political economy and the actual making of laws and regulations by imperfect politicians and regulators. The second portion analyzes the economic rationale for legislation and regulation in the presence of market failures. The course covers specific market failures and potential solutions including government regulation.

Prerequisites: ECON 1 or equivalent.

BEPP208 - Housing Markets (Course Syllabus)

This course is designed for students interested in the economics and operations of 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 MGEC 612 (MBAs). Non-Wharton students should have taken the equivalent course in the College.

Prerequisites: Managerial Economics (BEPP 250) or equivalent.

Other Information: Lecture with discussion required.

BEPP212 - Economic Analysis of Law. (Course Syllabus)

The course provides an introduction to the economic analysis of law and legal institutions. Our goal is to develop intuitions about the ways law simultaneously shapes and responds to private behavioral incentives. In the first half of the course, we will survey the application of key economic concepts to basic features of the Anglo-American common law of property, contract, and tort. In the second half of the course, we will use the tools developed in our survey to focus in depth on antitrust policy in conventional as well as network industries.

Prerequisites: ECON 1 or ECON 10.

BEPP214 - Nonprofit Sector: Economic Challenges and Strategic Responses. (Course Syllabus)

The nonprofit sector plays a key role in the provision of many goods and services which are fundamental in our society and which may be difficult to provide using market mechanisms alone. Education, health care, charitable services, and the arts are some primary examples of these. Nonprofit organizations operate in service of specific social missions rather than profit maximization, but in order to serve those missions effectively while ensuring their own survival, they must also make many of the decisions typically associated with private firms. That is, they must compete for funding, human resources, and consumers of their services, they must manage and invest their resources efficiently, and they must innovate new products and services over time. Importantly, the latter requirements may at times come in conflict with the organizations' social values. As a result, nonprofit organizations as economic decision-makers confront a number of unique challenges to their success and growth. The goal of this course is to give students a broad overview of the economic, organizational, and strategic concerns facing the non-profit sector. Our objective is to characterize the unique economic environment, identify effective strategic governance, and management approaches, and explore how appropriate measurement techniques can ,can inform the policy treatment of nonprofits. This course is organized around a number of lectures, readings and outside speakers, a midterm exam and a required project.

Prerequisites: None.

BEPP220 - Behavioral Economics, Markets, and Public Policy

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 behavorial 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.

BEPP230 - Urban Fiscal Policy (Course Syllabus)

The purpose of this course is to examine the financing of governments in the urban economy. Topics to be covered include the causes and consequences of the urban fiscal crisis, the design of optimal tax and spending policies for local governments, funding of public infrastructures and the workings of the municipal bond market, privatization of government services, and public financial systems for emerging economies. Applications include analyses of recent fiscal crises, local services and taxes as important determinants of real estate prices, the infrastructure crisis, financing and the provision of public education, and fiscal constitutions for new democracies using South Africa as an example.

Prerequisites: ECON 1, FNCE 101.

BEPP233 - Consumers, Firms and Markets in Developing Countries (Course Syllabus)

Nearly four-fifths of the world's population lives in low income or developing countries. Though currently far behind the U.S., the 15 fastest growing economies/markets in the world are all developing countries. And developing countries already account for 6 of the world's 15 largest economies. This course will examine economic life, including consumers, firms and markets, in low income countries. We will apply both economic theory and empirical analysis for analyzing the roles of both business and government in consumption, production and market equilibria.

BEPP236 - International Housing Comparisons (Course Syllabus)

This course analyzes housing finance systems and housing market outcomes across the globe. In the US, the course focuses on development of securitization markets and addresses 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 potential 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: Econ 1 and Econ 2 or Econ 10.

BEPP250 - Managerial Economics (Course Syllabus)

This course will introduce you to "managerial economics" which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a "tools" course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. ,Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information - both in the market and within the firm - are investigated.

Prerequisites: ECON 1 or equivalent; MATH 103 or equivalent.

BEPP261 - Risk Analysis and Environmental Management (Course Syllabus)

This course is designed to introduce students to the complexities of making decisions about threats to human health and the environment when people's perceptions of risks and their decision-making processes differ from expert views. Recognizing the limitations of individuals in processing information, the course explores the role of techniques such as decision analysis, cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment and risk perception in structuring risk-management decisions. We will also examine policy tools such as risk communication, incentive systems, third party inspection, insurance and regulation in different problem contexts. The problem contexts for studying the interactions between analysis, perceptions, and communication will include risk-induced stigmatization of products (e.g. alar, British beef), places (e.g. Love Canal), and technologies (e.g. nuclear power); the siting of noxious facilities, radon, managing catastrophic risks including those from terrorism. A course project will enable students to apply the concepts discussed in the course to a concrete problem.

Prerequisites: ECON 1 helpful.

BEPP263 - Environmental & Energy Economics and Policy (Course Syllabus)

This course examines environmental and energy issues from an economist's perspective. Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy, as they experienced a shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives. First, we look at scarcity pricing and market power in electricity and gasoline markets. We then study oil and gas markets, with an emphasis on optimal extraction and pricing, and geopolitical risks that investors in hydrocarbon resources face. We then shift gears to the sources of environmental problems, and how policy makers can intervene to solve some of these problems. We talk about the economic rationale for a broad range of possible policies: environmental taxes, subsidies, performance standards and cap-and-trade. In doing so, we discuss fundamental concepts in environmental economics, such as externalities, valuation of the environment and the challenge of designing international agreements. At the end of the course, there will be special attention for the economics and finance of renewable energy and policies to foster its growth. Finally, we discuss the transportation sector, and analyze heavily debated policies such as fuel-economy standards and subsidies for green vehicles.

BEPP280 - Applied Data Analysis. (Course Syllabus)

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 well 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.

Prerequisites: Relevant introductory statistics course covering at least hypothesis testing and linear regression (STAT 102,112, 431 or equivalent) (i.e. ECON 104)), or at the discretion of the instructor.

BEPP284 - Game Theory for Business and Life (Course Syllabus)

The objective of this course is to make you more skilled in the art and science of strategic reasoning. Strategic situations permeate our lives and we will examine many such situations through the lens of game theory. The course is composed of game-theoretic concepts, applications, and experiential learning. The bulk of the applications are to business situations including investment and entry, bargaining, managerial incentive contracts, network effects, product location, and two-sided markets. However, given the ubiquitous presence of strategic situations in human societies, applications will extend to politics, war, sports, history, crime, theology, and every day life, and cover the existence of God, steroid use in sports, racial discrimination, land conflict, trench warfare in World War I, and the Medieval Law Merchant. Students will regularly participate in experiments involving strategic reasoning, and form teams to compete in a simulated industry environment.

Prerequisites: None

BEPP289 - Nations, Politics, and Market (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 Great Recession of 2007-2010 and its aftermath. The 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: Econ 2 or its equivalent.

BEPP299 - Independent Study

BEPP305 - 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 significant6 costs on individuals, firms, governments, and society as a whole. This course explores how individuals and firms assess and evaluate risk, examines the tolls available to successfuly mange 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 decisions in your future careers and lives.

Prerequisites: Students are assumed to have introductory knowledge of statistics, microeconomics, and finance at the level of the Wharton undergraduate classes STAT 101, BEPP 250, and FNCE 100.

BEPP322 - Business Insurance and Estate Planning. (Course Syllabus)

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 educaton expenses. Reading consist of textbooks, case studies, and bulk pack articles.

Prerequisites: None.

BEPP451 - Fundamentals of Actuarial Science. (Course Syllabus)

Prerequisites: None.

BEPP452 - Fundamentals of Actuarial Science I.

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 calculaton of typical life insurance contracts. Main topics include annuities, loans and bonds; basic principles of life contingencies and determinaton of annuity and insurance benefits and premiums.

Prerequisites: One semester of Calculus.

BEPP453 - Actuarial Statistics. (Course Syllabus)

Prerequisites: None.