Undergraduate Course Descriptions

BEPP1000 - Introductory Economics (Course Syllabus)

Microeconomics is the study of the behavior of households and firms, whose collective decisions determine how resources are allocated in a free market economy. We will study when markets are likely to produce "efficient" outcomes, and when government intervention may improve on or harm the competitive market outcome. We will use economic theory to analyze issues like a gas tax to change reliance on oil, minimum wages to increase salaries of the working poor, and government subsidies to increase education. Macroeconomics is the study of the economy as a whole. We will understand how the size of the US economy is determined, how unemployment is measured, how inflation affects life. We will look at policy options that the government and the Federal Reserve Bank face, and discuss pros and cons of their actions. Economic arguments are often used in debates about government policies, discussion of business strategies, and many of life's other arenas. The goal of the course is to teach you to "think like an economist," which I hope will help you to understand the world around you, make better economic decisions in your own life, and be a more informed citizen and voter.

BEPP2010 - 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.

BEPP2020 - Con Fin Decision Making (Course Syllabus)

Research shows that many individuals are profoundly underinformed about important financial facts and financial products, which frequently lead them to make mistakes and lose money. Moreover, consumer finance comprises an enormous sector of the economy, including products like credit cards, student loans, mortgages, retail banking, insurance, and a wide variety of retirement savings vehicles and investment alternatives. Additionally, recent breakthroughs in the FinTech arena are integrating innovative approaches to help consumers. Though virtually all people use these products, many find financial decisions to be confusing and complex, rendering them susceptible to fraud and deception. As a result, government regulation plays a major role in these markets. This course intended for Penn undergraduates considers economic models of household decisions and examines evidence on how consumers are managing (and mismanaging) their finances. Although academic research has historically placed more attention on corporate finance, household finance is receiving a brighter spotlight now-- partly due to its role in the recent financial crisis. Thus the course is geared toward those seeking to take charge of their own financial futures, anyone interested in policy debates over consumer financial decision making, and future FinTech entrepreneurs.

BEPP2030 - Bus in Global Pol Envir (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 0100

BEPP2070 - Econ. For Next 100 Yrs (Course Syllabus)


BEPP2080 - 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 2500 (undergrads) or MGEC 61100and 6120 for MBA's. Non-Wharton students should have taken the equivalent course in the College. Lecture with discussion required.

Prerequisites: BEPP 2500

BEPP2110 - Tax Policy & Practice (Course Syllabus)

The academic component of the course will focus on several areas: (1) The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. Students will read this book throughout the semester to support their understanding of the community that they will be serving. (2) Statutory tax system. Students will learn about the tax system as it relates to individuals and sole proprietors. The VITA training covers general tax preparation, with a specific focus on tax credits available to VITA-eligible taxpayers and the use of VITA software. In addition, one session of the course will include a guest lecture/discussion. It will focus on statutory tax issues related to organizational form choice for self-employed and gig economy workers, which is an important statutory issue in low-income communities. (3) Social policy debate. Tax policy, including deductions, subsidies and credits, are one tool that lawmakers can use to get more cash in the hands of individuals and families, especially for low-income groups. Students will consider the effectiveness and usefulness of tax policies relative to other tools that the government has available. There are three guest lecturers for the sessions on tax policy. (4) Working with people. Volunteering with VITA requires students to work with people from a low-income community on the sensitive issue of personal finances. Students will learn to discuss sensitive financial issues with lower-income adults (including many seniors) through readings and in-class discussions, and by reflecting on their real-life experiences in the local community. This skill is important in a variety of roles such as healthcare (physicians and nurses), business (e.g., the HR function), and education. The community service part of the course is volunteering with VITA, which is the IRS’s “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” program. Following training, students will perform tax services for the West Philadelphia community during the tax season. The course will meet once a week in three-hour sessions for 8-9 weeks during the Spring semester. Students are expected to be in the field performing service throughout a significant portion of the semester. As described on the IRS website, the VITA program has operated for over 50 years. Volunteers offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns, including: • People who generally make $58,000 or less • Persons with disabilities; and • Limited English-speaking taxpayers.

BEPP2120 - Economic Analysis of Law (Course Syllabus)

This course provides an introduction to the economic analysis of law and legal institutions. Our goal is 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 the law of intellectual property.

BEPP2140 - Nonprofit Sector: Econom (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.

BEPP2200 - Behavioral Economics (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 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.

BEPP2300 - 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.

BEPP2330 - Consumers,Firms & Market (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.

BEPP2360 - 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.

BEPP2500 - 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 0100 AND MATH 1300

BEPP2508 - 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 0100 AND MATH 1300

BEPP2610 - 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 risks, although the course will also discuss several other examples, including pandemics, biodiversity loss, and systemic risks, among others. The course will cover how people perceive risks and the impact this has on risk communication and management. We will explore public policy surrounding risk management and how the public and private sectors can successfully work together to build resilience, particularly to changing risks.

BEPP2630 - Environ. & Energy Econ (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. Prerequisites: An introductory microeconomics course (ECON1, or another course approved by the instructor) will be sufficient in most cases; BEPP 250 or an equivalent intermediate microeconomics course is recommended.

BEPP2640 - Climate and Financial Markets (Course Syllabus)

Climate change might be the defining challenge of our times, with a wide range of effects on financial markets and the broader economy. At the same time, financial markets play an important role in financing the transition to a net-zero economy. This role, however, is shaped by the information that is available to market participants. In this course, we examine how climate risks—both physical and regulatory—affect firms, financial markets (including carbon and renewable-energy certificate markets), and markets for energy and real estate. We examine the role that firms’ disclosures and third-party information sources play. As climate change is high on the agenda of almost every company and government, this course will be valuable both for students with the ambition to pursue a career centered around sustainability and those who want to gain a better understanding of how climate issues affect more traditional roles in the financial sector, consulting, or non-profits. The starting point for this course is that financial market participants increasingly realize that climate change represents an important investment risk. One central concern focuses on transition risks, and in particular on the effects that regulatory responses to climate change have on the business models of carbon-intensive energy companies. We discuss how concerns about various climate risks influence the way investors allocate their capital and exercise their oversight of firms. We start with the price impacts of climate risks in equity, debt and real estate markets, including the role played by shareholder activism and engagement, divestment and portfolio alignment. Next, we study carbon markets with a focus on pricing and discuss strategies to hedge climate risks through financial instruments such as carbon or renewable-energy credits and derivative contracts. We then explore how different firms in the global energy sector—ranging from oil & gas to renewable energy to electric utilities—have responded to climate-related pressures from their investors and other stakeholders. Because outsiders’ reactions depend on the information that they have, we investigate the impact of ESG reporting on financial markets and on the choices that managers make. Here, we also discuss the costs and benefits of regulating ESG reporting and the impact of greenwashing. We pay special attention to the impact of climate risk and reporting on decisions inside organizations, such as spin-offs, hedging, catastrophe insurance, and the structure of executive-compensation contracts. Further topics include life-cycle emissions and the social cost of carbon.

Prerequisites: ACCT 1010 AND BEPP 2500

BEPP2650 - Economics of Diversity (Course Syllabus)

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 2240/MGMT6240, and material will not overlap, so students especially interested in diversity issues should seek to take both courses. While MGMT 2240/MGMT 6240 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.

BEPP2800 - 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: STAT 1020 OR STAT 1120 OR STAT 4310 OR ECON 2310 OR PSCI 1801 OR SOCI 2010

BEPP2840 - Game Thy For Bus & Life (Course Syllabus)

The objective of this course is to make you more skilled in 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 product entry, bargaining, managerial incentive contracts, and network effects. Given the ubiquitous presence of strategic situations in human societies, applications will also extend to politics, war, sports, history, crime, theology, and every day life, and cover such topics as steroid use in sports, traffic congestion, corruption, racial discrimination, and sexual harassment. Students will regularly participate in experiments involving strategic reasoning, and form teams to compete in a simulated industry environment.

BEPP2890 - 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 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 0200

BEPP2990 - Independent Study (Course Syllabus)

BEPP3050 - 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: BEPP 2500 AND FNCE 1000

BEPP3220 - Bus Insr & Est Plng (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.

BEPP4010 - Public Policy Analysis (Course Syllabus)

BEPP 4010 fulfills the Wharton capstone requirement by giving students an opportunity to apply their skills to assess a vital public policy question at the local, state, national, or global level. The policy topics the students can choose from will vary from year to year in order to ensure that they are topical and relevant. The course will also provide students with background on relevant conceptual/methodological topics for assessing policy, including experimental and quasi-experimental approaches, frameworks for policy analysis, behavioral economics, and data science (as appropriate for a given topic). Students will work in groups to produce a capstone report which provides a policy analysis for their chosen topic, along with policy recommendations. Not Offered Every Year

Prerequisites: BEPP 2500