For a more fruitful discussion on the morality of markets it might be a good idea to learn more about markets: What are they, how do they work (and possibly fail)? In the sixth post in this series five massive open online economics courses (MOOCs) on the workings of markets:

  1. Microeconomics: The Power of Markets & When They Fail (2 courses)
  2. The Power of Markets: Power, Structure & Efficiency (3 courses)

For more general courses on economics see the posts on foundational courses in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and on courses on Economics Growth, (In)equality and Well-being.


1. Microeconomics: The Power of Markets & When They Fail

Rebecca Stein, a health economist at the University of Pennsylvania (USA), teaches two connected 5-week courses on microeconomics and markets on the Coursera platform:

  • Microeconomics: The Power of Markets (part 1): “We will start with the concept of scarcity and how specialization according to comparative advantage helps us achieve more than we could alone. Next we model a marked using the tools of Supply and Demand and learn what well working markets accomplish and what their limit are. We end by exploring the impact of government intervention on perfect markets.”
  • Microeconomics: When Markets Fail (part 2):  “Perfect markets achieve efficiency: maximizing total surplus generated. But real markets are imperfect. In this course we will explore a set of market imperfections to understand why they fail and to explore possible remedies including as antitrust policy, regulation, government intervention.”

In both courses “examples are taken from everyday life, from goods and services that we all purchase and use.” The courses are intended to “empower you to be an educated, critical thinker who can understand, analyze and evaluate market outcomes.” See the top of this post for the promotion video for the first course.


2. The Power of Markets: Power, Structure & Efficiency

Mark Zupan, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Rochester (USA) teaches three connected 4-week courses on Coursera on markets:

  • I: The Basics of Supply and Demand and Consumer Behaviorcovers the basic assumptions about market participants made by economists, the concept of opportunity cost, and the key determinants of supply and demand. We will then learn how to use the supply-demand framework to explain and predict market outcomes and to show how government policies affect those market outcomes. We will look at how quantity demanded and supplied respond to their key determinants in quantitative (elasticity) as well as qualitative terms. The last two weeks will investigate consumer behavior more closely and show how consumer choices are driven by the interplay of preferences and budget constraints. We will employ the consumer choice framework to examine investor choice as well as policies such as ObamaCare and school choice. Finally, we will also address the concept of how to distribute a given amount of goods across a society’s consumers in the most efficient manner.”
  • II: Market Structure and Firm Behavior: “In order to maximize profits, firms must ensure that any given output level is produced at least cost and then select the price-output combination that results in total revenue exceeding total cost by the greatest amount possible. With this in mind, this second module addresses how firms can most effectively convert inputs into final output and then covers determining the best price-output combination for a firm and how this varies depending on whether the firm is operating in a perfectly competitive or imperfectly competitive market setting.
  • III: Input Markets and Promoting Efficiencybegins by further exploring firm behavior in imperfectly competitive market settings: how firms with monopoly power can increase profits through price discrimination; and the price-output combinations we can expect firms to select in cases of monopolistic competition and oligopoly. We will also analyze monopolies from an efficiency perspective and look at the effects of imperfect information on firm and consumer behavior. We will next turn to exploring input markets and what determines the demand for an input by a firm, an industry, and the overall market. We will also look at the factors that affect input supply and how the supply of an input interacts with demand to determinant input prices. We will use input market theory to analyze institutions and government policies such as the NCAA sports cartel, the minimum wage, Social Security, and immigration. Finally, we will address the concept of market efficiency and what government can do to promote it as well as how government intervention may diminish it.”

 


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Series "Recommended online courses":

The morality of markets is a complex topic. Do you feel like you have enough knowledge to make a sensible contribution to the debate? If not, this series of blog posts introduces some ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) that you can take from anywhere in the world.


Articles in this series:
  1. Five Foundational Online Courses in PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS that Help You Reflect on the Morality of Markets
  2. Five Online Courses on (American) CAPITALISM, Chinese MARXISM and GLOBALIZATION to Deepen Your Knowledge
  3. Four Online Courses on ECONOMIC GROWTH, (IN)EQUALITY and WELL-BEING to Deepen Your Knowledge
  4. Four Online Courses in BUSINESS ETHICS to Work on Better Markets at the Personal / Organizational Level
  5. Five Online Courses on DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY
  6. Five Online Economics Course on HOW MARKETS WORK