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COURSE NAME: "Senior Seminar in Economics and Finance"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

EMAIL: MMERVA@johncabot.edu
HOURS: T 6:00-8:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: Senior Standing; EC 301, EC 302, FIN 301, MA 209 or EC 360

Designed to be a capstone course, emphasis is placed on both theoretical and quantitative methods in the fields of economics and finance. Basic tools of economics and statistics are used to analyze a variety of contemporary economic problems and policy issues. Students read through major papers and may undertake research on specific topics so as to develop their understanding of economics and finance. Papers and topics cover the current issues of interest in the areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and finance to include the CFA Professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Students may be expected to present and write about their research topics as well as demonstrate an ability to work with quantitative information.
This course aims at enhancing economic reasoning skills along with developing the ability to communicate complex arguments and quantitive information effectively in written, visual, and oral formats.  Basic tools and methods of economics and statistics are used to understand and analyze a variety of contemporary economic problems and policy issues chosen by the instructor.  Students are expected to participate in class discussions, prepare and present an equity research report, prepare and present a White Paper on an economic policy position, and write and present a final research paper. 
Course CODE on MOODLE:   EC480SP20

LOS 1:  Build a solid understanding of and knowledge base in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and finance.            

LOS 2:  Development of critical-thinking skills and learn to apply economic analysis to understand economic events and everyday problems.

LOS 3:  Learn how to us empirical evidence in evaluating economic problems and theories, and to evaluate strategic business and policy proposals.

LOS 4:  Mastering research methods in the field and develop the ability to gather research data, conduct basic statistical analysis and interpret results. 

LOS 5:  Develop adequate training in mathematical methods to develop problem-solving skills, perform proofs and prepare for further graduate studies in the areas of economics and finance.

LOS 6:  Master solid communication skills that enable students to formulate a well-organized argument and communicate effectively in written, spoken, and graphical form about specific economic and financial issues.

LOS 7:  Gain awareness of the CFA Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.



Equity Research ReportStudents prepare an equity research report on a selected stock. Guidelines are in the Frohring Library Research Guides for EC 480.20%
White Paper on a Policy Position 1200-1500 wordsGuidelines are in the Frohring Library Research Guides for EC 480 and posted on Moodle20%
CFA Ethics and Professional Standards TestIn class multiple choice exam.5%
Seminar DiscussionsIn class discussions on assigned papers and/or topics on the syllabus. Students are expected to participate, contribute, and lead discussions demonstrating competency in the assigned work.10%
Research Paper and Presentation 3000 wordsGuidelines are posted on Moodle.40%
Bloomberg Certification Following the instructions on the Bloomberg terminals in the Aurelian wing of the library for Bloomberg Certification.5%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course. 93-100: A 90-92.99: A-
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments. 86-89.99: B+ 83-85.99: B 80-82.99: B-
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings. 75-79.99: C+ 70-74.99: C 65-69.99: C-
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail. 60-64.99: D+ 55-59.99: D 50-54.99: D-
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant. Below 50



You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.

Attendance in this class is mandatory to include participating in the presentations of other students.


As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1: January 22

Researching economics and finance: information resources and writing: the White Paper and the Equity Research Report.  Introduction to accessing Bloomberg Terminal data. Library Information Session with the Reference Librarian.  Begin lecture on valuation.

Assignment 1: Equity Research Report: Preliminary 5-minute snap presentation Week 3; Report due Week 4; Company: Exxon: Buy, Sell, or Hold


(i)             What is Valuation? by Professor Aswath Damodaran, NYU Stern School of Business:http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/background/valintro.htm March 21, 2014

(ii)            CFA Equity Research Report Essentials 2013

Brief discussion of the research papers:  begin to prepare 2 research questions for discussion in Week 2.

Week 2: January 29

Present (1 minute) preliminary research question. 

Information Cascades - discussion questions assigned.

Classroom Games: Information Cascades by Lisa Anderson and Charles Holt, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Autumn, 1996)  http://www.jstor.org/stable/2138561

Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades by Sushil Bikhchandani and David Hirshleifer, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer, 1998) http://www.jstore.org/stable/2647037

Week 3:  February 5

Discussion questions assigned for:  Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms: by Elinor Ostrom, Joumal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 14, Number 3—Summer 2000—Pages 137-158

Begin the White Paper assignment:  Policy Position:  Should Italy keep the extended retirement age or reduce it?

Background reading: The Economics of Pensions by Nicholas Barr and Peter Diamond, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2006.

Week 4: February 12

Equity Research Report Due beginning of class.

Snap presentation of the Equity Research Report - 5 minutes for a randomly selected person from a buy, hold, and sell group.  Class discussion of the presentations.

Thesis statements presented to class.  Upload to Moodle at the beginning of class.

Week 5: February 19

Group meetings for White Paper Presentations.

Week 6: February 26

White Paper Presentations:  Debate: For, Against, Rebuttal, Discussion.

Week 7: March 5

Discussion question assigned for class.

Introduction to measuring wage discrimination (students should read briefly through Oaxaca paper before class as we will go over it in class:   Male Female Wage Discrimination in Urban Labor Markets, Author: Ronald Oaxaca, International Economic Review, Volume 14, Issue 3, October 1973 (693-709)

Bayesian Bigot? Statistical Discrimination, Stereotypes, and Employer Decision Making Author(s): Devah Pager and Diana Karafin,  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 621, The Moynihan Report Revisited: Lessons and Reflections after Four Decades (Jan., 2009), pp. 70-93 Published by:  in association with the Sage Publications, Inc. American Academy of Political and Social Science Stable URL:  http://www.jstor.org/stable/40375833 Accessed: 19-04-2015 10:11 UTC

Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination Author(s): Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan Source:   The American Economic Review, Vol. 94, No. 4 (Sep., 2004), pp. 991-1013 Published by:  American Economic Association Stable URL:  http://www.jstor.org/stable/3592802 Accessed: 19-04-2015 09:58 UTC

Prepare an excel file of the Oaxaca wage discrimination file using the CPS May data for Week 9: demonstrate ability to clearly present and document and excel file.

Week 8:  March 19 

Discussion questions assigned for class for the paper:  Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes? By Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales Source: The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 2006), pp. 23-48, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30033649 Accessed: 03-09-2017 20:18 UTC

Open Discussion on policy innovation: Exploration:  We have free trade zones for goods, could we have visa free zones for labor?  What would a visa-free zones  look like in Greece (on an island) as a business conference center networked by private airlines to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Russia?

Week 9: March 26

Exam on CFA Code of Conduct and Standards of Professional Conduct, Tuesday, March 26th

Week 10: April 2

Discussion questions to prepare before class:  Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: The Anatomy of Urban Crisis Author(s): William J. Baumol Source: The American Economic Review, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Jun., 1967), pp. 415-426 Published by: American Economic Association

Ted Talk on not-for-profit management.

Presentation of research paper outlines:  upload to Moodle at the beginning of class.

Week 11: April 9

Economic movie night

Week 12: April 16
Research paper presentations
Week 13:  April 23
Research paper presentations
Week 14: April 30
Research paper presentations
Week 15: Final Exam: See University schedule for day and time.
Research paper presentations.