EC 368 / IN 368 Economic Policy Analysis from a European Perspective

Offered in Berlin, Germany, 23 May-14 June 2013, through the Office of International Programs

In cooperation with DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research)

By Prof. Christopher F Baum, DIW Research Professor, Department of Macroeconomics, DIW Berlin

This three credit hour course will count as an upper-level elective toward the Economics major and minor requirements (for those who have already completed EC201 or EC202: a lower-level elective otherwise), as an elective for the CSOM Economics concentration, and as an approved elective for the International Studies major and minor. Completion of EC201-202 (Intermediate Theory) and EC228 (Econometric Methods) is useful but not essential. The course should be of interest to students in economics, management, international studies, political science, sociology and related disciplines. No knowledge of the German language is presumed, but would be helpful.

Students should arrange their travel to arrive in Berlin on Wednesday 22 May. There will be an orientation on Thursday at the offices of IES Abroad Berlin and classes will begin at 10:00 AM sharp on the morning of Friday 24 May at the offices of DIW Berlin, in room 1.2.026 (first floor, not ground floor). Ring the "DIW Berlin" bell at 58 Monhrenstraße and take the elevator to floor 1.

All class meetings will be held at the DIW Berlin research institute, 58 Mohrenstraße in central Berlin (see map below), from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, with the exception of Tuesday, 11 June, when we will have a special presentation on "The European Debt Crisis and the Banking Union Proposal" from Prof. Dr. Claudia Buch from 2:00-5:00 PM, given in the Schumpeter Hall. Please be on time for class meetings. The course will meet for 45 contact hours over fifteen weekdays from Friday 24 May through Friday 14 June. There will be no class on Friday, 7 June. Some of the international graduate students at the DIW Berlin Graduate Center will interact with BC students, inside and outside class.

Focus and format of the course

The current turmoil in Europe over the Greek financial crisis has focused attention on the Eurozone, its viability, and the stresses within a monetary union with limited fiscal powers. Just as in the US and UK, a number of European banks and financial institutions have been adversely affected by the broader financial crisis. But these financial issues are a subset of the major policy challenges facing European countries within the EU, those in the Eurozone, and those outside one or both of those clubs.

European economies with extensive social welfare programs have been criticized for many years as lacking the labor market flexibility that would enable them to compete with their trading partners in the US and Asia. Many European countries' adverse demographic trends imply that their pension and retirement income issues are considerably more serious than the threats facing the US Social Security system. Productivity gains in European economies have been hindered by the lack of innovation that has characterized the US economy, reflecting to some degree the lack of support for start-up firms provided by private equity and venture capital in the US. Although continental bank-based financial systems may provide excellent support to established firms, they may also hinder formation of new enterprises. The high tax burdens required to finance generous social welfare programs have reduced governments' ability to address other priorities, such as the declining presence of European universities among the world's most prestigious institutions of higher education.

The policy challenges facing European economies, and the methods used to study and address them, are the focus of this summer course on economic policy analysis from a European perspective. The course will involve a series of lectures on the major policy issues, with readings from the text Economic Policy: Theory and Practice (Benassy-Quere et al., Oxford University Press, 2010) interspersed with five presentations by leading researchers at DIW Berlin, a highly respected German policy research institute, and other German institutions of higher learning. Guest lecturers will focus on their research areas of specialization and present a practical understanding of the issues. Emphasis will be placed on how policy analysis is carried out, including its expositional and methodological aspects, in order to provide clear and convincing findings to government, business, academe and the media.

Seminar Meeting Schedule (1000-1300h, room 1.2.026)

Fri 24 May, Baum lecture

Mon 27 May, Baum lecture

Tue 28 May, Brigitte Young (Political Economy, University of Münster): "Global Financial Markets : Fairness and Justice"

Wed 29 May, Baum lecture

Thu 30 May, Kerstin Bernoth (Deputy Head of Department of Macroeconomics, DIW Berlin): "Imposing Fiscal Discipline by Financial Markets"

Fri 31 May, Susan Steiner (University of Hannover, Economics): "Financing Constraints and Employment: Evidence from Transition Countries"

Mon 3 Jun, Baum lecture

Tue 4 Jun, Dorothea Schäfer, Research Director Financial Markets, DIW Berlin, Associate Professor at Jönköping International Business School (Sweden): "Financial Transactions Tax: The European Approach"

Wed 5 Jun, Baum lecture

Thu 6 Jun, Baum lecture

Fri 7 Jun: no class, visit to Neues Museum at 1400h

Mon 10 Jun, Baum lecture

Tue 11 Jun [1400-1700h, Schumpeter Hall]: Claudia Buch, President, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH: Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Halle) and member of the German Council of Economic Experts (Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung): "The European Debt Crisis and the Banking Union Proposal"

Wed 12 Jun, Baum lecture

Thu 13 Jun, Baum lecture

Fri 14 Jun, Baum lecture

Course requirements

Course requirements will include five short essays discussing aspects of the guest lecturers' presentations due before midnight on the day following the day of presentation. The essays, in PDF format, are to be emailed to Prof. Baum. Active participation in class discussions is required. The last day of class will be devoted to brief student presentations reflecting on what they have learned in the seminar.


Please see the Readings page (updated 14 Jun 2013) for some useful websites, recent articles and a list of books I have found interesting related to Berlin and 20th c. Germany.

Logistics and Cultural Events

Students should plan to arrive in Berlin's Tegel Airport on Wednesday 22 May. Take a taxi to the IES Abroad offices, Johannisstraße 6 in Berlin-Mitte, and save the receipt for reimbursement. That afternoon, students will be taken to their lodging at the Meininger Hotel Berlin Mitte "Humboldthaus", Oranienburger Straße 67/68, 10117 Berlin, which is only a couple of hundred yards from the IES Abroad facilities, Johannisstraße 6. Rooms in this three-star hotel are equipped with shower/WC, free WiFi and TV. The hotel is smoke-free. Self-service laundry machines are available, as is a fully-equipped guest kitchen. A breakfast buffet is included. For more details, now including room assignments, please download this PDF document.

Students will receive a local zone A/B VBB transportation pass for the duration of their Berlin stay. The Berlin transit system runs 24/7, although subways (U-Bahn) and heavy rail (S-Bahn) are replaced by night buses (Nachtbus) late at night. U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines operate on the honor system; you must show your valid VBB pass if requested by an inspector. To ride the bus, show your pass to the driver.

Students should bring a "business casual" outfit for more formal cultural events such as the opera, symphony concerts, etc. Blouse and slacks, suit or dress for women, button-down shirt and slacks (not jeans!) for men. No need for party dresses, suits, ties, etc., just respectable attire for similar events in downtown Boston. Bring comfortable shoes for day trips, which will involve a lot of walking.

Schedule of Extracurricular Events:

Please see the BC Arrival Week document for a summary of the first week's schedule.

Wed 22 May: arrival,check-in at IES Abroad Berlin, transfer to hotel, tour of IES facilities, snacks and chats at IES.
1800h: Welcome dinner, Giotto, Friedrichstraße 132 (between Johannisstraße and Ziegelstraße). Meet in the Meininger lobby at 1740h.

Thu 23 May 1000-1130h: Orientation at IES Abroad Berlin, Johannisstraße 6. 1130-1400h: tour of surroundings, lunch break at the university cafeteria (Mensa).
1400-1700h: Hop-on hop-off bus tour from Unter den Linden 36, IES Abroad Berlin guide.

Sat 25 May: free day.

Sun 26 May: free day. See Arrival Week document for suggestions.

Mon 27 May 2000h (be there by 1930h): Berlin Philharmonie (Herbert-von-Karajan Str. 1, U/S: Potsdamer Platz), Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Richard Wagner: "Der fliegende Holländer" (The Flying Dutchman) (concert performance).

Thu 30 May 1830h: guided tour of Reichstag (be there by 1800h; bring your passport!) Platz der Republik 1, a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor).

Sat 1 Jun 0915h @ Meininger: day trip to Potsdam, city and palaces.

Sun 2 Jun 1400h (be there by 1345h): Group visit to Pergamon Museum, Museuminsel (entrance on south side of island). Meet at museum entrance for group admission.

Sun 2 Jun 2000h (be there by 1930h): Berlin Konzerthaus, Gendarmenmarkt, U-6 Franzöische Straße (1 block east) or U-2 Hausvogtieplatz (2 blocks north), European Doctors Orchestra: Richard Wagner, "Eine Faust-Ouvertüre", Max Bruch, "Scottische Fantasie für Violone und Orchester, Robert Schumann "Sinfonie Nr. 3, 'Rheinische'"

Fri 7 Jun 1400h (no class this day): Group visit to Neues Museum, Museuminsel. Meet IES Abroad Berlin guide at museum entrance on south side of island.

Sat 8 Jun: free day.

Sun 9 Jun: free day.

Mon 10 Jun 2000h (be there by 1930h): Berlin Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal (Herbert-von-Karajan Str. 1, U/S: Potsdamer Platz), Rudolf Buchbinder, Piano: Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major Op. 109; Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major Op. 110; Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor Op. 111

Tue 11 Jun: reminder that class today will be held 1400-1700h in the Schumpeter Hall for the special presentation by Prof. Dr. Claudia Buch.

Fri 14 Jun 1730h: Farewell dinner, Maximilian's, Friedrichstraße 185-190 (one block south of DIW Berlin at Kronenstraße)

Sat 15 Jun: Check-out of hotel by 10 AM, departure


You may send Prof. Baum an email message.  

DIW Berlin, 58 Mohrenstraße

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