Friday, May 10, 2019

It Is Done

At 10:00 this morning I handed in my final paper for my Money & Banking class, and with that was finished with my Economics degree.

After class I walked around campus, visiting the places that have been important for one reason or another during my time back at UT over the last 11 [sic] years. GEO 100, where I took my first econ class: ECO 301K Introduction to Microeconomics. BUR 106 where 450 other people and I took ECO 329 Economic Statistics. The 6th floor of PCL, the Presidential Lounge in the Union, and the Architecture Library where I spent so many hours studying. It was a nice trip down memory lane.

And now I'm finished. Lots of people have asked me what I plan on doing with my new Economics degree. My best answer, which always disappoints everyone, is, "Know (undergraduate-level) economics." But that's what I set out to do.

I wanted to understand basic economic theory and how it applies to everyday life. And having studied it, I know how a pretty good handle on a bunch of economic concepts—budget constraints and indifference curves, production possibility frontiers, diminishing marginal value and returns, consumer and producer surplus—that kind of stuff. And I understand how those things help explain the behavior of consumers and producers, health care (and health insurance) providers, financial intermediaries, workers, and employers. And I see how little attention is paid by economists to tastes and preferences, those very things that so much of our economy is actually based on.

I have an informed skepticism about neoclassical economics. I have an educated appreciation for behavioral economics. And I know for a fact that macroeconomics is, as one of my micro theory TA's put it, largely bullshit. Laffer Curve indeed.

The most important thing I've learned is how to think like an economist, which boils down to looking for tradeoffs. (But if you can ever find a Pareto improvement, make it.)

Along the way, I got to be a student again. It was sometimes humbling, sometimes awkward, but almost always interesting. My own kids will be going to college in a few years and I have an updated understanding of what they'll be facing.

I might write an epilog post or two on this blog, but for the most part this is it. Thanks for reading. Hook 'em horns!