Economics is traditionally divided into two parts: microeconomics and macroeconomics. The main purpose of this course is to introduce you to the principles of macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the study of how a country's economy works while trying to discern among good, better, and best choices for improving and/or maintaining a nation's standard of living and level of economic and societal well-being. Historical and contemporary perspectives on the roles and policies of government are part of the mix of interpretations and alternatives that surround questions of who or what gains and loses the most or least within a relatively small set of key interdependent players. In the broadest view, that set consists of households, consumers, savers, firm owners, investors, agency and elected officials, and global trading partners in which some wear many hats and face price considerations at two levels.
Consider one distinction between macroeconomics and microeconomics though prices are taken into account in both divisions. On one hand, microeconomics focuses on how supply and demand within a given market determine prices. On the other hand, macroeconomics focuses on changes in the price level across all markets. Another distinction resides within goals. A study of microeconomics orients itself toward firm profit maximization and output optimization as well as consumer utility maximization and consumption optimization. In contrast, a study of macroeconomics situates itself around a number of goals including economic growth, price stability, and full employment.
Macroeconomic performance relies on measures of economic activity, focusing on variables and data at the national level within a specific period of time. Macroeconomics entails analyses of aggregate measures such as national income, national output, unemployment and inflation rates, and business cycle fluctuations. This course will prompt you to think critically about the national and global issues we currently face, to consider competing views that may agree or disagree with your own, and to draw challenging conclusions from a vast array of perspectives, tools, and alternatives.