• Course Introduction

        • Time: 60 hours
        • Free Certificate
        Economists divide their discipline into two areas of study: microeconomics and macroeconomics. In this course, we introduce you to the principles of macroeconomics, the study of how a country's economy works, while trying to discern among good, better, and best choices for improving and maintaining a nation's standard of living and level of economic and societal well-being. Historical and contemporary perspectives on the role of government policy surround questions of who gains and loses within a small set of key interdependent players. These beneficiaries include households, consumers, savers, firm owners, investors, government officials, and global trading partners.

        Consider how microeconomists and macroeconomists analyze price fluctuations. In microeconomics, we focus on how supply and demand determine prices in a given market. In macroeconomics, we focus on changes in the price level across all markets. Microeconomics studies firm profit maximization, output optimization, consumer utility maximization, and consumption optimization. Macroeconomics studies economic growth, price stability, and full employment.

        Macroeconomic performance relies on measures of economic activity, such as variables and data at the national level, within a specific period of time. Macroeconomics analyzes aggregate measures, such as national income, national output, unemployment and inflation rates, and business cycle fluctuations. In this course, we prompt you to think about the national and global issues we face, consider competing views, and draw conclusions from various perspectives, tools, and alternatives.

        First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

      • Unit 1: Introduction to Economics

        The study of microeconomics focuses on exchanges among consumers and firms that are in the market to purchase goods and services. In contrast, macroeconomics focuses on exchanges that take place across all of the markets within a country. We take the interrelated actions of consumers, businesses, government agencies, financial intermediaries, and global trading partners into account, as they exchange resources, goods, and services, and facilitate currency and quantity flows. Microeconomics studies how to achieve profit maximization, while macroeconomics studies how to achieve economic stability and growth on a national level.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 12 hours.

      • Unit 2: Macroeconomics: Gross Domestic Product, Inflation, and Unemployment

        In macroeconomics we study the total output an economy generates. Economists use gross domestic product (GDP), the monetary value of all final goods and services produced within a country's borders in one year, to measure a country's total output. Macroeconomics tend to use real GDP, rather than nominal GDP, for their comparisons since real GDP removes the effect of inflation. Measuring growth in current dollars (which does not account for inflation), rather than constant dollars, might indicate a false sense of economic growth or decline.

        Governments focus on three key indicators of economic growth: an increase in real GDP over time, full employment, and price level stability. In unit 5, we explore how governments form, implement, and evaluate their fiscal and monetary policies to achieve these three goals. In this unit we uncover scenarios and philosophical debates about government's role in a market-based economy. We examine whether GDP is an accurate measure of societal well-being, quality of life, and the standard of living.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.


      • Unit 3: Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply

        In this unit we explore the forces affecting growth, inflation, and unemployment at the aggregate level, such as output, income, or the set of components within GDP.

        Aggregate demand is the total amount of goods and services people want to purchase. It measures what people want to buy, rather than what is actually produced. The aggregate demand is the sum of consumption, investment, government expenses, and net exports. Aggregate supply is the total output an economy produces at a given price level. We consider aggregate supply in the short-run and in the long-run.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.

      • Unit 4: Aggregate Equilibrium and Economic Growth

        In this unit, we explore aggregate economic equilibrium in the short run and the long run. At a macro level, equilibrium is the point where aggregate supply equals aggregate demand. We examine shifts in aggregate supply and aggregate demand, and the short-term and long-term effects for the entire economy.

        Also in this unit, we explore economic growth. Economic growth is the process of increasing the potential level of GDP (the level of production occurring at the natural rate of unemployment)

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Unit 5: Money, Banking, and Monetary Policy

        Monetary policy includes the methods government agencies, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, engage in to encourage banks, businesses, and individuals to change their interest rates, the supply of money, and the demand for money. Money serves as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account. These three functions enable individuals to avoid a bartering system (we pay a business money for providing a service, rather than with a goat or loaf of bread). The ways we use to define and measure money are important to managing an economy. Savings and investment are key elements within the circular flow model and are a function of interest rates.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.


      • Unit 6: Fiscal Policy and the Relationship Between Inflation and Unemployment

        Governments use various policies and tools to steer the macroeconomy toward three main goals: full employment, price stability, and economic growth. In this unit, we study fiscal policy, which involves taxing and spending policies, including the fiscal legislation Congress enacts in the United States.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.
      • Unit 7: International Trade and Finance

        This unit examines the macroeconomic effects of international flows of financial capital, and goods and services. The determinants of exchange rates are identified and the connection is made between financial capital flows and the trade balance. The unit explores the effects of exchange rates on a country's economy and the economies of its trading partners. The welfare effects of trade are also studied.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Study Guide

        This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

      • Course Feedback Survey

        Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

        If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org or post in our discussion forum.

      • Certificate Final Exam

        Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

        To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

      • Saylor Direct Credit

        Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

        The Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam requires a proctor and a proctoring fee of $25. To pass this course and earn a Proctor-Verified Course Certificate and official transcript, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam. Your grade for this exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again a maximum of 3 times, with a 14-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a Credit-Recommended Course Completion Certificate and an official transcript.