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Monday, January 17, 2011

Public Finance and Public Policy

Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who is writes prolifically about public policy issues.  I was very interested in taking this class because I'm interested in the financial aspects of government, as in how does the government decide if a project is worth undertaking based on interest rates and other financing costs.  Sadly this course and book had very little to do with financing, most of the book was about policy issues.

This did not make it a bad book or a worthless course, it just means that if you want to look more at the actuarial side of government you'll need to look elsewhere.  Some of the things I learned about were why insurance markets fail and why the government is the primary provider of social insurance, why we try to create progressive tax systems and why the government should be involved in education.  Most of the models were simple microeconomic models that are at least hinted at in first level economics courses so if you're paid attention there this book just goes more into depth on those topics.  It was good to become familiar with terms like the Coase theorem and Pigou taxes though, those were topics that I'd read before on economic blogs but didn't really know what they meant and how they are applied to government policies today.

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.