Elective Courses

The MA-PECO program offers two semesters of elective courses, one at Solvay Brussels in the spring, and one at Georgetown University in the summer.

Spring: Electives Courses at Solvay Brussels

Professor: Philip Verwimp and Tatiana Goetghebeur

This is a methods-based course that give an instructional overview of impact evaluation. It applies practical tools that evaluate the impact of public policy interventions. The focus is on the design of such interventions, not on the econometric analysis of endline data. Students will learn how to apply and when to apply the theory of change, randomized evaluations, regression discontinuity design and statistical matching. The handbook for the course is “Running Randomized Evaluations” (R.Glennester and K.Takavarasha, Princeton University Press, 2013). The course will feature assignments and include guest lectures by professional evaluators and scholars.

Professors: Paola ConconiTomas Garcia-Azcarate and Mathieu Parenti

The course is divided in four parts. The first part is dedicated to understanding why countries engage in international trade and what determines which goods and services they export/import. The second part focuses on firms, with the goal of understanding the behavior of individual exporters, importers, and multinationals. The third part covers trade policy. This part sheds light on the reasons why, notwithstanding the gains from having an open multilateral trading system, nations often resort to tariffs, quotas, and other non-tariff barriers. The final part of the course covers various topics, including the proliferation of regional trade agreements, the impact of international trade on labor markets and on the environment, the increasing fragmentation of production processes across countries, and the fiscal optimization strategies of multinationals.

Professors: Gani Aldashev and André Sapir

The first part of the course discusses food policy. Globally speaking, the US and European food industry are quite similar, the share of food consumption in total household expenditure are close, the employment share and the contribution to GDP are on the same range. Nevertheless, the public opinion and political perceptions are very often quite divergent on the two sides of the Atlantic. The fundamental questions this course will try to answer are how much convergence and divergence can be observed and why, which are the reasons and reasoning behind the answers. The second half of the course will discuss industrial policy in the same context.

Professor: Patrick Legros and Kai-Uwe Kuhn

This course explains the role and limits of government interventions in the delivery and financing of public services. The main emphasis will be on: (i) the identification of most common market failures and the options available for government to address them; (ii) the choice and design of general and sector financing options; (iii) the optimal assignment of expenditure and revenue across government levels. The course also discusses the drivers of government failures in the design of public policies, including those resulting from interactions between economics and politics. By the end of the course, the participants should be able to formulate and evaluate arguments on the case for government intervention and the scope for financing in a wide range of policy issues, taking into account the political constraints of specific contexts.

Summer: Elective Courses at Georgetown University

This course introduces the basic methods of time-series econometrics, explaining the major concepts and showing how these tools are used for analysis and forecasting of economic data. The course starts with some necessary background from statistics and reviews basic econometrics. Next, stationary, univariate ARMA (autoregressive moving-average) processes are covered. The attention then shifts to heteroskedasticity and modeling volatility. Then, nonstationary models and methods of testing for unit roots and estimating stochastic trends are covered. Multivariate time series models are treated next, especially VARs (vector autoregressions) and cointegration and common trend considerations. The course concludes with dynamic factor models and non-Gaussian/non-linear dynamics such as stochastic variance and regime switching models.

This course focuses mainly on public sector taxation and expenditures. It encompasses normative and positive theories of public economics and a broad range of empirical work. The course uses a well-known textbook in public economics. In addition, optional readings from the economics literature will be assigned every week. A series of problem sets using publicly available data and a major econometric software package will be assigned. A major empirical project will constitute a large portion of the grade.

This course focuses on the application of economic concepts and methods to environmental issues, both in theory and in practice. The environment is strongly connected to the economy both as a source of inputs to the production of manufactured goods and as a sink for pollution from economic activities. Many environmental resources also serve as inputs to the “production” of human health and other aspects of overall well-being. However, most environmental resources are not privately owned and are typically not exchanged in traditional markets. This can lead to an over-production of pollution, over-extraction of nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels, and over-exploitation of renewable resources, such as fish or other wildlife species. In this course, students will learn how to design policies that can correct such market failures and improve environmental quality, human health, and economic efficiency. 

Econ 565 offers an introduction to the burgeoning field of law and economics, or the application of microeconomic theory to positively and normatively assess various legal rules, regulations, and institutions as well as the incentives of economic agents (such as judges and criminals) operating within the legal system. Specific topics to be covered include the common law, contracts, torts, property, crime, and antitrust. Each of these topics will be supplemented with insights from the recent empirical literature. A significant portion of class assignments will involve collecting and analyzing real-world datasets. Readings will be drawn from several sources including the text, legal statues, court decisions, and the academic literature.

The energy industry is inextricably linked to political and regulatory systems that collectively identify and implement the government objectives for the energy industry, including economic incentives for investment and regulatory oversight and compliance. It aims to develop an understanding of the economic fundamentals of traditional fossil fuels, power and renewables and emerging technologies, which are all going through substantial transformations. The course will develop an understanding of the influence of energy policies on the energy industry and detail the recent changes in policies and implications. This course will also provide an overview of regulatory systems that implement the energy policies and address the significance of geopolitical and energy security. It demonstrates the importance of the energy industry to the economy, energy infrastructure developments and energy and the environment considerations. The course will provide the U.S. perspective as well as selected discussions from other countries, Asia, Europe and others, to understand the global nature of the energy industry. Students will be equipped with the necessary skillset to critically think about our current and prospective energy industry, the economy and the environment.

This course provides an overview of monetary and financial economics. The course begins with an review of the overall structure of financial markets and institutions in a market economy and their role in efficiently allocating scarce saving to capital investment. It then investigates the role of a key financial asset—money—in the financial system and the economy. The course goes on to consider in more detail fixed-income assets and the factors that determine the interest rates on such assets. Next, equity markets and the determination of equity prices are reviewed, and the theory of efficient markets is presented. The focus then shifts back to banks and other financial institutions. The theoretical reasons for the existence of financial institutions, as well as the possible sources of instabilities of such firms, are discussed, and associated issues in the regulation of financial institutions are covered. The course then proceeds to the key topics of central banking and monetary policy. In all aspects of the course, analytical and policy questions raised by the recent financial crisis will be an important focus. A highly regarded textbook serves as the main source of material for the course; additional supplementary readings will be assigned. Final grades will be based primarily on homework assignments, a midterm exam, and a final exam.

The aim of this course is to provide students with the necessary understanding of major concepts and theories in the field of economic development that will allow them to analyze problems and policies in this area. In addition to the conceptual tools, we will also discuss recent papers in the literature and past as well as present policies in different areas of the world.

This course focuses on applying empirical and theoretical techniques used in international economics and macroeconomics to current academic and policy issues. The course is geared toward sharpening the skills of students who wish to proceed from the master’s program to economic analyst employment in either the private or public sectors. In this course, we read academic journal articles and other materials, primarily studies from central banks such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank. The primary objectives are assisting students in developing a facility with economic data; becoming knowledgeable about current issues in international economic policy; and providing them with actual research training befitting a high-quality economics professional.

This course explores the experiences and outcomes of the individuals working within an economy. Labor markets comprise the suppliers of labor (workers), the demanders of labor (employers), and the resulting pattern of wages, employment, and income. This course is designed to introduce you to the theories and tools economists use to analyze labor markets, as well as some of the results yielded by this analysis. Particular areas of focus will include labor market discrimination and inequality, immigration, and the returns to education.

This course will analyze the economics of cities and urban areas and consider the implications of the location of economic actors. This course will also thoroughly discuss the considerable externalities of cities, both positive and negative, as well as public policy issues to alleviate or encourage the effects of those externalities.