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Coursera’s Online Course : Understanding Economic Policymaking

Macroeconomics is that division of economics that deals with large-scale or general economic factors, such as interest rates and national productivity.

Coursera in association with IE Business School is introducing another online course “Understanding Economic Policymaking” defining how governments influence the macroeconomy.

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Since World War II, developed countries were immersed in the worst condition. How are governments responding?  Could they do more? This course will help students in dealing with these type of questions.

In the beginning of the course students will get an opportunity to learn some elementary concepts of macroeconomics for the policy framework. This course will help in analyzing how fiscal policy works and what could be the effects of today´s huge deficits and debts on national economies. After this examination, the course will move towards the study of monetary policy and its drawbacks. Lastly, the course also includes other policies open to governments to tackle a crisis and the debate over how they will be used in today’s environment.

Students will conclude the course by trying their own hands at economic policymaking for an undisclosed country, with an online simulator exercise.

Duration of Course

The session will start from March 24, 2014 for the duration of 6 weeks. The course will demand 3-5 hours/week for study. The course will be taught in English followed by English subtitles.

Course Format

The classes will consist of video lectures of about 20-30 minutes in length. Graded quizzes will be organized to analyze the students’ knowledge of the discussed concepts in the readings and videos. There will also be a final homework assignment and a compulsory final exam.


No prior knowledge is required. Everyone is free to apply but an elementary knowledge in business and economics will help.

Course Syllabus

Week One:

An overview of the macroeconomy and its basic variables: GDP, inflation, unemployment and the relationships among them.

Week Two:  

Diagnosing a macroeconomy. What does the economy need as it passes through the different “gaps” in the business cycle?  Do any problems solve themselves?

Week Three:  

Fiscal policy as an expansive and restrictive policy tool. How can governments use taxes and government spending to influence the economy?  What are the drawbacks of fiscal policymaking?  When are deficit spending and rising debt appropriate, what sizes give cause for concern, how can they be addressed?

Week Four:  

Monetary policy as an expansive and restrictive policy tool. How does it work? What are its strengths and weaknesses?  What is the meaning of cyclical asymmetry and how have central banks addressed this problem in the crisis?  What might be the consequences?

Week Five:

Combining policies. How do different combinations of these policies affect the macroeconomy, in the short and the long run?

Week Six: 

The debate over rules vs. discretion in the wake of the financial crisis.Trying your hand at economic policymaking.

Statement of Accomplishment

Online learners who will successfully complete this course will be given a statement of accomplishment signed by the instructor.

About the Instructor
Gayle Allard

She is a resident of California and has worked in Spain for more than 20 years. She teaches Economic Environment and Country Analysis at the IE Business School in Madrid and has also served as Vice-Chancellor for Research for IE University. Before acquiring PhD in Economics, Gayle completed a Master´s degree in International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

To apply for the course, kindly follow Coursera’s website.