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- How to think (and think critically) about Microeconomics
- High School Algebra
All happy students are alike, each unhappy student is unhappy in its own way. Fundamentally, happy students are the students that have internalised the courses material so profoundly that, when assigned an individual project or task (may that be coming from a professor or an employer), can carry it out, completely independently, from A to Z in a way that is both perfectly rigorous and more-or-less innovative.
The purpose of this course is to get you started towards that lofty yet achievable target of knowing what’s what when it comes to Microeconomics. Oftentimes students think that Microeconomics is too abstract to be useful. I hope you shall see, instead, that the dynamics that are the subject of Microeconomics are not just around you in every single moment but understanding Microeconomics allows you make sense and take advantage of them. There is, I dare to say, a high probability that, when you shall be done with your Introductory Microeconomics course, you will think that well, “Microeconomics is fun and useful”. That was the case for me and still is, after all these years.
This is a course about Introductory Microeconomics. As such, its purpose is to lay the foundations for deeper and more comprehensive studies in Microeconomics. Hence, I spend little time dwelling on the mathematics and more time trying to convey the intuition, the concept and, essentially, why should you care. Also, I go as slow as possible in the explanations to give the opportunity to both fast and slow learners to benefit from the course: it is possible to increase the speed in case of need. I think it’s, didactically, the best approach. In light of my personal experience, and the experiences of other friends, I believe it’s better for students walking into a proper Intermediate Microeconomics course to have already understood the concepts, so that during the course they can focus, exclusively, on the mathematics. As such, instead of teaching an Introductory Microeconomics level course, I have taken the most fundamental core of an Intermediate Microeconomics course, stripped it of the mathematics and tried to convey, for each of the topic, why whatever I have decided to talk about it's such a big idea to be part of the canonical "core Micro". Because it’s an Introductory Microeconomics course, I expect nothing more than some basic high school algebra under your belt (I shall, very sparingly, throw in a comment or a Calculus notation for the mathematically versed but those seconds shall be over before you even realise that I mentioned them). What follows is what I believe to be the core of Microeconomics that I have written about in the last few lines: simple market model of supply and demand, consumer’s choice, producer’s choice (including production and costs), game theory (until repeated games), the various forms of competition (monopoly, monopolistic competition, oligopoly), uncertainty (risk profiles are, oftentimes, crucial), externalities (including the Coase Theorem), public goods, and the economics of information (adverse selection, moral hazard and signalling). I cap off by introducing you to an area of Advanced Microeconomics (Market Design) that, I believe, put together all the ideas and models discussed here to deal with problems of fundamental importance (how do we create and improve markets to guarantee not just the existence of the "economic pie" but of a "fair distribution" of the "economic pie"), making evident, I hope, why a sound of understanding of basic Microeconomics is fundamental to be able to think and deal with the biggest problems.
Having established the importance of the what, the question as to why you would want to be introduced to it by me over somebody else is legitimate. I am in the process of completing my second MSc at the London School of Economics and Political Science after having completed, always at the LSE, an MSc in Political Economics and, before that, a BSc in Economic Sciences (Summa Cum Laude), with Best Dissertation and the Holy Quaternity of any BSc Economics (Microeconomics, Game Theory, Macroeconomics and Econometrics) with the highest grades available in each of these courses.
During these years, I have sat in a number of Microeconomics (and subfields) courses which is higher than I can possibly remember. I have written two dissertations that make intense use of ideas and models that are higher-level versions of what I talk about in this course. Last but not least, my work has been and is being supervised by future winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
The Why=The What+The Who
The Why is, then, really quite simple: I have already met what you are about to meet and, probably most importantly from your standpoint, I have already had to share, teach and discuss what I have learnt. I have addressed countless questions from friends of mine throughout the years about anything that you find covered in this course. I have, hence, tried to put together the course in a way to address all most common problems that I have seen my friends have. You get to see the answers and the recommendations I have given to my friends that have allowed them to improve drastically their understanding of the subject. If anything, this course (and the others) was born out of the simple realisation that I was not able, at some point, to keep up with the demand for advice and discussion but I still wanted to help the people I care about. The reason why this course is on this platform stems from the simple realisation that, if my friends from the BSc and the MSc had all these questions, odds are that other students around the world also had them. And so, why not share the answers to them.
- Economics Undergraduates who are about to take their first (usually, Intermediate) Microeconomics course
- Social Sciences Undergraduates