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Ubit labor costs are down by 3.3% after nine quarters. They are lower now than they were in 2007Q4, over three years ago. As a consequence 60.2% of Gross Domestic Income growth has gone to corporate profits during the recovery. This is without precedent.
This is symptomatic of a huge labor surplus, not of any structural problem. Looser monetary policy would help.

Will Labor Costs Return to Trend?

Tim Duy: Will Labor Costs Return to Trend?, by Tim Duy: Paul Krugman notices a Bloomberg story on accelerating wage growth: First, Bloomberg reports on signs that wages may be accelerating. It’s worth bearing in mind that we’re talking about modest stuff — if the employment cost index accele...

Andrew F.
You wrote:
"He would inevitably after 10 minutes and four boards realize he made an arithmetic error (which is really easy with matrices)."
Actually if your arithmetic is up to par, it's difficult to make mistakes in most matrix computations. It's sad that they let people earn PhDs in math these days without first requiring them to master arithmetic.

The mathematics generation gap

Here's my theory: Some students struggle with economics because they do not fully understand the mathematical tools economists use. Profs do not know how their students were taught mathematics, what their students know, what their students don't know - and have no idea how to help their students...

"I use that mental-arithmetic-to -convince-my-students-I'm-brilliant trick also."
Yes, I admit, it's fun watching their eyes bulge with star filled wonder. (And it guarantees that students give you very high marks for subject knowledge in evaluations, which in my case butters my bread.)

The mathematics generation gap

Here's my theory: Some students struggle with economics because they do not fully understand the mathematical tools economists use. Profs do not know how their students were taught mathematics, what their students know, what their students don't know - and have no idea how to help their students...

Really good comments. I'm almost reluctant to add anything. However, I'm a doctoral candidate/adjunct instructor in economics and former high school mathematics teacher, so here are some observations based on my own experience.
1) Most people don't realize just how mathematical economics is. Often students are attracted to the field for very superficial reasons (something to do with money). Just to put this into proper perspective, consider the average GRE scores by field. Those with an intended major of economics average 708. This is higher than every other major with the exception of Mathematics (732), Physics (735), Banking and Finance (708) and four out of six fields of Engineering (608-726). When students moan about me using simple algebraic equations to explain economics concepts I solemnly tell them they're in the wrong field.
2) The arithmetic gap shocks me. I learned arithmetic just before calculators became affordable (and consequently made proper use of them). I find that the easiest thing to do to make students' jaws drop is to perform rapid fire mental arithmetic calculations at the board. They literally have no conception of how a person can do that without a calculator. It really blows their minds. And that's sad. As a result they have no quantitative intuition, which means they have no idea if their arithmetic results (achieved by simply hitting buttons on a keypad) even make sense.
3) As for graphing calculators, you should know that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is very influential. Their standards are universally recognized and emphasize high school mathematics instruction with graphing calculators. Thus it is very confusing for students making the transition to college to find that use of graphing calculators is often prohibited (as I do myself). This is not really a criticism of the NCTM's standards. I believe that graphing calculators are wonderful instruments provided you have the mathematical foundations to make good use of them. Unfortunately few of today's students do. Exposing students to graphing calculators at a later date, and requiring better pencil and paper skills at an earlier age, would be an improvement on the current NCTM standards.

The mathematics generation gap

Here's my theory: Some students struggle with economics because they do not fully understand the mathematical tools economists use. Profs do not know how their students were taught mathematics, what their students know, what their students don't know - and have no idea how to help their students...

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May 29, 2011

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