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Macroeconomics with Piyachart Phiromswad

Please notice this was first posted in the period 2012-2014 and can be outdated

There are a lot of things I fear in life and an introduction course in macroeconomics is not one of them. Foremost reason is that macroeconomics is mostly based on understanding demand and supply and being able to reason in a logical way; I think I got both parts covered pretty well. Besides, this is not the first time I am being introduced to macroeconomics and even if it would be, I could take comfort in the fact that most macroeconomic text books are written very well.

Required reading material for the course

At Sasin the macroeconomics course, or “macroeconomic analysis for management” as it is actually called, is being taught by professor Piyachart Phiromswad and both the topics covered and structure of the course were pretty straightforward. Most of the grade would be based on how well you would do on the midterm and final exam, and here was also little surprise: both started with a series of multiple choice questions followed by some open questions where we were supposed to explain the concepts and draw the appropriate demand and supply curves to visually explain what the hell we were talking about.

The person sitting next to me brought a coconut into the classroom… So Thai.

While I normally like multiple choice questions since they are an easy way of testing many different concepts I was not too warmhearted of the MC questions in this midterm and final exam. Problem with macroeconomics is that you have to make a lot of assumptions so when constructing a MC question it is important all assumptions are clear and none of the answers are open for interpretation, and this was not always the case on these tests resulting in a lot of discussions when we went through the midterm exam in class.

Old fashioned booklet to write the answers in for the exam. It brought back some nice memories of elementary school and resulted in cramps in my hand from writing.

The combined weight of the midterm and final exam was 70% meaning there is 30% left for other ways to score some points in this course. This could be done by creating a group of 6 people to write a paper about a macroeconomic event of your choice (25%) and give a 5-10 minutes presentation about this paper in class (5%). The presentations had only a minimal impact on the learning experience since they were mostly done in the last minutes of the class, or even in the extra time, and frankly nobody is really interested in the subject another group is writing a paper about. That does not mean it was a dreadful experience though since many groups understood the audience well and used their timeslot to entertain the class with some funny examples and pictures mixed into the serious content.

Responsibilities for the upcoming group paper about oil crisis and the electric car as an alternative for the high gasoline consumption.

The group paper on the other hand proved rather useful, to me at least, since it required you to read through a lot of working papers and trying to apply the concepts to the limited number of graphs and relationships covered in an introduction course. Downside was, as often is the case with group work, that the paper only counted for a small part of your grade while it took more time to construct than I spend on studying for the midterm and the final exam combined.

Studying hard at home for the upcoming final exam

As always most of the learning for the final exam was done the two days before the exam by grouping up in study rooms at Sasin and going over all the material and practice exams. It helped a lot that some people really understood the material well and after drawing the AD-AS, ISLM, and the MS-MD curves and how they connect it was just a matter of getting a good night sleep and doing enough hand exercises for the exam to avoid cramps (I mean stretching and writing exercises, do not think of anything dirty here). Now that all work has been done we can only wait till the grades come in.