Homepage for Econ 353

Money, Banking, and Financial Institutions

Last Updated: 28 March 2015
Latest Course Offering: Spring Semester 2011

Course Instructor:
Professor Leigh Tesfatsion
Department of Economics
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011-1070
(515) 294-7318 (Secretary)
tesfatsi AT iastate.edu

353 Syllabus (Readings&Assignments)
Exercise Info Site
Exam Info Site
Accumulated Point Score Site

Course Meeting Time and Place:
TR 12:40-2:00pm, Ross Hall, Room 0124

Instructor's Office and Office Hours:
Office: 375 Heady Hall
Hours: Tuesdays 2:10-3:40, and by appointment.

Teaching Assistant (TA):
Ms. Kate Sinitskaya
Office Tel: (515) 294-5895
Email: esin AT iastate.edu

TA's Office and Office Hours:
Office: 180B Heady Hall
Hours: M 11-12, Thurs 2:10-3, and by appointment

Homepage Contents:


Econ 353 is an undergraduate course focusing on the study of financial markets and institutions, including in particular the study of money and banking. The primary objective of this course is to help students obtain a better understanding of key financial issues currently facing private citizens and policy-makers both here in the U.S. and abroad.

To aid this understanding, economic tools and concepts will be developed to help students organize their thinking about financial assets and markets, and about the varied roles of key financial market participants. Real-world events will be heavily relied on for concrete illustration. Examples include: the recent (and still ongoing) global financial crisis; the Enron bankruptcy scandal; recent stresses faced by the European Union and the Euro common currency zone as a result of the ongoing global financial crisis; the controversial role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the global economy; the Grameen Banking (microcredit) movement; and historical comparisons of previous financial crises to the current financial crisis.

On-line notes for each assigned textbook chapter will be provided (linked to the course syllabus) along with lists of key in-class discussion questions. Discussion of these questions will be stressed in place of traditional lectures during regular classroom meetings.

In particular, students will be expected to study assigned textbook chapters and accompanying on-line chapter notes prior to attending the class meeting in which they are discussed. Key questions related to these materials will be identified in advance for each class meeting, and students should come to class prepared to participate in the discussion of these questions. At least twenty five percent of each test (midterm exams and final exam) will relate to these key in-class discussion questions and the points raised in the accompanying class discussions. The intention is to have the class discussions elaborate and expand upon the assigned readings and on-line lecture notes rather than having class lectures simply replicate these materials.

The basic course structure for Econ 353 is outlined below. A detailed listing of course topics and required readings is separately provided on the Econ 353 Syllabus.

Topic Outline

Note: Please refer to the Econ 353 Syllabus for a detailed outline of topics and reading assignments.

Credits and Required Textbook

Grading Policy

Two midterm exams have been scheduled (Thursday, February 10th and Thursday, March 10th) in our regular classroom at our regular class meeting time. In addition, our comprehensive final exam is scheduled for Monday, May 2, 12:00-2:00 p.m. in our regular classroom in accordance with the ISU Spring 2011 tentative final exam schedule.

Also, frequent short take-home exercises will be assigned during the semester as a running check on mastery of course materials.

Each student's overall course score will be based on the following components:

  1. Take-home Exercise Score (20 Percent): The percentage of total points earned on take-home exercises, pro-rated to 20 percent of the overall course score, with each student permitted to omit their worst take-home exercise.
  2. Midterm Exam Score (35 Percent): The percentage of total points earned on the best (of two) midterm exams, pro-rated to 35 percent of the overall course score. Each student is permitted to omit their worst midterm exam score.
  3. Final Exam Score (45 Percent): The percentage of total points earned on the comprehensive final exam, pro-rated to 45 percent of the overall course score.

Thus, for example, a student scoring 100 percent on take-home exercises, 40 percent on the first midterm exam, 90 percent on the second midterm exam, and 80 percent on the final exam would receive an overall course score of 91 percent (91 = 100*.20 + 90*.35 + 80*.45).

The exact cut-offs for letter grades will be decided on the basis of the mastery of key concepts and issues displayed at each overall course score level rather than by a curve dictating that a certain percentage of students must earn a certain letter grade.

However, students attaining a 90 percent (or better) overall course score are assured of earning an A; students attaining an 80 percent (or better) overall course score are assured of earning at least a B; students earning a 70 percent (or better) overall course score are assured of earning at least a C; and students earning a 60 percent (or better) overall course score are assured of earning at least a D.

Class attendance and participation will count for extra credit in the case of a borderline grade. By "class participation" I mean both attendance and engagement in class discussions. Engagement, at a minimum, means attentive listening. Ideally, engagement will also involve thoughtful contributions to class discussion.

Conversely, inattentive students (e.g. students reading newspapers or doing web browsing unrelated to class discussion) will be considered "absent" for extra credit purposes. Inattentive students whose actions are judged to be disruptive to class discussion will be asked to leave.

Ensuring that class meetings are productive (informative) and even fun takes preparation and engagement on everyone's part (students and instructor). Poor preparation and minimal engagement make for a boring unproductive time for everyone (including the instructor!).

As the course proceeds, students can check their accumulated exercise and exam points online at the following site (with the last four digits of student ID numbers used in place of names):

(5/4/2011) Accumulated Exercise and Exam Point Scores Site.

Midterm and Final Exam Policy

For important information concerning scheduled exam dates, specific exam topics and required materials, and general exam policies and procedures, please refer to the Exam Information Site. It is strongly recommended that students also take advantage of the practice exams provided from past Econ 353 course offerings.

Take-Home Exercise Policy

Please refer to the Take-Home Exercise Information Site for important special instructions concerning the preparation and submission of take-home exercises. It is strongly recommended that students also take advantage of the practice exercises provided from past Econ 353 course offerings.

Disability Statement:

If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the instructor early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Resources (DR) office, located on the main floor of the Student Services Building, Room 1076, 515-294-6624.

Copyright © 2011 Leigh Tesfatsion. All Rights Reserved.