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Public Finance Instructor: John Hartman

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  1. Public FinanceInstructor: John Hartman Today: An introduction to Econ 130 Introduction to public finance The role of government

  2. First issue: Crashers • Current cap: 60 students • Possibly over 60 students enrolled, due to extra enrollment that occurred in early registration • Crash list • You must be on the department wait list to be considered for this class if you are not registered • I will hand out a crash list for you to fill out also • No add codes distributed until next week • Enrolled students get priority for seating • Later option for Econ 130 • This class is scheduled to be offered in the fall

  3. Before we begin… • Remember that this is a small class  Ask questions if things are not clear • The syllabus is posted online  See • For most of you, attendance is important if you want to get a good grade • If reading this size font is difficult, I urge you to sit near the front

  4. Before we begin… • I expect you to know the following tools • Calculus • Derivatives, integrals, partial derivatives • Microeconomics • Econ 1, Econ 100A or 104A, Econ 100B or 104B • Macroeconomics (although not as important for public finance) • Econ 2, Econ 101 or 105 • If you are lacking on any of these skills, please make sure you are comfortable with these skills by next week

  5. Structure of learning • Read first • Lectures & problem solving in class • Do more problems on your own • Prepare for test • Some time in class to review • Come to office hours if needed • Additional office hours will likely be offered close to tests

  6. Textbook for this class • Rosen/Gayer • Public Finance, 8th edition • Published by McGraw-Hill/Irwin

  7. Reading the textbook • Main text and appendix is 560 pages • Too much for a 30-hour class • Look at syllabus for reading assignments • Maximum of 50 pages per week • Less than 300 pages overall

  8. Office hours and review sessions • Office: NH 2028 • Office hours: • Mondays 10:45-11:45 am • Wednesdays 9:45-10:45 am • Additional office hours before test will be in a larger classroom if demand warrants it

  9. Tests • Three tests, as of now scheduled for: • Monday, April 27 (in lecture); 65 minutes • Wednesday, May 20 (in lecture); 65 minutes • Monday, June 8 (final, 4-6:30 pm); 140 minutes • Some problems on tests will be similar to what we cover in practice problems • Some questions will require you to learn material and think your way through

  10. Extra credit • To encourage dialogue and discussion in class, each student that makes at least one intelligent question or comment during the quarter in lecture will receive one percentage point added to her or his final grade • In order to receive your extra credit, you will need to include your name when you state your question or comment

  11. Lecture slides • I will post a subset of lecture slides on-line • Usually posted 2 days to a week before lecture • Tables and figures from your textbook will often not be posted • On-line slides are not meant to be a replacement to lecture

  12. Grading • If you do not miss a test: • Two best tests count 40% each • Lowest test counts 20% • Exception: If your best test is the final, the final will count 60% and the other two tests count 20% each • If you do miss a test, check the syllabus for details

  13. Grading • I try to write tests so that the average score is between 65-75% • In other words, don’t worry if everything is not correct • Typical upper division Econ field class curve • 20-25% A+, A, or A- • 30-35% B+, B, or B- • 35-40% C+, C, or C- • Remaining students: D+, D, D-, or F • However, I will reward the class if you score well as a group

  14. More on this class • Early on, I will lecture the entire time • Later on many lectures will be about 50-60 minutes, followed by problem solving • Most lectures will be devoted to a single topic • Some topics will require more than one lecture • A few lectures will cover multiple topics

  15. Problems • Problems have been posted on the class website for you to practice on • I will also do some problems at the end of many lectures • As we get closer to each test, I will devote some time to solving problems on the class website

  16. Today • An introduction to Econ 130 • What will we cover over the next 10 weeks? • Introduction to public finance • The role of government • Organic and mechanistic views of government • Size of government • Tiebout’s model

  17. An introduction to Econ 130 • This class covers four “units,” each with two to five lectures • Unit 1: Introduction and Microeconomic tools • Unit 2: Public goods, externalities, and government • Unit 3: Health care and income redistribution • Unit 4: An introduction to taxation

  18. Unit 1 (begins today) • Introduction and Microeconomic tools • Chapter 1: Introduction to public finance and government • Most of Chapter 2: Empirical tools • Part of Chapter 3: Economic theory tools • Most of Chapter 8: Cost-benefit tools • Part of Chapter 22: The Tiebout model

  19. Unit 2 • Public goods, externalities, and government • Chapter 4: Public goods • Chapter 5: Externalities • Chapter 6: Government and political economy • Chapter 7 & the end of Chapter 8: Government spending on education

  20. Unit 3 • Health care and income redistribution • Chapter 9: Problems of insurance in the health care market • Chapter 10: Government’s role in health care • Most of Chapter 11: The structure of Social Security; stresses caused by the baby boom generation • Most of Chapter 12: Conceptual issues of income redistribution • Most of Chapter 13: Programs for the poor

  21. Unit 4 • Primary and secondary effects of taxes • Most of Chapter 14: Taxation and partial equilibrium • Part of Chapter 15: Excess burden • Other taxation topics from Chapters 17 and 18 • Basic structure of the United States personal income tax • Rate structure of the United States personal income tax • Marriage neutrality of taxes

  22. Before moving on… • If you think that you are weak on your Microeconomics skills, you should read the Appendix at the end of the book or look at an intermediate Microeconomics textbook

  23. Introduction to public finance • This class is meant to cover public finance to students that have no direct background in the topic • Some knowledge on public goods and externalities is useful, but not required • Three topics will be covered today • What is studied in a public finance class? • What kinds of views do people have about public finance? • Tiebout’s model • Government will be addressed more in later lectures • Size of government will be covered in the next lecture • Growth of government will be covered in week 4

  24. Public finance • Public finance, as defined by R/G (p. 2) • “The field of economics that analyzes government taxation and spending policies” • Public finance, as described by Former Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus (From R/G, p. 2) • “Public finance is nothing else than a sophisticated discussion of the relationship between the individual and the state”

  25. Public finance • We will study topics in which many argue that government intervention is justified • Public goods and markets with externalities • Subsidized education • Health care, Social Security, and income redistribution

  26. Public _____ • There are at least two other terms that mean the same thing as public finance • Public sector economics • Public economics • Although I may use the three terms interchangeably to mean the same thing, I will usually use the term “public finance”

  27. What views do people have? • Different people have different views about public finance • Organic view of government • Mechanistic view of government

  28. Organic view of government • Government treats an entire society as a natural organism • Each individual is part of the organism • The government is the heart • Although individual goals differ, some goals are naturally needed for the societal organism

  29. Mechanistic view of government • Government is needed for individuals to pursue their individual goals • “Invisible hand” (Adam Smith) • Efficient markets under certain sets of conditions • Property rights and lack of violence needed to have efficient markets • How much government beyond this is debatable • Libertarian: Small government • Social democrats: Larger government needed

  30. What this class does • Some analysis is done on a society-wide scale • Social costs and benefits • Cost-benefit analysis on a nationwide scale • Other topics talk about individual analysis • Voting theory • Individual income taxes

  31. Determining what is “good” • What is “good” to one person may be viewed as bad as others • Let’s do an activity to illustrate this • Everyone starts by standing up • I will show a statement • Stay standing if you agree with the statement • Sit down if you disagree with the statement • There is no “right” answer to any question • Time to stand up

  32. Statement 1 • I believe that reckless driving should be stopped through government actions (such as the use of police) • Remember: Stay standing if you agree, sit down if you disagree

  33. Statement 2 • I think that government should build and maintain roads and highways

  34. Statement 3 • I believe that each baby needs to be securely buckled into a car seat while riding in a car, to be enforced by the government

  35. Statement 4 • I believe that each person in a moving car needs a seat belt on, to be enforced by the government

  36. Statement 5 • I believe each driver needs liability insurance, to be enforced by the government

  37. Statement 6 • I believe the government has a right to regulate when each person can use the roads, and the route they take, in order to control traffic patterns

  38. Statement 7 • I believe that the government has a right to prevent pilots of commercial aircraft from using a cell phone while actively flying

  39. Statement 8 • I believe that the government has a right to prevent train drivers from sending text messages while driving the train

  40. Statement 9 • I believe that the government has a right to prevent car drivers from sending text messages while driving the train

  41. Statement 10 • I believe that the government has a right to prevent car drivers from making calls on a cell phone while driving

  42. Statement 11 • I believe that the government should charge a 70% tax rate on all income I earn in my lifetime

  43. Does everyone agree? • No • Different people have different opinions about what the government should do • Experts often disagree about what government should do • We will often assume that the experts in other disciplines have gotten costs and benefits right

  44. What other reasons should there be gov’t? • Many communities form in order to provide a wide array of benefits to the community members • Sometimes these communities are in the form of private clubs • Other communities incorporate into cities • Charles Tiebout, in 1956 published a paper arguing that people shop for the city to meet their tastes for city-offered amenities

  45. The Tiebout model • People rarely leave the US due to government policy • Mobility in the US due to government policy is substantial • Tiebout makes many assumptions in his model • Not a perfect description of the real world • Gives a good idea of how people decide what community to live in

  46. Tiebout’s assumptions • Government activities generate no externalities • Individuals are completely mobile • People have perfect information with respect to each community’s public services and taxes • There are enough different communities so that each individual can find one with public services meeting her demands • The cost per unit of public services is constant so that if the quantity of public services doubles, the total cost also doubles • Public services are financed by a proportional property tax • Communities can enact exclusionary zoning laws—statutes that prohibit certain uses of land

  47. Advantages with the Tiebout model • Tailoring outputs to local taxes • Each person or family lives in a community they like • One size does not fit all • Tastes and preferences differ from person to person • Fostering intergovernmental competition • People in government generally want people to live in their community

  48. Advantages with the Tiebout model • Experimentation and innovation in locally provided goods and services • States and cities can try new programs • These studies often result in statistical studies by economists • The analyzed results lead to good information for governments throughout the nation

  49. Main disadvantage of the Tiebout model • Not an exact description of the real world • Moving costs • No one city is a perfect match for someone’s most desired preference • Some parents send their kids to private school, despite the availability of public schools

  50. Other issues with the Tiebout model • Externalities • Both negative and positive • Many public goods are not at the local level • Scale economies in provision of public goods • Per-person cost often decreases as the number of users increases • Inefficient tax systems • Different states and cities often compete to get large businesses to locate in their area • Scale economies in tax collection