Modern Economic Issues [TTC Video]
31 January 2016, 07:37
Course No 5610 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | 6.64GB
How do the major economic issues that dominate today's news—questions about gross domestic product or budget deficits or trade imbalances—impact the average citizen? Why are health insurance and college tuition increasingly expensive? What can be done about soaring energy prices?
In Modern Economic Issues, Professor Robert Whaples has crafted a course designed to answer just these sorts of questions—a primer in 21st-century economics for the non-economist. He first presents the results of a survey of professional economists around the country on what they consider today's most urgent economic issues—the ones all of us most need to understand. Professor Whaples then puts his award-winning teaching skills to work to shape an accessible course, explaining not only those urgent issues but also the raw data economists use to describe their shape and impact.
The result is a course that finally makes the connection between the economics you may have studied in school and the economics of the lives we experience every day.
For example, how do you make the decisions—big and small—that make up your daily life?
What factors come into play when you're deciding whether to buy this car or that one, or even commute by bus? Mow the lawn or take a nap? Grill a burger with a bubbling slice of cheese or eat a simple salad?
Most economists will tell you that you make decisions on this personal level by acting as what they would call a "rational maximizer," comparing, whether explicitly or implicitly, what you expect to gain from your decision against what you expect to give up.
You weigh comfort and convenience against the rising cost of gasoline. The need to maintain your home's "curb appeal" against your need for sleep in a much-too-busy life. Your raw craving for that burger against the realities of an expanding waistline.
Learn to See the Tradeoffs in Every Decision We Make
And make no mistake about it: There is almost always something to give up, a tradeoff that is inherent in every decision we make in life—a concept memorably expressed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman's famous reminder that "there's no such thing as a free lunch."
But this same kind of personal analysis is just as applicable to the major issues of public policy, where the needs and wants of a nation and its people—whether financial security, safety from terrorism, or even an available kidney for someone desperately waiting on a transplant list—involve tradeoffs. Tradeoffs that are sometimes obvious and sometimes not.
Issue by issue, Professor Whaples explains those tradeoffs, guiding you through and then past the numbers, teasing out the full range of differing societal costs and benefits that will be part and parcel of any policy option our leaders choose to implement.
What does it mean, for example, if Wal-Mart decides to open a store in your town? Should your local government be enthusiastic, or should it be concerned? Should your own feelings be the same, or are your personal priorities different? What will the presence of the world's largest corporation really mean to you as a consumer, to smaller stores worried about competing, or to your local job market?
Whether dealing with the traditional sorts of topics most of us are used to seeing in an economics course—Social Security, inflation, unemployment, immigration, taxation, and the like—or issues perhaps surprising, such as gambling, major sports franchises, and even overeating, Professor Whaples offers a steady flow of insights about how the American economy really works, and how the consequences of policy decisions can have a longer reach than we might imagine, sometimes ironically so.
For example, Americans are having far fewer children than we used to—the so-called "birth dearth"—because the Social Security safety net removed one of the reasons cited by economic historians for having large families in the first place: the need to be supported in one's later years.
The irony, of course, is that it is this very decline in births that Social Security helped bring about that has itself become a looming threat, with a dwindling number of adults in their working years now available to support the increasing number of retirees who will be dependent on the system.
Go Beyond the "What" to Explore the "Why" of Today's Most Important Economic Issues
Carefully balancing the statistical data—the "what" of each trend or issue—with insightful explorations of how those trends or issues took their present shape—the "why"—Professor Whaples repeatedly takes the numbers that have long been the bane of those intimidated by economics courses and explores their implications in very human terms.
Showing us the human side of the numbers with which economics must be unavoidably concerned is second nature to Professor Whaples, who earned degrees in both economics and history in the process of becoming an economic historian. Honored as both a scholar and a teacher, he is intimately concerned with the real-life consequences of economics for flesh-and-blood people. In fact, his 1990 doctoral dissertation on the shortening of the American workweek was written from both economic and historical perspectives, and was honored by the Economic History Association as the "Outstanding Dissertation in American Economic History" for that year.
Professor Whaples begins the course with a thorough grounding in the basics of economics and the most important measuring sticks by which professional economists gauge an economy's performance. He always moves toward the human side of the equation, letting us see the translation of basic economic forces into the realities of our own lives.
The first lecture is a typical example of his approach. Terms such as rational maximizer, marginal cost, and demand curve fall neatly into place within the real-life example of padding over to one's thermostat on a cold winter's morning to decide where to set it, gauging where the cost–benefit tradeoffs might be—a process very similar to the one being performed at the other end of this transaction, by the marketplace players that provide our heating fuel.
As Professor Whaples so brilliantly shows, tradeoffs are a fundamental part of a system of economic forces that has been in play since long before the word economics even existed, from the moment the first want had to be balanced against the first inventory of resources, forcing someone to make a choice.
Modern Economic Issues is also about the economic implications of making those choices at the level of public policy. By showing the full range of economic factors that can come into play as a result of a given policy, and how our economy works, this course can help you become an even more insightful judge of policy recommendations and of the leaders and policy makers who advocate them.
Moreover, you will understand how professional economists view the full range of tradeoffs inherent in any decision. And you may well learn to supplement your own analyses as you make the real-life economic choices each of us faces every day, becoming an even wiser consumer and manager of your own economic future.
Advanced Investments [TTC Video]
31 January 2016, 02:51
Course No 5751 | .WMV, WMV3, 2000 kbps, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.1GB
You’ve worked hard. You’ve saved. You’ve put your savings to work so that it will increase in value over time. In other words, you’ve invested. But are you earning the best return on your investments? Are you meeting your goals? Are you comfortable with your level of risk? How liquid are your investments?
Investing can be a valuable part of being able to achieve your hopes and dreams. It can help build a secure retirement. It can contribute toward paying for the education of your children and grandchildren. Income from your investments can help you build a legacy for family members or to support a cause you hold dear. In short, your investment decisions are some of the most important choices you make. Shouldn’t these be educated choices, supported by the best information, reasoning, and analytical techniques?
Whether you are starting out in your career, in your prime earning years, or retired, it is essential that you understand your investment choices in great detail—something that is not easy amid the flood of sure-fire strategies offered by books, television programs, online brokers, and professional wealth managers.
Consider the following decisions that face any investor in the market:
- Active or passive? An active investing strategy takes advantage of mispriced securities that can be traded for a profit. A passive approach seeks to build a well-diversified portfolio that can be put on automatic pilot. Many investors combine these strategies.
- What kind of securities? Securities are tradable assets, notably stocks and bonds. But they also include derivatives such as options, which are useful for hedging against losses. All securities are tools that work well under certain circumstances but not others.
- Can you spot opportunities? How do you distinguish an opportunity from a pitfall? It’s crucial to know the most common mistakes that investors make and be familiar with the analytical tools that allow you to gauge a potential opening for financial gain.
- Can you manage risk? Risk may be the most misunderstood factor in investing. Contrary to much financial advice, increasing your chance of success does not require increased risk. However, it does require measuring and managing risk effectively.
Advanced Investments puts you on the road to a thorough grasp of cutting-edge investment principles and practices, presented in 24 informative lectures by Professor Steve L. Slezak of the University of Cincinnati. Professor Slezak is Director of the university’s Carl H. Lindner III Center for Insurance and Risk Management, and the winner of multiple teaching awards for the clarity, excitement, and rigor of his instruction.
Master the Art of Investing
In Advanced Investments, you learn practical techniques for analyzing the central problem of investing: how to determine if a potential investment is a good deal. Using concepts from probability and statistics, you learn how to measure risk accurately. Then you explore methods for determining if a security will generate returns that compensate for its risk. Throughout the course, you constantly weigh the relative advantages of active and passive strategies, gaining an appreciation for how you can take active and passive positions in different securities.
Professor Slezak carefully explains the mathematics as he walks you through a rich range of problems and examples. You need not work out the solutions yourself, but it is vital that you have an intuitive grasp of how investors use formulas. You will learn the financial meaning of terms such as expected value, variance, covariance, and standard deviation. Unlike most other investment courses, Advanced Investments immerses you in the actual technical vocabulary and procedures used by professionals.
The video versions of the course have dozens of charts, diagrams, and on-screen equations that help you follow Professor Slezak’s many case studies and sample problems. The guidebook that accompanies the course also includes these graphics to aid those who choose the audio versions of the course.
A Course for the Serious Investor
Those who will benefit from the detailed information in this course include
- anyone who holds a portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities, or wishes to start one;
- those responsible for safeguarding an inheritance, endowment, or other substantial fund;
- retirees and people approaching retirement;
- new investors and students of finance who want to learn the best set of tools for building a portfolio;
- industry professionals who wish to see financial quantitative analysis in action;
- corporate employees who want greater insight into their firm’s financial operation; and
- anyone interested in how the economy works—and sometimes doesn’t work, as in the financial crisis of 2008.
If you delegate the management of your investments to a professional, this course will give you the indispensible background to communicate your goals and monitor the performance of your portfolio. Professor Slezak stresses that “bad managers are out there!” Even managers who outperform the market over many periods may do so out of chance or because they have shifted to a low-risk strategy to protect their long-term ranking.
“Do Your Homework”
Some of Professor Slezak’s investment tips include these essentials:
- Don’t act on hunches: Part of knowing is knowing when you don’t know. If you don’t have information that justifies an active position, then it’s better to be passive.
- Think in terms of net present value (NPV): If you manage a business, NPV is the key measure for evaluating proposed projects. It also guides you in everyday decisions about the firm.
- Variability by itself is not risk: Risk is often thought of as the variability in the return on a security. However, you can combine securities and actually control the risk.
- Do your homework: Before you follow an active strategy, realize that with active management you are making bets. That realization should focus your mind on the kind of analysis you need to do.
When he was faculty advisor to the student-managed fund at the University of Cincinnati, Professor Slezak developed a framework that allowed students to actively manage their joint portfolio but that also tolerated a degree of benign neglect, due to the students’ busy lives. The same time constraints apply to many other investors, and you will find the professor’s framework a judicious mix of active investment strategies overlaid on a passive, well-diversified portfolio.
Professor Slezak enlivens his presentation with colorful anecdotes, allusions to his hobby of fine cooking, and object lessons from the recent history of Wall Street. His parting suggestion: “Don’t be afraid of the market.” Nothing is a sure thing, but the market has performed consistently over the long term. With Advanced Investments, you will build a solid foundation and hone the analytical skills that let you make judicious use of the market’s marvelous opportunities.
Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza [TTC Video]
29 January 2016, 09:13
Course No 4652 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.4GB
What is it like to practice your faith in an environment dominated by another? To evolve as a people when all of the world around you moves to religious and cultural rhythms very different from your own? To maintain your unity as a living community—and always to be aware of that sense of community—even when your numbers have been scattered across many lands, without a common government, a common country, or even a common language?
Moreover, how might these circumstances affect not only your own history, but also the history of those other cultures through which you move? What might you take from them? What might you give them?
For 10 formative centuries, the answers to questions like these helped define a developing Judaism, whose history was forever affected by its encounters with the surrounding social, economic, political, and intellectual environments of both medieval Islam and Christendom. As a result of those encounters, new pathways of philosophical inquiry and religious spirituality would be formed. The Hebrew language would find new ways of artistic expression. And the role of Jews in the life of the surrounding community would be changed forever, sometimes even increased, as was the paradoxical case in Italy, by the very ghettoization meant to keep them isolated.
Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza presents an overview of Jewish culture and society from its rabbinic foundations in late antiquity until the dawn of modernity in the 17th century.
In so doing, it places a special focus on Judaism's creative encounter with Christianity and Islam, giving us a unique perspective from which to examine the three major Western religions as they interact over time, and noting especially their ability or inability to tolerate and even appreciate the "other," as viewed from the vantage point of the Jewish minority.
The course is taught by Professor David Ruderman, a widely honored scholar and teacher whose extraordinary array of achievements in illuminating Jewish history includes coauthorship of the two-volume Heritage: Civilization and the Jews Study Guide and Source Reader, created to accompany the landmark Public Broadcasting System series, and whose last appearance for The Teaching Company was leading an exploration of Jewish Intellectual History: 16th to 20th Century.
An In-Depth Look at the Roots of Judaic Life and Thought
This time around, Professor Ruderman lets you experience the evolution of all of Jewish life during a critical period that also featured the emergence of two distinct intellectual threads: the rise of medieval Jewish philosophy and the appearance of Jewish mysticism and piety as the faith's primary expressions of religiosity.
His lectures presuppose no previous familiarity with Jewish, Islamic, or Christian history, and reflect a commitment to establishing always the historical context within which the events he is describing can be understood. Even when he material can threaten to be philosophically complex—as in his examination of the two approaches to interpreting the mystical and esoteric traditions of the Kabbalah, or of the intellectual provocation and enduring controversy posed by the towering writings of Moses Maimonides, 12th-century rabbi and philosopher—Professor Ruderman is always clear.
The result is an introduction that is both broad and detailed as it examines the leading Jewish communities of the period, their political and economic structures, the social relations between Jews and non-Jews, and Jewish cultural and intellectual achievements in a premodern world dominated by two other faiths.
"By embedding Jewish history within the larger social and cultural spheres of the Islamic and Christian worlds," notes Professor Ruderman, "the course ultimately raises the perplexing question of whether each of the three religious civilizations can learn to tolerate each other in our own chaotic and dangerous world, allowing each to live creative and dignified lives in the light of the mixed record of their past encounters and interactions."
To explore that question, Professor Ruderman first introduces the rabbinic civilization that defined Judaism prior to the rise of Islam and then moves his focus to the Jewish community of Islamic Baghdad in the 9th and 10th centuries.
This is a period for which a multitude of source materials have enabled historians to compile a rich profile of the political, social, and intellectual life of the Jewish community in and out of the city, especially as regards the community's relationships with the surrounding Islamic world. Professor Ruderman introduces you to the structures of both Jewish leadership and the forces of dissent before moving on to the Jewish experience in Spain and the political and cultural developments of what many have called that country's Golden Age, when a second center of Jewish life arose to parallel the establishment of a rival center of Islamic life in Cordova.
The height of that age, the 9th to the 11th centuries (the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492), saw an intellectual and cultural explosion unparalleled in Jewish history, including great works of philosophy and law and the emergence of secular as well as religious poetry written in Hebrew—a dramatic change from the exclusively liturgical poems that had been composed for centuries.
A Fresh Look at the End of Augustinian Tolerance and the Roots of Medieval Anti-Semitism
Professor Ruderman then moves on to consider the long relationship between Judaism and Christianity from the 1st century until the Middle Ages, exploring the paths of Jewish movement into Europe and the birth of what came to be known as Ashkenazic Jewry; the economic and social conditions under which they fashioned their lives; and the gradual rise of Christian hostility that eventually overwhelmed the established Church position of Augustinian tolerance.
That tolerance had been based on Augustine's position that the Jews had been decreed a life of misery for their rejection of Christ, and that their suffering as pariahs, unharmed and unconverted, would be testimony to that choice. But as the Crusades added the massacres of thousands of Jews—including many examples of deliberate martyrdom—to the Pope's call for a crusade against the Islamic "infidels," it was clear that a new aggressiveness against Jews and Judaism was coming to the fore, though the reasons were far more complex than mere religious hatred, as Professor Ruderman brings out.
These lectures span an enormous disciplinary range, moving back and forth among history, philosophy, religion, and art.
You'll learn the origins of the Talmudùthe body of rabbinic literature that is the primary text of Jewish study—and the enduring importance of Rabbi Solomon b. Isaac of Troyes, known to us as Rashi, to its discussion and understanding. You'll see how the Catholic Church, in elaborately contrived public "disputations" in which Jews were forced to participate, sought to lay an argumentative foundation for the increasing vilification of Judaism, even as violence against Jews was intensifying. And you'll see, as well, the resilience of the worldwide Jewish community as it adapts to ever-changing conditions in its efforts not only to survive, but to endure and prosper.
"The complex historical record we have tried to reconstruct in this course can hardly offer us a blueprint on how we might live together in our own time," notes Professor Ruderman. "But it at least offers the promise that coexistence is possible, that learning from each other is possible, and even appreciating each other is possible, as well.
"What it leaves us with ... is a sense of hope."