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Spring Semester Courses

The following course list is available for the upcoming IEF Spring Semester.

Before selecting your courses, please familiarize yourself with the IEF Program curriculum.

Also note that you are recommended to complete certain prerequisite courses prior to your semester in Prague.
 

Prerequisites in order of importance include:

1. Microeconomics - One introductory-level course

2. Macroeconomics - One introductory-level course

3. At least one intermediate-level course in Macroeconomics OR Microeconomics

4. Introductory coursework in Calculus OR Econometrics (AP Calculus is accepted)


List of courses

Behavioral Finance +
Martin Burda, Chairman of the Board, Sirius Investment Company
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
Standard economic theory is based on an assumption that all agents behave rationally and strive to maximize their utility/profit. Empirical evidence, however, clearly shows that all of us – consumers, managers, investors – in many cases systematically behave „irrationally“. A more realistic description of real life behavior requires a fusion of standard economic theory and psychology. This relatively young field – behavioral economics – has made significant progress over the last three decades in explaining how we all are „predictably irrational“. Not surprisingly, our decision making irrationalities extend to our investment decisions, making behavioral investing approaches an important complement to the efficient markets theory. In this course we will explore the most important biases our psyche brings into economic and investment decisions we make. The first part of the course shall be devoted to heuristics and biases in decision making, while the second part shall be devoted to behavioral investing. The last, bonus lecture, will be devoted to a career advice, should you wish to pursue a career in the world of investment.

Strategic Thinking: Theory and Practice +
Ole Jahn,PhD, Assistant professor of economics at CERGE-EI.
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
We will study theoretical tools and practical applications to sharpen the precision and depth of our strategic thinking. Starting from examples in news stories, books, or movies, we will introduce and apply concepts from game theory and information economics and discuss their real-life relevance. Examples provided by the students are an integral part of the course.

Economic history of Central and Eastern Europe +
Christian Ochsner PhD, Assistant professor at CERGE-EI
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
The course deals with the long-run evolution of socio-economic variables in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We compare the figures in CEE with the drivers of riches in Western Europe and Northern America. We will learn about differences and parallels in economic history in the East and West, and we will also compare the occurrences in the past to obstacles today. Indeed, technological change, the fertility transition, and economic and political crises are steadily shaping the world since the Industrial Revolution. Countries in CEE in particular experienced several upheavals during the last 200 years: Initially, CEE delayed the industrialization process mainly because of the so-called second serfdom and because of the political dominance of empires. We follow countries in CEE during the interwar period, analyze the long-term consequences of the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and discuss CEE’s weak political and economic institutions after World War I. After World War II, the centralized planning economy shaped development in the long-run; ethnic cleansing in Poland or Czechoslovakia is still visible in socio-economic variables today, and the transition toward a market economy after 1990 is crucial for understanding present-day challenges in CEE. The course bases on a broader understanding of economic development including classical economic measures like GDP, inflation or population growth as well as so-called soft economic variables like norms, culture, political attitudes and social capital

Labor Markets in the EU+
Mariola Pytliková PhD, Assistant professor at CERGE-EI
3 credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
This course will look at key European labour market issues from an empirical angle. It will for instance consider topics such as wage determination, skill formation, unemployment and international migration within the context of the labour markets, institutions and policies of the EU. We will apply Labour Economics view on imperfect labour markets, and address empirically policy-makers’ questions on for instance minimum wages, unemployment benefits and flexecurity, education programs, family policies, retirement programs or immigration and integration policies.

Course materials:
Boeri, T. and J. van Ours (2021), The Economics of Imperfect Labor Markets, 3rd edition, Princeton University Press.
Supplemented with academic articles.

CEE Economic Growth and Development +
Nikoloz Kudashvili, Mgr., PhD candidate at CERGE-EI
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
Why are some countries poor and other countries rich? What are the factors of growth? What is the role of political and economic institutions in the development process? How can aid foster growth and development? These questions are of central interest not only for academics, but also for policy makers and international organizations shaping policies for sustained growth and development. Providing the answers is particularly relevant for any country undergoing a strong transition and development process, such as the former Soviet Union countries. It is however also important for the European Union, whose member countries vary significantly in their original economic environments. This course aims to address these questions in view of the theory and empirics of economic growth. This course is divided in two parts. The first part overviews the facts of growth and presents the main theories that try to account for them. Special attention is given to understanding the central role of institutions in this process. The second part of the course analyzes the role of foreign aid and also discusses the role of international organizations, such as the World Bank and the IMF. Throughout, the course puts emphasis on the growth experience across European and former Soviet Union countries.

Prerequisites: This course is mainly addressed to students with economic backgrounds, rather at an advanced stage of their studies. Intermediate microeconomics and basic calculus are prerequisites for this course. Knowledge of econometrics and intermediate macroeconomics is a plus. Students with little or no economic background are advised to consult the professor before enrolling.Why are some countries poor and other countries rich? What are the factors of growth? What is the role of political and economic institutions in the development process? How can aid foster growth and development? These questions are of central interest not only for academics, but also for policy makers and international organizations shaping policies for sustained growth and development. Providing the answers is particularly relevant for any country undergoing a strong transition and development process, such as the former Soviet Union countries. It is however also important for the European Union, whose member countries vary significantly in their original economic environments. This course aims to address these questions in view of the theory and empirics of economic growth. This course is divided in two parts. The first part overviews the facts of growth and presents the main theories that try to account for them. Special attention is given to understanding the central role of institutions in this process. The second part of the course analyzes the role of foreign aid and also discusses the role of international organizations, such as the World Bank and the IMF. Throughout, the course puts emphasis on the growth experience across European and former Soviet Union countries.

Economics of Transition+
Vilém Semerák, Mgr., Ing., PhD, Researcher at IDEA CERGE-EI
Krešimir Žigić, PhD., Associate Professor of Economics, CERGE-EI
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
The course deals with main economic issues related to transition from centrally-planned economies of the Soviet bloc, Yugoslavia, and China to market economies. Compared to other similar courses, this course will be less descriptive and more analytical; we will use economic models and results of econometric studies where appropriate. We will also try to apply an experimental approach in order to provide the students with direct experience with asymmetric information markets and soft-budget constraints. The course tries to focus on aspects of transition which can be used to shed light on more permanent problems of economics systems and which can help reduce future exposure to similar errors.

The first part of the course deals with the theory of comparative economic systems, reviewing the theory of capitalism and analyzing the functioning of central planning and selected topics related to corporate governance under central planning (e.g. Yugoslavian self-managed firms). The second part provides an explanation of the gradual economic decline and main structural problems experienced by the former central planning countries, and it also focuses on main transition steps and their economic logic. We will also deal with basic theoretical models that attempt to explain problems experienced by transition economies. The last part will deal with the performance of firms and the role of corporate governance, ownership and institutions.

Environmental Economics in the Central European Context+
Jana Krajčová, PhD, Researcher at IDEA CERGE-EI
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
The aim of this course is to introduce students to some basic economic principles and theories explaining environmental issues and problems today and to explore existing policies at the national, international, and global level. Students will learn about concepts such as externalities, the tragedy of the commons, enforcement as a public good, interventionist solutions to the externality problem such as taxes and marketable pollution permits, as well as non-interventionist solutions to the externality problem such as the Coasian solution and self-regulation. Students will also review the debate over the environmental Kuznets curve. Because experimental evidence nicely complements theoretic insights, field data, and simulating models, we will conduct in-class experiments and also review some research articles that draw on the experimental methodology.

The Housing Market in a Central European Context+
Martin Lux, PhD, Senior researcher, head of the Socioeconomics of Housing Department
3 U.S. credits (6 ECTS)

Course summary:
This course will provide an introduction to the standard tools for the assessment of housing markets and house prices used in traditional economics, such as present value and structural models, but it will also discuss and compare institutional contexts among CEE countries. It will explore the effect of state interventions on the nature of housing systems in the CEE region, and the impact of changes in housing systems on the behaviour of market agents. The similarities and differences in market-based housing finance, housing subsidies, private and social renting among CEE countries will be discussed with a view to examining convergence and divergence trends. These trends will to some extent also be compared to US and other EU countries. The final part of the course will be devoted to tenure choice (renting or owning a dwelling) and a discussion of the psychological and sociological aspects of decision-making in a housing market that is characterized by a high level of uncertainty. Knowledge of the specific institutional context of the post-socialist housing transformation and the sociological and psychological aspects of housing market decisions will represent added value to the standard tools used in housing economics for the analysis of house price determinants and will provide a deeper understanding of housing markets in this part of the world.