Your browser does not support JavaScript
skip directly to Main Content Navigation Search A-Z Index Ask the Bulldog Find People Top Story Breadcrumbs Footer
Middle College
Economics Fall 2015

Mr. Michael Clardy,San Mateo Middle College

Office: East Hall Building 17, Room 203
Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 8-9 am, 10 am - 12 pm, 1-3 pm
Office Phone: (650) 574-6468
Fax: (650) 574-6233

Economics is the study of choices. These choices are often financial, but they may extend beyond the realm of money to concerns about quality of life, happiness and success. We will examine choices both on a small (micro) and large (macro) scale. We will also look at how virtually all political decisions are made in the context of our economy. You will begin to see how the economic decisions you make have become an indirect method of voting.

All of our economic choices are increasingly interrelated to other economies. You engage in decisions about purchases, borrowing, education, etc. every day. Each of these decisions "costs" something. These costs could be in terms of dollars, time, responsibilities to a job, community service, jail sentences, etc. By examining the consequences of our economic decisions, I hope to help you become better informed about the choices available to you. I also hope to show you that your local decisions have global implications. 

For example, every time you buy a cup of coffee, you are sending a signal to the international coffee market that you approve of the conditions under which that coffee is grown and processed. You are also saying that you approve of the way the industry has priced that commodity. Is this your intention? Would you change your mind if you knew that some farmers in Central America are losing their farms because they cannot make enough of a profit given the global prices of coffee beans? Case studies like this will help us define more of the economic costs of production. We will use these analyses to decide what policies our government should pursue in the global economy. We will also make recommendations to our local governmental officials on how our local community can address some of the issues we discover.  

I hope you find this to be a challenging and eye-opening semester.  

Essential (focus) Question:Should the United States pursue a policy that promotes "fair trade"?

Final Product:
Each student will answer this question through a research paper and group presentation. These will include recommendations on how local governments and communities can address some of the consequences identified in your research. Any student that earns an average of 90% on both the essay and presentation will be exempt from taking the final exam. (See my website for specific topics)  


I. Introduction: What is economics?
  • Examine central question
  • Freakonomics
  • "Influential"; Economists ( Smith, Malthus, Keynes, etc.)
  • Choices of economic systems ("Free market," command, barter(traditional),etc.)
  • Causal relationship between scarcity and the need for choices, cost/benefit analysis
  • 3 questions: What to produce, how to produce, and for whom to produce?
  • Final goods versus productive resources (product market vs. factor market)
II. Microeconomics

Market Pricing
  • Law of Supply
  • Law of Demand
  • What causes changes in prices
  • Allocative function of price
Alternative forms of business structures


Looking at labor
  • unionization
  • minimum wage
  • unemployment insurance

Regional differences
The President's Dilemma (project-Students write an essay defending their position on this debate.  The paper must be framed in the current budget situation where there is high deficit spending with many programs being slashed.)
Describe the function of financial markets
Non-monetary costs to production
Fiscal Policy
Monetary policy

IV. Globalization: Free trade vs. Fair Trade

Trade restrictions
Sovereign borders vs. international economic borders
Currency fluctuations/foreign exchange
Critique of market economies

V. Final Projects

Final grades in this class are based on a weighted system. Your grade will approximately be comprised of the following percentages:

1. Homework 25%
2. Tests/Quizzes 30%
3. Final Examination 25%
4. Final Project 30%  









DOs and DON'Ts

Please do the following while in class:
  • Be sure that your words and actions respect every member of the class- apologize if this does not happen
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Do the homework- this will make everything much easier (this is what the "real world" calls preparation)
  • Get to class on time- I begin promptly at 12:10PM- you may miss a quiz!
  • Actively participate in class discussions
  • Stay on task during class time
  • Keep all returned work as though they are receipts
  • Actively seek help from Mr. Clardy if you feel yourself getting behind
  • If in doubt, ask questions
Please do not do the following while in class:
  • Leave on your cell phone- I will relieve you of its burden
  • Be late- if you are, make no noise. If this is a habit, we will need to discuss the issue in private
  • Eat in class
  • Use foul language

Final Note

I thoroughly enjoy working with students your age.  I appreciate your energy, your curiosity and the various challenges that you face. Please know that I am committed to helping you succeed. If I am hard on you it is because I have high expectations of the students in this program. So long as you commit to putting forth honest effort, I will give you all the support I can.