To preface: Throughout this course, I was terrified I was going to get a D or worse. I somehow ended up getting an A-. This class WILL feel incredibly stressful while you're in it. Uribe's Macro isn't about economics, it's about math. It's a weird applied math class that requires you to memorize a bunch of models and manipulate them. It's hard to know where to even start when looking at Uribe's problem sets. This can be really disconcerting, especially coming out of principles where everything is more or less conceptual. You have to know strange derivative tricks, log tricks, and weird exponent tricks to solve Uribe's problem sets/exams. These weird math concepts make the class feel impossible. To do well in the class, you have to do a few things: 1) Approach it like a math class. 2) Don't focus on learning conceptual concepts. 3) Focus on the models. MEMORIZE all of the relevant equations associated with each model. 4) Do the problem sets and practice problems over and over again before exams. Overall, this class feels really impossible while you're taking it and can be really stressful/disheartening. I would recommend taking it with another professor. I did end up doing surprisingly well though, so don't be overly worried if you have to take Uribe. Just be prepared for it to mentally feel really weird/rough while you're taking it.
This course was a rollercoaster, and not in a good way! Uribe is alright, a boring lecturer but he gets the job done. The real problem is the hw. This man does not know what an example problem is, he spends the lectures doing a lot of talking about the models and concepts, but should really delegate more time to doing the actual calculations given his hw was so technical and required using excel sometimes. You need to a lot the proper time to understand what the hw is even about before diving in because it will likely not have the clearest connection to the lecture. Also, my class, this semester had a lot of drama with the TAs to say the least, because they did not know how to run a proper recitation (minus head TA Eddie). Very inconsistent in their teaching styles and the concepts they would decide to cover, which was a bit of a headache. Personally, I did more than ok in this course, but I definitely saw lots of problems that affected other students. If you are not comfortable with econ already and doing some intuitive maths, and have not taken intermediate micro, or want a more engaging prof, I would not recommend taking Uribe.
literally the worst class ive ever taken. would not recommend
Instead of learning about economics, I felt like I was taking a course on weird math tricks to derive formulas. Nothing is intuitive. Tests are difficult. Granted, I took the class remotely and he might be more compelling in person, but he is not great at explaining concepts. It is easier to get by reviewing the slides or watching recordings in 1.75x speed than it is to attend class.
This class was really challenging on zoom—take in-person reviews with a grain of salt if you have to take it online... Prof Alonso is nice, but her lectures are super dry and there is absolutely no engagement in the class. Grading for the midterm and final was convoluted and opaque, and she responded condescendingly to students’ questions on Piazza asking for an explanation. Final grades seem mysteriously uncorrelated with exam performance. Strange experience.
Irasema is just kind of awful.
Oh Prof Alonso. Like other reviews have stated, the online format in terms of testing is completely different from her in-person class. The problems are far more difficult and are not taken directly from PSETs. She also does not curve all that generously even when the class averages were in the 60s for both the Midterm and Final. Also, no partial credit was given for either exam. Oooof. Her lectures are dry and she rarely adds anything beyond what is directly on the slides. However, her office hours were great as she would all but give you the answers to the PSETs. The TAs Matt and Casey were awesome too. Buyer beware with this one. Definitely not the worst Macro section, but not what it was hyped up to be.
I would definitely recommend taking this class. Professor Alonso is a really nice and approachable person and a great Professor! She cares about her students and always finds time to help them during office hours. The class is very organized, Professor Alonso always uploads everything on time and is well prepared for the lectures. She also gives a lot of hints on what to expect on exams so make sure you note them because if she says she will put something on an exam, you will see it on that exam. I would also strongly recommend going to her office hours, not only when you don't understand some concepts but just to go and listen to what she says or jokes about :) I genuinely enjoyed going to her office hours even when I had no questions. Overall it was a very enjoyable class and if you put the effort into going to her office hours, doing the homework sets, and understanding the lectures, you can get a good grade even without reading a textbook. Professor Alonso also always says that her curve is more generous because if she sees that you work hard, she will make sure to give you the grade you deserve. You do have to put a decent amount of work into the class, however. I definitely recommend doing the problem sets, going to recitations and office hours as much as possible. It is a fairly easy class if you put the effort into it and make sure you understand the material but if you just do the problem sets to get over it and do poorly on the exams even though you go to her office hours, she will not be able to boost your grade from a C to and A so keep that in mind. Also, a lot of other reviews say that she gives homework problems on her exams. I took this class in an online format and since everything was open note, the problems were different on the exams.
I wouldn't say she's a good professor, but she's a good person? Problem sets are pretty easy. Plus, if you don't know how to do some questions, go to office hours; she will literally tell you the answer and walk you through it. Easy 100 for each. The materials taught in class are not hard at all, but her lectures were so painful. She will contradict herself, talk about how one equation is formed for 20mins, ask us out of nowhere which economist came up with the theory (and doesn't proceed until someone answers correctly holyf*), and misunderstand students' questions. Maybe I have no patience but just reading the textbook (her slides are summaries of the textbook) and checking the slides for problem-solving examples were good for my mental health. So I thought the course would be easy now, but damn I was wrong. Everyone felt good about the exams until the grades came out. The mid-term's average was 50something out of 100. There were even some single-digit grades. Oh btw she doesn't give partial credit on exams, you can easily get 0/15 for questions. So, dear prof gave everyone 30% more points based on your own grade(???). So if you had a below-average grade RIP, and congratulations to above-average ones. You would think an Econ teacher would know better than creating inequality that wasn't there before. Ofcs people were mad, asking on piazza and emailing her and the TAs, but she ghosted us :) Idek if finals are worse: if you have questions about your exam, save it for the TAs cause she will tell you she won't look at it at all since it would "disadvantage other students". Ma'am, I just want to learn cause the answer key doesn't explain anything. Maybe just covid things cause she made exams open-book and extra weird.
Yikes bro. I was fooled by all the reviews of her class from her IN PERSON days but online this class is a mess. She had technical difficulties in almost every class, the average for the midterm was a C and the average for the final was a D, and the TAs insisted they were doing a good job despite the contrary evidence. The cherry on top of the shit pile was how often Alonso insisted the curve would be generous and she gives out too many good grades. That proved to be kinda true with the final grades but it was a surprise up until the very end! Grades in courseworks did not match SSOL and the SSOL grades, albeit generous, seemed to come with no rhyme or reason. Emails with questions about how grades were determined and how the final was scored (NO partial credit) were met with curt responses from both Alonso and the TAs. She's actually an incredibly lovely woman, and I'm sure the online format does not do her class justice but seriously AVOID the online version at all costs...
I can understand why some people would like this class, but I do not understand how you would like the professor. She literally power-reads through her powerpoints during class, not really explaining anything. Classes ended up being useless and I had to learn the entire material using the book. She is so obsessed with getting through the powerpoints she will even start a new one when 2 minutes of class are remaining instead of letting you go. Her Psets are not straightforward, but at least you are allowed to work on them as groups. Her midterm and final will destroy your GPA. The grading is extremely harsh. She curves them in a weird way which ends up benefitting those who already got high grades and barely changing anything for those who had the lowest grades. Plus she is not at all lenient. I would really advise you to not take this class with this professor if you don't want a huge blow in your GPA.
Highly recommend Alonso for Intermediate Macro. She is clear in her teaching and is very accessible to students. Exams are fair.
Overall, this class was an enjoyable, though perhaps slightly challenging, experience online. What the reviewer below me says about the jokes, metaphors, eccentricity, and engagement is true. Unfortunately, what they say about the pacing of the class is true too, but I don't think it's as big of a problem as made out to be: while the number of "chapters" (really just pdfs of some notes - there's not an actual textbook) is heavily concentrated in the latter half of the course, the presentation of the material doesn't feel substantially faster or more difficult. While some important topics in business cycle theory are glossed over a bit more, Xavier has the skill of clearly explaining the complex nuances. He's simply more passionate about the growth topics, and I don't see a huge problem with that. Also, lectures always begin with about 10-20 min of a recap from the previous class which helps you get in the mindset of the new content that's about to come. The TAs: did their jobs well but perhaps not outstanding. Personally, I didn't know that they did office hours until the weekend before the final but that's probably on me. I also don't think their response to student complaints were unreasonable: from my understanding, the complaints were variants of "but this is hard." One complaint that the professor didn't handle well was relating to the synchronous nature of the midterm and final. Many international students would've had to take the final at odd hours of the day, but the professor didn't seem to have much sympathy, citing that the only way to make the final asynchronous would require making the final open note which would require increasing the difficulty of the math. I find that reasoning to be erroneous. And of course, as others have noted, I should emphasize Xavier's jokes and metaphors: I think they help facilitate learning, and I think they helped make this course entertaining for me even if I didn't find the content as interesting.
Having completed the Holy Trinity of the introductory sequence(Gulati, Elmes, and Xavier), I must say Xavier's class is the most disappointing of the talk-ed up intro econ professors. Xavier himself has a truly unique background and eccentric personality, clearly passionate about growth economics, soccer, and Catalonia. The class, however, is a garbage fire. The first half of the semester consists of Xavier's bread and butter speeches about theories of economic growth, his personal anecdotes with leading economists and world leaders, and various quirky metaphors that make otherwise dry material very engaging. The second half of the semester is where the pile-up begins. Increasingly larger, but not necessarily more complex concepts are thrown at you without rest. Whereas the first semseter and midterm cover literally a chapter of Xavier's textbook, the second semester covers 6-7. Pacing as a concept does not seem to exist in this class. While I enjoy thinking about growth economics, I do not even think the first semester is even the most important from intermediate macro! Key differences between the Keynesian and Classical schools, monetary and fiscal policy, all are blazed through unmercilessly. No help is to found from the TAs in this course. Reading other reviews, it seems like TAs are lost every semester, but this cohort was especially disorganized. Conveniently cancelling their office hours before major deadlines, complaining about the unreasonableness of student questions when the majority of us just wanted a clear timeline as to when things might be due, and showing a general lack of initiative in attempting to address student concerns are only a few examples. This is not to say that the TAs did not go above and beyond in other ways: creating video series and holding extra sessions to explain concepts illustrated their personal interest in seeing students suceed. Going above and beyond expectations however, is better appreciated when the bare minimums are being met, namely a clear communication of deadlines and expectations regarding course material. As for the course material itself, it isn't too difficult. The math prerequisite is more than sufficient for the material in the course, and is used sparingly. The homework and exam questions themeselves can get frustrating at times, as though they may appear opinion based, they are really looking for the direct text found in Xavier's textbook. I did not find the midterm particularly hard, and though I have not taken it yet, the final appears to be a considerably larger amount of work. Although one may find it easier than other sections to obtain an A in this course, this comes at the expense of learning fully several of the more foundational topics of Macroeconomics. For this reason, I really can't recommend taking this course with Xavier if you are intending to major in econ. While his energy is infectious, this course was a bust in my opinion.
I totally agree he's funny, humorous (debatable), well-respected, and genuinely a good guy but his class is very unorganized. What he teaches in the class is not what you will normally learn in other macro class. Some materials include topics from micro (utility function, etc.). Also, he spends too much time on unnecessary stories like how he met Sharon Stone at Davos. But the worst part is there is too much gap between what he teaches in class and pset/exam. It makes things very difficult because he's super against using textbooks so that we don't really have a formalized materials to study, yet his lecture is just different from pset/exam. I understand most of the econ-core lectures at Columbia are terrible, but if I'm given a choice, I wouldn't take his class.
I cannot say ENOUGH good things about Professor Jasova. She is incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable but clear and approachable. She genuinely wants her students to succeed and learn to really learn. This class was definitely challenging but it wasn't unmanageable because of the great support system Professor Jasova created. I highly recommend her to anyone looking to take an econ class, even if you are not an econ major.
Professor Jasova is a powerhouse! So organized, intelligent, and genuinely caring. Her lectures are structured, accessible, patient, and lively even over Zoom. I was concerned about the intensive format but she was so accommodating of questions that we moved at a reasonable pace, and I always felt well-supported by the textbook and slides. Truly an inspiring person, I want to explore economic policy/central banking because of this course. Can't wait to take Financial Econ with her!
Worst professor I've ever had at Columbia -- do not take his course!! It is almost impossible to understand him in class. He speaks very quickly and his notes are written very sloppily. His slides are no help because they're cut-pasted from the textbook. You might as well just read the textbook instead of going to class, but when has that ever helped anyone learn? The workload was just too heavy for the class. He assigned too much and constantly went overtime for class by 20 to 30 minutes. I don't think he finished on time once. We even had to have a "make up class" (read: an extra class because he could not fit everything he had in the syllabus into his allotted time). He was flexible with his students, which is his saving grace, but it just can't make up for what a headfuck this class was. The worst part was how difficult the homework and exams were. And he was such a harsh grader. Not a good combo.
Don't do it. It's pretty poorly run. Lectures are vague and material is spread very unevenly (1 chapter for the midterm and 7 for the final). Grading is not super hard but it's sort of a waste of time.
Xavier is generally a decent lecturer. But I have a bone to pick with him for a couple of reasons. Tho keep in mind that this is also just my biased opinion. For the first two weeks, instead of actually teaching us economics, he gave us propaganda lectures on how the world has seen tremendous economic growth over the last few centuries(the message being that we gotta stop to smell the roses), and how inequality is really not such a serious issue because a) cross-country inequality is decreasing, and b) a rising tide lifts all boats!! It felt like a very self-serving message. Like hey guys, check out the splendid achievements of economics (btw I am famous growth economist), the people who grumble about poverty and inequality are totally just missing the bigger picture. Then for the first half of the semester, he focuses on the solow-swan model of growth. The model in essence is pretty simple. In a nutshell, the key result is that because there are diminishing returns to capital, economies cannot achieve permanent growth through investing in capital alone (only technological progress can facilitate permanent growth). Okay, not so mind blowing. This also is a highly oversimplified model of the economy of course. But Xavier made a really big deal out of it. He claimed that throughout the latter half of the 20th century, African countries and international aid agencies just kept building more machines because they thought increasing capital was the key to economic growth. But the Solow-Swan model states that you cannot achieve permanent economic growth this way!!! So in conclusion...that's why Africa continues to lag behind in economic development today. Case cracked! Like bro c'mon, that's a seriously oversimplified, distorted picture of reality.
Took Xavier last semester and had really high expectation after reading previous reviews. I would recommend Xavier because he is a great lecturer but at the same time he is slightly (actually more than slightly) overrated. He is a really funny, passionate guy and he definitely knows a lot about economic growth/development. We spent the first half of the semester discussing the solow-swan model and that was great. However, he rushed through the remaining 8 chapters in the second half of the semester and I still feel like I barely understand the part about tax and budget constraint. Also this class is very disorganized. Dont expect the TAs to respond to questions on Piazza promptly. Dont expect psets to match what was taught in class.
I would recommend taking Xavier for intermediate macro if you need to fulfill your econ requirement because his grading is very generous. With that being said, this isn't a great class. Lectures move incredibly slowly the first half of the semester, and then frantically speed up the second half. The lecture notes are messy and the tangential TA notes contain errors or additional information that is contradictory or presented differently. All in all, as someone who could not get themselves to pay attention in class, studying for the midterm and final was an absolute mess. The notes were just so disorganized and confusing. There were so many gaps in information. The good news, though, was that with a lot (a loooooot) of studying, the exams were pretty manageable. There's kind of a pattern to his testing. I really recommend understanding the lecture notes and basically memorizing the pset formats. That's how you succeed in this class. Overall, I learned little to nothing--I wish Xavier covered topics more widely taught in macro. Simply put, this class was messy and Xavier seemed a little too preoccupied to provide us with a comprehensive and eye-opening class.
Professor Jasova is probably the best teacher I’ve had at Barnard. She genuinely cares about helping her students learn and this is evident in her teaching style. Her problem sets, quizzes, and tests are very straightforward and only ask about material that was explicitly covered. She is super receptive to student concerns and even takes time out of class to address them. Everything is explained really well built you still don’t feel slowed down by the fact that she answers all questions. The TAs were two very different types. Yuki helped thoroughly with all work and even confirmed or denied if you have a right answer. Martha, on the other hand, seemed to be lost all of the time and was unable of expressing any information. She was a extremely harsh grader and unresponsive to feedback.
Professor Uribe's class was really interesting, and I really enjoyed it. I didn't like macro too much when I took Principles, so I was not expecting to find this class very interesting, but I was wrong. This class made me like Econ, and confirmed my decision to declare my major in Econ. Uribe was a very clear professor and explained concepts very well. I liked the way that he explained the intuition and derivations of each model or theory we studied (he would derive equations slowly step-by-step on the board, and he makes it easy to understand- so don't get intimidated by reviews that say this class is too math heavy). He also linked topics we talked about in class to real world situations, which was nice and made the concepts we studied more relatable. Instead of using the textbook, he uploads his own notes to Courseworks, which act as a supplement to the lecture (they're probably not necessary to read, but I did, and I found them helpful). I thought the grading was fair, and he is very helpful/available in office hours to further explain concepts and questions you might have. The TAs for this class were also very helpful and very good at answering questions/explaining concepts. I would definitely recommend going to both his office hours and the TA office hours. This has been one of my favorite classes at Columbia, and I would recommend it to anyone who is taking macro.
Prof. Uribe is actually a really good teacher. I don't care what others say, and admittedly I missed 1/3 of the lectures due to various reasons. Still, the times I was there to listen to him, he always makes perfect sense. Although he has a slight accent and speaks with one of the blandest voices I have had experience with, the content was great. His lecture notes are also superb. If you're comfortable with numbers, his notes can convey somewhat complex concepts like a breeze. I highly recommend him. Just don't judge by his mere presentation in class. I admit he sounds boring at first, but once you get into it, you'll see his points. Also, his psets are less focused on the nuances of concepts, but on a higher level understanding of them, which i like. There is less number crunching and more intuitive questions. The grading, I heard, is ok. I am only 2/3 finished with the class. Might update when I finish. Psets grade vary a whole lot, but midterm was curved.
I would highly recommend this class to anyone who needs to take intermediate macroeconomics. Professor Alonso's lecture notes were very clear and straightforward. She gives out approximately weekly problem sets which can count towards your grade if they help you. Besides that, there's just a midterm and final exam. The problem sets aren't bad and the TAs and professor are willing to answer questions. If you do the problem sets and read through her lecture notes, you'll be fine for her exams. She's also extremely approachable during office hours and is always willing to talk with you.
This class is not easy, but doable if you follow his lectures closely. Weekly homeworks are useless, especially for the exam preparation. All questions shown up on exam are from his slides, so please review them as much as you can. Readings are not that important too, although i did finish all required readings before the class. Consider those readings as supplement materials for slides as some historical events are much easier to understand and remember after reading related materials. The lectures in most times are fun as Jon seems to be passionate about his topic. Unlike the previous comments, our midterms are difficult and the average is around 70+. The final is hard too, 32 pages for 20+ essay questions. But again, if you reviewed all those slides, A is not a problem.
Don't do it. You'll be succumbed to rambling lecture with homework you'll have to try to mine the book in order to understand, and then be blindsided by tests which are way beyond what's been discussed in class. I got a good grade (so you know I'm not salty) but I would have waited until the spring cycle if I'd known what I was getting myself into. Miller is a good guy but inept as a teacher.
Alonso is a pretty good professor, all in all. She has relatively easy-to-understand powerpoint slides, and her Problem Sets directly correspond to her exams. Her Midterm is pretty easy, made up for by a challenging (noncumulative) final. She's definitely better at teaching the beginning parts of the course, as it's pretty simple material. She's also a fair grader with decent TA's - they all respond pretty frequently and grade pretty lightly. Her problem sets are optional, but there's no reason not to do them - they only help your grade. Irasema is nice enough to give you two options for how she grades you - either 40% midterm and 60% final, or 25% HW, 30% Midterm, and 45% Final. She gives you the higher grade amongst the two options. Also, about half of her midterm is based off problem set questions, some word for word, without even the numbers being changed. As for the final, she makes it harder by varying the problems based on problem set questions pretty heavily, and asks you to do some pretty complicated voodoo magic with her loss function question. But she's a quirky and fairly entertaining lecturer who explains complicated points fairly well, so I'll give her a pass. All in all, she's worse than what I've heard for Xavier, but she's decent nonetheless.
Xavier's class was a dud to me. Even though it wasn't particularly difficult, I found that I left the class with no new knowledge or expertise about Macroeconomics. The midterm is fairly simple as long as you do the practice tests, the final is quite a bit harder overall, but not too hard. The best tactic for this class is to complete the practice tests before the midterm/final a few times so you can memorize the concepts, and to attend class the second half of the semester. The first half Xavier goes very slowly, and it is not a challenge at all, the second half compensates by going very quickly, so go to class and try to grasp the concepts for the second half/ in preparation for the final. If you do this- you will do well in the class.
Xavier is the BEST Econ professor I have had so far!!!!!!! Whereas my Micro professor was all about mathematics and proofs and trick questions, Xavier was all about FUN and learning. He explained concepts so well that I could always recall what exactly he said about specific concepts. He uses metaphors ("cookies" as real GDP), animated examples, and his quirky humor. At times, I felt this guy could even teach kindergarteners macroeconomics. The problem sets were usually well written as well. You get a few easy questions and the rest require slight tweaks to the models. The lecture was extremely entertaining as you saw from his famous words about children. But the one I loved the most was the Columbia students as a wicked example of the "borrower" lol. Also, as a non-conventional Growth Economics, Xavier taught us both the classical and Keynesian views. What a good deal for me. At the end of the day, I have learned so much with MINIMUMAL STRESS thanks to a great teacher like this. Although the class size was overwhelmingly large and occasionally someone would ask questions that I would rather ask in the recitations, I appreciated this equal opportunity for 400 people to enjoy such a good class. The Econ department should also do the same thing with CORPORATE FINANCE: provide more opportunities for non-Financial-Econ majors to explore this area and recognize that registration priority is BS, bureaucratic, and anti-intellectual. My ONLY complaint to the class was the fact that the TAs, who made the final, failed to proofread questions and left us with SIX mistakes. COME ON guys. We had 10 TAs and none of them paid enough attention to proofreading. Grade received: A (missed a few lectures due to recruiting and never attended recitation due to my campus jobs but thanks to the good notes that Xavier posted, I was able to pull it through)
** Had him for Fall 2016. Econ major but not a fan of math. ** He is not the best lecturer. He definitely seemed very interested in development, which is cool, but we end up going really slowly for the first half of the semester, which makes him cram the rest in the second half. My main complaint with Xavier is how unorganized he is. His syllabus is very minimal--it lists topics that are going to be covered without any indication of the timeline (probably because he himself doesn't know what the timeline is going to look like) and grade distribution. Anyways, studying for his cumulative final was a MESS. His "textbook" is essentially long word documents and pdf's that have a lot of typos. They didn't help much with my studying. The final was kind of a disaster overall // a lot of people came out of it dumbfounded (including myself). BUT the curve was very very good. So there's that. Also, rumor has it that Xavier didn't like our class because of an annoying group of people that always sat in the front of class and asked annoying questions. In summary, he's not someone I would recommend, but is also not someone I would strongly speak against. One thing for sure is that he's not worth all the hype.
Ron is a nice guy and he clearly knows what he's teaching; but for the class, Ron Miller's course is a pain in the butt. The class seemed okay at first, but the midterm was absolutely horrific. Miller claims that he tends to put one "really difficult" question on exams to distinguish between really good students ..and the rest of us. Unfortunately, this question goes miles out of the boundary of what we learned, making it impossiblé to get a good grade. If you HAVE to take this class, then take it and be ready to devote yourself to Mankiw's writing. If you have a choice and want an actually enjoyable experience, RETREAT.
After reading the Culpa Reviews I came into the class with slightly negative bias and what people were saying was mostly true. 1) There is no question that Ron Miller is a very nice guy who is also insanely intelligent and knows A LOT! 2) NEVERTHELESS 3) Class was not very engaging most people didn't come to lectures 4) THE MIDTERM AND THE FINAL WERE SOOOOO HARD.. No matter how much you study nothing can prepare you for the difficulty of his exams 5) The quizzes are not too hard 6) The problem sets are very hard but it's easy to get a good score on them. Overall this course is poisonous for the GPA and you could probably learn more in another class, yet Ron Miller is a very very smart guy.
Absolutely the worst...If you have to take this course for your requirement, take it with ANYONE ELSE BUT HIM. He is ineffective in every single sense. He is unclear about the material. His lectures are straight out of the textbook, and somehow they are even more boring that just reading the book. His exams are tough and he does not adequately prepare you for them...he assigns very few problem sets and 0 additional practice problems. I felt so bad for the TAs for this course. He told us on the first day of class that he doesn't reply to email, so don't email him, and then didnt provide any other way to communicate with him...He tells us to be responsible for all the material in the book, which is pages upon pages of minutiae, any of which could come up on the exam. When there were finally practice problems provided for the final (less than a week before), they were either extremely hard or too easy. No one knew what to expect. He doesn't even cover everything that we should be "responsible for" in the lectures. He is unresponsive, boring, and an awful teacher. To reiterate what I said before, as have other reviewers: avoid this man at ALL costs.
Avoid taking this professor because statistically speaking, you aren't going to do well. Uribe curves this class so that the average is going to be a B. I don’t think Uribe understands how curving and grading works. Reference sheets are not allowed so the midterm and final were like memorization tests rather than conceptual tests. If you simply regurgitate and memorize the lecture notes, you will do well on the exams. All that happens in class is Uribe derives equations which are already derived in the posted lecture notes. Going to class is not needed to do well on the homeworks and exams. Just memorize the lecture notes.
Professor Schmitt Grohe delivers a rigorously mathematical approach to macroeconomics--she certainly does not make economics seem as easy to chew as does Professor Gulati. However, if you have appreciation for the mathematics of things, you will find this class extremely inspiring. She is not as skilled with the more tangible elements of economic thinking--she won't delve into the human nature or the intuition of things all too often. Instead, she assumes that you already understand the intuition behind, say, why inflation increases the interest rate, and thus she does not take the time to explain it. Instead she will prove the mechanism using strict variables. Personally, I loved this class. But it is certainly not for everyone, particularly people who intend to take a more humanities or even historical approach to macroeconomics. Each unit centers around models, and the models build in complexity throughout the semester. Exams will test you on simplified versions of the models presented in class. If you do not have a solid intuitive and mathematical understanding of the models, the exams can be very difficult. I believe it is this reason that exam results for our class were often bimodal.
Definitely take him for Macro. He's funny and it's not difficult to get an A. There are loads of TAs, and they're usually all great, so it's never hard to reach one if you need to. Go to a recitation near the end of the semester if you can; usually one of the TAs goes over what will be on the final. If you miss a class or don't have notes, all the TAs post their recitation notes every week and some of them have really great, comprehensive ones. Plus, he spends the beginning of each class reviewing last class, so again, not a problem if you missed a class. Problem sets aren't difficult, just pretty long and occasionally tedious. There's also lots of past solutions floating around and he hardly changes the questions, if you want to go down that route. Exams are straightforward. When you study for an exam, make sure you check their notes, as they'll sometimes cover stuff that Xavier doesn't, and then shows up on the exam. Also make sure you review your problem sets--past questions will also sometimes show up. Be warned: his exams are long af. You will be scrambling till the last minute to finish. The midterm is pretty difficult, but the final is more forgiving. Plus with his grading policy, as long as you do well on the final, your midterm doesn't even matter. There's pretty much no math involved, so if you suck at math (like me), that's great news. Overall, I enjoyed his class. I learned a lot, and he's humorous enough to keep your attention for most classes. Some of the more critical reviews below though do have some valid points, i.e. pacing, but I personally didn't have a problem. For the most case, you'll have a good time. If you don't like him, just don't go to lecture & go to recitation instead.
This class is by far my favorite this semester (and maybe at Columbia). Prof. Schmitt-Grohe picked very carefully the materials she would like to convey to us and then went really deep into the models and its variations. Her pace is relatively slower compared to the other professors but I find her method instrumental in improving my understanding. I also appreciate the fact that she always makes an effort to make the materials come to life by bringing in data, her research, and current events. She does her best to make the class interactive to various degrees of success and in doing so engages you to think if you decide to participate. At the end of the day, the course exposes you to how great macroeconomists think and frame a problem, not just provide you with intellectual bonbons to whip out during dinner conversations - although her graphs and data helps with that too. This framework is super valuable if you are thinking of majoring in Econ or studying at graduate level since a lot of emphasis is on the logic. As previous reviewers noted, exams are not so straightforward, which seems to be most people's complaints. She doesn't really drop hints about what will be in the exams, but if you pay careful attention to the intuition behind her methods, read the slides carefully (these are super dense and rather tangential - most people give up on them but I find they really help you prepare for exams), and go to the TA review sessions, you will be OK. She spends the majority of her lectures doing the math, but the exams test you on intuition so be sure to understand where the math is going/coming from. The head TA comes up with practice questions in my section and most of the class will go crazy trying to figure out the answers, but you'll be better off understanding the methods and logic behind it rather than getting the right numbers. Her problem sets are weekly which could be a blessing or a curse. They are not super time-consuming but a little tricky at times. You can get away with copying down answers from a buddy, but if you want to feel prepared for the exams, don't do this. As previous reviewers noted, she doesn't let the TAs post answers for the problem sets, so either do them really well or go to recitations. The one thing that most of us seem to have troubles with is that she expects you to understand the material at a really deep level, since the amount of the material is not that overwhelming. Unlike the previous reviewer, I'm not bothered by the talk-and-chalk method (probably because this semester she started giving slides) but you will have to review both the slides and your notes on a regular basis to not fall behind. She devotes approximately 4-8 lectures per topic so it's in your best interest to keep up with the class and the slides - missing a class and not catching up will mean that the next lecture is torturous. She is also super helpful during office hours especially if you come prepared with specific questions - she is happy to go through some concepts again and listens to suggestions about how the class could be improved. All in all, really excellent class. You just can't cut corners - do all the work you are supposed to, be prepared to think a little deeper, and you will get a lot out of this class.
I took this class with Ricardo last term and wanted to give him some love since it seems like a lot of it is going to Xavier! I learned a lot in this class without too much stress, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a more broad introduction to macroeconomics than what Xavier does. Ricardo organizes his lectures into weeks of different topics (13 weeks total) covering unemployment, inflation, growth theory, fiscal policy, monetary policy, and more, and the models behind each of them. You don't need to know a lot of math for this class at all, though sometimes it helps in understanding the models. Ricardo's lectures slides are very useful - definitely print them out and take notes on them in class (or do it on a computer). Sometimes I didn't fully understand what he was saying during class, but when I did the problem sets and reviewed the notes everything cleared up. At times he may seem like he's going too quickly (probably because he's just so brilliant) but I just wrote everything down and reviewed it one more time and it usually clicked. Recitations weren't super useful - I was planning on going to most of them but then ended up not going to many because of conflicts or sheer laziness, and found that Ricardo's notes are enough. But when I did go, they cleared things up and I think it's a great way to catch up if you're behind in class (shoutout to the awesome TAs Savi, Oscar, Jiawen! All three of them were great). I learned quite a bit and in the end felt like I really grasped the basics of each of the topics he covered. He likes to give real world examples of all the topics, which made me feel like I also learned a bit more about the economics of the world in general. This is a great foundation class - plus Ricardo is really nice, flexible with scheduling office hours, and is very approachable despite being a genius! Oh, and, he has a dazzling smile. Seriously. If given the option I would choose Ricardo again in a heartbeat.
I really don't understand the hype behind Xavier. He is a funny dude at times, but I found his class and topics covered to be very boring and not engaging. It may have been the sheer size of the class, but it felt like Xavier would be rambling on-and-on forever during class. With no doubt, I can say that I never paid attention to a single lecture, and I never attended a single recitation session. However, one appeal of the class is that it is very easy. Recitation notes are online and all you need to prepare for the midterm and final. If you work hard enough, you can learn the entire course material in a day. If I had to choose again, I'd probably take Xavier again, but wouldn't make the mistake of trying to go to class and pay attention again.
I would like to respectfully disagree with the review before me in a couple regards. Martin Uribe was a good professor and I definitely learnt a lot in this class. I agree that Martin's voice is pretty monotone, but if you pay attention to what he is saying you will have a grasp of the material that will be sufficient ammunition for his exams (which were easy, assuming you had bothered to learn the material). Martin moves quite slowly, and he will do multiple cases of the same model to ensure you know what is going on. Martin's class uses calculus, but this shouldn't catch anyone off guard, given that calculus 1 is the pre requisite along with principles. The only calculus needed is knowing how to take pretty simple derivatives. No calculus is needed for the exams since you can memorize the derivatives in the models for the exams. Anyone who says Martin doesn't explain his formulae is flat out wrong. I just went back through my notebook and I have an economic explanation written under every boxed formula. He does mathematical proofs of his formulas but these are not needed for his exams, they are to show you why the formulas are considered good models. Once an equation is proven he focuses heavily on the economic intuition, which is true on his problem sets as well. He always explains why his solution to examples make economic sense as well. Last but not least, Martin cares a lot about the concepts underlying the models rather than blindly using a model. Often on problem sets he will modify an assumption in a model and ask questions, so you have to understand the model enough to decipher what this change means. Long story short if you pay attention in lecture (or read his thorough lecture notes) you should be fine. I skipped most of Carlos' recitations and ended up with a fabulous grade in the class regardless since Martin moves quite slowly. For the sake of full disclosure I will note that I am in SEAS, since people think this matters. I will also note that I got my grade while taking 5 other SEAS classes and plenty of extra curriculars, not because I'm a genius, but because the workload isn't that high. Take from that what you will.
Steinsson is a great professor. He is pretty interactive and he makes the class a good blend of math, models and macro history. He lectures off slides but makes ample use of the board too. The class is more quantitative than the other Macro classes, which I think is a good thing. I would definitely recommend him over the other professors who teach the course. He also advised the government of Iceland during the financial crisis, so that's pretty cool. Homeworks were highly variable in length - anywhere from 1 to 7 hours per problem set. Steinsson also assigns a lot of reading, but I never did any of it and did fine on the tests. For the exams, it's important to know the lecture slides in and out. He covers the important stuff from the readings on his slides, so they should be enough to get you through most of the history and reading related questions on his tests. Note that the final had a history question not covered in the slides, so you might want to be safe and do the readings - they are pretty interesting if you have time for them. The class does cover a lot of material. Start studying early for the finals, else you'll realize that you have nearly 2000 slides to study the day before the exam. Also, Linan, one of our TAs was awesome with his humorous recitation notes and emails.
I would have to say that Dr. Uribe is the complete opposite of a great approachable professor. His teaches style is like talking to a brick wall in a monotone voice. He drones on with a succession of derivations and equations on the blackboard without ever letting students appreciate the big picture. Contrary to what a reviewer wrote below, Uribe's accent is not at all the issue: His intonation and demeanor is. There is absolutely zero engagement with the class. He does not pause to emphasize important points, and refuses to answer any questions during class (even though only about 40 students show up). By the time you ask him after his lecture, most of what he's said has gone in one ear and out the other. If you want to have an enthusiastic, entertaining professor who illuminates and contextualizes the numerous equations you will have to learn, avoid Dr. Uribe with a ten foot pole. Uribe is undoubtedly an expert in his field, but is too absent-minded to effectively share his lessons with a room full of undergraduates. If you can motivate yourself to regurgitate the equations that Uribe writes on the board and translate them into intuitive concepts, you might get something out of the lectures. I, like many others, learn everything from Carlos' recitation. Carlos is hands down the best TA any student could possibly have. His teaching style is everything that Uribe is not able to do. He is personally invested in his students and actually wants us to succeed. I definitely would have stuck with a major in econ if Carlos had been the excellent professor and Dr. Uribe had been demoted to being a mediocre TA.
I highly recommend this class. In my opinion, Xavier is great at presenting the material and keeping the class interesting and funny. It's in a huge auditorium but there's a microphone so you can hear him from anywhere in the room. There are about 10 TA's, so if you miss the lecture you can go to a recitation any day of the week. I would recommend not going to Carlos' recitations, as those are generally packed (Carlos is the long-time head TA). If you don't understand something, there are so many recitations and office hours that you are guaranteed to get your questions answered (also, you should get the emails of the TA's just in case). In terms of the material, there is not actually so much covered. He spends the beginning of each lecture reviewing the previous one. If you go to every lecture and pay attention and do all the problem sets, you will need very little studying. The tests weren't so hard, though I thought they were a huge time crunch. The class kind of slowed down after the midterm because Xavier is into growth, which is the first part of the semester. Overall, there is very little actual math and most of the material is intuitive, which means if you pay attention you'll do great in the class. Also, if you mess up the midterm the final counts instead of it (I completely failed the midterm and still got an A). In summary, Xavier is hilarious and he was able to keep my focus most of the time I was there, the class is not math-based and pretty interesting, and it's not hard to get an A -- so I can't think of one reason NOT to take this class.
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Having hated my macroeconomics class in high school, I had some apprehensions about jumping into Reis' class my first fall semester. Reis completely invalidated my fears. He's engaging and doesn't kill his students with work. Some complain about the strong math focus, and he certainly does use a lot of calculus in his lessons, but I personally liked that perspective. I found that it made the material a lot easier to understand. Even if you left the course with a very abstract view of the unit, the homework clarified its application. The midterm came directly from the homework questions, so if you make sure you understand each assignment, you'll do well on the midterm. That being said, at times Reis' explanations weren't all that clear. The TA's were great at filling up the gaps in his lectures. Seriously I wouldn't have understood a lot of things if it weren't for them. Reis also provides math notes, lecture notes, external textbook readings and suggested articles. He gives you so many resources so it's really hard to not do well (in my opinion). I know people in Xavier's who liked him. I sat in on a lecture, and he's definitely a great lecturer, but from what I hear he only covers growth. Take Reis; he gives you a super comprehensive view of macro, which I personally valued more.
I took a summer class in Intermediate Macro with Carlos and I was initially pretty hesitant cause I thought maybe a class taught by someone not yet a 'professor' wouldn't give me as much in terms of learning. HOLY SHIT WAS I WRONG. Carlos, is by far, BY FAR, the most amazing TA I have ever come across. Many, many, many people have told me ( and I agree) that Carlos is better than Xavier himself. I've sat in on a few of Xavier's lectures, and while they were pretty tolerable, listening to Xavier lecture after the awesomeness of experiencing Carlos is like eating Panda Express after having dined at a classy Chinese restaurant. Carlos cares so much about his students learning the material, and his ridiculous descriptions of vodka, cheesecake and Bieber kept me awake the entire time. His lecture notes are fantastic, they're fantastically drawn and they look like the physical manifestations of a lot of dedication and love. He has his economic concepts carved into his heart, no question we asked ever fazed him. Also, go to his office hours! And send him emails if you don't have the time for OH. Emails are replied to promptly. PS: He's also a massive Game of Thrones fan, so that was a bonus point on my end.
The BEST TA I have ever had! Can compete with Javier himself which is pretty hard to pull off. Very approachable and helpful. Funny in his emails(funny in person, too). There is no textbook for the Intermediate Macro course yet Carlos gives out his notes which are all you need or want to know and serve well as a textbook. Recitations are always full and many people have to sit on the floor(it is worth it even if you are sitting on the floor). Brought cookies for us on his birthday which the recitation fell on. I wish somebody remembered about his birthday(October 8th!!)
Professor Steinsson is about as good as it gets when it comes to a macro teacher. I have heard from other students that, at least for economics students, macro can be a bit of a nebulous course at the whim of whoever teachers it. Professor Steinsson, on the other hand, makes his expectations extremely clear and provides a breadth of intellectually satisfying readings to quench any academic cravings. He encourages class participation (within reason), which is a refreshing change for economics professors. Finally, when it comes to examinations and grading, he is utterly reasonable, which is all everyone wants. Honestly, I have yet to find such a composed and worthwhile professor within the department, and I have made sure to take the staple professors of Principles and Micro.
How this man doesn't have a golden nugget by now I will never know. He is one of the most caring and insightful teachers I've had thus far, and while he has relatively high expectations for performance, doesn't judge based on ignorance or confusion. He puts an extraordinary amount of work into making notes and review questions for exams; he basically reteaches the course every week, so if you have Carlos, it's more often than not more valuable for you to go to his recitations than it is to go to the lecture.
Reis is awesome! He's very fun, dynamic, and he's a great professor. His slides are really great, and his lectures definitely add detail and specifics. Definitely go to his classes. He has a great sense of humor. My only complaint is that sometimes, his slides had errors or were slightly confusing (the TAs confirmed this). Travis was a fantastic TA. Definitely go to his office hours. By the end of the semester there was a crew people who religiously went every week because he was so helpful.
All through last semester, I questioned whether I had made the right decision taking Ricardo's intermediate macro course over Xavier's, and I am still unsure whether I made the right decision. Given the chance to do it over, though, I'd most definitely choose Xavier's class over Ricardo's, and so I am hesitant to recommend Ricardo's class. To me, at least, that decision would depend on who else is teaching the course for that semester -- I chose Ricardo's class over Xavier's because I thought I would do better and learn more in a smaller class with a textbook and a more guided syllabus, but I should have heeded the reviews that Ricardo's class would be harder and more mathy. Ultimately, the class left me unfulfilled, and I think the amount of time and effort I put in (with less than anticipated return) could have been better spent elsewhere. Ricardo is a brilliant person -- plus, he's charming and kind, and he's never made me feel patronized or stupid. The problem is, he's almost too brilliant. He was great at explaining concepts in lecture, but every time he started doing math on the board, deriving formulas, pulling variables out of nowhere, I was just lost. Even worse, he always seemed to be skipping steps in his powerpoints and in lectures. So, I felt like I got a lot out of the more conceptual parts of the class, such as unemployment, but I had a hard time with more math-based sections. Additionally, I felt that the different chapters were incohesive (I feel like I never really got how each chapter connected with the next) -- picture a punctuated equilibrium timeline for learning, where things seem to suddenly jump to other things. And of course, these terrible math-y things would appear on our exams, even though they were the parts that (I feel) he did the worst job explaining in class. On top of that, I couldn't attend any recitations (not mandatory, but I'm sure they would have helped, except they were all during my other classes), and the TAs, though helpful, were too busy or unwilling to set up meetings aside from office hours. Like I said, Ricardo is charming and sweet, and he was always willing to answer questions about lecture after class, but that isn't a substitute for a lecture that actually makes sense. That said, this class is probably right for some people -- his teaching style seemed to work with a lot of my engineer friends (not generalizing, just making an observation), and a lot of people like him. Maybe I was one of just a few who were having so much trouble, but I don't think it's because I don't have a solid background in math or econ (I did well in Calc III and Principles with Gulati), so I don't know why I found this class ridiculously hard and at the end of the day, unrewarding. Exams were long (the midterm more so than the final), not impossible but difficult. Problems looked like problems from the problem set (some very similar), but usually somewhat harder. You have to really know what you're doing to finish everything, I think. Final is comprehensive. So, to recap: Ricardo is a really sweet guy, a genius in his field, and for a lot of people a great professor. But for me personally, his class wasn't worth the time, stress, or effort -- I feel like despite the fact that I went to every lecture and tried to take comprehensive notes (even while he whizzed through the math sections) and that I studied my ass off for exams, I still don't have a clear picture of macro, and I'm not sure if I feel prepared to take on a higher level macro course. This is disappointing because the main reason I chose Ricardo's class was because reviews said he prepared you better for future courses. I'm a person who is willing to take a grade hit for a better experience, but Ricardo's class wasn't one.
As everyone else has mentioned, there are a lot of great reasons to take Xavier's class. He's funny. He's an expert in long-run growth and has a pretty interesting perspective on current international development, which he discusses at length. He picks a few key points and drives them home, making it obvious what you are expected to learn and therefore obvious what you'll be tested on. And Carlos the TA is awesome, and he will spoil you like no other. That said, I'd like to contest a few common claims about this class: 1) Carlos's recitation notes aren't the best way to learn the material; the new textbook chapters are. They cover all of the material in the class extremely thoroughly -- half the time, the answers to the problem sets were literally written out in the textbook. And Carlos writes them with Xavier, so it's still the same perspective that you get at his recitation. 2. The other TAs are actually more than just graders. After literally standing through Carlos's recitation the second week, I decided to try another section. And the TA teaching the recitation was smart. And she knew the material really well. And she could answer questions and explain interesting digressions because there were three other people in the room. It was great. 3. This is not the best class to take as a way to fulfill the requirements of the econ major. You will come out of it with a very thorough understanding of some aspects of macroeconomics, and granted, things like long-run growth or the impact of changes in productivity are hugely important. But you will not come out of this class with a good understanding of the field of macroeconomics. You will not be able to understand an intelligent conversation about the economy because you won't have even heard of half the concepts that anyone walking out of the Principles of Econ final could explain. You will fully understand every variation of every concept that was taught, but you will not have a basic literacy in macroeconomics. So take this class if you're looking to learn how Xavier sees the world. It's pretty darn interesting. But don't take it if you're looking to cover all the basics of macroeconomics.
Despite what some previous reviews might suggest, there is really nothing out of the ordinary about this class. The professor is renowned in long-run growth economics, and is well known for his attire, style, and attitude. On the plus side, he's definitely a good lecturer and will generally keep you entertained, the course certainly was not too difficult, and great help was available throughout the course of the semester. The class as a whole wasn't anything to write home about, but it wasn't terrible either, and in the end, it didn't seem like most people in the class felt very strong about it one way or another. The biggest problem with the class was the way that it was paced, and I don't think this was anything new this year. We spent until the midterm, which was in Mid-October, on long-run economic growth. Given that the instructor is a specialist in this field, he certainly has a lot to bring to the table, particularly during this portion of the course. This material certainly was very interesting, but material was very sparse in these lectures. During this time we covered the Solow Model, the AK model, the Solow Residual, and poverty traps,and that was basically what was covered on the midterm. This was certainly valuable material, nobody needed a month and a half to learn it; it could've been covered in a couple of weeks. The reason it took so long was in part due to his tendency to spend 20 minutes at the beginning of each lecture reviewing the previous lecture. Sometimes this was appreciated; other times he went too far and basically repeated entire lectures, wasting valuable time. Also, he spent several lectures on topics that, albeit interesting, were completely lacking in substance; these topics might be worth 5 minute digressions, but certainly not entire lectures. For example, we spent an entire week on the evolution of ideas. Towards the end of the course, the pace of the course picked up dramatically so that we could finish covering all the intended topics. The post-midterm topics included Robinson-Crusoe: Consumption and Leisure Theory, theory of money demand, theory of investment, Classical vs. Keynesian macroeconomics, and government spending. The first few topics were covered pretty slowly, but in the end it was pretty rushed. Government spending was covered entirely during the last lecture, and this material ended up accounting for 20% of the final exam. I found that Carlos's recitation notes were really the best way for me to learn the material; this was true both when I went to class and when I did not. I unfortunately had a conflict with Carlos's recitation time, but based on my experience with his notes and review sessions, he really is as great as everyone says. In addition to putting a ton of effort into the class, he really has a mastery of both understanding and communicating the material that is rare among TAs. I'm sure his recitations were immensely helpful; he's really personable and entertaining, but he is also very efficient with time. Problem set distribution was also uneven throughout the course of the semester. We didn't have a first problem set until three weeks went by, and then they were either weekly or biweekly, until the last three weeks when they were weekly. This was representative of the uneven pacing of the course, as in there were weeks that so little was covered that it didn't make sense to assign a problem set. In the end there were a total of eight. The problem sets were definitely doable and representative of the material that we were responsible for in the class, but at times they were unnecessarily repetitive and emphasized regurgitation of the material over thorough understanding of the concepts. The grading on the problem sets was very harsh, but in the end, the exams are what will decide your grade. Regardless of how many problems were assigned, only one of them was graded, and answers that didn't match the solutions were penalized heavily. The midterm exam was very predictable after doing the problem sets and the previous year's exam. It was basically guaranteed that there would be one problem about the Solow Model and one problem about the Solow Residual. The grading was harsh, and like the problem sets, you will lose points if your explanations do not match those in the solutions. The final exam was twice the length and cumulative, and a bit more difficult. It was still very doable despite demanding a lot of writing. A lot of material was covered in the second half of the course, and all of it shows up on the exam. I was surprised that government spending counted for 20% of the points on the exam despite only being taught on the last day of class, and no problem set was assigned for this topic. Ultimately, this class definitely isn't the worst way to take the course if it's a requirement for your major, but it's nothing to rave about either. Certainly not worth avoiding, but it's also not worth switching up your schedule to end up in the class. If this class is more than a requirement to you, and you truly want to learn the material, I'd recommend taking a look at the other section of the class as well. This class was definitely very light mathematically (a few derivatives on the homework and in lecture, but nothing more), and it took an interesting look at a few select topics. If there is an option between a mathematical derivation and a graphical explanation, the graphical explanation will almost always be used in this class. If you're looking for a mathematically rigorous survey of the most important topics in macroeconomics, you should look elsewhere.
You probably know most of the most noteworthy things about Xavier, so here are some major sticking points: 1) Yes, it's a funny class. Audit the first one or two just for fun. After the first few, the jokes get fewer and farther between, but there's almost always something good (his explanation of taxes at the end of the semester was priceless). 2) The material that Xavier teaches, he teaches well. You won't leave the class scratching your head because there's something you didn't understand. His explanation of the difference between Keynesians and Classical economists is excellent. 3) That said, the pace is extremely slow, as mentioned before. There was a 2-hour review session before the final, and it really did feel like it covered the whole course pretty hermetically, which shows you how little material there actually was. So I'd wager pretty much any other class in macroeconomics will teach you more. 4) The worst part of the course: assignments and tests. Do not be surprised if your final grade does not reflect your actual capabilities (I'm saying this as someone who has not yet seen his final grade, so this isn't a personal vendetta), because there are many arbitrary issues with the grading. Problem sets are not hard (though you may need help from wikipedia and google sometimes), but only one question (out of 5-6) is graded each time, so if there's one small mistake or way in which you answered differently than what the solution is supposed to look like, it could take 10, 20 or 30 points off. One example: a problem set in which the question asked something like "What the effects of X are". We got an email after the PS was handed in, mentioning that of course this necessitated graphs to show the answer, though this was not mentioned in the question. I had 30 points taken off for that reason. Or take the final test. It wasn't too difficult, and was relatively straightforward. However, there was a rule (unfathomable to me) that you only have one A4 page for each question. On the last question, which had around 8 parts, the last 2 necessitated around 2 graphs each, after some 6 graphs earlier in the question. I had run out of space, but was allowed neither to get a new page nor extra time to re-copy my answers. So I ended up not being able to answer the questions, despite knowing the material perfectly well. I never went to Carlos' recitation (technical issues), but it's not hard to understand the material from lectures and even more from the book chapters posted to courseworks (most of the problem sets can be answered just by looking at those) So if you want a fun class, interesting explanations and overall not a difficult experience- take this class. If you want to learn a lot and are shooting for a sure A, consider other sections.
Reis is the Gulati of Macroeconomics, and by that I mean that he is the harder option. He's a brilliant guy (omg his bio is ridiculous), but more like a 7/10 when it comes to teaching. Some issues I had that I felt a lot of people also had: --He takes all of his exam questions directly from his slides, but his slides (which he puts on courseworks) can be really difficult to understand. --He really emphasizes the math in macro, much more so than Xavier's class did I think. In class though he would rush through the mathematical concepts. That said, he does provide really good, extremely detailed math notes for everything. Actually they're shockingly good considering the lecture slides. Even with the notes though, it's pretty important to go to recitation to make sure you understand the math behind everything and how it could be applied in an exam question, for instance. So those were my issues. Still, I'm glad I took his class. Reis is a lovable professor. He's just plain adorable. Every class without fail he would get a chalk line across without fail and, also without fail, would have no idea. Also, his TAs are AMAZING. Really really really great. I cannot emphasize that enough. I think the reviews below mine are about other TAs. He must've realized his previous TAs sucked because Travis, Hyun, and Nicolas were fantastic--really helpful in recitation, and would reply almost immediately to emails with questions. Also, Reis makes macro super interesting. We had one guy in the class who would constantly ask questions about whether or not whatever we were covering applied to some news-y thing, and every time Ricardo would show just how knowledgable he was in the subject area. This guy really knows his stuff. Overall, this class is super interesting, but also quite difficult, and Reis is a great professor, though I wish he would be clearer sometimes. I would recommend it only if you think you can handle it. His midterm was fair but hard, as was the final. Problem sets become a pain in the ass eventually, but the exams are a lot like them. All problem set problems are previous exam questions.
Carlos is the best TA I have ever had, and I frankly can't imagine having a better one anytime in the forseeable future. He has already developed a stellar reputation among those students for whom he has been a Macro TA, and it is well deserved. I really don't need to write this review, but I just want to see him get his gold nugget (because he deserves it) and hopefully get hired as a professor by Columbia (because Columbia needs him). To briefly rehash what other reviews have already said, Carlos is incredibly helpful, both in individual meetings and correspondence as well as in his very popular (and very helpful) recitation sessions. As a disclaimer, I thought macro was moderately difficult--not especially brutal, though i had to put in some effort for my b+--but it was Carlos's notes and recitations that pulled me through. Plus he was willing to explain any issues I had with problem sets, and he even sent me an individual email to check in when one of my problem set scores wasn't as high as usual (which mostly due to a few careless errors, but still, i appreciated his concern). In short, Carlos cares and is a fantastic teacher who knows his Macro concepts cold. I don't write many reviews, but I have to give credit where it's due.
Reviewing Spring 2012, since I know he's in the process of revising the class. This semester, especially the first half, he really tried to go heavy on the calculus and models. After the midterm he took a survey and decided to ease back up for the second half. Steinsson is a good lecturer. He's organized and dynamic and structures the lectures well. He posts the slides a day later, so you can (and must) review them while solving problem sets & studying for exams. They are the key to the class. Problem sets usually involved solving a problem with the models we'd been shown. It would typically be similar to, but different from, what was covered in lecture. The problem sets were occasionally quite difficult and time consuming. However after solving them you really understood the model much better, so overall I think they were worth it. Unfortunately the exams were pretty shitty. They're relatively few questions, and it's impossible to guess what will be on them. I think he usually does a few history/reading questions, and solving a model. However you can't really tell what the balance will be. The single most important thing when studying is going over all the lecture slides. Also, Nakamura is his wife ;)
I loved this class. The material was hard, but I think it was a great class to take and I love that it was catered to current events. However, I would change 2 things. 1) I don't like the 'talk and chalk' method. I came to class everyday and often Professor Schmitt-Grohe would say the most important things in a quick second without writing them down. I think that those moments when she stops to say "Okay class, before we start the model I'm going to explain where it's going" are HUGELY important moments that don't ever get noticed because they happen so quickly. That said, the only way to improve that would be to talk slower. 2) Those rhetorical(?) questions she would ask the class would often just result in silence. Maybe she was trying to show us we could've come up with this stuff on our own, but I don't know if it was super effective. I often knew the answers to those questions but was too intimidated to speak up. I also think that she expects you to know a lot about the current markets or at least financial ideas (not that it's super necessary, just as a background) so maybe there could be a suggested pre-requisite for this class for Financial Econ majors.
Both sharply intelligent and viciously good-looking, Carlos is a huge asset to the Economics Department and a gold nugget instructor if I've ever had one. He has got to be the friendliest and most approachable person I've ever met at Columbia, sending us frequent e-mails during the semester with reminders, notes, tips on the problem sets etc. He holds weekly recitations which you should most definitely attend as he managed to be twice as useful as each week's lectures in half the time. He writes copious notes for every one of his sessions which cover all of the week's material and are understandable on their own, but you don't wanna miss his tangible (if slightly hilariously awkward) explanations involving copious amounts of cheesecake and vodka, not to mention his puppy dog face when he's not sure if we're giving him our full attention (as if we all don't love him). On top of all this, Carlos is just super nice and incredible as a person. One week, he brought all of us Westside Cookies, just because "he was tired during recitation the week before, and his explanations didn't really make sense". I don't think anyone had really noticed a difference in his teaching as he always seems to have boundless energy, but hey, free cookies. Not to mention that he would sometimes even hold two office hours a week just to accommodate all of our questions. I think you would be hard pressed to find any other teacher who cares as much about his students really learning the material as he does. The fact that his recitations packed more students every week than the actual lectures, and an additional 10-30 students would show up to his office hours speaks volumes about him as an instructor. I almost forgot to mention that Carlos also has a fantastic grasp on all the material; he's clearly taught this class before and no question ever posed fazed him, no matter how tangential. Even more, if anyone had a question, he would make up a graph on the spot or find another, crystal clear way to explain. I really can't find enough praise for him; if you're in class where he is the TA, make sure to make use of him, go to recitations and office hours, and send him e-mails (he responds within approximately 2 seconds). I almost think it's worth it taking a class just to have him as a TA; even in that role he is as useful as a full-blown professor, if not more just because he is so approachable.
Professor Uribe is the best professor I've had so far at Columbia. Yes he is a quiet man, but he is completely approachable and always tries to add little jokes and anecdotes to his lectures so that his students can connect to the subject matter or at least get a laugh.He made me learn to love macroeconomics. There were 9 problem sets which were all really easy (average ranged from like an 85%-95%). Carlos was AMAZING. Best TA in the world and I really hope that Columbia hires him right after hes done with his PhD. He is so caring of his students, teaches everything step-by-step, and does anything to accommodate your needs. His recitations are indispensable so GO to them, you wont regret wasting the 90 minutes each week. He's such a sweet and handsome man.
Uribe is completely useless. As usual with professors here at Columbia his accent is completely impenetrable. On top of this he lectures quietly and without any confidence making his class impossible to stay awake during. He does nothing interesting and essentially ruins Macroeconomics. His problem sets also serve no purpose, they are essentially busy work, filled with mindless number crunching and vague confusing directions which make them time consuming and frustrating but inutile for learning the material.
Xavier is a great lecturer. He is funny, clever and profoundly knowledgeable. His personal life story and numerous achievements speak for themselves. However, it would be necessary for those of you who are planning on taking this class to know what you are going to face. As written in the different reviews here, Xavier's class is pretty disorganized and no textbook is assigned (although different textbooks are offered). Secondly, Professor Xavier will go through his planned material no matter what- also is that means that he will teach a 30 min material during the last 10 minutes of class. In different occasions you will find yourself lost and confused. You will laugh and smile from Xavier's jokes but then leave the class and wonder. Do not feel overwhelmed. This class can often be deeply frustrating. Again, do not worry. Go to the different recitations, do the problem sets and go over the practice exams and different p.s!! - then you will be ok. Most importantly- if you can, GO TO CARLOS's review sessions and classes!!! Good luck.
I wasn't planning on writing a review of this class, but after reading the review immediately below I felt a duty to save you, future macro taker, from the TRAP you will fall into if you take this class. I learned more about macroeconomics from my principles class than I did from Xavier's class. To give you a little over-view, we spent over two months discussing and REVIEWING the solow-swan model ad nauseam, something that we could have easily spent two weeks, if that, learning. Xavier dedicated a weeks worth of lectures to "ideas"--now I know Zara makes clothing faster than H&M, thanks Xavier--and even spent a lecture talking about the history of money... did you know ancient civilizations used animal bones and feathers as mediums of exchange? Yup, that happened. Also, as technically the last macroeconomic requirement for econ majors we talked about government spending for 30 minutes in the final lecture of the course. Not only can Xavier NOT teach, but he is also NOT funny. Every time he simplified an equation or gathered terms he, in attempt to get some laughs, called it an "old Japanese tradition"...the only "old Japanese tradition" I wanted to commit in that class was Seppuku. The only redeeming feature of this course was Carlos, our head TA. He was FANTASTIC, and everything I got out of this macro class was due to him. He put together excellent lecture and review notes with extra problems that challenged us and were great review for the midterm/ final. BUT, that being said, if you have the choice between this and ANY OTHER macro class, I would go for the other, it was PAINFUL sitting through Xavier's lectures, and can confidently say I learned next to nothing about macroeconomics.
Take this class. Xavier is a superstar. And I don't just mean that he is incredibly famous and talented-- he dresses and acts like one too. He wears funky blazers to class and has a sense of humor that will crack up the entire hall and lighten the mood, especially during a confusing lecture (like when he is deriving the Solow-Swan model, or explaining the income and substitution effects). On top of that, he's a great economist. A lot of the reviews say that yes, he's funny and all, but he doesn't know how to lecture. I did not find this true at all. Xavier is very passionate and knowledgable about the material, and goes through everything in an orderly and gradual manner. Even if that leaves you a bit confused, he will go over the main points of the concept during the next lecture to make sure you're up to speed. He has a great way of relating everything to real world issues, and will constantly give you present-day examples or anecdotes that keep the class interesting and relevant. That being said, the class is 300+ students and Xavier is a busy guy. The TAs are very helpful and extremely approachable, especially Carlos. GO TO HIS RECITATION. This guy is indispensable. He wrote notes for every topic we took (which practically became the textbook for the class, as Xavier doesn't assign one), and held weekly recitations that went over Xavier's material and helped solve the problem sets. Trust me, you will be completely lost in the class without Carlos. He is very nice, holds extra office hours, and always responds promptly to e-mails. He also held 3 hour review sessions for the midterm and the final, which were extremely helpful. Most of the questions on the exams were similar to those he did in the sessions. Seriously... make use of this guy. You will not survive the class without him. All in all, I loved this class. It was challenging and the problem sets were sometimes annoying, but there were always TA sessions and office hours that helped. I came out of this class having learned so much and not regretting any of the effort I put in. If you love macro and want to have a fun, interesting, and engaging semester, take Xavier's class.
Professor Arkonac is a friendly, regal lady who is certainly not the worst option you could pick for your Intermediate Macroeconomics class. I thought her lectures in general were quite useful as she does lots of drawings on the board and calculates examples. The lectures slides were always uploaded to courseworks though she doesn't use them at all; basically she puts up the first slide, then talks for half an hours using only the black board and then just skips past the next 5 slides, the contents of which she already explained on the board. In this course I thought that it seemed quite important to actually attend the lecture, and most people did. It's very helpful because the questions on Homework and exams are usually similar to the ones she goes over in lecture, and some of them are examples that you won't find in the textbook, so you'll have a hard time figuring them out on your own. If you do go to lectures and pay attention however, then few work outside the classroom will be required. I thought this class was definitely quite quantitative, with no discussion or deliberation of the effects of the economic concepts we discussed; instead we mostly just went through examples with numbers. I'm not sure if this is any different in the other sections of this class though. Overall, I'd recommend you take this class with Professor Arkonac. It's a very relaxed section to take because paying attention in lecture is quite easy, as she makes the material quite interesting and occasionally shows off her cute sense of humour. My one quip with the class is that she somewhat frequently gets tangled up in her own calculations and does mistakes, which then take her a while to correct.
I would recommend this class. It is challenging, but worth it in the end if you know how to approach it from the start. Jon Steinsson is a nice guy and I really liked how he incorporated real-life examples (through the extra readings) into his lectures. It made going to class very engaging and interesting. The thing I wish that I would have known before taking this class is not to sweat doing all of the readings. They are typically very interesting and information regarding one of them will be on the midterm & final. However, he will explain in class everything that he wants to you know about the readings. As long as you memorize the lecture slides (which he posts) that were about the readings before taking the exam, you will not be surprised. That being said, reading the whole assignment from the textbook before class is a must. It is a very good book and is a good way to get a foundation of the material before going to lecture. Steinsson goes through topics very quickly sometimes and if you don't read the textbook beforehand you will have a hard time keeping up during lecture. All in all, it is a really doable class and a great experience.
If you want to learn macroeconomics, then find another professor. If you are easily amused by outlandish attire and sporadic vulgarities, and you are not paying for the course, then take Intermediate Macroeconomics with Martin. Course was very disorganized, no textbook and problem sets were assigned inconsistently. TA's were amazing for the most part, and exams were generously curved. If all else fails, you can claim you went to a crappy comedy club twice a week...
overall the course was actually pretty good. most of the people who take it want to go to wall st., and im sure the modeling that stephanie taught us will be useful for that. on that note, the actual usefulness of the topics that she taught was somewhat low. the growth theory stuff was ok, but then she spent what seemed like half the semester on cagan model, which is (at least what i thought) useful for hyperinflation only. the conclusions were that hyperinflation occurs only when the gov't prints money to finance its spending. really? did we need 6 weeks to get to that concept? sure, the mathematical modeling was ok but conceptually, not too much substance. the midterm was sort of weird, b/c the focus of the class seemed to be mathematical modelling yet the questions required 'intuition,' not math (for which you were supposed to attend the lectures for; example, if half a country gets invaded, what happens to money supply?). the final made up for the midterm as it was pretty much strictly math-based. the questions were a little.. weird (the combination of concepts, that is) which made it somewhat difficult. a frustration was, for example, she spend ~2-3 weeks on intl trade/macro (for which she wrote her own notes for), yet there wasn't even a single question about it. overall, a good professor. she's really nice and does take into account what the students want, but i think the main frustration is the coverage of topics (I don't remember hearing AS or AD even once in the class, plus 1 day of labor markets in a model). also, she taught the IS-LM model but I don't think people in the class actually realized that's what they learned. as a side note, Carlos has got to be the most incredible TA at Columbia. i'm sure he put in more work into the class than maybe half the students combined. i hope someone in the economics dept has enough common sense to give him his PhD immediately and tenure him with the condition that he stays at Columbia forever
Stephanie's class is very difficult and very unusual. She spends around 1/2 of the lectures going over the intuition behind the economics theories, and the other 1/2 in the derivation. She teaches topics like seignorage but then totally ignores unemployment until the last lecture and tells you it's not going to be examed. Her homeworks are rather straightforward, but her exams are VERY different. The midterm was largely based on intuition. More writing than math. People in class complained about the midterm, and the final was largely math. However, she exams you on very unexpected topics. Topics that she spent 2+ weeks on are surprisingly not covered at all... It doesn't help that she does not post solutions to the homework and does not give any practice exams. Carlos, the TA, is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I think it's worth taking a class just to have him as the TA. he attends every lecture and takes meticulous notes for the class. He's able to explain everything in a really clear and concise fashion. He even took almost five hours out of his own time to write practice exams for the class of what he thought could be on the exam. He's enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful, and better than any econ professor i've previously had, even gulati, and i loved gulati
I'm siding with the more ambivalent reviews. Xavier is an outrageously funny guy and you'll enjoy going to class most of the time. But if you think you're going to use the material in this class one day--in another class, a job, or wherever--try another section first. The growth theory part of the course (first 2/3) was pretty good--I'll give Xavier that much. However the business cycle part, what people will expect you to know after taking a class like this, was too simplistic and rushed to be of much use. I can do Xavier's problem sets and I'm happy with my grade, but I didn't learn much macroecon. That said, I thought the workload was manageable and grading was very fair.
9/8 turquoise 9/13 orange 9/15 yellow 9/20 lime green 9/22 neon hot pink 9/27 lilac python print 9/29 smurf blue 10/4 black with red chinese characters (actually was a li bai poem) 10/6 neon yellow + smiley face tie 10/11 teal with shiny blue flower design 10/13 leopard print!! 10/18 metallic teal/green/pink flowery design 10/20 mustard yellow 10/15 lime green 10/27 dark orange/coral 11/8 lilac/fuchsia/purple with blocky design 11/10 highlighter orange 11/15 neon bright orange with green/yellow flower design (fruity) 11/17 metallic gold with black circular symbols (they look like chinese fortune telling symbols) 11/29 forest green 12/6 tiger print!! 12/8 gold/yellow Yes I know I'm missing a few, but you get the idea. Xavier is awesome. "Children are inferior goods." Yup.
Did I miss something? Sure, Xavier is a smart guy. Sure, Xavier is kind of funny sometimes. Sure, he's famous. But is he a good teacher? I didn't think so. And here's why. The design of the macroeconomics course is insane. There's no textbook-- meaning it's, like, impossible to have certain things directly defined in a completely go-to source. Also, Xavier sometimes repeated entire lectures. Don't get me wrong; he is a decent lecturer. But there was little sense of direction. Problem sets were indiscriminately distributed; we were given one on a Sunday night during midterms due that Wednesday. Were we ever given our problem sets back? I'm still not sure. The midterm and final were very harshly graded and needlessly nit-picked (though generously curved). This course was designed such that concern for student learning was completely absent. Oh yeah, and you're sitting in a class of 300+, so you really won't get any attention from Xavier, unless it's to ask some douchey question to pet your own ego, as many in the course were wont to do. The TA that everyone came to know and love, Carlos Montez-Galdon, was absolutely indispensable. Honestly, it's unbelievable how much he cared about us learning. He singlehandedly crafted a textbook from the lectures and provide his own lectures with notes. And he was highly approachable. And helpful. Without him, I wouldn't have learned macroeconomics. And he routinely sent us e-mails apologizing for Xavier's faux pas, empathizing with us when we were expected to jump through ridiculous hoops. Why can't he create a macroeconomics course and teach us? He certainly cared more about us learning than Xavier did. In short, If you have a genuine intellectual interest in economics REALLY want to learn macroeconomics-- not just scrape by, but REALLY understand it and, above all, be taught in a course designed to teach you, I don't recommend this class. If you want to be a Wall Street suit and are content scraping by with Bs and As with relatively little actual understanding of how things work, this class is decent. It's certainly not unreasonably difficult. It just wasn't created with your learning as the top priority.
Professor Sala-i-Martin is a great professor. Which explains his army of TAs and 300-student lectures. He gave a good framework for each kind of problem that was asked on homework. He tells lots of neat stories, and always relates the material he's covering to the real world. He also has over 350 blazers, and will soon have enough for each day of the year, and then some. The class was unorganized, however. Problem sets weren't assigned in a timely manner. The material covered in recitations was sort of a crapshoot, because they could be covering material that was covered in a recent lecture, or from a week before, or a week ahead. The problem sets were fair and manageable. There were few at first, but by the end of the class they were weekly. The exams were fair in terms of material, but not in how long we had to complete them. Also, the midterm graders were very harsh. The curve was good though. The final is a good 50%, which can make or break your grade.
Yes, Xavier is amusing. Fancy jackets, relaxed teaching style and good sense of humor. But after a while that gets stale. Humor levels, as mentioned in earlier reviews, decline over the course of the semester. Compared to other classes I've done in the Economics Department, this one seemed to lack substance. I guess it's more Macroeconomics' fault than Xavier's, but it's the same concepts recycled in different forms over and over again. After a while, it gets predictable, and needs X to spruce up the class atmosphere. Unfortunately he often fails. There may not be many around who can match his classroom delivery, and so taking the class with him is probably the best option. But don't build the hype too much, and don't expect a riot of laughter every class. I did, and at the end of the course, was left slightly disappointed.
Intermediate Macro with Steinsson is probably one of my favorite classes. Unlike the other Intermediate Macro classes, there was a lot of outside reading and it was always interesting and relevant. The textbook is very helpful and at the end of the class, you feel like you learned a lot. Not just about economic growth, but also about macroeconomic and microeconomic theory, game theory, what the current research on these topics is, etc. DEFINITELY DEFINITELY recommend this class.
Don't buy the hype. Xavier is entertaining, but this class was a mess. The volume of people make it very easy for things to go wrong, like having your final disappear and receive an incomplete grade through no fault of your own. While Xavier is also a sharp man, the material that he must cover doesn't truly seem to excite him, and so he'll treat it flippantly. This is a problem, since you don't actually learn much about macroeconomics.
Bruce Preston is a solid guy and his intro to macroeconomics is a solid class. The lectures are based primarily on the textbook, which is comprehensive, although Preston also adds some more advanced theory and case studies for interest. You will need to be familiar with some fairly complicated multi-variable calculus (NOT in Calc I!) to understand some of the maths which Preston will walk through whilst expecting the class to follow. SPEAK UP IN CLASS. When Preston asks questions they are not rhetorical, he will wait until you answer. If no one answers he does get disheartened, but if you attempt to answer (even if wrong) he is happy. Also, he learns the names of the people who show up to class and speak regularly so that is always going to be a help grading-wise. Homework is tough and again very maths based. Both midterm and final will replicate some questions from the homework so give yourself an advantage and memorise the long answers (at least one will appear practically word-for-word on each exam). Also, read the additional readings he sets as the exams are meant to catch people out who havent done this, and his questions in class are also meant to give those who went the extra yard an opportunity to show this. Final grade is generously curved.
id definitely recommend this class. it was both interesting and challenging,but not in an overwhelming way. there was quite a bit of reading but it was interesting and relevant stuff. and by reading i mean not only from the textbook, but articles and excerpts from papers and books. theres not too much math involved either(one of the TAs told me another macro class he had been exposed to was much more quantitative) if youre an econ major its a good call overall. steinsson is kind of an awkward guy, but is nevertheless a good teacher and nice person. he tried make it more discussion oriented, which worked on occasions, there are recitations once a week which id recommend going to. office hours with the TAs were also helpful. i guess my one complaint would be his posting practice midterms and finals without solutions. sort of annoying. overall recommended.
Took Intermediate Macro in Spring '10. Lectures were clear, on topic, and ran on time. They were also interesting. He tried hard to get the class involved. He lectured from powerpoint slides that were posted on courseworks a day or two after the lecture. Because we got the slides after the lecture it's always a toss up how much to write down versus how much to listen. Overall the lectures were useful, and the slides were more reinforcement. The lectures were NOT just simply reading the slides. The reading list on the syllabus was VERY long, but most of it was additional background readings. The required readings were pretty small, almost all from the two required texts. Midterm was harder than the final. Grading seemed pretty fare.
Intermediate Macroeconomics with Xavier was the best class I have taken at Columbia thus far. His lectures were engaging and was well-suited for non-quantitative economics majors. Though there was derivation and some curve drawing, the class was based on theory and intuition rather than strict mathematical modelling. The course tended to cover growth theory for the majority of the class (Solow-Swan model and its limitations). This is due to Xavier's current research on economic growth and poverty levels in developing nations. I felt that the second half of the course was a bit rushed, in that he went over consumption and leisure theory, classical supply and demand, demand of money, and Keynesian economics too quickly. That said, the class is taught intuitively and as long as you understand the logic of the material, it shouldn't be difficult to do well (A or higher).
Nothing I can write could possibly describe the utter brilliance of Xavier Sala-i-Martin. Best class I have ever taken - ever. Xavier has a unique way of making the most boring topics utterly hilarious. It is true that he gets progressively less funny throughout the semester, but he always surprised me with a legitimately funny joke. I don't mean dry, Columbia professor funny. I mean actually funny. I think one of the most important things about Xavier that tends to get neglected in his reviews is ... not only is the man hilarious and engaging, but he's a GREAT lecturer. This was the first economics class I ever took, but I still came away understanding (almost) everything he explained to me. If you simply manage to pay attention (I also highly recommend the TA sessions - take Sean's if you can, he's great), you will see the Xavier is very well organized, great at explaining confusing concepts, and he does a good job of spending enough time on the most difficult material. Take this class - you'll thank yourself for it.
I though Xavier taught the material very well without putting anyone to sleep (although of course, a few people did sleep in class). The classes gave basic information on the material, the TA session reinforced the material and the notes posted by the head TA on Courseworks cleared everything up and were a great study guide. The only thing I would complain about was the organization of the class, although it was a huge class. Midterm grades were given back about a month after the midterm was taken, final grades were given the week before second semester started and problems sets were given back at least a week (maybe more) later. How well you did in the class was very much correlated to how hard you tried (going to class, the TA session, reading the notes, etc.). Also, there was a pretty generous curve (10% received A+, 20% received As, etc.) so don't fret if you did poorly on the midterm or final (final was very, very hard).
Reis is a fantastic professor. I've heard about the atrocities students have lived through with other professors who teach Intermediate Macro, and Reis is the light that shines in the dark. Â First of all he's a young, energetic, active researcher; a contrast to most of the old mummies who emerge from the crypt that we call the economics department. He seems to truly love teaching.. undergrads no less! It should be said that it is very easy to get lost during the lectures as Reis covers a lot of material (we covered the whole book, save two chapters). Â But he did a great job connecting the Greek symbols to reality. His analogies were pure gold as he is really funny in a natural way. He is not a clown up there trying to make economics sound cool with nonsense like "ok here's one you college students can relate to: what's the opportunity cost of smoking a bowl instead of doing your problem set tonight?" No, Reis's analogies are genuinely creative and helpful. As has been stated, the problem sets can be tricky and they take some thought, but they are short. Â I'd say of the 10 problem sets, maybe half were pretty easy to moderate and the other half were difficult. Â And although technically we were only supposed to have 5 days to turn them in, about half the time Reis gave us an extension for one reason or another. A lot of previous reviewers hated the TAs but I thought they did a pretty good job this semester. The grading could seem arbitrary sometimes, but that's somewhat expected in a class like macro, and everyone had to deal with it. Â Also the TAs were very cagey about answering any direct questions about the homework for fear of helping "too much." Â But the recitations were run well. The midterm was not as bad as most of us had expected, but we were tested on everything, so you really can't afford to bypass anything when preparing. I thought the final was much more challenging than the midterm (with the exception of the essay portion which was very easy) but by that time I think most of the class was better prepared for it. Both exams were very fair: just challenging enough to make the cramming worthwhile, but not so much as to cause a nervous breakdown. Overall, this was a really good class and personally I feel very prepared to take on more advanced macro-based courses. Â It may be too soon to declare Reis the Susan Elmes of macro, but he's the closest we've had thus far.
Professor Reis is an excellent professor. His class may not be as popular as Xavier's, but it was a fun class and I learned a lot. He is great at explaining things and also very funny. Ricardo's lectures always begin with interesting, challenging questions that will be answered within the lecture. He is very math-oriented and likes to use equations rather than graphs, so be sure to try and make sure you understand what he is doing either in class (which may be hard since he does things so quickly) or after class. The weekly problem sets (20% of your grade) are usually pretty challenging, and the grading is a bit harsh on them (they are graded out of 4, and if you make one mistake, you're going to get a 3.5). However, the recitation section is usually a good resource to use if you're confused on the homework. There is one midterm, which consists of 5 MC questions, 2 short-response, and 1 essay, which is worth 30% of your grade. The final is double the midterm and is worth 50% of your grade. They are challenging (the average on my midterm was around 60/100), but fair. There are no surprises on his tests. In terms of preparing for exams, I would definitely say his lecture slides are better to study from than the textbook. But, the textbook can help clarify anything you're not clear about. I would definitely recommend Professor Reis's class to anybody interested in economics who's willing to put in the work.
Xavier is a brilliant growth economist, and extremely funny lecturer. He is very charming and the first couple of lectures are ridiculously entertaining. His class is definitely amusing, and he makes dull topics come to life. Professor Xavier talks openly about a wide range of subjects, with raunchy humor, and wit as well. He's rather shy when you approach him personally, but he always stays for 10, 15 minutes to answer questions. A few interesting things to note are that he often delivers very important commentaries where he explains that he believes macro is more important than micro, and that growth theory, is exceedingly more important short run business cycle disputes. We also can tell he's more of a free-marketeer libertarian, especially when he comes to making jokes of politicians, bureaucrats and governments. Xavier's class is structured into two sections: growth and business cycle theory. He's usually traveling the world, so he's not really at office hours, but he actually responds to e-mails rather promptly. Xavier is an entertaining lecturer to listen, but he makes it difficult to follow and take notes, although he also spends 20 minutes reviewing the key points from the previous lecture. You learn a lot more from the TA's office hours and recitation, and they are usually rather good. Try to take Sean David Spielberg's TA session. After attending all the TA sessions, I confess he's the best. Detailed notes are posted on Courseworks and solution sets as well. The problem sets are challenging but easy if you work in groups of two or three. If you can do them on your own, then you'll have no problem on the exam. (Its also no lie that the answers to the problems circulate everywhere) The midterm and finals are extremely challenging, and the final is even more ridiculous. It usually involves a lot of intuitive reasoning and requires you to be agile and think on your feet. Many have said that the final is so explicitly difficult to weed out the true economists from the econ majors and the non-econ anybodies. Everyone walked out scared, thinking they failed so the curve is generous. I was personally a defined economics major prior to taking this class. Walking out of the final, I'm not longer certain. If you can rock this class, you're an economics major for sure.
Susan Elmes is outstanding. She's clear, crisp (mildly intimidating?) and never fumbles with words. Microeconomics may not be the most interesting subject in the world, but you'll never not want to go to her class. Information loaded lectures, need to note down every word that she says. If you do that, don't buy the textbook. You won't need it other than to reinforce concepts, which if you go to class, will never be the need. Her dry sense of humor, and occasional jokes she cracks have a lasting impression. She knows exactly what she's doing, and she's darn good at it. Plenty of work. Frat row isn't exactly buzzing on Thursday nights, but even if it was, you'd find it hard to party. Her assignments are due Friday, and you'll probably be working late into Thursday night. Good thing - can work on assignments in groups. Avoid dividing work though. It'll all come back on the exams. Plenty of Calculus, no other section of Micro uses even a tenth the amount that Elmes does. Brush up on total derivatives for function of two, three variables. They'll appear on the final. There are other options for Micro. But take Elmes. It's a thrilling ride, and you'll probably be happy at the end, regardless of your grade. All in all, easily the best instructor I've had at Columbia.
The class was really interesting, and I learned a lot. Reis focuses not only on the generally theory, but supports his claims with evidence, and discussed the current economic crisis as well as the great depression. The focus on the mathematics, however, can be quite disorienting. Often Reis will manipulate 5 or six expressions at once, and seemingly magically come up with the final equations. He blazes though his slides quickly, which makes gaining a deep understanding of the material tough, but doable if you look over his slides afterward. Exams combine knowledge of the equations with understanding of the material, and are tough but reasonably curved.
Hector is always running late. But aside from this minor defection, he is unfailingly generous with his time and help. He would go out of his way to teach the materials in an intuitive way. You cannot get a more patient and knowledgeable TA than Hector. Aside from his great teaching, he's also very good looking.
If you like to go to the circus, then yes, you will enjoy Xavier's macro class. Be warned that the glowing reports on culpa are more about Xavier himself than the course. Yes, Xavier is one of the most charismatic, politically incorrect, dazzling, and best dressed men on campus. He is also a superb lecturer who understands what he is teaching and hopes to pass that clarity on to his students. HOWEVER, this class is literally a circus in terms of how it is run. For starters, there is no connect between Xavier and his TA's. Homeworks are not returned in a timely manner, the TAs do not know what is going on with the exams [perfect example: last year's head TA told her recitation that a certain concept would not be on the exam because it seemed too easy, and ended up smack in the middle of the final], and forget solving grading disputes. No one will be there to listen. There is also no textbook suitable for this course as it is designed at the whim of the lecturer. You are really left to survive a sea of mismatched topics and Xavier's vocabulary in which "cookies" stand for GDP and tequila shots explain 3D utilities. The man himself is incredible, the course is severely lacking in transparency.
I have to disagree with all the positive reviews of this professor; Xavier is a nice guy who may keep you entertained for fourteen weeks, but he will not do a good job teaching you macrecon. First, I have a few quibbles with the way the course was organized. Growth theory was definitely overemphasized at the expense of Business cycle theory, but I suppose that was Xavier's prerogative. As others have said, the problem sets prepare you well for his exams since most exam questions are just like HW questions, so do the hw multiple times if you want to do well. That said they didn't help me much in understanding how the models worked or how to apply them. I don't know exactly what it is students typically learn in a class like this, but from glancing at other course sites Xavier's approach is pretty idiosyncratic. That brings me to the real problem with this course. Xavier's idiosyncratic models and techniques wouldn't have been so bad if he had spent more time actually teaching them instead of, say, talking about some NGO in Africa for 45 mins. I've got nothing against the flamboyant costumes or canned humor but this man has a pathological self-indulgent streak. As for his his infamous classroom persona, I thought it was boring and predictable but probably would have got a kick out of it if I had been a few years younger. Take that for whatever it's worth. Mainly I think he spent too much time trying to get his students to like him instead of just teaching the material and doing his job. When he does get to talking about economics it's usually vague, semi-intuitive statements with a rushed derivation and some Q&A thrown in. Xavier is smart guy, reputed to be a first class researcher, and obviously cares about his students but he just doesn't make it come together. I would sit in class wondering when he was going to write definitions on the board and derive equations, and then go home and try to teach myself the material. I can honestly say that almost everything I learned in this class came from recitation, supplementary notes from the TAs, and Barro's textbook (it's not quantitative and doesn't follow Xavier's approach but it's still good). In the end, you could do worse than Xavier, but if you're majoring in econ or are seriously interested in the material you would stand to benefit from shopping other sections or even waiting until the next semester.
Good teacher, although often not completely clear over certain concepts and abbrevations that she ought to repeat the meaning of. Gladly takes questions as she goes on so make sure you take advantage of that. She is a great person, fun and often telling the class about the latest of what happened to her kids or her dog, which helps create a nice athmosphere in class. She is clearly devoted to teaching as well as to what she teaches, which makes her a good pick given how topics can be boring at times in Macro.
This course was torture to sit through. Reis would go through a million powerpoint slides at lightning speed while only rarely stopping to explain the mathematics. Macro isn't particularly difficult if you learn from textbooks, but with Reis, everything is much harder than it should be. That said, if you're a math whiz, type quickly, and fast on the uptake, you have a shot of doing pretty well. The curve on the midterm was okay but it was pretty bad on the final. His exams are model and formula intensive. Also, knowing anything on a basic level won't save you: you need to know the special cases well. Honestly, I'd never take a class with him again and regret taking this one. It was dull, I learned little (except from the very non-math intensive Mankiw book), found his slides confusing, and his problem sets difficult. Just say no to Reis and go for whomever else is teaching that semester.
Reis is a very fun and engaging professor. He definitely knows his stuff, but the way he explains the material has at many times left the class more than slightly confused, except for the few econ geniuses. It also doesn't help that the room was ridiculously hot and easy to fall asleep to. He has the tendency to talk very fast and go very in depth in the mathematical side of macro so make sure you know the material somewhat before going to his class. I would suggest that you go to his classes and write down every equation he puts on the board because sometimes those show up on problem sets (and midterm). He did write up all the math notes used in the class -- which was very helpful. His lecture notes are not particularly clear and deviate a lot from the textbook, but it is still very important to read every chapter assigned in the text. As a result, if you skip lectures and just rely on the textbook, you will find that the problem set (which is divided 50/50 between textbook problems and obscure math heavy ones that are based more on his class lecture) are obscure and seemed to be jumping out of nowhere. Overall, class was good. A lot more math oriented than had expected for a macro class. His midterm was very fair as was his final (which was just midterm x 2 in length). The midterm had a mean (and curved) to B, probably the same for the final.
Make no mistake about it. Professor Reis is a resourceful guy. If you do take his class, you'll end up with a solid understanding of Macroeconomics through extra-reading, mathematically intense problem sets, and lecture slides. Yet do be warned about his TAs; they went out of their way to become as unhelpful as possible. They never attend the classes when possible, resulting in their ignorance of the materials; they switch the time and location of recitations every single week, and one of the TAs is very misleading. For the several times I went to her recitation, her explanation was completely WRONG, and I had to correct her afterwards. Professor Reis is a nice guy, but if he cares about his students for a single bit, he should consider changing his TAs.
Reis is a solid professor. I came out of the class with a good macro-foundation. He is a responsible professor, who would post relevant readings, slides, and math notes. The only complaint I have, is the poor quality of his TAs. They miss classes on a frequent base, resulting in their ignorance of what's going on. When it comes to recitations, they always change their locations and schedules randomly at their whim, and most alarmingly, they came under-prepared. They either ended up reading the text-book aloud, or get the materials wrong, which is very misleading for the class. In a sum, you cannot get TAs who care less about the class and the students. They can get your final grades mis-matched with other people who share the same first name or surname, and it takes them forever (30 days plus) to correct it. I cannot express my frustration with the administration of the class, because of the poor quality of TAs. I strongly recommend Reis getting more responsible TAs, like those of Susan Elmes'. Other than the TAs, this class has been a relatively good experience.
One thing to know is that there is a textbook on courseworks, under one of the folders, that would really be helfpul to use along the way. he claims that there is no textbook, but there is!! i realy dont understand why he didnt tell us about this explicitly. i discovered it before the final ,and wish i knew about it during the semester.
I personally enjoyed this class. Although Prof. Colacelli's lectures are dull at times, I learned a lot from this class. She is extremely nice and very helpful if you go to her office hours or ask her questions right after class. It is true that most of the things she goes over in class came straight out of the textbook, but she explains it really well, so go to class! Also, there is a TA session every week, which is extremely helpful too. I don't think I could've done so well in the class have I not gone to the TA sessions. Her exams are a little tricky, they are very different from the homework problems, so usually the mean is around 65%, but there is a curve, so you will probably end up with a decent grade.
Great professor, Great Class. Huge class tho about 300 kids, but Xavier is a great professor. People talk about his jackets, which are cool, but he is a really great economics professor. Really teaches the material well especially for a macro course. Would highly, highly reccomend taking his course.
Okay, so Reis is a pretty good professor. He is funny, and its worth going to class. The only problem, however, is that sometimes he gets really, really mathematical. He really seems to love numbers equations and calculus, and makes macro very intensive in that sense. Also, while his math notes are really good, his lecture slides are not. Also, If your not very proficient with basic calculus and aren't a fan of long, long tedious algebra, then you're going to have a very hard time. Personally, I'm inclined to think that he makes the course more difficult than it is. However, he is a good guy and teaches well for the most part. I can imagine a real econ whiz absolutely loving this class. I found it fun often, just didn't particularly like the overflow of math. If you're up for attending every class, reading the material thoroughly beforehand and not falling back and also spending one night a week doing the problem set, then this will be great because he does make the subject interesting. If not, then your screwed come finals and screwed in the problem sets.
While Xavier is probably one of the best lecturers I have ever had, I would venture to say be careful before signing up for this course. While Xavier offers excellent explanations in class of the theories we cover, he moves incredibly fast and I found that my notes could not often keep up with his logic. This is espeically important because there is no textbook for the class, though I agree that the Problem Set solutions are practically a textbook. The TA's are helpful enough, but in a lecture of 400 people it is difficult to nail all of the concepts before the final. I also think that the material covered in the class is specifically catered to Xavier and his interests. While this is amazing because we study theories that he himself developed, it may also make further study of economics difficult. You cannot refer to books and materials outside of the classroom because they simply don't follow the Xavier logic of things (which is incredible and fun, but not always obvious). If you are not overloaded for the semester and are able to put in a lot of time to understand the course material, then I would say take it. If not, you might be better off taking a more streamline Macro class and perhaps Xavier's elective later.
Ricardo is a new professor at Columbia but has been around the economics game for a while. He seems to be very able to relate to the students and give great examples for some complex theories in He uses lecture slides which are posted online and usually follows the book, but sometimes if he really likes a subject (like unemployment and aggregate supply) he goes more math intensive. His lectures are usually pretty entertaining and he's a funny guy. He tries to make sure you understand the material: he even wrote out math notes for everything he did in class which was VERY helpful. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed taking the class and though Reis was a great professor. Sometimes he goes a little to fast on the math, but if you read the math notes and go to recitation for the times that you were confused, you should do fine. He isn't difficult but he isn't easy. In my opinion, his grading and difficulty were very fair.
Xavier lives up to his name as a funny lecturer. He has some interesting things to say but a lot of it is very repetitive. I learned more probably from the TA notes but he is entertaining.
Bright! You'll be blinded when he enters the room by his jackets of fuschias and tiger stripe--he wears a different one every day. Dazzled! You'll be taken aback by his amazing explanations and lectures--the man is a genius. Laugh! You'll think he should have minored in stand-up comedy; many jokes are sprinkled in part of every lecture. Awww! You'll fall in love with him on the first day--I did.
So, I didn't do well in her class, but I have to hand it to her...she is a REALLY good prof. Her TA is very annoying and a stickler. But, Prof. Harrison gives AMAZING notes and unlike many columbia/barnard profs...the woman can TEACH.
Sala i Martin is a great prof. Unfortunately he is the only aspect of the course who makes this course worthwhile. Despite my deep interest in economics, I found this course very difficult to follow. The course was taught in an unconventional way and order, which limited student comprehension of the material. As a TA mention, without having the skill taught in later classes, we were trying to asses difficult concepts which are normally not introduced in an economics class. Confusion was futhered by the fact that there was no book to accompany the lectures. Rather the students wereleft to try to make an order of what was learned with documents formulated by the TAs. This class has enormous potential. But it seiously needs either one of two things. Either Xavier writes a text to accompany the class, or he begins to teach it in a way that is more in line with another book he suggests. That there are no books to accompany the class, simply indicates the bizarre nature and order of the class. Few days from the final, I can say that the class was an amazing experience, yet I worry as to whether this sort of unconventional grounding in macro will now be enough to further my study in economics.
I really don't know enough profanity to describe this guy's teaching style. I know he knows his stuff, like pretty much everyone here, but he obviously does not want to be in class. Most of his examples are as follows: "Say I'm at a pub, imagining that I don't have to lecture to morons all day, and I have to choose between beer and wine..." He complains that no one shows up; he should check out Elmes' class, which is packed full every lecture. You will learn if you apply yourself, but god in heaven is it boring.
DO NOT TAKE MACRO WITH PRESTON, under any circumstances. Wait two years to take it with someone else if you must. I'm sure he knows his stuff but he is just a terrible teacher. He obviously does not want to be in the classroom ,he's probably just here to do research. You can go to his office hours and he's pretty nice but he might make you feel a little stupid. I felt that he just made the class alot harder than it had to be. I'm no longer an Econ major after taking his class.
A lot of reviewers say that this class has a light workload because there are no reading assignments. But in fact there is a text, written by Xavier himself: the solutions to the problem sets. They constitute a textbook that anyone who wants to succeed in this class should read after handing in each problem set. They read like a textbook, and they're pretty comprehensive.
This woman is amazing. She is clear and concise and makes economics interesting. She gives good, clear examples and makes confusing concepts seem easy and straightforward. Also very willing to help students. This is defintely the best econ class I have taken so far.
I thought she was a good professor. very thorough and clear. she follows the book exactly which was helpful for me. She is also very prompt with emails and always willing to meet with students. Overall good but perhaps lacking a bit more challenge.
Professor Xavier is clearly brilliant in his field, and knows his material very well (was always prepared to lecture), but his attitude towards the undergraduates was sometimes condescending and dismissive. He seemed far more interested in grad students. I do not feel this is a good course for undergrads to take. The course management of this class was ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. As far as disorganization and disservice to the students, this was BY FAR THE SINGLE WORST COURSE I HAVE EVER TAKEN, PERIOD. Problem sets turned in were returned to students weeks late, disorganized, or not at all. Problem sets were often made available late, even though the Professor is simply recycling old material, which means out lateness in getting them was due to pure laziness. Midterm started nearly 15 minutes late due to poor organization, in spite of being promised we would start on time to reward students who arrived early (and time was not extended at the end). Complaints made about these issues to the Professer were ignored (never once received a reply to any email I sent him, though he listed that as his preferred method of contact), TA's were only slightly more helpful. The course being large is no excuse for such poor management and streamlining; the environment made it extremely hard to learn and get good feedback, even for dedicated students. RIDICULOUSLY bad considering the money we are all paying for this class. A disgrace.
I must say, I have NEVER actually looked forward to going to class like I did with his class. It was a great experience, he is by far the best professor I have yet encountered at Columbia. He made it enjoyable to be in class with all of his hilarious jokes/impressions and his teaching methodology made it very easy to learn. I recommend this class A LOT. Since there is no textbook, it is VITAL to attend each and every one of his lectures- that won't be as burdensome as it sounds either, since he's such a great lecturer!
I have to disagree with most of the views. Harrison is concise with the information, but she completely spoon feeds every single word of her lecture, which makes the class completely boring. Her class is not at all a challenge or mentally stimulating in any way and is only great if you like memorizing information rather than thoroughly learning it. Although she is a very nice person, her nasally monotone voice successfully lulled me to sleep almost everyday. I would NEVER take another class with Harrison unless she was my only option. By the end of the class, though, you'll find that you have only learned half as much as Columbia students, but who cares about actual knowledge, right? If you don't care how much you learn, I did get a great grade in her class, so maybe this is the class for you.
A good professor; genuinely cares about economics. She sometimes has pretty funny jokes. This Barnard macro is much easier than the Columbia macroecnomics class and in a smaller, friendlier setting. The course starts on a very basic level, stays there for a little bit, and then jumps into some new material, before ending with some weird stuff that isn't really tested on. I'd say this is more like a high school class, with a lovable teacher and the material pored through slowly. She's happy to answer any questions, even if they're pretty dumb. There's also plenty of articles Prof. Harrison brings in for students to read to mix it up when lectures get boring.
The best TA that I have ever encountered at Columbia. He is clear and really helps students to understand every lectures lessions. He provides notes outside of recitation and responds extremely well to questions in office hours and via email. More importantly, Emilio has one of the best personalities -- joyful, funny, and intelligent. I seriously believe that if you seek a TA that can help you ease any difficulities in Macro, look now further, Emilio is your man. Hands down, a cool guy.
Well, I guess this review is sort of redundant, but I like her so much I am going to write it anyway and echo everyone else. Prof. Harrison is one of the best professor's I've had. Her lectures are thourough and systematic and she makes rather complex concepts suprisingly easy to understand. What I think is especially exceptional is that she constantly puts actual data from the real world into lectures and problem sets so that students see why economics is important and how it is applied. Harrison is wonderful, TAKE HER CLASS!!
Preston is a pretty good lecturer, but he doesn't really venture beyond what's in the textbook. I'd call that a minor deficiency as I look for professors to enrich the material a little more than he seemed inclined to. The material for the class is standard stuff: Aggregate Supply and Demand; asset, goods, labor markets, etc. You will spend about 25% of your time understanding the concepts and about 75% of your time connecting scenarios to the concepts. If you can justify your answers within the system, Preston will grade you well. Preston is very hung up on attendance (justifiably so) and did an amusing exercise at the end of the semester where he correlated grades with attendance. If you attend the class, you barely need to read the book, and vice versa.
Preston is a pretty good lecturer, but he doesn't really venture beyond what's in the textbook. I'd call that a minor deficiency as I look for professors to enrich the material a little more than he seemed inclined to. The material for the class is standard stuff: Aggregate Supply and Demand; asset, goods, labor markets, etc. You will spend about 25% of your time understanding the concepts and about 75% of your time connecting scenarios to the concepts. If you can justify your answers within the system, Preston will grade you well. Preston is very hung up on attendance (justifiably so) and did an amusing exercise at the end of the semester where he correlated grades with attendance. If you attend the class, you barely need to read the book, and vice versa.
Alberto is the best TA I've had at Columbia and probably the best there is. Although he is supposed to go over the problem sets, he solves them step-by-step (so that you'll understand them perfectly unless you don't pay any attention). He also explains the most important concepts from the two weekly lectures. Going to class once and being fairly attentive to the professor, reading the book, and paying close attention to Alberto's 1-hour-a-week seminars should give you an easy A.
He's definitely one of the more articulate professors I've had, but not very interesting. It is hard to stay awake in his class and he seems to care very little about his students or teaching, though he did get pretty annoyed by the poor attendance midway into the semester. His lecture notes outlined the book exactly, so you don't really need to go. I stopped going to class about halfway into the semester because I found going to class a waste of time since I fell asleep everytime, and so did about 75% of the class. Just read the book and do the problem sets and you'll be fine. Macro is really all about bsing. There is no one right way to answer a question.
Her lectures are, like everybody said, extremely concise and easy to comprehend. I'd never even taken a macro course before, and I found this class to be rather easy. If you do the readings (a very fair amount) and put some effort into the weekly problem sets, you should have no problem in this course. She's extremely helpful outside of class as well. I definitely recommend this course.
This class was interesting, but the professor comes late everyday and does not seem to care about us. The exams are easy, as is the homework, but there is practically no curve...unlike in physics. Definitely less than 50 percent of the class got an A or A- being that the average average was a 75 and for a B+ one needed an 80.
What a funny guy! His sense of humor is golden. However, he does a great job teaching as well! Some people get so carried away with his jokes that they don't pay attention to the serious stuff, which is dumb. He doesn't use a textbook, so be sure to take organized and detailed notes. Fully understanding his notes will be essential to doing well on the final. His problem sets also help clarify concepts. The midterm is taken DIRECTLY from problem sets. He is actively involved in issues concerning poverty, esp. in Africa. He even has a foundation that deals with that matter. A great guy to take macro with. You'll get quite a few good laughs, and most importantly, you'll learn some macro concepts well. Check out his website and you'll WANT to take the class with him.
Excellent professor--funny, engaging, writes everything on the board clearly and concisely. Midterms were straightforward, as were problem sets. Good mix of problems from the book and from outside, and good use of interactive websites, wide range of articles, etc, to come up with the problems.
ATTENTION: DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO TO TAKE THIS CLASS WITH XAVIER SALA-I-MARTIN!!! THE MAN IS INCREDIBLE!!! Allow me to begin by saying that the majority of people who review professors on CULPA usually either had a fabulous experience with a professor or a horrible one. I had a great experience! That being said, Professor Sala-I-Martin's class was extraordinary. The man is a genius in the world of Macroeconomics, in particular in the areas of Economic Growth theory. Please do not be alarmed by those who say he is "condescending;" although he calls us kids, he never does so in a negative or condescending way. He is of Spanish descent where teachers and professors are culturally considered to be your parents away from home and thus his calling us kids is a mere expression of care and not one of arrogance. Concerning his teaching abilities: the man is an extremely avid and talented communicator. There was never a time when I did not understand what he was talking about. Moreover, he catered to questions throughout every lecture, so there is really no reason to not understand any aspect of the subject material. I also appreciate his vivaciousness and flambuoyancy; economics can be exciting, especially for those of us who are Econ majors, but he makes it even more exciting through his jokes and comical personality. Regarding the subject material itself: I found it to be more than appropriate. There were some students who did not appreciate the Econ Growth part, especially since a significant portion of the class was dedicated to this area, but I found it rewarding that we could learn these revolutionizing theories in economics from a leader in the field. Econ Growth is primarily focused on eliminating poverty, particularly in Africa; it amuses me to think that so many so-called Columbia "Socialists" and "Left-wingers" would much rather have spent an entire semester focusing on Business Cycle Theory, i.e. the economics of rich nations.
Professor Sala-i-Martin was thoroughly mediocre. Beyond being patronizing and demeaning to his students, he was not a particularly good teacher. He used his own methods, which the TAs did not understand, and made things much more confusing than was necessary. Xavier was more of a showman than a teacher, something which I appreciated the first day, but regret at the end of the semester.
Great teacher. She is very practical and common sense. She's not the kind of teacher that will use big words to explain something just because they sound good. She cuts to the chase about Econ and just pays attention to explaining something clearly so that you understand. She's very helpful in her office hours too. She's a fair grader and a just a cool professor. Do not feel worried if you didn't take intro macro or do not have a firm grasp of macro coming into the class. Harrison always reviews material.
I found Xavier to be decent. He had moments of brilliance; I found some lectures to be particularly interesting. Other lectures were entirely consumed by silly jokes and even sillier questions that followed them. If you want a relatively low-workload macro experience and don't mind his wild outfits and crazy website (it's an experience unto itself), take his class. If you want a serious macro class, look elsewhere.
his class is a lot better than the other reviews say. at first he wouldn't give us any examples, but then as we warmed up to him he started to solve more problems in class and give us only relevant homework assignments. he spent one entire class period just doing problems like the problems on the homework. and his tests are extremely fair: he doesn't try and trick and doesn't even use the hardest types of problems. if you do the homework you can do really well on the tests.
As an educator, Tabakis is in my opinion the realization of a disincentive program assembled to alleviate the decidedly distended economics department from it's discomfortable load of students. Paired with fantastically purulent TA's Josh "No, but would you like me to graph out something totally unrelated?" Greenfield and Natig "I don't wanna explain it, but I can tell you the answer is 11" Mustafayev, in my opinion Tabakis' macro fulfills it's design to be the fastest, wettest colostomy grab-bag movement out of the econ major ever.
Josh is a terrible TA. On many occasions he would just refuse to provide help with problem sets, dismissively stating things like "this problem is too easy for me to help you with." On other occasions, like review sessions for exams, he just didn't know how to answer problems--problems on the practice exam that he was supposed to know. Which would be fine on any occasion, except the night before the final exam, at the _only_ TA review session prior to the exam. Several other times, he was just plain misleading. For example, before our midterm, at the review, he specifically avoided questions having to do with the velocity of money and said "don't worry, I've seen the midterm and that isn't covered, we don't need to focus on that concept." Ironically, or tragically for those who believed him, there were _several_ questions pertaining to that particular concept on the midterm. So, he's either a vindictive little liar or he's just incompetent. Either way, he makes for a lousy TA. Josh is the sort of TA one would expect to encounter at a community college or in a continuing education program, but not at an Ivy League University. Shame on you Econ department!
This is the best economics class I've taken at Columbia yet. The man really knows the subject well, and has the ability to make it interesting at times. The classes are open for discussion and a sense of humor.
Just to keep it simple, Professor Onatski is not good at conveying the material. His class is boring, and centered completely around intricate mathematical manipulations. The book is ok, so you can read it without going to class and will be fine. There is no need to go to class because you wont learn anything anyway and will eventually have to read the book. The TAs are useless as well. Problems sets are straight out of the book, and altogether pointless.
I have to disagree with a number of things the previous reviewer writes. First and foremost, Alexei is a nice guy but he does not care about the students one bit. If he did, in my opinion he might have taught something of value in his lecture. Maybe I'm not smart enough for this class--which I can readily accept--but I learned nothing in lecture and was not able to gain anything significant from the book either. I don't know where the last guy heard that Macro is an easy A; I've never heard that in my life! The added handicap of Alexei being a non-teacher did not help matters at all. The only way to do well in this class is a. to have a good background in the subject from the get-go; b. be naturally inclined to learning difficult concepts (the SEAS and science majors must have thought this class was pish tosh, easy breezy); or c. be able to memorize the book front to back. I cannot stress enough that this material is too difficult to learn on one's own. I learned very little in this class, although I gave it a chance til the very end; I showed up to every lecture and recitation--although I stopped going to recitation after I studied 5 days for the midterm, got a C, and realized Onatski is not interested in people like me, who are willing to work hard to understand but just can't because the man doesn't explain anything. His lectures are in fact derivations and proofs, which you'll never need to know and only serve to confuse you more. I'm warning you--unless you already know what's up, don't take this class thinking you'll learn macroeconomics because i guarantee that you won't!
Mr. Tabakis - not prof, not dr. since he doesn't have his phd yet - is a disgrace to the teaching profession. he doesn't care, he doesn't try. The other reviews say he reads the text - but you can't quite appreciate how literally this is true until you are in class, your mind numbed every second. The text, by the way, is unhelpful because it includes no worked problems and doesn't do much with equations until it asks you to use them. If you can take macro with another professor, absolutely do so.
Onatski is a really nice guy, and his class can be entertaining at times. He really cares about his students, and he definitely knows what he's talking about. That said, rumors that macro would be an easy A seemed totally inacurate. Truthfully, lecture was a waste of time. He seemed to dance around complicated derivations or incredibly superficial experimental data. Problem sets were a pain, and problems in general were so difficult because he never gave us any examples to work off of in the class! TA's just went over homework problems, but it would have been nice if the basics in problem solving were actually explained, because it would have saved me a lot of time! Furthermore, and this is probably more the TA's fault, but NO partial credit was given on the midterm, and probably wont' be given on the final exam. This was VERY frustrating especially when there were questions that relied on previous parts! In all, it was a frustrating class because I never knew what was going on, even tho I went to every lecture. There's barely any math in this class btw, only simple geometric series and maybe a couple of derivatives. Macro seemed easy once I learned the stuff on my own... but yeah. Lecture tended to be a waste of time.
When I registered for this class, I was already aware of Mr. Tabakis. Unfortunately, I decided not to listen and try my best with this so called "EASY TO PASS" prof. I regreted it 100%. Not only I see the whole class reaching depths of confusion, but what angers me the most is that I won't be ready for my other classes that follows this one. I expect good professors, this is not free education or a visit to the bookstore to buy what some other student refers as "Tabakis is a book on tape." I might repeat the course. I heard he's back for Summer and feel pity for those students.
I don't know why all these people are complaining. Sure the man is very dry and teaches straight out of the textbook. But who cares? Since Sala-I-Martin was on leave, there were no exciting professors with whom to take macro. Tabakis gives you the necessary tools of Macro (cause he "reads" the textbook for his lectures) and his curve is nice and generous and you end up with a decent grade at the end of the course. He's kind of anal about handing in problem sets on time and getting regrades on the midterm--but so what? If you never show up to class, you won't miss anything--and that's a plus.
Worst Prof. I ever encounter!! Don't waste your time and brains. I know lots of people who leave the classroom like walking zombies. He's dull, arrogant and won't do the effort to teach.
This teacher is probably the worst teacher I have ever had in my entire life. He is unhelpful, doesn't teach, and is only there to be a puppethead in front of the class. You can tell when in a class of 90 students at most 35 are in class at any given day. He obviously hates his job so I don't understand why he would even want to do something like this in the first place. I'm sorry for the people who have to take his class this semester. I remember overhearing a student asking him for a recommendation -- he in the beginning claimed that since it was a lecture class he didn't know him well, etc. etc. and toward the end he just said "I don't have time. Maybe you can write it and I'll sign it or something." THE worst excuse for a teacher ever. Please avoid him.
I don't know what this person is talking about. Josh was a very helpful TA. I went to his recitations and I usually went to his office hours and I thought his explanations were quite good.
Alert! Alert! Beware of this TA! Every third week we had him TA (the three TA's were alternating) he would hold the recitation and grade the problem sets. During his recitation session he would seemingly provide a useful way to approach and solve a particular problem but then proceeded to say the same method that he outlined himself in recitation was incorrect when he later graded the problem sets. Aside from being a LIAR, this guy also made every effort to make the class miserable. Tabakis refused to get off his ass and discipline this asshole despite the many protests from the many students Josh screwed over. All in all, Josh is a shining reflection of the crummy econ department.
Please do not waste your time. You might as well never go to class. I made the mistake of going to them all and in not a single one did he introduce something outside of what I read in the book (by the way, I thought the book was very good). He is not particularly interesting. He is pretentious and you can tell he feels like he is wasting his time. I went to one recitation. The TA was good, but the hour that I spent listening to him talk about the problem set was better spent doing the problem set by myself, so I never went back. Overall, the class had a lot of potential to be good, but failed miserably. There was little to no interesting discussion in class, though macroeconomics can be one of the more interesting topics in economics. I have a feeling that I will not remember anything about that class in a month. Look elsewhere.
Let me first respond to one of the more critical reviews. The reviewer acknowledges not going to the lectures and then complains about the lack of examples. Hmmm... That should raise a red flag or two. While Preston did not give an example for every problem, the combination of actually reading the assignment and going to the lectures was more than enough to figure out the problems. If your are interested in Macro, take this class. Preston covers all the basic material. The best part, however, is when he goes off on interesting tangents about case studies of the material. He does a much better job of covering this aspect of the material than the text book does. To summarize: If your are interested in economics and want to learn how models you learn are applied to the real world, you will probably enjoy this class. If you just want to escape with doing as little as possible, you probably won't.
I took Prof Sethi for intro and intermediate. He was good for intro and well. . . not so good for intermediate. I understand many people in the class were econ majors and could grasp the material easily, but I also know that many were not. Prof Sethi spoke very quickly and rushed through most of the in depth curriculum. All his power point slides were posted online and accessable before the class but were highly incomprehensible. Prof Sethi was unaccessable and as previously stated, he was the first one out of the class room on most days. Good thing about the class though, fairly decent curve. On the midterm an ~20/ 50 was a C.
I agree with the previous review. Sethi is unaccomodating and i took this class solely for the rave reviews of the professor. I went to office hours once and Sethi was most unhelpful and unapproachable. That deterred me from going again because although polite, he was cold and it seemed to be a task for him to answer my questions. Although his lectures are well-organized, he speaks too quickly and wastes valuable time answering questions from students that do not effect the rest of the class and as a result, rushes through the second half of the lecture. Basically, i did not find him to be a good professor, sure he can teach but when you do not understand a concept, he is not all that welcoming to explain it to you.
I was thoroughly disappointed by this course. As the first reviewer asserted, Sethi's lectures were incomprehensible b/c he spoke so fast (this guy never pauses to breathe) and rushed through the material. It was impossible to ask him questions after class b/c he was always the first one to leave the classroom! The problemset questions were manageable, but they were certainly nothing like the ones presented on the midterm or the final. Neither Sethi nor the TA were very helpful in preparing us for either tests. However, if you post questions on the messageboard on courseworks, Sethi is very good about replying back.
oh my. to quote a friend of mine in the class, the verb "to teach" does not apply to tabakis. in greek, Chrystomos means something like "goldenmouth" - that's just irony there. tabakis reads out of the book, making the already vague text even harder to understand with his ridiculously thick accent and no intent on explaining the material. i heartily recommend avoiding this dude if possible - if you want to learn the subject that is.
I honestly do not know who the other people who reviewed Rajiv Sethi are, but they must be ajdadkdk to think that he is a good professor. Sethi is very inacessible, he talks to fast, and is always very thin on his patience. He has great lecturer outlines, but its not really of use when no one in the class really grasps the concept, is it? The book is a waste of time, he doesn't follow it much. Have you ever walked out of class absolutely retaining nothing from the class, well that is Sethi for you. HE IS ALSO VERY UNACCOMADATING. This class was a BIG BIG disappointment (maybe its because he just got tenure). The midterm is okay, but the final is really hard and worth 50% of your grade. Advice: Take this class at Columbia, the curve will be much better. Macro has hard enough concepts...really don't need a pretentious/impatient professor to make it worse...
I thought Macroeconomics would be more interesting than Micro and I was completely disappointed. And the only reason is the way Bruce presents the material. He is very inexperienced in terms of teaching and explaining stuff. Everything is straight from the book. In other words, there is nothing he adds to this course as a professor. His lectures are not interesting at all. And since they are at 9 in the morning after a month you will not go to any of the lectures. His homeworks are so long and there are not enough examples to make you understand the analytical questions. I mean he is not too bad but not too good either. The midterm was OK but looooong. The final was even worse. I think this class can be very interesting if the professor puts the necessary effort into it. I went to his office hourse a couple times and he never gives you precise explanations and confuses you even more. I would certainly not recommend him if you want to learn something.
The reviews critical of Bruce are clearly written by people who aren't interested in macroeconomics. Listen, if you're looking for a song and dance, or for a teacher who tells lots of anecdotes about his thirty years working at the Council of Economic Advisors, or a professor who adheres closely to some ideological view of the world, then sure, this isn't the class for you. But if you're interested in really understanding the framework for macroeconomic analysis, then Bruce is excellent. He's clear, he gives a thorough and repeated explanations (which is very helpfu in a class where the theories are not always intuitive or simple) and he's more than willing to answer individual questions during office hours. Bruce is a young guy - he just got his doctorate from Princeton. This was his first time teaching the class. Anybody that's taught before knows that it isn't simple to produce your first syllabus. Near the end of the course, we start applying the theories towards current events, which is very fun. Although it's true that Bruce stuck closely to the book, I know for a fact (he told me) that he's planning on expanding such analysis in future classes. The book is a good text - sticking to it while laying the theoretical groundwork is very helpful, in fact, because it allows students to use the text to compliment the lectures, and it makes homework sets more applicable. There are different ways of understanding the economy, and if Bruce were giving a drastically different model than what the book used, that wouldn't be too good, would it? If you like thinking about economics, and understanding the way models work (or don't work), the Bruce is a good professor. And I can only see him getting better. Why? Because he's exceptionally intelligent and he's nuanced in his understanding of the material.
Tabakis is a book on tape, repeating the text nearly word for word. He's funny by accident, which makes the lectures just barely bearable. He never uses any examples that could be helpful for HWs and tests - I dont think he wrote one number or solved one equation in class, even though thats half the assignments and most of the tests. Overall though, probably cuz the text is OK, I learned a lot and the workload is standard. Not the best, but could have been worse. At least its very possible to get a B or A without going to class. If you consider that a plus, then this class is for you.
I guess the author of the previous comment is an unlucky soul together with me because we happened to be in the same class. This professor will not give you anything more than is already written in the textbook, so it is such a waist of time to go to his lectures. The TAs do all the grading of midterm and homeworks, so I really do not understand why we have Mr. Tabakis present in front of us for two times a week. Especially you have to make an effort in order to understand his very heavy Greek accent. The homeworks are not very difficult if you understand the material well, but it takes time to get an idea where and how the curves shift, because the professor does not give any examples that would make the homeworks more understandable. Some of the TAs were really more helpful than the professor.
Alexi can be cruel. If you answer a question and are not correct, he will let the class know it. He studied mathematics in Moscow University, the boot camp of math. That is why his tests are so heavily math based. He won third place in a Soviet Mathematical Olympiad at the age of 13! If you are great at math, you will do well. If you are not, you will get a C-. I got a B and I have gotten successive A's semester after semester in Columbia math classes.
Clarida isn't interesting and he is a little hung up on the fact that he recently held a fairly high government position (he once half-joked "once you've been to one oval office signing ceremony, you've been to them all"). However, he has a clear idea of the material he wants you to know and presents it slowly and clearly. I don't agree with another reviewer who said he is too lazy to change the tests and too stupid to withhold them from you. Instead, I think he has a very specific idea about which concepts he thinks are valuable and he focuses on them almost exclusively from one year to the next. In all, a good class. For the grade-mongers out there, the prospects of getting an A are very good. For those concerned with the actual material, Clarida is a clear, concise instructor who leaves little room for confusion and answer questions well.
For kids of all types: -class was TONS of fun ... every 3 lectures or so -is he degrading? he is currently listed as one of the top 20 economists in the world and therefore, at least at this point in our careers, better than all of us ... so what if he calls you 'kid'? -don't buy the book -if you do the problem sets, actually do them, not BS, you wont panic around reading week cause you didnt learn anything -as far as grades, you'll make what you make in all your other classes. i did.
funny but a horrible teacher. didnt' teach out of the book, so you had to go to every class and he taught his own version on macro. treated students like children, gave out candy which may sound nice, but it sucked.
this is the most over rated class. this term he was so caught up on his jokes that he ran out of time to give two midterms so he just gave a midterm and final which kicked everyone's A**. plus he never grades problem sets, so its easy to slip behind, and none of the 10 TA's were willing to hold office hours during reading week.
This guy sure loves his game theory. Expect a ton of that following a mad rush through the actual main part of Microeconomics. Overall, it's not a bad class--he's pretty clear about most stuff andclearly answers all student ?s, but he goes fast and zips through some hella complex algebra. It can be a rush to keep up. His exams are hard as hell, but there is a nice curve at the end for your final grades.
really very enthusiastic professor. keeps it interesting. he always goes over what he taught in previous class in beginning of class. so if you realized during reading that you didn't get something he'll be more than happy to go over it. he goes at a slow-medium pace so it's easy to follow along. pretty good prof. gives partial credit on exams for just writing down the correct formula ! so make sure you know them !!
This is the most overrated class possible! Sure, the guy may be funny, but you get so caught up in the jokes that you realize you're not learning anything! The problem sets are ungraded and the midterms are so easy (straight from the problem sets, and the TAs even tell you which question to memorize!--the mean on the first midterm was 58/60!!!) that when it's time for the final you have no clue about anything and you just go in knowing the curve is going to have to be huge. I truly feel like I learned nothing, and he's not as fun of a guy as some of these reviews will have you think--much of the time, the class was quite boring, and he talks down to you like you're 12 years old. But if you like M&M treats and Disney characters, this might be just the class for you.
Frankly, I enjoyed this class. He made the subject matter very accessible, which was a boon to non-econ majors like me (although referring to GDP as 'cookies' gets old after about 2 lectures). Also, the occasional jokes made it far easier to stay awake in class (essential for the exams, considering that the textbook was mostly irrelevant). This has been the best lecture class that I've taken at Columbia, and I only wish he taught more undergraduate courses. The Bottom Line: YMMV (your mileage may vary), but I'd suggest going to the first lecture to check out this class. Then decide.
wow this guy is amazing. After having been through a number of boring econ classes, this guy finally adds some life to a very dry subject!! When you compare him to any of the other econ profs at columbia this guy is miles ahead. A text book is really not required and the mid term is exactly like the psets. A possible A+ class.
All past, present, and future students of Xavier's macroeconomics class shall not doubt that this review speaks the truth. The good: Despite claims of a classical bias, Xavier's conservative stance is quite rare among prominent economists and he effectively balances classical and Keynesian theory. For a class of 350+ students, Xavier effectively engages students with questions and the M&M peanut board/ceremony are creative ideas. The bad: It's odd to see a teacher respond seriously to student questions/comments and yet still treat the class like children, just moved up from "kindergarten". Occasionally amusing anecdotes, but there was this long stretch of lectures where Xavier could not avoid take that single moment to interrupt himself to say f-ck this or f-ck that, which had very little to do with macro and wasn't even funny (no comment on the people who actually found that stuff amusing). To be blunt, the disney themes (of the problem sets) are stupid, but that reflects the weirdness of his webpage, which also contains an attack against an unnamed economist (turn off meta-refresh in your browser, load www.columbia.edu/~xs23/) . Perhaps these are just results of Xavier's paying too much alcohol tax (Morris, Nat, this is NOT libel! Xavier even joked he pays no tobacco tax, but a lot of alcohol tax). The major reason Barro's Macroeconomics is on the syllabus is because Xavier's co-written a book with Barro and Barro was his PhD advisor at Harvard. Just go to class and use other macro texts as necessary. Verdict: Yes, it is overrated. Some of these overwhelmingly positive reviews seem to suggest that if you have strong enthusiasm for econ or are an econ major you'll suddenly want to specialize in macro because of Xavier's class, or major in econ if you weren't that interested in the first place. The course is too inconsistent. It is possible to be annoyed by Xavier's attempt to be too much of a showman (a condescending one at that) instead of a teacher.
okay, but final was tough because midterms were so easy and students were taken by surprise.
This class is tremendously overrated. Do not expect to learn truly serious economics. Xavier is a renowned economist and he knows his material, but most of the time he tends to treat the class like children. This might be because of the class' makeup: lots of jocks and lots of people uninterested in economics. Thus, the 300+ class size played a problem. Take advantage of the 6 or 7 TA's and get to know them. Also, arrive in class 5-10 minutes early so that you have a seat. Content wise, we focused on certain areas way too much and altogether neglected topics such as internation trade and exchange rates. If you are a serious economics student, take macro with someone else other than Xavier.
What can I say about Xavier that hasn't already been said... well, you should know that he's a monster in international economic theory, is on the NBER and IMF boards, etc... he knows his stuff cold, and his exams are quite easy. At times his classical bias shows through but all in all he is fair to both Classical and Keynesian economics. A wonderful, funny man who makes his class as much a stand-up comedy routine as a lecture. Don't need to buy the book - go to class (it's not difficult) and do the problem sets and you'll be fine.
I reserve my highest praise for professors such as Sala-i-Martin: I simply would not miss a class. Immensely entertaining, yet he also imparts a thorough understanding of the material. Top-notch!
Even if you're not interested in econ (like me), it's worth taking Macro just for the chance to enjoy Xavier. In fact, even if you don't register for the class, it's worth going just to watch the stand up comedy. I know of at least one person who went to the class regularly even though he wasn't registered because it was so much fun. Xavier is a riot, is by far the best professor at Columbia, and most definitely deserves his spot in the M&M Hall of Fame
Flamboyant and witty lecturer. He explains concepts so that people not only remember them, but understand them. Good jokes and flashy threads. Grading is very generous. Be sure to bring plenty of M&M's on his birthday -- he deserves them.
You must be living in a cave if you haven't heard about this guy yet. He's the best teacher in the economics department, and quite possibly one of the best teachers on campus period. He really seems to love to teach macro, and could very well influence you to love macro as well. He only teaches in the fall so you should rearrange your schedule to ensure that you get him. He's the best macro prof, hands down.
You will learn nothing in this class, since there is almost no thinking involved. If you are really interested in economics, Xavier's class is not for you, as he tends to believe that his students have the intellectual prowess of kindergarteners. If you want to challenge yourself, and if you do not intend to work for Goldman Sachs (like every other moron at this school), then find another section. All of the work is graded by the TA's, so get to know them, they might be able to fudge some of the grades for you. I will admit, it was one of the easiest A's I have ever earned at Columbia.
I agree with all the positive lectures above. I just want to add that you DO NOT need to buy the book. Don't buy the book because it will only confuse you. The only reason why Prof Xavier orders the book is to calm down the anal econ majors who need the security of holding a textbook and because his good buddy Robert Barro over at MIT can make some extra $$$ by redistributing wealth from Columbia student's pockets to Mr. Barro's pocket. I would also like to add that I petition that Xavier (Sha B A) teach more undergraduate classes. Screw the grad students, let's improve undergraduate economics!
Though Xavier is dearly beloved among Economics students for making his Intermediate Macroeconomics class as lively as possible, students looking for incisive economic analysis should know that he is also a sometime advisor for the IMF and a hardcore free trade advocate with little comprehension of opposing views.
No one will doubt that he is one of the most entertaining and exciting professors in Columbia. He explains concepts very well and it is obvious that he cares about what students think of him. This is one of the few classes where you must attend class in order to do his problem sets. I found the class textbook to be of little use and I relied mostly on his lecture notes. There are weekly problem sets that are due, including two midterms and one final exam.
This guy is great-he's brilliant and even more amazingly when you consider this department, he loves to teach! Be prepared to entertain and learn. A great course in macroeconomics-even for the non-economics major. A very generous grader. No other professor offers M&M questions of the day, dress in hot pink suits, and hold office hours at 1 in the morning.
Miserable, miserable lecturer who digresses, mumbles, drones, and clears his throat a million times to make one point per class--and then complains that attendance is low! My semester, he got angry that no one was coming and lowered the mean to a B-. Fortunately (?), the tests are easy. That just means, however, given the bad curve, that the lucky (not necessarily the smart) make off like bandits. The mean is high, the standard deviation is low and because you lost partial credit on one question you go from A- to B. With the advent of Heenan, the TA, you don't need to go to class *at all*. Just go to recitation and read the book and you're set.