David Weinstein

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Dec 2020

David is a fantastic professor. Both macro and microeconomic principles are covered, with interesting Japanese banking history to boot. This is not, however, a global core. If that's something you're OK with, then by all means. You learn a lot, the material is fairly intuitive, and you get Dave's awkward but lovable humor.

Nov 2019

Review for Fall of 2018. Weinstein is an interesting lecturer, and it's definitely a solid class. I wouldn't recommend it to people just to satisfy a global core and an econ elective, as I made that decision and generally felt a little out of depth and kind of regret it a year later. Not to say this class isn't great, it is to this point my most interesting econ class, just to say I would have probably preferred something a little easier and more humanities-based for a global core. Although the 8:40 time is a drag, Weinstein posts great slides that make it so you don't really need to show up all the time (although you ought to most of the time and Weinstein's voice is quite calming). I would also categorize most of the reading as optional, and you definitely don't need to buy any textbook--his lecture is comprehensive and only a few of the articles are really completely necessary, although other articles are interesting. Weinstein also brought in a guest lecturer who was a former Minister of Finance for Japan, very cool, although he was a little hard to understand. Overall, I found the class very doable but I was out of my depth (I scored bad enough on the diagnostic exam that they asked to meet with me ahead of time) and it made the class harder than I hoped. Take it as a junior or senior, not a sophomore, but know that it is a class that will reward your effort (especially if the TAs are Cam and Tanya and you work with them). Tanya was a major bad-ass TA. I was a sophomore who was out of my depth when I took that class, and Tanya was there to throw me a life jacket when I was about to sink. She genuinely cares about her students, she will make an amazing Professor someday if she so chooses. If you see Tanya as one of the TAs for any of your Econ classes you really ought to choose to go to her (although luckily this section had two very strong TAs, so I alternated between her and Cameron!). Tanya literally went out of her way to find me individual data for my paper on a Japanese only language website the night before the paper was due because I realized that I mistakenly thought a secondary source was a primary source. She cares that much; she literally saved my paper. Because of her (and Cam!) my hard work got me an A in the class, despite my inexperience with economics! Amazing TA! Cameron was another very great TA. As I mentioned, I was a sophomore out of my depth. Cam helped me brainstorm some ideas for my paper, evaluated some of my ideas along the way, and really came in clutch for the final. When I asked what to expect, he made sure that I reviewed the historical concepts, and then, at my suggestion, made a historical concepts practice booklet. I basically only studied from this booklet and the slides, and because of his suggestion to focus on history, I found the final a total breeze. The midterm was noticeably more economic focused, and people ended up doing worse on the final because I presume they only studied econ while it shifted to a more historical nature. If they had gone to Cam they would have found the final to be a much easier test than the midterm. As a result, I went from slightly above average on the midterm to scoring 12 percent higher on the final, while the class average dropped slightly (as most people likely only prepared in-depth for the economics portion).

Jan 2019

This class tried to balance economics and history of Japan, but utterly does a terrible job at both. The economics Weinstein covers in class is a rehash of Intermediate Micro/Macro, not really unique economics with respect to Japan. The history portion is really interesting before the midterm but afterward becomes unbearable as Weinstein conflates Japanese economic history with just the development of the Japanese banking system, which I guess makes sense for all the Goldman Sachs bros in the class. So if you want to learn about banking history in Japan since the 20th century, consider this class. The material is pretty much empirical for anything non-banking while there's tons of dates and data for the Japanese financial industry. I don't think that's a testament to the Japanese economy. Lectures are pretty boring, especially since it's an 8:40, and Weinstein doesn't exactly have the most exciting voice nor slides. Don't get me wrong, the professor is really friendly and has a passion for the material. The class overall is a pain that doesn't seem difficult, except the TAs for the classes are such a pain in grading. They're helpful. The review sessions they hosted would have been phenomenal, if it hadn't been that what they covered was not at all in the midterm/final. Rather, Weinstein puts some questions on random papers in the syllabus and will expect you to be able to cite some of these in the exams. The research paper is fine, tolerable, not really much complain for it. Course recommendation: 5/10 Difficulty: 8/10 Not sure if the trouble for this as a global core/economics elective is worth it though.

Mar 2018

This is honestly one of the best classes I have taken at Columbia. I left with a good grasp of Japan's history and its story of economic development. I felt as though I learned really practical things, like how Japan's financial crisis was different from the United States, why Japan's debt is not as bad as it looks, things that you could mention in a conversation and that anyone looking to go into the financial sector/economics should know at least loosely. It's also really interesting to learn about samurai and the political structures in Japan over time. Also, Professor Weinstein is the rare combination of renowned professor (advises govt institutions, Japan etc), good person who is actually very approachable and cares that his students do well, and good lecturer who actually explains concepts well. Best Econ Professor I've had so far. A few notes: There is math but it's honestly not terrible as long as you go to lecture. I got a B+ in Calc 3 and I was still totally okay. The midterm had a lot of math BUT the final had none so it balanced out. Just be sure to go over all the math before exams (versus spending lots of time on history). The paper was super time consuming BUT it's not difficult, more grunt work based. The bulk of the work is finding your data and then deciding on your topic. The analysis itself is pretty simple (no need to run regressions), and I became pretty well-versed in my topic. They're not expecting a ground-breaking paper from undergrads. Also, the TAs are very nice about helping you with finding and translating data (definitely go to Tanya's OH if you can). GO TO LECTURE!! The textbooks are pretty much worthless in catching up on what you missed. I only read the papers he mentioned, attended almost all the classes and I ended up with an A. So if you're going to pick one or the other, don't read but do attend the lectures. Overall: Best econ elective I've taken, crunch time at the end was worth it for the very little work during the semester. You won't regret taking it!!

Dec 2017

this class is no joke. consider this a history AND Econ class. lecture attendance not mandatory but highly recommended if you want to do well (I did well without attending, but I worked very hard out of class) midterm and final exams - expect to study for hours. you need to know every concept extremely well. the final is cumulative with emphasis on 2nd half of material - overwhelming amounts of history and Econ to study. final paper worth about 40% of grade. take this very seriously. tons of assigned readings - none are necessary. he covers the readings u need to know in class. no textbook chapters or anything.. just some research articles u can read the abstracts of to understand. (either way, the readings will only be a few points on exams) success depends on good notes: there are lecture slides but he says things that aren't on the slides. either find a good note taking friend or take good notes yourself. overall experience rating: 5/10 (5 bc at least the material was interesting) overall difficulty rating: 8/10

Oct 2017

Pros -- 1. Decently interesting class? 2. Decently nice/funny professor Cons -- 1. Very hard exams that are more math/econ based that test ur math skills than actually the economic development of Japan.. 2. Must attend lecture pay attention to slides/take amazing notes (if you don't, exam will be impossible) Overall: If you actually care about learning/interesting material, not a bad class to take. If you're looking for a GPA boost or want an easy going and smooth elective, definitely DO NOT take this class.

Feb 2017

The prof: Weinstein is a solid professor and lecturer; he goes through his slides (which he also posts online) very thoroughly and gives clear explanations. He knows his stuff super well and tries very hard to impress upon the students why/how it's relevant to the world beyond Japan. He even brought in a Board Member of the Bank of Japan to speak with us, which was neat. And like the below reviews have mentioned, he's just an all-around endearing dude. Difficulty: the material itself might not seem too complex or straining, but the exams can be tough. You need to have a thorough understanding of everything he covers in order to do well. If you're looking for an easy class to fulfill your Econ elective or Global Core, this is not it. But if you genuinely put in the effort, your grade will reflect it. Class ends up curving to a B/B+. You'll have an easier time if you have a stronger understanding of international & macro concepts though. Overall, if you want to learn something outside of the norm and don't mind putting in some effort, no harm in taking this class.

Jan 2011

I loved loved loved this professor. He is incredibly clear, a fantastic lecturer, is very approachable (always willing to meet with you) and has a great sense of humor. Although this class was early in the morning, I never felt tired or bored. There were many concepts such as some of the international trade models I did not understand in other class that I got after 20 minutes with Professor Weinstein. He also goes over a couple of finance concepts (the economics of a repurchase agreement, the idea of short selling etc) that I found useful. I personally enjoyed the economic components of his lectures more, but was a little less interested in the history. In total, amazing professor. Take this class!!

Jan 2011

Weinstein is a great guy; he's a very passionate and strong lecturer, and makes some hilarious jokes. He tries his best to make the class enjoyable, and generally succeeded. I'd venture to guess that almost anyone who doesn't hate economics will enjoy this class. There are readings, all of which I did pre-midterm, but once I found that they weren't really that exciting or that relevant to class material/tests, I stopped. Still, I recommend reading from the Modern History book. It's really interesting. The paper at the end is difficult, and can seem very overwhelming. Do start a bit early, and meet with Weinstein repeatedly until you feel like you know what you're doing. He's extremely helpful when it comes to finding sources, thinking about topics, etc. Seems like a legitimately cool guy. Tests are not easy, but certainly not hard. Study a bit, go over the mathematical derivations and the slides, and you'll be fine. I wasn't a huge fan of the class participation component of the grade - it seems to favor either the students who were extremely well-educated on the topic or the students who were willing to say absolutely anything to get a higher grade. But it's really not the biggest deal. He asks some painfully easy questions in class, presumably to help those who want participation credit but don't know much economics/Japan history. In sum - highly recommend. Very fascinating material (most of it), and great professor. Hard at times, but well worth it.

Dec 2010

Weinstein is a very good professor, a strong lecturer, and a genuinely nice man. His class is a 50/50 blend of Japanese history and economic application, with a focus on history in the first half of the course. His lectures are all structured and run off a powerpoint, but he will occasionally draw a graph or equation on the board, and what he writes is often the most important in terms of what might show up on a test. Personally, I didn’t find the material that exciting, and I don’t think this class pretends to be teaching you anything groundbreaking or unique – it’s a history class with graphs. It is certainly not an easy class, but unlike classes that are just impossible for the sake of it, there is about as direct a correlation as I’ve seen in terms of work/effort to one’s grade. The midterm/final are difficult, but fair (54/77 was the median, whatever that comes out to). The bulk of the grade for the class comes from a 2500-3000 word research essay in which he asks you to develop a question from primary data, and structure an argument/try to answer that question. Not an easy paper to write, but if you find a topic that you find interesting (and most importantly, has a lot of primary data), it can sort of write itself. This was not one of my favorite econ electives, but it was a solid one nonetheless. I really respect Weinstein as a passionate lecturer and very intelligent guy. I would recommend it to those with interest in Japan (obviously…), or the history of economics.

Jan 2010

Economic Development of Japan was probably one of the best economics classes I have taken at Columbia. Weinstein explains the material very well, and his lectures are lively enough to keep even a hungover senior such as myself engaged at 9am on a Thursday morning. There is assigned reading, but virtually none of it is tested. The one piece of advice I would give to prospective students is that it is very important to actually show up to class, because he covers models on the blackboard that aren't included in the powerpoint notes. The exams focus heavily on this material, so if you try to just rely on the class notes, you are in for some trouble. The paper is something of an ordeal (it counts for 40% of your grade), but because Professor Weinstein is actually willing to take the time to help you find a good topic, you actually end up learning something from the whole exercise. In summary, this is a great class and I encourage every economics student to take it. The Japanese economy is very different from our own, and this is one of the few classes at Columbia that I can honestly say I got something out of.

May 2006

This is an excellent course; IÂ’d recommend it for any econ major. It was by far the most interesting of the electives I have taken thus far. Professor WeinsteinÂ’s lectures are very organized and he is fairly entertaining. The first half of the semester mixes a lot of history in with economic theory, while the second half is much less historically driven. Professor Weinstein himself is a very nice and approachable guy and anxious to help. The readings are fairly light and not particularly important compared to going to class. The exams can be somewhat difficult, especially if you get lulled into not paying attention by the power points. However if you go to class and pay attention theyÂ’re not too bad and they are curved to a high B low B+ just like every other Columbia econ course.

Mar 2005

Professor Weinstein is obviously very passionate about Japan and Japanese economics including the history behind its development. He has had actual work experience in Japan so he knows first-hand how the labor markets function. He uses powerpoint to limit the amount of notes you have to take which makes it easy to just sit there and actually listen to what he has to say. His class is very interesting, I was loving it, I studied hard for the midterm and was still surprised how difficult I found the test to be... the curve worked in everyone's favor however. Overall I recommend the class because I think he's a great professor (and the nicest guy too) and the class material is interesting.