Assignment Return to Giant Pool of Money – Econ 120


By now you all know we are just beginning to emerge from economically hard times, and most of you know that the “housing crisis” has been implicated as one of the major contributors.   But what exactly was the housing crisis?  This assignment consists of listening to an hour-long radio program that addresses that question.


1.  Listen to Return to the Giant Pool of Money  (This American Life, Episode 390 – in case you have to navigate to it yourself).  If you have a hearing disability where you need the transcript and cannot find it online email me at least a week before the due date.


2.  In a few paragraphs (the equivalent of one single-spaced page and no longer), summarize the show and talk about why it interested you.  In your summary, correctly use three terms from the margins of your textbook.  Do not repeat a term that another student has used or I cannot give you credit (you are welcome to put in a “reserve” post letting other students know which terms you are going to use).  Underline the terms, have them be from three different chapters, and note which chapters they are from.   Do not attach this – put it in the text of the board.


3.  Make sure your summary is written such that I can tell you listened to the show thoroughly the whole way through, and also that you did not just copy another student.   The basic content of the posts will be similar, of course, but there is a whole hour’s worth of talking, so you will be able to customize your summary. 


First Submission:  Wednesday 11:30 PM

Response:  Thursday 11:30 PM.  For the response to another student (one to whom no one else has responded – as usual), let them know if they’ve used the terms correctly.

Final Submission:  Saturday 11:30 PM


Important Hint:  The show uses the term “greed”, but it’s a normative term as it denotes a value judgment on behavior.  Those value judgments aren’t a part of positive economics; rather economics focuses on behavioral analysis.  So be sure not to use the term greed or other normative terms or statements (or you risk getting a zero on your post).  It’s fine to discuss things in terms of costs and benefits as long as you have a source for your interpretation of the costs or benefits.


Grading Rubric


18-20– Submittal shows excellent, thoughtful and complete work.  Show is thoughtfully discussed in a way unique from previous submissions.  Terms chosen are sophisticated (in other words not just “supply” or “firms”, unique and correctly used and referenced.  No more than three terms are used. Submission contains high-quality college-level writing that has been carefully edited and proofread and contains no errors. Contains only positive economic statements; no normative statements.

16-17– Submission shows good effort, with a thorough discussion of show.  No suspicion of copying other students.  Terms are correctly used and referenced. No more than three terms are used. All guidelines are followed Writing is quality college-level work; may contain one to two errors. Contains only positive economic statements; no normative statements.

14-15 – Submission shows average effort.  The show is summarized and the length required.  No suspicion of copying previous students.  Three terms are correctly used.  There may be minor grammar spelling and punctuation, or minor normative comments.  

12-13– Poor effort, show is insufficiently summarized; or one or more terms are used incorrectly, or writing contains numerous errors, or assignment contains obviously normative comments.

0-11– Incomplete or very poor effort; summary of show not sufficient or unique, or terms missing or incorrectly used, or writing not at college-level, with little or no evidence of editing and proofreading, or contains overtly normative statements.

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