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Why Economies Rise or Fall

Explore a fundamental question in economics that has a tremendous impact on the lives of billions of people.
Why Economies Rise or Fall is rated 3.4 out of 5 by 54.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Course This course was a refreshing change from the economists who frequently weave their political views into the material, not the case with this course.
Date published: 2024-07-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Fails to accomplish the title The title of this course starts with the word "why". That key word - goal/aim - is only at times met; for the most part, the prof merely tells us obvious history, with little to no insight. The first 2 lectures are nearly worthless. Amazingly, in #5, on the US, he touches (for a few minutes) on the great depression (1930s), with nary a word as to why/how. #7 on Japan was boring & repetitious. It was the first time he truly dealt with "why", but did so inadequately. He seemed to be in love with Japan, & grossly over stated its accomplishments. He is often repetitious. Not until #14 was there any reference to capitalism - it's almost as if he's afraid to posit the superiority of capitalism. In discussing India & why is was (in many ways still is) poor, not a word about its caste system & pervasive racism, & he barely alluded to British rapacity. The value of the entire 24 lectures probably could have been adequately covered in 6 lectures. Also, either nothing or nearly nothing was discussed about Israel, the Arab countries, sovereign wealth funds.
Date published: 2024-02-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Difficult to watch The descriptions of the individual lectures interested me. However, the professor repeated himself over and over, often never completing the topic he started. In my opinion, it is difficult to watch and has very little substance.
Date published: 2023-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Answering 2022’s Economics With Precision This 2011 "economic observational/historian" course remains "spot on". The course reads easily, but plays hardball. Rodriguez concentrates on the mysteries of economic behavior and the inadequacies of "one-size-fits-all". The first lectures are a historical contrast for his later themes. L4: for the first 1000 years of economic history, no one's life was better than his father's. The European agriculture revolution led to the first "excess labor" that allowed scaled production and ultimately the industrial revolution. Rodriguez rationally questions (as does TGC's "Wisdom of History -Fears) whether President Woodrow Wilson's push for "democracy" has any effect on a nation's wealth. In L3, he starts to hit hard: productive behavior "must be more profitable than other behaviors" like corruption, welfare, or centralization. L3 also asks: "Where does (economic) trust come from? ...Beliefs matter." "Policies aren't enough; they need believability to end in action across an economy." This believability is sorely tested today when the media, politicians, and NEA wallow in viewpoint absolutism. L5, with multiple examples, states: "There is "no need for a grand plan set forth by the President." Rodriguez points out that Darwin's ideas were borrowed from Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations", adding some credibility to the robustness of Smith's ideas. He discusses the 2007 Sub-Prime crisis due to high US capital inflow and sloppy investment. The US response was to engage " the most massive government stimulus and break from self-correction in economic history." Rodriquez frames it this way: "We've made a huge bet...if we're wrong, the US will no longer be the leading economic light of the world." THAT BET REMAINS UNRESOLVED TODAY as we continuously raise our debt exponentially. 2021's: Federal Debt: Total Public Debt curve (St. Louis Federal Reserve) portrays exponential curve segments, ie: f(x) = x to the nth power (where x is “dollars”). In the 2008-2015-curve segment, "n" reached an outrageous 4, then cooled a bit for 5 years, and now rises asymptotically. See DISCUSSION. L6-19 & 21 discuss very important lessons about economics that are immediately applicable. For EXAMPLE Soviet Union (L15): "It's almost impossible to economy in which everyone's incomes and consumption patterns are equilibrated." analogous to today's crude concepts of "equity". EXAMPLE Japan (L9): It's 2nd in the world economic status went bust when its gov’t/business "partnership" ran up a national debt/GDP of 140% amidst a de-leveraging housing bubble. Japan "injected $ to cause inflation" so people would keep buying. "Did it work? No." Analogously, the US debt/GDP hit 136% briefly in quarter 4-2020 due to COVID economic output (Eo) loss. With some Eo recovery, it's 125.5%. Low rates have created our own "housing froth". Worse, unlike Japan neither Americans nor their gov't have savings. Harvard U Prof Linda Bilmes reminds us that America used to raise taxes to fund wars with top marginal tax rates of 92% during Korea & 77% in Vietnam. Now we fund with "debt": first we've had "credit-card wars" (Afghanistan, etc). Now "credit-card socialism" is being pursued via a $3.5T bill pending in Congress. That would immediately raise national debt from $28T to $31.5T. Our Money Supply (Ms) is further increased via a backdoor with our recent promise to the IMF of $650 billion in "Special Drawing Rights". We can't afford much inflation or the gov't can't pay its interest due. Use this course to consider further debt/GDP disasters if Eo doesn't spike or there is a different world Reserve Currency (see next). Presently the dollar acts as the world's Reserve Currency. But this (L22, 23) has caused much of the world's savings to accumulate in the US, starving the rest of the world of those resources and "...asset prices (to rise) rapidly in the US". It also caused US citizens to be labeled with Greenspan's arrogant job title of "Consumer" while others struggle. The L3 sticking point to an IMF World Currency is that all countries must be following the same financial procedures - which is patently unworkable. Additionally, L16 states: "any country ...dominated by a larger economic power is likely to have a great deal of instability." DISCUSSION: The Quantitative Theory of Money (QTM) shows an economy's expenditure = its income. It states that money supply (Ms) times the money velocity (Mv) should equal the average price (Pa) times a country's economic output (Eo): (Ms)*(Mv) = (Pa)*(Eo). QTM deceptively implies that increasing one variable will cause your chosen variable to rise. Recent attempts to exponentially increase Ms "to increase Eo" can fail because Mv is in severe decline (St. Louis Federal Reserve: Money Velocity Curve 2021). Pa may also rise unexpectedly. Overdone, Ms increases create financial zombies & overstatement of irretrievably debt-financed Eo. Unfortunately, QTM's variables actually intertwine in a non-linear manner that second-order math (TGC's Chaos, Strogatz) predicts is subject to massive perturbation upon reaching Turing instability. Such perturbations, like the unexpected sudden declines in the Soviet Union (L15) & Japan (L9), result in massive economic reorganizations locked in by novel entrainments. Historically, those who control the entrainments require rigidly centralized power. Rodriguez (L23) feels that this time "...those changes will likely be a consensus of voices from around the world." Maybe. SUMMARY: (L22) "In fact, the more open the world is, then the heavier and faster can be the swings of positive and negative." This course will help you make better decisions. CON: The first two lectures are very basic. Guidebook: FAIR
Date published: 2021-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Substance, 2010 Production, Unfinished First, Economics was my undergraduate minor. I enjoy this subject but was not gifted enough to make it my major. This course has great substance. Professor Rodriguez, to me, seems more like an economic historian than an economist, which is fantastic. He is saying there is no one answer to why economics rise or fall. Instead, there are a lot of factors involved. He then presents these variables. It is as if he is trying to develop a unified theory of economic growth. Therefore, Professor Rodriguez doesn't act like an economist. Fantastic!!! He doesn't break everything down into equations. Fantastic, again!!! He doesn't share the latest research, or any research. Third fantastic!!! The negatives? First, this course was made in 2010 when the Great Courses started having the professor walk back and forth in the studio (boring). Second, there are few graphics (double boring). The Great Courses has really improved their use of graphics in presentations in recent years. Unfortunately, Professor Rodriguez didn't give his lectures or the course guidebook the attention they needed. He repeats himself in the lectures, and the guidebook isn't as clear, and as tied to the lectures, as it could be. This economic presentation and guidebook could have been better. All the above being said, I really benefited from this course. It is one of the few times an economics professor avoided the weeds to only share useful knowledge.
Date published: 2020-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why Economies Rise and Fall This is an excellent course. It provides great insight into the mistakes and successes over centuries of significant political societies including why complete reliance on a single type of economic philosophy may not be always successful.
Date published: 2020-03-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from What conclusions can we draw? Professor Rodriguez starts out with the premise that the source of economic success cannot be pigeonholed into this ism or that ism although he makes a case that a certain amount of free market capitalism is good. He also makes a convincing case that there is no sure fire formula to guarantee economic success. Unfortunately that is really as deep as the course goes. We get a fair survey of different types of economies. He notes that some really free market countries or areas , like Hong Kong do well while some hybrid countries like Japan also do well. He rightly points out that totally centrally run economies like the former USSR do poorly but neglects to note that both the USSR and China were severely handicapped by being run by unstable ( I refer the reader to the Great Courses wonderful “The Fall and Rise of China” and others) , totalitarian leaders like Stalin and Mao. My criticism in this area is that there is not enough analysis of national and global politics and its effect on economies. I was hoping for more from the course than the conclusion that productivity is important. Why are some cultures highly productive ( Japan. the Asian Tigers etc. and some others like Russia not so much).? In short I came away from the course with more questions than answers. I learned far more from other courses like the basic Economics 3rd edition and many others ( I am currently viewing the courses “Crashes and Crises” and “Advanced Investments”). Both excellent.
Date published: 2019-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Productivity! That’s the key! I found Prof. Rodriguez very engaging and clearly knowledgeable. He presents the material in understandable fashion at a proper pace, and connects dots well. The phenomenon that is modern China comes through in its proper context, and in contrast to less successful societies and systems. I feel I learned something in each lecture and I was sorry when it was finished.
Date published: 2019-02-13
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Sharpen your understanding of modern economics with Why Economies Rise or Fall. In these 24 lectures, Professor Peter Rodriguez guides you through a stimulating examination of what economists know about the elusive search for economic prosperity. You'll explore how countries as widely different as the United States and Vietnam have grown their economies, how China and India were able to recover from economic reverses, why the critical test of any economic policy is its ability to shape human behavior for everyone's benefit, and more. It's an illuminating learning experience that brings newfound clarity to a wealth of economic strategies and philosophies.


Peter Rodriguez

Our economic history is endlessly fascinating. Studying it and learning from it is critical to ensuring a robust future for the United States and the world.


Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Dr. Peter Rodriguez is Associate Dean for International Affairs and Associate Professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, where he teaches global macroeconomics and international business. The holder of a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, Professor Rodriguez has also taught at both that university and at Texas A&M, as well as at universities around the world, including on the water as a faculty member of Semester at Sea. His broad experience as a teacher—which has produced awards for teaching excellence wherever he has taught—goes hand-in-hand with significant real-world experience in the realm of business, which has drawn on his skills as both an educator and a practitioner.   Professor Rodriguez's private teaching engagements include work with the AES Corporation, Harris Corporation, Rolls Royce, and Visa, among other companies. He also worked for several years in the Global Energy Group at JPMorgan Chase, where his assignments centered on work for multinationals such as Royal Dutch Shell, Pennzoil, Apache Corporation, and Santa Fe Energy Resources. His current research interests include the interaction of globalization, economic development, and social institutions; the consequences of corruption for multinationals; and seed-stage finance in emerging markets.

By This Professor

From Free Markets to State Economies

01: From Free Markets to State Economies

In this introductory lecture, explore the variety of national approaches to managing economies and promoting better living standards. Also, begin to face the key central questions of why nations choose such approaches, the trade-offs between them, which ones work, and what lies ahead for each.

31 min
A Brief History of Economic Growth

02: A Brief History of Economic Growth

Grasp long-standing patterns of world and national growth and learn to meaningfully compare success and failure across nations and time. You begin with a brief history of economic growth around the world, with a focus on the pioneering work of its greatest chronicler, Angus Maddison.

30 min
Economic Growth and Human Behavior

03: Economic Growth and Human Behavior

Here, you begin to focus on microeconomics, learning how strategies and policies can influence an individual's decisions about investment, production, and exchange to generate economic value.

30 min
The Birth of the Western Free Market

04: The Birth of the Western Free Market

With the basics of growth now in hand, you're able to see how the Industrial Revolution ignited that process in the Western world, as well as how the writings of Adam Smith influenced for centuries after how we think about economics, the role of the state, and commerce.

31 min
American Economic Strategies

05: American Economic Strategies

You learn that while the United States is seen as a hallmark of free markets, its approach is actually a complex mix of state- and market-led strategies. You examine in particular how policy choices made during the recent crises may affect our future.

33 min
America and Europe-Divergent Approaches

06: America and Europe-Divergent Approaches

U.S. and western European economic strategies sharply diverged after World War II, particularly with regard to state involvement and social goals. Examine those diverging approaches, learning how their subsequent economic and social effects have informed economic theory and shaped current beliefs about which approach is better.

29 min
State-Led Theories of Economic Growth

07: State-Led Theories of Economic Growth

Dive into the details of "state-led" miracles of growth in economies as different as Japan, Soviet Russia, and China. Conclude with an examination of the risks and downsides of state-led growth and the enduring lessons of the "Japanese miracle."

30 min
The Secrets of Rapid Growth in Tiger Economies

08: The Secrets of Rapid Growth in Tiger Economies

The remarkable rise of the "Asian Tigers"—South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan—in the 1960s and '70s offer great hope for developing nations. But you learn that their methods and "secrets" often differ from popular recollection and don't always apply.

27 min
Lessons and Limits of Japan's Economic Model

09: Lessons and Limits of Japan's Economic Model

Why did the "Japanese miracle" come to such a crashing end, and what does it mean for the world? You delve deeply into the meaning of Japan's decade-plus recession, learning how state-led approaches to economic management—and their favor in emerging economies—were dramatically affected as a result.

31 min
From Closed to Open Economies

10: From Closed to Open Economies

A small economy today is not necessarily a long-term sentence. Analyze the amazing growth of India and China at both the macro- and microeconomic levels and gain fresh insights into how both managed to initiate rapid growth.

29 min
How Can We Manage Global Growth?

11: How Can We Manage Global Growth?

Does global growth need to be managed? Get closer to an answer by examining how spectacular growth in China, India, and other regions of the world led to imbalances, catching the world's financial markets unprepared for just how "flat" the global economy had become.

29 min
China's Policies and the World Economy

12: China's Policies and the World Economy

The most important economic event for the history of the 21st century has almost certainly already taken place. This lecture lays out the ways in which China's astonishing growth from 1978 to the present has affected the rest of the world economy and what its future growth will mean for the global economic structure.

29 min
Merging the Theories of East and West

13: Merging the Theories of East and West

There was no greater surprise in the 1990s than the sudden turn to growth in countries like India and Vietnam. See how these nations have merged theories from the West and East with their own unique histories to turn Communist and state-dominated economies into rapidly growing economies.

32 min
Lessons about Economic Success

14: Lessons about Economic Success

Take stock of what you've already learned by synthesizing five key lessons about the roots of economic success, examining issues like the pace of free trade and openness, investment, confidence, courage in reforming, and sustainability.

33 min
The Roots of Economic Failure

15: The Roots of Economic Failure

Economies that fail can provide lessons, too. Embark on a multilecture exploration of what those failures teach us by looking at the causes and effects of not saving or investing, as well as macroeconomic mismanagement, plutocratic strategies, local anticompetitive policies, and geographic hurdles.

31 min
Politics, Statecraft, and the Fate of Economies

16: Politics, Statecraft, and the Fate of Economies

Although economic theories tend to ignore problems of exploitation or the interests of hegemonic powers, their impact on economies can be profound. Gain a grasp of the role that "noneconomic theories" play in determining which nations win and which ones lose.

30 min
Corruption and Its Impact on Growth

17: Corruption and Its Impact on Growth

Corruption exists everywhere, but its substance—and impact in stifling growth and economic development—can vary widely. Gain insight into how corruption differs across borders and why it matters, as well as the challenge of combating something so hard to define, observe, or measure.

29 min
Informal, Inefficient Markets

18: Informal, Inefficient Markets

While open-air markets and small informal stores might be seen as cultural flavor, they often indicate an economy overburdened with regulations, business taxes, and other challenges to small business growth. Learn how they amount to a rejection of the state's "value proposition," lowering productivity and deterring growth.

28 min
Technology and the Instant Economy

19: Technology and the Instant Economy

Explore the profound effects of communications technologies on trade, labor markets, and the interconnectedness of financial markets, eradicating traditional barriers of time and distance across economies. Also, learn how a reality once only theorized brings with it not only opportunity but challenges and vulnerabilities, as well.

30 min
Possible Strains on Global Economic Growth

20: Possible Strains on Global Economic Growth

Has the pace of modern growth made the Malthusian nightmare more likely or less so? Examine the potential for exhausting our supplies of oil, drinking water, and arable land; the impact on nations; and whether globalization requires some nations to be left behind.

33 min
Latin America-Moving Away from Free Markets

21: Latin America-Moving Away from Free Markets

Despite their many successes, including those in China and India, free-market approaches have weakened significantly in the past two decades, particular in Latin America. Examine the roots of this dissatisfaction and how the region's left-leaning strategies might affect regional growth.

31 min
Financial Crises and Economic Theory

22: Financial Crises and Economic Theory

What are the implications of the global economic crisis of 2008–2009? Look at the hard questions raised by that crisis and the financial market interconnectedness blamed by many, including whether current economic theory is up to the challenges of this new order.

30 min
The Multipolar Economic World

23: The Multipolar Economic World

How will economic and financial power shift in the second decade of the 21st century? Analyze the emerging shift toward a multipolar global economy—with China's economic influence waxing, for example, while America's wanes—and its implications.

31 min
Driving Forces, Emerging Trends

24: Driving Forces, Emerging Trends

Gathering the threads of the previous lectures, pull together all you have learned to arrive at a strengthened understanding of the driving forces in economic growth, the trade-offs that all economies have faced, and the future of the world's major economic theories.

30 min