Principles of Macroeconomics

Purpose of Course  showclose

Economics is traditionally divided into two parts: microeconomics and macroeconomics.  The purpose of this course is to provide you with a fundamental understanding of the principles of macroeconomics.  Macroeconomists study how a country’s economy works and try to determine the best choices to improve the overall wellbeing of a nation.  Typical topics include inflation (the overall level of prices), employment, fiscal policy (government taxing and spending), and money and banking (interest rates and lending policies).  Individuals and firms need to consider how macroeconomic events will affect their own prosperity.  To better define macroeconomics, consider its distinction from microeconomics.  Imagine you are attempting to figure out how the price of a certain good (say, bread) has been determined.  Microeconomics would focus on how the supply of and the demand for bread determine its prices.  It would examine factors like the input prices and the consumer’s demand in order to determine the current price for bread.  Macroeconomics, on the other hand, would study the determination of prices at all levels (inflation, total output and productivity, etc.) to examine its impact on the prices of goods. 

To test particular policies and ideas, or to find out the causes of good macroeconomic performance, we need to have some measure of overall economic activity.  For this reason, macroeconomics uses aggregates (totals) to measure key concepts such as national income, output, unemployment, inflation, and business cycles (periodic expansions and contractions of economic activity).

By studying macroeconomics and understanding the critical ideas and tools used to measure economic data, you will have a better perspective on the issues and problems discussed in contemporary economics.  This course will ask you to think critically about the national and global issues we currently face.  It will also introduce the tools and principles you need to draw your own conclusions in an informed manner.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to ECON102.  Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements. 

This course uses a variety of tools to explain how the economy works.  Pay close attention to the definitions of key words and take note of how they are used in an economic context.  Graphs and charts explain trends and present complex sets of information in a visual format.  Math is used to develop models, measure the effect of policies, and help make decisions.  This combination of words, graphs, and math to explain the same concept can make economics a challenging area of study.  As you work through the course, think about how you perceive the information and other possible ways to explain ideas.

Course Designers: Jubeet Kaur, Robert (Bob) McKizzie, EdD, and Tony Pizur 

Peer Reviewers: Heather Luea, Edward Hoang, and Robert (Bob) McKizzie

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different, free online materials.  The course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: To complete this course, students will need to read the information in each unit.  Students will gain knowledge and reinforcement of course concepts by completing the assessments, quizzes, and tests that accompany the assigned reading material.  You will notice that most of the assessments are listed in Unit 1.  Careful attention to Unit 1 is important, because it establishes the basis for latter units.  You will need to complete the following:

  • Subunit 1.1.1 Quiz
  • Subunit 1.1.2 Test 1 and Test 2
  • Subunit 1.3.2 Test 1 and Test 2
  • Subunit 1.4 Quiz
  • Subunit 1.4.2 Quiz
  • Subunit 2.2.5 Homework 1
  • Subunit 3.1 Review Questions
  • Subunit 3.1.4 Quiz
  • Subunit 3.3 Test
  • Subunit 4.1 Quiz
  • Subunit 4.2.4 Quiz
  • Subunit 5.2 Assessment
  • Subunit 5.3.3 Test 1 and Test 2
  • Subunit 6.2 Quiz 1 and Quiz 2
  • Subunit 8.4 Quiz
  • Subunit 10.4.2 Quiz and Test
  • The Final Exam 

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  The assessments, quizzes, and tests will help you to prepare for the Final Exam.  Final Exam scores will be tabulated upon completion.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 89 hours to complete.  Each unit contains a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you to plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 10 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 5 hours) on Monday and Tuesday; subunit 1.2 (a total of 2 hours) on Wednesday; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: As you complete the readings, it is advised that you take careful notes related to the main concepts.  You may also consider creating a glossary of the different economic terms used in this course.  The notes and glossary will be useful to you as you study for your Final Exam.

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course
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Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Discuss key macroeconomic concerns, including national income accounting, saving and investment, and market forces.
  • Describe the determinants of total output and the ways to measure nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as real GDP.
  • Compare and contrast definitions of total employment and unemployment, the three forms of unemployment, and inflation.
  • Explain different ways of computing the general movement in prices, and define the relationship between inflation and unemployment.
  • Explain the model of aggregate demand and aggregate supply.
  • Analyze the government's role in the economy and examine how it uses its fiscal policy and monetary policy to influence macroeconomic variables in order to enable macro and micro economic stability.
  • Describe the mechanics of money supply in detail.  They will specifically be able to identify different types of money; explain the money creation process, the money multiplier, and the process of interest rate determination; and discuss the role of the Federal Reserve System and its tools of monetary policy.
  • Identify and analyze major theories of economic growth.
  • Analyze various strategies for developing of less-developed nations.
  • Present the concepts behind international trade.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√       Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics from “The Core Program” of the Economics discipline.

Preliminary Information

  • Principles of Macroeconomics

    You will be prompted to read sections of this book throughout the course.  You may choose to download the text in full now and skip to the appropriate section as prompted by the resource boxes below, or you can simply download the specific sections of the text assigned as you progress through each resource box below.

    Reading: Principles of Macroeconomics (PDF)

    Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

Unit Outline show close