Thursday, September 28, 2006

The one in which Szerelem realises she is royally screwed.

I shouldn’t even be blogging. But after spending the whole morning working on problems like the one below (and that’s an easy one), I desperately need a break.
I have blogged about the pain that is my advanced macroeconomics class. But as of now it’s simply killing me. I have my midterm early next week and I thought it would be ok. Despite that fact that its 40% of my grade. And then at the end of class this week I asked my prof “It’s an open book exam, right?” and he looked at me with raised eyebrows and as if I had gone mad and said “No”. How was I to know??!! He never specified and in all the courses I have done under him the exams have always been open book. Well, that was that.
C and I looked at each other. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Not helping is the fact that there are people in my class who can solve lagrangians mentally. I mean what kind of alien freaks are they?? Anyway, I have till Tuesday to study like mad and pray that this exam doesn’t turn into the unmitigated disaster I have a feeling it will be. So, wish me luck!!!

TR, in response to your comment here, my current love for econs is a grand total of zilch. Partly because I spent the most frustrating last two hours trying to mathematically derive the econometric regression equation for growth. And somewhere in the midst of it realized that Edith Piaf on my ipod was crooning La Vie On Rose. Even the universe was conspiring to mock me. And then, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. So not true. What I regret is thinking I am smarter than I actually am and taking a grad school course. GAH!!!

I also ditched M and cancelled our meeting for tomorrow. Because, I explained, having a relaxed conversation is best saved for a time when I don’t have integrals and difference equations floating in front of my eyes.
M: So, next you’ll tell me you saw an indifference curve crossing the road?
Szerelem: That is SO not funny. Do you realize this exam is half my grade??!!
M: What’s the point of doing well in a subject when it turns you into such a paranoid maniac? You are already complaining you don’t have enough time to read. I can imagine you’ll soon start gushing about Jeffrey Sachs instead of Albert Camus.
S: What?? No!! Sachs is an idiot. And undergrad econs was fun. This is different.
M: Well, videogames are fun too and less stressful.
S: I am totally not in the mood to have this conversation again. I need to study.
M: Fine. Run along. Channel your inner geek. I know you can do it.
S: *groans* Can you not mock me??!!!

Before I take off to solve more economics. The New Yorker has a really nice article on string theory and the problems physics is facing now. (Also, read Brian Greene people. He’s brilliant.) C and I were talking about physics in macro class this week. How math is the language of physics. How physicists are driven by a certain sense of ‘beauty’ and ‘elegance’. And as rudimentary as my physics is even I can see the beauty in E = mc2.
It may be my frustration of having spent most of the day working with clucky mathematical equations, but beauty in economics? I just don’t see it.


Tabula Rasa said...

thanks for bringing back those memories. NOT. grad econ is very different from undergrad econ. i know people who sailed through their undergrads, joined the grad program at the same school, and flunked out within a year. that said, a lot of it is in the mind -- tell yourself you'll be able to do it, and you will. worked for me, at any rate. just. never underestimate the power of delusion :-)

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA. u are screwed.

i love lagrangians, they are so pretty to write, no? and i love people who can do lagrangians mentally, absolute hawtness!


all i can say is, serves you right for liking your macro prof so much to make illogical decisions. HAH!

wildflower seed said...

Hi there
Got here from Tabula Rasa's. Have you read a book by Avinash Dixit called "Optimization in Economic Theory"? If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the math, I highly recommend it.

If you understand the basics of static optimization, but worried about how to do the dynamic stuff, read Chapters 10 and 11 of that book.

By the way, phase diagrams are a tool economists have borrowed from physics. At some level economics - especially macro - is just applied physics. So if you are able to see the beauty in physics, "apply" it to economics. ;)

~c~ said...

shit man! i always knew the macro stuff he was doing in class was waaay too scientific... now i know it's really third-class physics in disguise... wtf! ewwww... =P

so, how does it feel like knowin your beloved macro is actually physics and ure beloved prof is actually a physicist-in-disguise lookin smart in a social science discipline?? lols...

Panacea said...

I just started doing it as an undergrad degree a few weeks ago and now you've got me all terrified. *sniff* I am now officially scared!

Anonymous said...

macro is a load of balls anyway. you're trying to explain a complex intricate interconnected web of events using mathematical tools that might work in a one-to-one relationship, but there is no way you can model all the complexities that are actually there.

macroeconomists make a thousand assumptions before they begin, and assume things away every time they encounter an obstacle. which is why, for those to whom it doesn't come intuitively, it is incomprehensible.

also, it is an attempt to provide a theoretical basis for what is fully a political tool. The reasons for tinkering with exchange rates and interest rates and government deficits are as much to do with the party in power and its compulsions as with first order conditions in hamiltonians. perhaps even more.

i end almost like i began: the study of macroeconomics is balls. but hang in there.

Szerelem said...

TR: "i know people who sailed through their undergrads, joined the grad program at the same school, and flunked out within a year."
I know that and have been trying to supress it in my consciousness...thanks for reminding me. NOT!!!!
Yes, am trying very hard to delude myself that I can indeed ace grad macro. Lets see how well it works. =(

Grace: You're mean. HHT is still good. Its the macro thats gotten bad.

Ventilatorblues: Thanks for the advice! I used Dixit for Game but haven't read "Optimization in Economic Theory".
You know maybe if I was studying physics I might not have seen the beauty in it. =P
So perhaps I need to be outside of academic economics to find the beauty in it. Sigh!

Szerelem said...

C:I feel so thugged man!! I mean if I wanted to study Physics I would've done my undergrad in it right...whats this passing off of physics as macro??!!
As for HHT, do you think his being a physicist in disguise has something to do with the checked shirts and right out of the '80s style??
Also, do you know a certain someone in class did two years of theoretical physics before shifting to econs?? No wonder they are sailing and we were/are fucked. Also suggests that there's some truth to M's theory about the people who join econs.
Btw, I can't believe you totally ditched me and that I have to suffer through class alone!! And no more suppers!! Now I go straight from tuesday night macro to wednesday morning public sector econs!!
*SOB* *SOB*!!

Panacea: Oh no! Let me not scare you!! Undergrad macro is ok. Really. And it's actually fun. But I'm convinced studying econs follows the law diminishing utility. When you start out its great and the returns are really high. By the time you reach the place I am at they have turned negative.

Cyberswami: I think macro provides useful tools in trying to understand in general the working of an economy. But I think the more you study it the less value it provides....maybe I'm just being judgemental. *shrugs*
But I totally agree with you about the importance of intuition. Sometimes it just hits you and you can model a problem straight away and at other times you can be stuck for hours on a question.
Am trying to hang in there =(

Rimi said...

Dammit, I walked into yet another smurt pipple hangout. How do I do it everytime? I shouldn't let comments like this lead me :-)

On a more empathetic not, luck luck luck!

sinusoidally said...

Oh no...I never had an option of taking an open book exam in my many many years of schooling but I can see how not having that option can bring some stress. G'luck!

Szerelem said...

Rimi: Thanks!! and I can't speak for the others but I definitely don't qualify as smart....!!! =D

sinusoidally: Well, I don't think you end up using you're books much during an open book exam anyway....but there is the comfort of knowing that they're there!
And thanks for the luck!

Alex said...

I too am passionate about the discipline.
All the best!

Alex said...

I feel that having an open book test is harder than a closed book one!

GhostOfTomJoad said...

In school, I went to considerable lengths to avoid both mathematics and economics. I hated both.

About the open book exam...hmm,I can see how it makes life so difficult :-)

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

This whole routine of using calculus and "statistical mawd'ling" is such a load of crap. Especially when they end up saying earnestly that "we cannot draw any causal correlations".
Then why waste our time, you fuckwits?

Tabula Rasa said...

"causal correlation". thanks for the laugh.

MockTurtle said...

I've always preferred the closed book exams (although of course, with advance knowledge that it was going to be closed book). The solutions are usually less obscure.
I know crap about eco, so won't attempt to give any advice here. Best of luck though.

jerry said...

Nice stuff, I must confess that the sum seemed extremly frightful. Cheers!

Szerelem said...

Alex: passion for economics is dying a painful death. Open books are harder than closed book exams but it doesn't help that my closed book exam would have been pretty undoable even with all my books around. =(

Ghost: You are smart. Exams suck period.

AQC: Oh, how you make me laugh - in agreement!!

TR: =D

MT: My exam was disgustingly obscure. I would have preferred an open book obscure exam anyday.

Jerry: =P The sum isn't all that bad. You should have seen my exam!

Szerelem said...

The exams was absolutely craptacular. And the worst of it is I actually studied for it. Makes me feel like such a dullard. Sigh.

Before the exam I was so sure that I would atleast get the Solow growth models correct. First two questions - Solow model. Completely vague. Three pages of false starts scratched out.I hate it when exams start off crap - it just went downhill from there...
Sigh, sigh, sigh......

Alex said...

So which area in economics do you intend to master??

Tabula Rasa said...

a strategy that worked for me was not do the questions in order but to start off with a question that i really knew. at least that got some momentum going, and a little cash in the bank.

Szerelem said...

I am still finishing my undergraduate degree. I took the masters course out of pure interest, curiousity and sadistic tendencies. But I do like macro.

Szerelem said...

TR: Well, we had to build the models up from scratch and I was pretty sure I wouldnt mess up Solow. So it was only half way through the question that I realised that I wasnt able to solve it. =(