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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
Economics 138: Financial and Behavioral Economics
Instructor: Raymond J. Hawkins (
This is an intermediate course in nancial economics. We will cover the theory and
analytical models used to include cognitive and social psychology in the investment pro-
cess. Important themes in the course include risk, return, the limits of arbitrage and social
This is a quantitative subject. Calculus, statistics, and microeconomics are prerequisites.
We will use calculus, statistics and analytical tools developed during the course. Use of a
spreadsheet package like Excel and a statistical package such as R will be important for the
homework assignments.
The course requirements are (i) ten graded problem sets, (ii) two midterm exams, and
(iii) a nal exam. Some of the problem sets will involve data work. Your course grade will
be determined as follows:
Problem Sets 20%
Midterms 40% (20% each)
Final 40%
The rst midterm will be in class on Thursday February 20; the second midterm will be
in class on Thursday March 20. The nal exam will be from 3:00-6:00 p.m. on Thursday
May 15.
Meeting Times, Discussion Sections and GSIs
The class will meet for lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:302:00 in 10 Evans.
In addition, sections will meet once a week for one hour. The GSIs for this course are
Je Kang (, Edward Kung (,
and Weijia Li ( Sections will review background material, explain
computational & analytical techniques, and extend & amplify concepts introduced in the
lectures. The GSIs will also hold weekly oce hours. Your rst point of contact for questions
regarding course material is your GSI. If the sections or meetings with the GSIs do not
resolve your questions, you are welcome to stop by my oce (675 Evans) during oce hours
(Tuesday and Thursday from 2:303:30) or at other times by appointment.
Texts and Other Reading
The textbook for the course is
Inecient Markets by Andrei Shleifer.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
and readings will also be assigned from journal articles in a Course Reader available at
Copy Central on Bancroft Avenue.
I will assign weekly readings and expect that you will read the material as the course
proceeds. Other works that you may nd interesting include:
M. Granovetter and R. Swedberg, eds., The Sociology of Economic Life, Third Edition
(Westview Press, 2011)
R. H. Thaler, ed., Advances in Behavioral Finance (Russell Sage, 1993).
R. H. Thaler, ed., Advances in Behavioral Finance: Volume 2 (Russell Sage, 2005).
D. Helbing, Quantitative Sociodynamics: Stochastic Methods and Models of Social In-
teraction Processes, Second Edition (Springer-Verlag, 2010)
C. Castelllano, S. Fortunato and V. Loreto, Statistical Physics of Social Dynamics,
Reviews of Modern Physics, 81, (2) 591646 (2009).
Lecture slides will be posted on the bSpace course website.
Learning Goals
As part of Berkeleys Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI), the Economics
Department has developed learning goals for the Economics major. The learning goals for
this course include
Critical Thinking Skills: CT1: Apply economic analysis to evaluate everyday prob-
lems; CT2: Apply economic analysis to evaluate specic policy proposals; CT3: Com-
pare two or more arguments that have dierent conclusions to a specic issue or prob-
lem; CT4: Understand the role of assumptions in arguments.
Quantitative Skills: QT1: Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate
an economic argument; QT2: Interpret statistical results; QT3: Conduct appropriate
statistical analysis of data, and explain the statistical problems involved.
Problem Solving Skills: PS1: Solve problems that have clear solutions; PS2: Pro-
pose solutions for problems that do not have clear answers, and indicate under what
conditions they may be viable solutions.
Specialized Knowledge in elds: SP1: In specic content areas (elds) of eco-
nomics, develop deeper critical and quantitative thinking skills and apply problem-
solving skills to complex problems.
Communication Skills: CS1: Communicate eectively in written, spoken, and
graphical form about specic economic issues; CS2: Formulate a well-organized written
argument that states assumptions and hypotheses, which are supported by evidence.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
Lifelong Learning Skills: LL2: Know how to locate and use primary data sources
(e.g., BLS Household Survey, UN Human Development Index). LL3: Understand and
evaluate current economic events and new economic ideas.
Course Outline
1. Introduction: Behavioral nance in historical context. Keynes on investor psychol-
ogy. Granovetter on social psychology. Osborne on Brownian motion in security prices
and the antecedents of algorithmic trading.
2. The Ecient Market Hypothesis: Its impact on nancial economics and subse-
quent critiques.
3. Inecient Markets: Classic examples of deviations from expected market behavior
including momentum, technical trading, dual-listed companies and tech carve-outs.
The concepts of noise and limited arbitrage in the development of explanatory modes.
4. Prospect Theory: How the model which elegantly capture[s] the experimental evi-
dence on risk taking, including the documented violations of expected utility describes
investor decision making.
5. Behavioral Corporate Finance: How the social psychology of workers and the man-
agerial psychology of leaders informs the observed actions within and of corporations.
6. Neuroeconomics: On the basis of our biases. The neuroscience of decision making.
7. Opinion Formation & Dynamics: The basis of herd behavior and the sociodynam-
ics of group opinion formation.
This syllabus is a living document and subject to revision. Whenever the syllabus is
revised it will be posted to bSpace and an email will be sent to all class participants informing
them of the posting and indicating what has been revised. This version of the syllabus was
generated on January 20, 2014.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
Important Class Policies
1. Attendance will generally not be taken in class. You need not contact me or your GSI
if you will miss class. There will be no unannounced quizzes. However, much of the
mid-term and nal exam material will be based on lectures and discussions
in class.
2. Personal electronics:
Laptops should not be open in class. They are distracting to those around you.
Cell phones should be silenced or in vibrate mode: preferably o.
Texting during the lecture should be kept to an absolute minimum.
3. Email. Your rst point of contact for questions regarding course material is your GSI.
I am available to answer questions about course policy and course material. I will try
to respond within 48 hours of receiving your email.
4. Code of Ethics. You are expected to know the Berkeley Campus Code of Conduct
and to conduct yourself in this class accordingly. In particular, all forms of academic
misconduct including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating
academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Please review the denitions of cheating
posted at The Center for Student Conduct.
Any evidence of cheating will result in a score of zero (0) on that assignment or exam.
Cheating on the nal exam will result in an F for the course. Incidences of cheating
will also be reported to Student Judicial Aairs.
5. Honor Code. The student community at UC Berkeley has adopted the following
Honor Code: As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with hon-
esty, integrity, and respect for others. This is new this year. The new Honor
Code, as distinct from the Student Code of Conduct, is intended to provide a vehicle for
campus-wide awareness and discussion of issues of academic integrity. In the coming
months you will notice mention of the Honor Code in a number of contexts, including
student orientation and signage in classrooms. You can nd more information on the
Honor Code website created by the ASUC, complete with FAQs.
6. Problem sets are due no later than the beginning of class on the due date. You must
submit your own work. Copied problem sets will receive a score of zero (0). Graded
problem set will be returned in your discussion sections.
7. DSP exam accommodation. If you are entitled to special accommodation on exams
let me know as soon as possible; preferably no later than the end of the second week
of the semester.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
8. Missed Exams. There are no make-up exams. If you miss a midterm you must
contact me before the exam with an excuse that meets University standards.
be prepared to provide the documentation to support your excuse. If you do not have
an appropriate, documented excuse you will receive a zero for the midterm. If you miss
the nal with an excuse that meets University standards you will receive an incomplete
for the course and will be required to take the nal for the course during the fall of
2014 in order to get credit for the class. Please take the necessary steps to ensure that
you do not have travel plans that conict with the nal as this will not be considered
an acceptable excuse for missing the nal.
9. Exam regrade requests. The GSIs take great care in grading exams. If you believe
there was an error in adding up the point on your exam, simply point this out to your
GSI at the end of section when you receive your exam back. If you believe there to be
an error in the grading of your exam, here are the steps you must follow:
(a) Within 7 days of the time that the exams are rst returned in section) give your
GSI your exam and a written (i.e. word processed) request listing the question(s)
you think should be regraded and an explanation of why. Do not change the
answers on your exam; type out your request separately and give both your request
and your original exam to your GSI.
(b) Your GSI reserves the right to regrade your entire exam, not just the question(s)
mentioned in your regrade request. Scores on any question can be changed (in-
creased or decreased). It is possible for you to end up with fewer points at the
end of the regrade than you had originally.
(c) I have advised the GSIs to reject an regrade request that is for fewer than 3 points
per question.
10. Course Grading. Your course letter grade will be determined solely from the weighted-
average percentage of your graded assignments & exams using a curve. Your nal exam
will be held by the economics department for 12 months. Final exams cannot be re-
evaluated once grades are submitted to the Registrars Oce. You can look at your
graded exam in 508-1 Evans Hall, generally beginning about 3 weeks after the end of
the semester.
11. P/NP Option. Students taking the course under the P/NP option must earn at least
a C to pass the course.
Religious holidays not recognized by the University must accompanied by a letter from a religious leader.
Schedules for ocial team events must be provided to me by the end of the second full week of the semester.
A death in the family must be documented. Illness or injury must be accompanied by a note from a physician
or clinic, on their letterhead. The Tang Center can provide you with documentation.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
Important Campus Policies and Guidelines
In compliance with Education code, Section 92640(a), it is the ocial policy of the Uni-
versity of California at Berkeley to permit any student to undergo a test or examination,
without penalty, at a time when that activity would not violate the students religious
creed, unless administering the examination at an alternative time would impose an
undue hardship that could not reasonably have been avoided. Requests to accommo-
date a students religious creed by scheduling tests or examinations at alternative times
should be submitted directly to the faculty member responsible for administering the
examination by the second week of the semester.
Reasonable common sense, judgment and the pursuit of mutual goodwill should result
in the positive resolution of scheduling conicts. The regular campus appeals process
applies if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be achieved.
The link to this policy is available in the Religious Creed section of the Academic
Calendar webpage.
The Academic Senate has established Guidelines Concerning Scheduling Conicts with
Academic Requirements to address the issue of conicts that arise between extracur-
ricular activities and academic requirements. They specically concern the schedules
of student athletes, student musicians, those with out-of-town interviews, and other
students with activities (e.g., classes missed as the result of religious holy days) that
compete with academic obligations. The guidelines assign responsibilities as follows:
It is the instructors responsibility to give students a schedule, available on the
syllabus in the rst week of instruction, of all class sessions, exams, tests, project
deadlines, eld trips, and any other required class activities.
It is the students responsibility to notify the instructor(s) in writing by the second
week of the semester of any potential conict(s) and to recommend a solution, with
the understanding that an earlier deadline or date of examination may be the most
practicable solution.
It is the students responsibility to inform him/herself about material missed be-
cause of an absence, whether or not he/she has been formally excused.
The link to the complete guidelines is available on the Academic Senate website.
A useful checklist to help instructors and students comply with the policy is available
on the Oce of Educational Development website.
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Department of Economics
Econ 138 Course Outline
Spring 2014
In Fall 2009, the campus instituted a Reading, Review, Recitation (RRR) period before
nal exams. For the coming semesters, please keep these dates in mind:
In Spring 2014, classes end on Friday, May 2, 2014. RRR Week will take place between
the last day of classes (May 2) and the rst day of the nal exam period (May 12, 2014).
Please note that the regular semester classroom will NOT be available during the RRR
week unless the instructor requests it through the departmental scheduler.
RRR Week is intended to provide students time to prepare for exams, to work on
papers and projects, and to participate in optional review sessions and meetings with
instructors. Presentations of capstone projects, oral presentations, and performances
are permitted, although exibility in scheduling may be required to accommodate
students individual schedules. The introduction of new material is not permitted.
Mandatory exams or quizzes and other mandatory activities are also not permitted,
with some very limited exceptions (capstone presentations, for example).
Please keep in mind that nal exams and papers or projects substituting for nal exams
may not be due before the nal exam week.
Detailed, updated guidelines on permissible organized activities during the RRR week
are available on the Oce of the Registrars website.
In addition, the Oce of Educational Development has prepared some suggestions on
making RRR week productive for instructors and students. If you have tips or ideas
you would like to have added to this page, please contact the Oce of Educational
In Spring 2010, the campus instituted a new policy that graduation ceremonies must
take place after the conclusion of nal examinations, with the exception of professional
school ceremonies with graduate students only.
For Spring 2014, nal exams end at 10 pm on Friday, May 16, 2014.
In Spring 2014, the Graduates Convocation will be held Saturday May 17, 2014. For
more information, please see the Commencement Convocation Events Oce website.
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