Welcome &
Review of Econ 50
Christopher Makler
Stanford University Department of Economics
Econ 51: Lecture 1
Today's Agenda
Part 1: Course Overview
Part 2: Review of Econ 50
Who is the Econ 51 teaching team?
What is this course about?
When will we study each topic?
Why is this class important?
How do we all succeed?
Good 1  Good 2 Space
Budget Sets
Indifference Curves
Optimal Choice
Demand
Who
Chris Makler
 B.A.: Humanities, Yale
 Ph.D.: Economics, Penn
(search & matching theory)
 10 years in the education technology industry
 Teaching Econ 50 & 51 since 2015
 Office: Landau Econ Building, Room 144
Welcome to Econ 50!
Frank Wolak
Director of Undergraduate Studies
wolak@stanford.edu
Welcome to the Econ Major!
Joanne DeMarchena
Undergraduate Student Service Officer
jdemar@stanford.edu
TA Intros
Econ Department Peer Advising
Other Resources
VPTL Peer Tutoring
What
Three Central Themes

Efficiency and Equity

Time

Information
When
Weeks 12
Unit I: Exchange Optimization
Tuesday 10/19
Midterm (closedbook exam, in class)
Weeks 57
Unit III: Game Theory
Weeks 810
Unit IV: Asymmetric Information and Mechanism Design
Friday 12/10
Final Exam
Quarter Rhythm
Weeks 34
Unit II: Efficiency and Equity
Sunday 10/4Monday 10/5
Checkpoint 1 (openbook exam, on your time)
Monday 11/1Tuesday 11/2
Checkpoint 2
Why
How
Please be fully present in lecture.
No phones.
No tablets (except to take notes on with a stylus).
No laptops.
I'm not a monster. There will be a break in the middle of each class to connect with your digital world.
Before Lecture
 Read the textbook and take online quizzes on the major points to be prepared for learning in lecture
Lecture
 Presents new ideas
 Illustrate those ideas with simple examples
After Lecture
 Exercises for each lecture are designed to help you understand nuance
 More complex examples and applications than in lectures; work on connecting the dots
After Each Unit
 Exam questions will ask you to apply concepts from lecture to new situations you haven't seen before.
 Use checkpoints to solidify your knowledge
 Use midterm and final to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities
Grading Policy

This course is not graded on a curve.
If everyone gets an A, everyone gets an A; if everyone gets a B, everyone gets a B. 
Reading quizzes: 10% of your grade. One for each lecture; lowest 5 dropped.

Problem sets: 25% of your grade. One for each lecture; lowest 5 dropped.

Checkpoints: 15% of your grade. Higher score = 10% of grade, lower score = 5%.

Midterm/final: 50% of your grade. Higher score = 30% of grade, lower score = 20%.
Course Web Sites
All content is posted/linked within Canvas.
Each lecture has its own module with everything you need to know about that lecture.
Please use Ed Discussions to ask questions (not email).
Please upload your homework to Gradescope by 8am the morning after it's due.
The Small Print
 Names and pronouns
 Students with documented disabilities
 Stanford University Honor Code
 Econ Department syllabus
 Humor gone wrong
Review of Econ 50
Good 1  Good 2 Space
Two "Goods" : Good 1 and Good 2
1
Budget Constraints
2
Preferences
Definition Review:
Indifference Curves
Preferred/Dispreferred Sets
Marginal Rate of Substitution
3
Utility Functions
4
Indifference curve is
steeper than the budget line
Indifference curve is
flatter than the budget line
Moving to the right
along the budget line
would increase utility
Moving to the left
along the budget line
would increase utility
More willing to give up good 2
than the market requires
Less willing to give up good 2
than the market requires
The “Gravitational Pull" Towards Optimality
POINT A
POINT B
5
IF...
THEN...
The consumer's utility function is "well behaved"  smooth, strictly convex, and strictly monotonic
The indifference curves do not cross the axes
The budget line is a simple straight line
The optimal consumption bundle will be characterized by two equations:
More generally: the optimal bundle may be found using the Lagrange method
Optimal Choice
6
Optimal Choice
Otherwise, the optimal bundle may lie at a corner,
a kink in the indifference curve, or a kink in the budget line.
No matter what, you can use the "gravitational pull" argument!
 Write an equation for the tangency condition.
 Write an equation for the budget line.
 Solve for \(x_1^*\) or \(x_2^*\).
 Plug value from (3) into either equation (1) or (2).
Solving for Optimality when Calculus Works
(Gross) demand functions are mathematical expressions
of endogenous choices as a function of exogenous variables (prices, income).
(Gross) Demand Functions
8
For a CobbDouglas utility function of the form
Special Case: The “CobbDouglas Rule"
The demand functions will be
That is, the consumer will spend fraction \(a/(a+b)\) of their income on good 1, and fraction \(b/(a+b)\) of their income on good 2.
This shortcut is very much worth memorizing! We'll use it a lot in the next few weeks in place of going through the whole optimization process.
9
Functional forms for utility functions:
1. Weighted average of some common
"onegood" utility function \(v(x)\):
2. "Quasilinear": one good enters linearly
(in this case \(x_2\)), another nonlinearly:
3. Perfect complements:
not used as often, but helpful
CobbDouglas (decreasing MRS)
Weak Substitutes (decreasing MRS)
Perfect Substitutes (constant MRS)
Concave (increasing MRS)
To Do Before Next Class
Be sure you're signed up for a section.
Do the reading and the quiz  due at 10:45am on Thursday!
Look over the summary notes for this class.
Econ 51  Fall 21  Lecture 1
By Chris Makler
Econ 51  Fall 21  Lecture 1
Welcome and Review of Econ 50
 531