Markets and Market Failures

This course provides a critical introduction to the creation and operation of markets, and assesses the criteria and circumstances under which they perform well or poorly. Rather than seeing the market and state as discrete entities, this course starts from the premise that they are fundamentally intertwined: the state creates, regulates, and subsidizes market activity. Participants will read, critique, discuss, and debate a variety of theories about and perspectives on markets—from economic geography, urban planning, economic sociology, economics, and law—and evaluate how these works might inform our understandings of contemporary urban issues, particularly around the ways the selective absence or presence of the state shapes the geographies and the functioning of markets. These debates will be rooted in current topical issues such as the global financial crisis, predatory lending in the housing market, transportation network companies and public goods, climate change and the economics of the Green New Deal, tax avoidance and real estate, rent control, antitrust legislation and online retailers, and labor markets and migration. 

Beyond stimulating critical and constructive dialogues about the substance, utility, and limitations of market ideology and activity, an overarching goal of the seminar is to demonstrate the wide-ranging and significant influence that political-economic approaches have in urban planning and to inspire students to advance this line of thinking through their own professional lives and research projects. 

This course is open to all students but recommended for MUP and MDES real estate students. No prior exposure to economics is required.

Jointly Offered Course: HKS API-105B