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Econ 113: American Economic History: Mock Final Exam

Identifications: do all (1/3 of exam):

  1. The Cold War against the Soviet Union.
  2. The Federal Reserve
  3. Keynesian economics
  4. Medicare and Medicaid
  5. Social Security
  6. GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)/WTO
  7. Productivity slowdown
  8. Phillips Curve
  9. Gilded Age
  10. Teachers, nurses, waitresses, secretaries…
  11. Mass production
  12. Freely-available land
  13. 1492
  14. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  15. Henry Ford
  16. Gold Standard
  17. Encomienda
  18. Navigation Acts
  19. Cotton Gin
  20. Glorious Revolution (in Britain)
  21. Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio River System
  22. American System of Manufactures
  23. Canal Building Boom
  24. Middle Passage

Short Answers: do 4 of 6 (1/3 or exam):

  1. The past third of a century has seen, first, a significant slowdown in productivity growth (leading to a great deal of worry about whether there are indeed rapidly-approaching “limits to growth”) and then a significant speed-up in growth (leading to a great deal of exuberance, irrational and otherwise, at the end of the 1990s). Briefly discuss the causes of both the productivity slowdown starting in the 1970s and the productivity speedup starting in the 1990s.

  2. Why did the European settler population in what was to become the United States grow so fast in the two centuries after 1600? Why were there so few indigenous inhabitants to resist the occupation of the land that was to become the United States by European settlers?

  3. Why would an international trade economist like David Ricardo have thought that the United States would and should become a very large almost entirely agrarian civilization--a giant Canada? It was clear by 1900 that David Ricardo was wrong? Why was he wrong?

  4. The story of the United States is one of extraordinary economic growth—the United States today is still, by a substantial margin, the most productive economy in the world. Which factor would you assess as most important of all in driving U.S. economic success? Why?

  5. Why did Alexander Hamilton (and others) believe that America's national debt could, under the right circumstances, be a national blessing?

  6. In your view, is U.S. economic policymaking today still shaped by the memory of the Great Depression and a fear of another such, or has the memory died away so far that it is no longer a serious consideration?

Essays: do one (1/3 of exam):

  1. Outline the major changes in the economic role of women in America in the twentieth century. Draw up a balance sheet: in your estimation, which changes have been broadly good? Which changes have been broadly bad?

  2. Why was the Great Depression the only great depression that the U.S. has suffered? What are the chances that the U.S. will suffer another economic catastrophe like the Great Depression in the next half century?

  3. Sketch the economic role of African-Americans in the United States from colonial times to today. What were the major factors and processes that kept African-Americans relatively poor over the past three centuries? To what extent are these processes still operating today? And, in your view, how much longer is the shadow cast by past discrimination likely to last?

  4. The federal government today plays an enormous role in the economy. Outline what that role is, and how it has grown since independence. Assess what pieces of the federal government's role in the economy are positive and what pieces are negative.