Plain Sense Economics

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The OLLI Home Page gives general information on the course.

In the top menu find the right class - Part 1 or Part 2 or Healthcare. Each of the individual class sessions have pages with more information and resources.

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Contact Information - Doug Gentry


Phone: 541-261-8501


We all know that the world has shrunk, or in the words of Thomas Friedman, it has become flat. We'll look at the level of imports and exports, talk about the theory and the reality of global trade, and also consider changes in currency exchange.

Question 1: What are the arguments, pro and con, for greater trade among nations and outsourcing?

Question 2: Will the U.S. dollar continue to be the de facto world currency; will its value hold; and should we care?

Early philosophers, in Classical times, thought poorly of traders, regarding them as necessary evil. The growth of cities required trade to overcome the gap in production from the countryside. Religious leaders mocked and scorned traders. Not until the 15th and 16th centuries did major countries embrace trade, and then only on their own terms.

The economic theory around trade is pretty clear – trade is good and often benefits both sides. The political opinion is more divided. Your instructor’s position is that trade among nations is inevitable and that efforts to limit it will usually backfire and hurt the economy. YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary

The US dollar is the de facto world currency, for better or for worse. It’s value is driven by demand for US products and the interest in investing in the US. A strong dollar feels good, but hurts exports.

Economic Concepts We Will Cover

  • Balance of Payments
  • Comparative Advantage
  • Arguments for Protectionism
  • Demand and Supply of Currency
  • Purchasing Power Parity (if we have time)

Resources for More Information