David Madden and myself have been working on a final year single honours option that is intended to provide direct experience of research and policy analysis. I posted before on aspects of it, including getting the students to participate in journal clubs and present to the class on key ideas from the papers and so on. Another aspect of the class involves preparing, in groups, a memo about a key issue in the current economy framed in the form of a case study concerning real-time issues requiring them to report to a key decision maker. All of the case studies, for this round, are focused on domestic economy issues. The aim is not to elicit novel empirical research (this comes later) but to simulate research environments that involve putting together documents that summarise existing knowledge from credible sources in academic and policy publications. All groups will have to present on their memo and answer questions and so on.
The five we have chosen (heavily condensed):
1. Irish bond yields are a key aspect of contemporary debate. The first group needs to examine the main measures of bond yields, the main theories on what drives bond yields and to provide a memo to the Minister for Finance on the likely effect of a range of fiscal and monetary measures on the cost of borrowing.
2. The second group needs to prepare a memo on current Irish banking policy including the merits of the national asset management agency and the set of banking guarantees.
3. The third group is examining the extent to which Ireland is "overtaxed"through comparing tax rates across a wide range of categories and countries and examining underlying principles that should guide the setting of taxation.
4. The fourth group is examining measures of educational performance and the extent to which Ireland compares on different measures.
5. The fifth group is examining the current unemployment problem and writing a memo on the various approaches to short-run employment policy and their potential efficacy in Ireland.