Review Comment

[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

January 09, 2019

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

This class tried to balance economics and history of Japan, but utterly does a terrible job at both. The economics Weinstein covers in class is a rehash of Intermediate Micro/Macro, not really unique economics with respect to Japan. The history portion is really interesting before the midterm but afterward becomes unbearable as Weinstein conflates Japanese economic history with just the development of the Japanese banking system, which I guess makes sense for all the Goldman Sachs bros in the class. So if you want to learn about banking history in Japan since the 20th century, consider this class. The material is pretty much empirical for anything non-banking while there's tons of dates and data for the Japanese financial industry. I don't think that's a testament to the Japanese economy.

Lectures are pretty boring, especially since it's an 8:40, and Weinstein doesn't exactly have the most exciting voice nor slides.

Don't get me wrong, the professor is really friendly and has a passion for the material. The class overall is a pain that doesn't seem difficult, except the TAs for the classes are such a pain in grading. They're helpful. The review sessions they hosted would have been phenomenal, if it hadn't been that what they covered was not at all in the midterm/final. Rather, Weinstein puts some questions on random papers in the syllabus and will expect you to be able to cite some of these in the exams.

The research paper is fine, tolerable, not really much complain for it.

Course recommendation: 5/10
Difficulty: 8/10

Not sure if the trouble for this as a global core/economics elective is worth it though.

Workload:

1 Midterm (reasonably difficult)
1 Final (harshly graded)
1 Paper (if you start writing a week before deadline, you'll be fine)
4 Problem Sets (3-5 hrs)

March 01, 2018

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

This is honestly one of the best classes I have taken at Columbia. I left with a good grasp of Japan's history and its story of economic development. I felt as though I learned really practical things, like how Japan's financial crisis was different from the United States, why Japan's debt is not as bad as it looks, things that you could mention in a conversation and that anyone looking to go into the financial sector/economics should know at least loosely. It's also really interesting to learn about samurai and the political structures in Japan over time.

Also, Professor Weinstein is the rare combination of renowned professor (advises govt institutions, Japan etc), good person who is actually very approachable and cares that his students do well, and good lecturer who actually explains concepts well. Best Econ Professor I've had so far.

A few notes:
There is math but it's honestly not terrible as long as you go to lecture. I got a B+ in Calc 3 and I was still totally okay. The midterm had a lot of math BUT the final had none so it balanced out. Just be sure to go over all the math before exams (versus spending lots of time on history).

The paper was super time consuming BUT it's not difficult, more grunt work based. The bulk of the work is finding your data and then deciding on your topic. The analysis itself is pretty simple (no need to run regressions), and I became pretty well-versed in my topic. They're not expecting a ground-breaking paper from undergrads. Also, the TAs are very nice about helping you with finding and translating data (definitely go to Tanya's OH if you can).

GO TO LECTURE!! The textbooks are pretty much worthless in catching up on what you missed. I only read the papers he mentioned, attended almost all the classes and I ended up with an A. So if you're going to pick one or the other, don't read but do attend the lectures.

Overall: Best econ elective I've taken, crunch time at the end was worth it for the very little work during the semester.
You won't regret taking it!!

Workload:

Not an easy class but also definitely manageable
There is no day to day work and you just have to buckle down for the midterm, paper and final
Psets - 4 spread across the semester, definitely prefer having them because it was good practice of bond pricing etc for the midterm and for finding data for the paper
Reading - you can get by without doing the reading BUT you must attend all lectures and read the papers he mentions during class (just a handful)
Paper - It's a lot. If you don't start at least a week in advance you're pretty much screwed (its time consuming more than it is difficult so it's important to budget accordingly).
Tldr: good for a student who wants to learn about Japan, likes very concentrated amounts of work, and attends lecture

December 24, 2017

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

this class is no joke. consider this a history AND Econ class.

lecture attendance not mandatory but highly recommended if you want to do well (I did well without attending, but I worked very hard out of class)

midterm and final exams - expect to study for hours. you need to know every concept extremely well. the final is cumulative with emphasis on 2nd half of material - overwhelming amounts of history and Econ to study.

final paper worth about 40% of grade. take this very seriously.

tons of assigned readings - none are necessary. he covers the readings u need to know in class. no textbook chapters or anything.. just some research articles u can read the abstracts of to understand. (either way, the readings will only be a few points on exams)

success depends on good notes: there are lecture slides but he says things that aren't on the slides. either find a good note taking friend or take good notes yourself.

overall experience rating: 5/10 (5 bc at least the material was interesting)
overall difficulty rating: 8/10

Workload:

final exam, midterm exam, final paper, problem sets (10-15% of grade, not big deal)

October 23, 2017

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Pros --
1. Decently interesting class?
2. Decently nice/funny professor

Cons --
1. Very hard exams that are more math/econ based that test ur math skills than actually the economic development of Japan..
2. Must attend lecture pay attention to slides/take amazing notes (if you don't, exam will be impossible)

Overall: If you actually care about learning/interesting material, not a bad class to take. If you're looking for a GPA boost or want an easy going and smooth elective, definitely DO NOT take this class.

Workload:

Structure:
2 exams (both hard) (Midterm 20%, final 30%)
problem sets (10% grade) (very doable, attend office hours, etc.)
one essay (40% of grade) (2500-3000 words)
attendance not mandatory but essential for exams

February 12, 2017

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

The prof: Weinstein is a solid professor and lecturer; he goes through his slides (which he also posts online) very thoroughly and gives clear explanations. He knows his stuff super well and tries very hard to impress upon the students why/how it's relevant to the world beyond Japan. He even brought in a Board Member of the Bank of Japan to speak with us, which was neat. And like the below reviews have mentioned, he's just an all-around endearing dude.

Difficulty: the material itself might not seem too complex or straining, but the exams can be tough. You need to have a thorough understanding of everything he covers in order to do well. If you're looking for an easy class to fulfill your Econ elective or Global Core, this is not it. But if you genuinely put in the effort, your grade will reflect it. Class ends up curving to a B/B+. You'll have an easier time if you have a stronger understanding of international & macro concepts though.

Overall, if you want to learn something outside of the norm and don't mind putting in some effort, no harm in taking this class.

Workload:

Readings: There's a lot, but the only ones you really need to do are the papers that he references in his lectures. Book readings you can forget about.

Class participation (10%): but you don't have to.
Midterm (20%): fair to hard. Avg: 48/77.
Final (30%): fair to hard. Avg: 121/178
Paper (40%): Though it's a big paper, a lot of work, and clearly worth a lot, I personally thought it was only really as difficult as you made it for yourself. You don't need to write about anything complex or do any crazy analysis (I certainly didn't, and I did pretty well against the average), but you do need to show that you've thoroughly wrangled with the topic. And definitely take advantage of the TAs--they were super helpful when I was trying to pinpoint a feasible subject. Avg: 64%

May 23, 2016

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Considering the reviews below, I thought this was going to be a terrible class, but I wanted fulfill an econ elective and a global core. And honestly, for me at least, this class wasn’t bad at all. It was definitely worth it.

The midterm and final consists of short answer questions (just need to write a phrase or a sentence or two). These questions pretty much all came from the powerpoint lectures and readings (the slides discuss the readings, so you don’t need to do them). I thought this was pretty great- nothing confusing, you just need to read the lecture slides. Yeah it requires memorization, but so does every other class. In other econ classes, you need to memorize formulas, how to solve problems, and concepts. If you don’t like reading slides, then don’t take this class.

The guy below is complaining about it being an 8:40- no one is forcing you to take an 8:40. Just get a friend to sign you in if you don’t want to go, or alternate. You can sign in and leave or just go at the end of class.

Prof. Lincoln is very knowledgable and his interest in the topics is very evident. He does follow the lecture slides, but he definitely adds explanation and other information. I thought the material was pretty interesting; I learned a lot about the history of Japan and their economic progress. Yeah it sucks at 8:40, but you really don’t have to go.

The paper can be about any topic involving Japan and economics, whether modern or historical. You have pretty much the whole semester to write it, but you’ll probably write it a couple days before. But make sure to talk to Lincoln about your paper topic, because he’ll give you good feedback.

From the guy below- “This class was literally the bane of my existence this past semester.” I can’t really see how this is possible; the class is just a straightforward midterm, final, and a paper. The attendance factor is annoying, but if you get someone to sign you in, alternate, or just sign in and then go back to bed, then it’s really not a big deal. Definitely worth it for double counting a class.

Workload:

See above

January 16, 2015

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

AVOID THIS CLASS AT ALL COSTS!!!!!! AVOID! AVOID! TURN AROUND!

If someone tells you this class is NOT THAT BAD, THEY ARE BULLSHITTING YOU. I like probably everyone else in this class figured it'd be worth the sacrifice to knock an Econ elective and a Global Core out with the same course, and how bad could it be?

Answer: really fucking bad.

This class was an exercise in torture, honestly. Prof. Lincoln is actually quite a nice guy, approachable, knowledgeable, but lectures are a fucking PAIN IN THE ASS. 8:40 am and you have to haul ass to Mudd, only to watch the prof read off his lectures and summarize the readings (so don't bother doing them) and contribute nothing that makes the lecture itself worth going to. And worse: he passes around an attendance sheet. Better hope you have a decent number of friends in the class so you can share the sign in process and never attend more than say 5 lectures total. I've always thought profs who pass around sign in sheets are too lazy to make their lectures worth going to -- I only skip classes that aren't actually helpful with the course material; I never skip lectures that are enjoyable or actually help me understand the material beyond my just reading the textbook/lecture notes on my own time -- and this course is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of this.

The exams are hard -- entirely open-ended questions in which you need to write certain terms in the answers to receive credit, or remember not just the specifics about what happened but what specific economists say about events (for example, easily could see a qu that is like, what did X economist think caused Y event; and the next qu would be, what did Z economist think about the same Y event), and partial credit is virtually nonexistent. The tests are based entirely on memorization -- of Japan's entire economic history from like the year 1600 to the present, AND what economists think about it!

Bulk of your grade comes from a final paper that everyone pretty much writes two days before it's due. You can pick any topic you want, as long as it's related to the course in some way, essentially. It's a good experience (especially in preparation of writing an Econ seminar paper) since no other Econ class I've ever taken/heard of requires a 3000 word analytical paper. But like everything else in this course, it'll blindside you. I skipped class for weeks and weeks and then had to pull an all nighter for the midterm, promised myself it wouldn't happen again, but it happened again for the paper and then for the final. That is all definitely my fault, but if the lectures/teaching had been worthwhile at all I wouldn't have felt like i was learning an entire country's history in a night before each exam.

Also prof is just weird. Collected all the final papers on the last day of class (as in like December 7) and said we wouldn't be getting our final grades until "after January 7" because he was "going home to DC to spend time with his family." The TAs proctored and graded the final exams I am pretty sure and did a first read on all the papers. He commutes from DC for lecture every week so I doubly don't understand why it is that early in the morning, and he only holds office hours immediately before/after class.

This class was literally the bane of my existence this past semester. If you're convinced you want to take it, don't take it as a senior. By the third week of class I didn't even bother pretending I would try to show up for Thursday morning lectures. Many thanks to all my friends in the course who signed me in at least once (or in some cases over and over again) -- I owe you a meal.

Workload:

20% midterm (something like 25 open ended qus)
30% final (something like 40 open ended qus + an economic model question of some sort)
40% final paper (2500+ words not including graphs)
10% attendance

No problem sets which makes it impossible to keep up with coursework unless you have literally nothing else to think about.

As far as I can tell, there was essentially no curve. The numerical calculation of my grade based on the breakdown was <0.5% from the letter grade I received.

January 02, 2014

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you like history and economics you'll like this class. It's not all that much work. All you really have to do is go to the lectures, sit back, and pay attention, which isn't that hard to do since the material is often really fascinating. Lincoln is an good speaker, and often provides interesting anecdotes from his personal experience working with the US and Japanese governments.

The class is sort of split up into two parts. The first part focuses more on Japanese history, with an emphasis on economics, mainly starting with the Meiji Restoration in about 1867 (with one class about the Tokugawa period from 1600-1867) and ending at present day. For this section, the reading is a bit more important than in the second half. It's also pretty interesting. If you pay attention to the lectures and do some of the readings, you won't have to do much work to prepare for the midterm. The midterm is just 25 short answer and one explanation of some economic model. He will ask some questions like 'What did X author say about Y', so be prepared for that.

The second half of the class is more economic-heavy. He basically reviews a number of economic topics, then applies them to Japan. We had a class on fiscal policy, monetary policy, exchange rates, etc. If you want to finally apply all of the economics you've learned at Columbia, you'll appreciate this part of the class. The readings get super technical in this part, and he does a good job of reviewing them in class, so I wouldn't advise spending too much time on them. The final just focuses on this section and isn't all that hard. It's just 40 short answer.

Overall, I felt like I learned a ton about how economics is applied in the real world and about Japan; I really feel like I completely understand any article I read now about Japan's economics situation. Lincoln explains things really well, so it's easy to pay attention in class.

Also, if you're interested in finance, since Japan had to essentially invent a financial system during the Meiji Period, you'll learn a lot about the financial system and why certain institutions exist.

I haven't got my grade back yet so I can't speak much as to the curve.

Workload:

Some reading, midterm, final, 10-page paper about whatever you want

November 26, 2013

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I know that most people went into this class thinking it would be a nice way to full multiple requirements at the same time, as this counts for economics department requirements as well as for Global Core requirements. This class might look like a slam dunk from that perspective, but I found it unenjoyable to an extent that offsets any of these benefits. It might have been more enjoyable when David Weinstein was teaching it, but Edward Lincoln has taken over the class since Weinstein became department chair.

Professor Lincoln makes the point on the first day that this class is as much about Japanese history as it is about economics, as the two are substantially interrelated. In my experience, this class was almost entirely historical, and the emphasis is on memorization rather than understanding. For example, on the first day, he told us the three S's that explain why most of the western world cares about Japan: Sony, sushi, and Samurai. He seemed almost disappointed on the first day that the class contained so many economics majors and very few Asian studies majors. That's not to say there was anything surprising about this, as this class is listed a 4000-level economics class with several economics prerequisites, and the economics major is much more popular than any program in Asian studies. He also had no idea that this class was a Global Core class, or what that requirement even was, which just seemed downright funny to me, especially since this was his second year teaching the class, as it seems like the audience of a class is the most important thing to know before teaching it.

Lectures tended to be very boring and monotonous. I didn't really feel that he was teaching us so much as giving a presentation. The only time he ever tried to involve the class at all was to ask if had been to or recognized some landmark in Japan, or if we knew about so recent Japan-related news. Despite this, attendance was required and he passed around a sheet every lecture to take attendance. He told us on the first day that if we weren't going to be able to make it to class due to some extenuating circumstance, we should let him know. Then he told us that one time when he was teaching a class at another school, one student just stopped showing up after the midterm with no explanation. He told us this in a way that suggested that he expected us to be shocked. I don't think many people took well to this attendance policy, as I often saw people who had a list of five friends who they also signed in. It wasn't rare that the back rows of the classroom were the first to fill up.

Workload:

The workload is identical to how David Weinstein ran the course, and the syllabus and powerpoint slides are copied verbatim from David Weinstein's class.

January 19, 2011

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I loved loved loved this professor. He is incredibly clear, a fantastic lecturer, is very approachable (always willing to meet with you) and has a great sense of humor. Although this class was early in the morning, I never felt tired or bored. There were many concepts such as some of the international trade models I did not understand in other class that I got after 20 minutes with Professor Weinstein. He also goes over a couple of finance concepts (the economics of a repurchase agreement, the idea of short selling etc) that I found useful. I personally enjoyed the economic components of his lectures more, but was a little less interested in the history.

In total, amazing professor. Take this class!!

Workload:

He assigns a lot of reading, but goes over most of them in class (most of the reading is also very interesting). The midterm/final are largely based on the lectures. I found them both to be pretty challenging (you need to pay a lot of attention in class and make sure you completely understand each concept he covers). A final paper on a topic of your choice (I learned a great deal from it. He is always willing to help you and I had an awesome TA (Jessie) that was also very helpful. But make sure you start early. It is a ton of work and would be impossible to do last minute).

It is definitely not an easy class and I thought it was pretty tough, but it was 100% worth it. He is also a very fair grader

January 10, 2011

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Weinstein is a great guy; he's a very passionate and strong lecturer, and makes some hilarious jokes. He tries his best to make the class enjoyable, and generally succeeded. I'd venture to guess that almost anyone who doesn't hate economics will enjoy this class. There are readings, all of which I did pre-midterm, but once I found that they weren't really that exciting or that relevant to class material/tests, I stopped. Still, I recommend reading from the Modern History book. It's really interesting.

The paper at the end is difficult, and can seem very overwhelming. Do start a bit early, and meet with Weinstein repeatedly until you feel like you know what you're doing. He's extremely helpful when it comes to finding sources, thinking about topics, etc. Seems like a legitimately cool guy.

Tests are not easy, but certainly not hard. Study a bit, go over the mathematical derivations and the slides, and you'll be fine.

I wasn't a huge fan of the class participation component of the grade - it seems to favor either the students who were extremely well-educated on the topic or the students who were willing to say absolutely anything to get a higher grade. But it's really not the biggest deal. He asks some painfully easy questions in class, presumably to help those who want participation credit but don't know much economics/Japan history.

In sum - highly recommend. Very fascinating material (most of it), and great professor. Hard at times, but well worth it.

Workload:

There really isn't any, unless you wish to obsess over the readings.

December 13, 2010

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Weinstein is a very good professor, a strong lecturer, and a genuinely nice man. His class is a 50/50 blend of Japanese history and economic application, with a focus on history in the first half of the course. His lectures are all structured and run off a powerpoint, but he will occasionally draw a graph or equation on the board, and what he writes is often the most important in terms of what might show up on a test.

Personally, I didn’t find the material that exciting, and I don’t think this class pretends to be teaching you anything groundbreaking or unique – it’s a history class with graphs. It is certainly not an easy class, but unlike classes that are just impossible for the sake of it, there is about as direct a correlation as I’ve seen in terms of work/effort to one’s grade. The midterm/final are difficult, but fair (54/77 was the median, whatever that comes out to). The bulk of the grade for the class comes from a 2500-3000 word research essay in which he asks you to develop a question from primary data, and structure an argument/try to answer that question. Not an easy paper to write, but if you find a topic that you find interesting (and most importantly, has a lot of primary data), it can sort of write itself.

This was not one of my favorite econ electives, but it was a solid one nonetheless. I really respect Weinstein as a passionate lecturer and very intelligent guy. I would recommend it to those with interest in Japan (obviously…), or the history of economics.

Workload:

Readings, but not required, and don’t show up on exams. 10% participation component… asks for your name every time you answer a question, it’s funny how every time, right after he calls on you, like clockwork – “uh, um, ok, and can you uh… oh I forgot it! Can you tell me your name?” “” “Ah yes! ”

Anyway, midterm (fair- 20%) final (fair- 30%) paper (40%- get out of it what you put into it) participation (10%)

January 11, 2010

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Economic Development of Japan was probably one of the best economics classes I have taken at Columbia. Weinstein explains the material very well, and his lectures are lively enough to keep even a hungover senior such as myself engaged at 9am on a Thursday morning.
There is assigned reading, but virtually none of it is tested. The one piece of advice I would give to prospective students is that it is very important to actually show up to class, because he covers models on the blackboard that aren't included in the powerpoint notes. The exams focus heavily on this material, so if you try to just rely on the class notes, you are in for some trouble.
The paper is something of an ordeal (it counts for 40% of your grade), but because Professor Weinstein is actually willing to take the time to help you find a good topic, you actually end up learning something from the whole exercise.
In summary, this is a great class and I encourage every economics student to take it. The Japanese economy is very different from our own, and this is one of the few classes at Columbia that I can honestly say I got something out of.

Workload:

Midterm (difficulty - fair), Final (difficulty - fair), Paper (you can make of it what you want, but the correlation between effort and grading is high)

May 15, 2006

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This is an excellent course; IÂ’d recommend it for any econ major. It was by far the most interesting of the electives I have taken thus far. Professor WeinsteinÂ’s lectures are very organized and he is fairly entertaining. The first half of the semester mixes a lot of history in with economic theory, while the second half is much less historically driven. Professor Weinstein himself is a very nice and approachable guy and anxious to help. The readings are fairly light and not particularly important compared to going to class. The exams can be somewhat difficult, especially if you get lulled into not paying attention by the power points. However if you go to class and pay attention theyÂ’re not too bad and they are curved to a high B low B+ just like every other Columbia econ course.

Workload:

Low-medium: midterm, final 10-12 page paper. Fairly light reading.

March 26, 2005

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Weinstein is obviously very passionate about Japan and Japanese economics including the history behind its development. He has had actual work experience in Japan so he knows first-hand how the labor markets function. He uses powerpoint to limit the amount of notes you have to take which makes it easy to just sit there and actually listen to what he has to say. His class is very interesting, I was loving it, I studied hard for the midterm and was still surprised how difficult I found the test to be... the curve worked in everyone's favor however. Overall I recommend the class because I think he's a great professor (and the nicest guy too) and the class material is interesting.

Workload:

Midterm, final, one research paper 8-10 pages. Readings for every class but of very reasonable lengths (10-30 pages per class).

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2012 Fall TR / 8:40- 9:55 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2010 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2009 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2008 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2006 Spring TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2005 Spring TR / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
ECON / ECON ECON ECON W4325: Economic Development of Japan David Weinstein 2003 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1