Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Public Policy and Personal Finance


This seminar will provide an introduction and discussion of the impact of public policy on personal finance. Voters regularly rate the economy as one of the most important factors in their political views, and most of those opinions are focused on their individual bottom lines. In this course we will discuss the rationale for different public policies and how they affect personal financial situations. We will explore personal finance issues such as taxes, loans, charity, insurance, and pensions. Using the context of (hypothetical) personal finance positions, we will discuss the public policy implications of various proposals and how they affect different groups of people. For example, we will study the implications of differential tax rates for different types of income, the promotion of home ownership in the United States, and policies to care for our aging population. While economic policy will be the focus of much of the course, we will also examine some of the implications of social policies on personal finance as well. Students will be required to prepare brief memos on each topic and write a short paper at the end of the quarter. Active participation in the classroom discussion is an important part of the experience. Student learning goals include understanding the implications of government policy and the differential impacts on overall welfare and individuals' welfare.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Gregory Rosston

"I am director of the Public Policy program and Gordon Cain Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. I served as deputy chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission working on the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and I helped to design and implement the first-ever spectrum auctions in the United States. I co-chaired the Economy, Globalization and Trade committee for the 2008 Obama campaign and was a member of the Obama transition team focusing on economic agency review and energy policy and worked on economic policy for Biden/Harris campaign. I serve as the chairman of the board of the Stanford Federal Credit Union, am on the board of  the Nepal Youth Foundation, and advisory board of Sustainable Conservation."