The ability to express oneself clearly in writing is one that can and should be developed in economics. The great thing about economics is that it is at the same time theoretical and concerned about the world and events around us. A written commentary, where one illuminates current economic events using the insights and theories gained while studying the course gives students the opportunity to both improve their expository writing and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Writing an economics commentary can be broken down into 4 steps:
1. Selecting an appropriate article
To better understand the process and see an example of a well-written commentary, please have a look at the document below:
A sheet designed to help students plan their writing follows:
To give students some practice with selecting appropriate articles (which tends to be the hardest part) below please find some links to some recent microeconomics news items. In my experience, articles relating to macroeconomics (interest rates, unemployment, recession etc.) and international economics (trade deficits, tariffs, currency movements) are somewhat easier for students to find than microeconomics articles, but as these links show, they are out there.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2110890,00.html (about quinoa and how rising demand for the grain is having lots of unintended consequences in Bolivia)
If students need to develop their planning skills, it might be a good idea to ask them to do up a planning sheet for one or more of these articles to gain familiarity with the commentary format.
Economics for Canadians by Bryce McBride is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.