Ready for Semester 2?

Given that we’re working toward submitting a quality essay before we go on 2nd winter break, we will be completing a brainstorming activity planning our response on each of three or four of the prompts.  Choose a prompt that you have yet to consider from the list below.

Here are the prompts.  You will choose from one of the following six REQUIRED 2018 prompts (titles) below.  Do NOT change the wording:

  1. “The fields of study of academic disciplines can overlap, but adopting interdisciplinary approaches to the production of knowledge leads only to confusion.” Discuss this claim.
  2. “We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases” (adapted from JW von Goethe). Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
  3. “Without the assumption of the existence of uniformities there can be no knowledge.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
  4. “Suspension of disbelief” is an essential feature of theatre. Is it essential in other areas of knowledge? Develop your answer with reference to two areas of knowledge.
  5. “The quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline.” Explore this claim with reference to two disciplines.
  6. “Robust knowledge requires both consensus and disagreement.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.

Today, during class, you will produce a complete brainstorming for one essay.  You may choose to do this by hand on 11″x17″ paper or use your choice of one of the flow chart layouts as a template and work from there.  You will be evaluated on the rubric below.  A large part of your evaluation today will be based on your ability to complete a brainstorming with examples during class time.  Although the specificity and use of examples will distinguish top grades from acceptable ones, please spend your time thinking, not researching.


Rubric A B C unfortunate
Thesis Clear/focused, arguable; shows a deep understanding of relationships between parts Mostly clear, mostly arguable, and has some depth Vague, somewhat arguable, and has some depth Topical thesis, too vague, or uses fancy words to obscure lack of understanding.
Evidence Fully supports thesis, contains essential information relevant to theme; involves multiple Ways of Knowing and/or Areas of Knowledge All evidence is topically related to  the thesis; very little evidence is vague/generic; most evidence clearly supports an argument Most evidence is topically related to the thesis; some information is generic; evidence may wander from the argument or only be topically connected. Evidence is merely topically connected to the topic introduced in the thesis.  Connections are not apparent and are not clarified by the commentary (see below).

Relating Evidence

Clearly shows the relationships between & relevance of evidence; draws connections between multiple AoK’s or WoK’s; evaluates; analysis is personal; discusses implications of argument Somewhat shows the relationships between pieces of evidence; analyzes the content and drawing connections between different content areas, though may work mainly with one text Does not show the relationships between pieces of evidence;

analyzes parts of the content, though may focus mainly on comprehension

Student shows a basic understanding of the content:  most information is comprehension and may be underdeveloped
Organization Structure reinforces thesis argument; shape effectively contributes to explanation Shape mirrors ideas; shape does not necessarily further the argument or enhance presentation Simple shape implies argument; some evidence of link to the idea that is presented Basically, this is a text presentation within pictures.  This same argument would work with many shapes.

Please don’t ask about Semester Grades…

Will not be sorted out until Feb. 1 at the earliest.  IF you have a zero on an assignment or if you see a mistake with a score, I would like to hear from you before then.

Other than that, there is nothing you can do at this point.

So, go relax and let things play out.

I wish you good luck.

We can talk about it next Thursday once all things are completed.

Mr. B

Economics on the Final…

To begin, you should spend thirty minutes in class either Monday or Tuesday reading a review  and analysis of the  Economic Crisis of 2008.  I may ask you to interpret what an expert argues was the cause of the crisis – or what its implications are to the current-day conversations.  On the final, you will be given an article or blog reading (to critically read), you will have a few questions to answer based on that article, and there will also be a written response/paragraph to link what the article argues to what we have studied – the work of the Human Scientist.  Below is a great starting place.

The excerpt below is taken from a longer article in Forbes.  The section below has been truncated.

The story of the 2008 financial crisis

So let’s recap the basic facts: why did we have a financial crisis in 2008? Barry Ritholtz fills us in on the history with an excellent series of articles in the Washington Post:

  • In 1998, banks got the green light to gamble: The Glass-Steagall legislation, which separated regular banks and investment banks was repealed in 1998. This allowed banks, whose deposits were guaranteed by the FDIC, i.e. the government, to engage in highly risky business.
  • Low interest rates fueled an apparent boom: Following the dot-com bust in 2000, the Federal Reserve dropped rates to 1 percent and kept them there for an extended period. This caused a spiral in anything priced in dollars (i.e., oil, gold) or credit (i.e., housing) or liquidity driven (i.e., stocks).
  • Asset managers sought new ways to make money:  Low rates meant asset managers could no longer get decent yields from municipal bonds or Treasurys. Instead, they turned to high-yield mortgage-backed securities.
  • The credit rating agencies gave their blessing: The credit ratings agencies — Moody’s, S&P and Fitch had placed an AAA rating on these junk securities, claiming they were as safe as U.S. Treasurys.
  • Fund managers didn’t do their homework: Fund managers relied on the ratings of the credit rating agencies and failed to do adequate due diligence before buying them and did not understand these instruments or the risk involved.
  • Derivatives were unregulated: Derivatives had become a uniquely unregulated financial instrument. They are exempt from all oversight, counter-party disclosure, exchange listing requirements, state insurance supervision and, most important, reserve requirements. This allowed AIG to write $3 trillion in derivatives while reserving precisely zero dollars against future claims.
  • The SEC loosened capital requirements: In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission changed the leverage rules for just five Wall Street banks. This exemption replaced the 1977 net capitalization rule’s 12-to-1 leverage limit. This allowed unlimited leverage for Goldman Sachs [GS], Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America [BAC]), Lehman Brothers (now defunct) and Bear Stearns (now part of JPMorganChase–[JPM]). These banks ramped leverage to 20-, 30-, even 40-to-1. Extreme leverage left little room for error.  By 2008, only two of the five banks had survived, and those two did so with the help of the bailout.
  • The federal government overrode anti-predatory state laws. In 2004, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency federally preempted state laws regulating mortgage credit and national banks, including anti-predatory lending laws on their books (along with lower defaults and foreclosure rates). Following this change, national lenders sold increasingly risky loan products in those states. Shortly after, their default and foreclosure rates increased markedly.
  • Compensation schemes encouraged gambling: Wall Street’s compensation system was—and still is—based on short-term performance, all upside and no downside. This creates incentives to take excessive risks. The bonuses are extraordinarily large and they continue–$135 billion in 2010 for the 25 largest institutions and that is after the meltdown.
  • Wall Street became “creative”: The demand for higher-yielding paper led Wall Street to begin bundling mortgages. The highest yielding were subprime mortgages. This market was dominated by non-bank originators exempt from most regulations.
  • Private sector lenders fed the demand: These mortgage originators’ lend-to-sell-to-securitizers model had them holding mortgages for a very short period. This allowed them to relax underwriting standards, abdicating traditional lending metrics such as income, credit rating, debt-service history and loan-to-value.
  • Financial gadgets milked the market: “Innovative” mortgage products were developed to reach more subprime borrowers. These include 2/28 adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, piggy-bank mortgages (simultaneous underlying mortgage and home-equity lines) and the notorious negative amortization loans (borrower’s indebtedness goes up each month). These mortgages defaulted in vastly disproportionate numbers to traditional 30-year fixed mortgages.
  • Commercial banks jumped in: To keep up with these newfangled originators, traditional banks jumped into the game. Employees were compensated on the basis loan volume, not quality.
  • Derivatives exploded uncontrollably: CDOs provided the first “infinite market”; at height of crash, derivatives accounted for 3 times global economy.
  • The boom and bust went global. Proponents of the Big Lie ignore the worldwide nature of the housing boom and bust. A McKinsey Global Institute report noted “from 2000 through 2007, a remarkable run-up in global home prices occurred.”
  • Fannie and Freddie jumped in the game late to protect their profits: Nonbank mortgage underwriting exploded from 2001 to 2007, along with the private label securitization market, which eclipsed Fannie and Freddie during the boom. The vast majority of subprime mortgages — the loans at the heart of the global crisis — were underwritten by unregulated private firms. These were lenders who sold the bulk of their mortgages to Wall Street, not to Fannie or Freddie. Indeed, these firms had no deposits, so they were not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp or the Office of Thrift Supervision.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac market share declined. The relative market share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped from a high of 57 percent of all new mortgage originations in 2003, down to 37 percent as the bubble was developing in 2005-06. More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions. The government-sponsored enterprises were concerned with the loss of market share to these private lenders — Fannie and Freddie were chasing profits, not trying to meet low-income lending goals.
  • It was primarily private lenders who relaxed standards: Private lenders not subject to congressional regulations collapsed lending standards. the GSEs. Conforming mortgages had rules that were less profitable than the newfangled loans. Private securitizers — competitors of Fannie and Freddie — grew from 10 percent of the market in 2002 to nearly 40 percent in 2006. As a percentage of all mortgage-backed securities, private securitization grew from 23 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2006.

The driving force behind the crisis was the private sector

Looking at these events it is absurd to suggest, as Bloomberg did, that “Congress forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”

Many actors obviously played a role in this story. Some of the actors were in the public sector and some of them were in the private sector. But the public sector agencies were acting at behest of the private sector. It’s not as though Congress woke up one morning and thought to itself, “Let’s abolish the Glass-Steagall Act!” Or the SEC spontaneously happened to have the bright idea of relaxing capital requirements on the investment banks. Or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of its own accord abruptly had the idea of preempting state laws protecting borrowers. These agencies of government were being strenuously lobbied to do the very things that would benefit the financial sector and their managers and traders. And behind it all, was the drive for short-term profits.

For today… and Final Exam Prep…

I hope your weekend went well.  Unfortunately, my Vikings lost to the Eagles and the other team that shall not be named won as well (with some help).

As for your project, if you have finished, submit your work and then start on the next step…

Today in class, rather than just shopping online, you should consider some of the things we have studied earlier in the first part of the semester.  Your test will involve three parts.  For guidance on the second and third parts, link here:

  1. Multiple choice on the Semester guide below.
  2. A reading based on the economic crisis of 2008 (where you critically read)
  3. And a response to the article’s argument (in a paragraph or similar written task)

That would include this essential (but not comprehensive) below [linked here in handout form]Semester 1 Study Guide:

  • Ways of Knowing Unit:
    • Descartes – Cogito Ergo Sum
      • God
      • “evil genius”
    • Immanuel Kant
      • a priori, a posteriori
        • Cause/effect, reciprocity
        • Necessity, Possibility, existence
      • Locke
        • Reflection/ Sensation/ Experience
      • Plato: Allegory of the Cave
        • Chains, prisoners, shadows, sun, statues, vessels, puppeteers, fire, raised way
        • The Good
        • Theory of Forms
      • Emotional Intelligence
      • Gestalt Theory
      • Matrix
      • Skepticism
      • Metaphysics