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Macroeconomics

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The 1990s saw the best economic performance in the United States in three decades. Strong economic growth and falling unemployment were accompanied by low inflation and rising budget surpluses. Although personal bankruptcies climbed, the personal saving rate fell, and the trade deficit expanded, overall, U.S. economic performance during the 1990s was outstanding.

Explaining Economic Policy

What determines the size and form of redistributive programs, the extent and type of public goods provision, the burden of taxation across alternative tax bases, the size of government deficits, and the stance of monetary policy during the course of business and electoral cycles? A large and rapidly growing literature in political economics attempts to answer these questions.

An equilibrium theory of unemployment assumes that firms and workers maximize their payoffs under rational expectations and that wages are determined to exploit the private gains from trade.

For many years it was fashionable to treat macroeconomics and microeconomics as separate subjects without looking too deeply at the relationship between the two. But in the 1970s there occurred an episode of high inflation and high unemployment, which was inconsistent with orthodox theory. As a result, macroeconomists began to pay much greater attention to the microfoundations of their subject.

The connection between price inflation and real economic activity has been a focus of macroeconomic research—and debate—for much of the past century. Although this connection is crucial to our understanding of what monetary policy can and cannot accomplish, opinions about its basic properties have swung widely over the years.

An Integrated Approach

prepared by Debra Moore Patterson

An Integrated Approach

This paperback edition is not available in the U.S. and Canada. Many undergraduate texts treat macroeconomics as a set of distinct topics rather than as a unified body of theory and empirical findings. In contrast, this text by Alan Auerbach and Laurence Kotlikoff uses a single analytic framework--the two-period life-cycle model--to explore and connect each of the major issues in contemporary macroeconomics. The model describes the evolution of the economy over time in terms of the behavior of overlapping generations of individuals, each of whom lives for two periods: youth and old age.

For a long time, the study of macroeconomics has focused almost exclusively on a closed economy and downplayed the role of international transactions. Today, however, researchers recognize that one cannot fully understand domestic macroeconomic relationships without considering the global economy within which each country operates. Increasingly, economists are treating international transactions as an integral part of the macroeconomic system, and international macroeconomics has become an area of intensive research activity.

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