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Macroeconomics

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This 20th edition of the NBER Macroeconomics Annual treats many questions at the cutting edge of macroeconomics that are central to current policy debates. The papers and discussions include an analysis of the differential between American and European unemployment rates, with the authors of the paper taking issue with Edward Prescott's view that higher European tax rates are responsible; a provocative account of the relationship between fluctuations in the hiring rate of new workers and the U.S.

The United States's post-World War II emphasis on activist fiscal policy for short-term economic stabilization was called into question in the 1960s, and by the late 1980s was superseded by the view that fiscal policy should focus on long-run structural concerns. For the past two decades both public policy and economic research emphasized monetary policy as a stabilization tool. But there remain issues in American macroeconomic policy having to do with budget deficits, present and projected, as well as a recent revival of interest in fiscal policy as a stabilization tool.

A Comparative Analysis of Causes, Consequences, and Reform

Contrary to general belief, and to Japan's own self-image, inequality of income and wealth distribution in Japan has grown in the past two decades. In this well-written and accessible book, Toshiaki Tachibanaki analyzes the movement toward more income inequality in Japan and offers policy recommendations to counter the trend.

A country's stance on international trade is an important component of its economic welfare. Yet relatively little theoretical attention has been paid to developing accurate methods to assess trade policies, leaving practitioners and policy makers with ad hoc solutions that lack theoretical foundation. In this book, James Anderson and Peter Neary present a new approach to gauging trade restrictiveness. Extending the standard theory of index numbers that apply to prices, output, or productivity, Anderson and Neary develop index numbers that apply directly to policy variables.

Problems and Prospects

Colombia, once a model of fiscal discipline for other Latin American nations, has seen its fiscal situation deteriorate since the early 1990s. Higher government spending, taxes that did not keep pace with expenditures, and severe recession led to an unsustainable debt-to-GDP ratio of 52 percent in 2002. Short-term tax increases, even coupled with spending reforms, have not restored Colombia to fiscal balance.

The process of monetary integration in Europe began amid widespread skepticism among economists about the project. But today the success of the euro has prompted a reconsideration of whether monetary unions should be implemented elsewhere. This CESifo volume assesses contemporary theoretical and empirical work on optimal currency areas, considering such questions as the expansion of the eurozone, the institution of monetary unions in Latin America and East Asia, and the effect of monetary unions on the working of the "real economy."

The volatility that has hit many middle-income countries (MICs) after liberalizing their financial markets has prompted critics to call for new policies to stabilize these boom-bust cycles. But, as Aaron Tornell and Frank Westermann point out in this book, over the last two decades most of the developing countries that have experienced lending booms and busts have also exhibited the fastest growth among MICs. Countries with more stable credit growth, by contrast, have exhibited, on average, lower growth rates.

Problems and Prescriptions

Japan, the world's second largest economy, has suffered from a prolonged period of stagnation and malaise since 1991. Subpar growth, failing banks, plummeting real estate and stock prices, deflation, unprecedented unemployment, and huge government liabilities have persisted, despite extraordinary fiscal and monetary policy fixes.

The International Financial System, Stabilization, and Development

Stanley Fischer served as First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001. IMF Essays from a Time of Crisis collects sixteen essays written for the most part during his time at the IMF, each updated with Fischer's later reflections on the issues raised. The IMF drew much criticism for some of its actions during Fischer's tenure, and he vigorously defends the "battlefield medicine" practiced by the IMF during a series of economic crises, which included the problems of economic transition in the former Soviet bloc and the Asian financial crisis.

Reconciling Theory and Evidence

Though competition occupies a prominent place in the history of economic thought, among economists today there is still a limited, and sometimes contradictory, understanding of its impact. In Competition and Growth, Philippe Aghion and Rachel Griffith offer the first serious attempt to provide a unified and coherent account of the effect competition policy and deregulated entry has on economic growth.

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