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Macroeconomics

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The core mechanism that drives economic growth in modern market economies is massive microeconomic restructuring and factor reallocation--the Schumpeterian "creative destruction" by which new technologies replace the old. At the microeconomic level, restructuring is characterized by countless decisions to create and destroy production arrangements. The efficiency of these decisions depends in large part on the existence of sound institutions that provide a proper transactional environment. In this groundbreaking book, Ricardo Caballero proposes a unified framework to analyze and understand a wide variety of macroeconomic phenomena stemming from limitations, especially institutional, that hinder these adjustments.Caballero argues that macroeconomic models need to be made more "structural" in a precise sense and can not be maintained on the assumption that decisions are fully flexible. What is needed, he proposes, is the notion of specificity--the idea that factors of production are not freely interchangeable. Many of the major macroeconomic developments of recent decades, he argues, fit naturally into this perspective, including the transition problems of Eastern Europe, the heavy weight of labor regulations in Western Europe, the emerging market crises of the 1990s, the prolonged expansion of the U.S. economy, and Japan's stagnation following the collapse of its real estate bubble.After describing the basic arguments of the book and developing models to illustrate two different kinds of specificity (relationship specificity and technological specificity), Caballero analyzes a variety of aspects of inefficient restructuring and revisits perennial business cycle patterns such as the cyclical behavior of unemployment, investment, and wages. Finally, he looks at the endogenous response of political institutions and technology to opportunistic exploitation of relationship specificity. Economists working on macroeconomics, development, growth, labor, and productivity issues will find Caballero's conceptual framework applicable to phenomena in their fields.

The NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics brings together leading American and European economists to discuss a broad range of current issues in global macroeconomics. An international companion to the more American-focused NBER Macroeconomics Annual, the 2005 volume first explores macroeconomic issues of interest to all advanced economies, then analyzes topical questions concerning the eastward expansion of the European Monetary Union.Jeffrey A. Frankel is James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Economic Growth at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Christopher A. Pissarides is Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. Both are Research Associates at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics brings together leading American and European economists to discuss a broad range of current issues in global macroeconomics. An international companion to the more American-focused NBER Macroeconomics Annual, this particular volume offers cutting-edge research on monetary and fiscal policy responses to macroeconomic fluctuations, with special emphasis on tailoring a single monetary policy for the diverse economies that make up the European Monetary Union. The individual papers examine such topics as whether rule-based monetary policy should target price levels or inflation rates; how much cyclical correlation across countries can be attributed to transmission between multinational companies and their international affiliates; the different effects of monetary policy in high-debt and low-debt countries; and the prospects for the ten 2004 entrants to the European Union, based on the experiences of EU entrants of the 1980s.

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. unemployment rate; an analysis of the 20-year decline in aggregate volatility (and the rise in firm volatility); a model that compares the effectiveness of monetary policy that targets inflation rates to one that targets simple wage inflation; a roadmap to using Bayesian approaches in solving empirical puzzles; and a microeconomic model that shows the desirability of maintaining a stable inflation rate even in isolated situations that would seem to call for a more flexible policy toward inflation.

Public economics studies how government taxing and spending activities affect the economy—economic efficiency and the distribution of income and wealth. This comprehensive text in public economics covers the core topics market failure and taxation as well as recent developments in the political economy and public choice literatures. It is unique not only in its broad scope but in its balance between public finance and public choice and its combination of theory and relevant empirical evidence.

After introducing the theory and methodology of public economics and reviewing the efficiency of the competitive equilibrium, the book presents a historical and theoretical overview of the public sector. It then discusses departures from efficiency, including imperfect competition and asymmetric information; issues in political economy, including rent-seeking (a topic often omitted from other texts); equity; taxation issues, including tax evasion and its consequences; fiscal federalism and tax competition among independent jurisdictions; and the intertemporal issues of social security and economic growth.

This text introduces the reader to the theory of public economics and the most significant results of the analysis, providing an overview of the current state of the field. It is accessible to anyone with a background of intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics and can be used in advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses. Although the mathematics has been kept to a minimum, the book remains analytical rather than discursive. Annotated suggestions for further reading and numerous exercises are included at the end of each chapter.

Reasons and Remedies
Edited by Martin Werding

Structural unemployment, or persistently high levels of unemployment that do not follow the ups and downs of a typical business cycle, varies significantly across industrialized countries. In this CESifo volume, leading labor economists analyze the widely diverging patterns of long-term unemployment across Western Europe. Drawing on recent developments in labor market theory and macroeconomics to explain the emergence and persistence of unemployment, the studies look for fundamental explanations and common patterns that might lead to policy solutions.The two opening chapters offer overviews of the problem: European labor market expert Stephen Nickell highlights the unemployment situation in the "Big Four" continental European states of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and American economist Edmund S. Phelps focuses on new theoretical approaches that examine institutional factors influencing unemployment in a given country. Following these introductory essays, prominent economists consider the experiences of their home countries, in chapters on Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. By taking advantage of the richness of research conducted at a national level and making the work accessible to an international audience, this volume contributes to a new understanding of structural unemployment and how it can be overcome through labor market reforms and other economic policy measures.Contributors:Torben Andersen, Samuel Bentolila, Norbert Berthold, Guiseppe Bertola, Rainer Fehn, Pietro Garibaldi, Bertil Holmlund, Juan F. Jimeno, Erkki Koskela, Stephen J. Nickell, Jan C. van Ours, Edmund S. Phelps, Jean Pisany-Ferry, Christopher Pissarides, Roope Uusitalo, Brendan Walsh, Martin Werding


Guillermo Calvo, who foresaw the financial crisis that followed the devaluation of Mexico's peso, has spent much of his career thinking beyond the conventional wisdom. In a quiet and understated way, Calvo has made seminal contributions to several major research areas in macroeconomics, particularly monetary policy, exchange rates, public debt, and stabilization in Latin America and post-communist countries. Money, Exchange Rates, and Output brings together these contributions in a broad selection of the author's work over the past two decades. There are introductions to each section, and an introduction to the entire collection that outlines the connections throughout and surveys the current state of macroeconomic theory.

Calvo, an advocate of the "Chicago school" of rational expectations, uses elements of this approach to understand economic development. While he is a top macroeconomics theorist, his models are always intertwined with policy discussion. He pushes readers to combine knowledge of real world facts—of institutions, traditions, and culture, in addition to statistics - with theory.

One focus of this collection is on the role of credibility in policy-making. Calvo analyzes the origins and macroeconomic consequences of credibility problems. He also shows how monetary and trade theory can fail when the public does not fully believe in policy announcements. A second focus is on equilibrium multiplicity. Calvo uses models with multiple equilibria to identify factors that cause anomalous behavior. He discusses multiple equilibria in abstract terms as well as in terms of its relevance to understanding domestic public debt.

Specific issues covered are predetermined exchange rates, currency substitution, domestic public debt and seigniorage, and stabilizing transition economies.


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. Overall, the academic pendulum is swinging back towards a renewed consideration of fiscal policy.

This volume brings together leading researchers and policy makers to assess the effectiveness and consequences of fiscal policy. Drawing on postwar policy experience and recent economic research, this book offers a state-of-the-art consideration of where fiscal policy stands today. Contributors address both the appropriateness of fiscal policy as a tool for short-run macroeconomic stabilization and the longer-term impact of fiscal decisions and economic policy. Topics covered include the legacy of the Reagan administration's tax cuts; whether public policy has encouraged such behavior as "overconsumption," which may foster persistent budget and trade deficits; and, in light of recent experience, how and when fiscal policy might be appropriate as a short-term stabilization tool.

Contributors:
Alan J. Auerbach, Susanto Basu, Olivier J. Blanchard, Alan S. Blinder, Barry P. Bosworth, W. Elliott Brownlee, William H. Buiter, Jonathan Coppel, Jean-Philippe Cotis, Luiz de Mello, James S. Duesenberry, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Eric Engen, Jeffrey A. Frankel, Benjamin M. Friedman, Richard W. Kopcke, Catherine L. Mann, Van Doorn Ooms, Rudolph G. Penner, Alice M. Rivlin, Christopher A. Sims, C. Eugene Steuerle, Geoffrey M.B. Tootell, Robert K. Triest, Edwin M. Truman

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. Their theoretical work builds on, and extends, the standard theory of policy reform in open economics; their empirical findings illustrate how the new indexes can be applied and show the resulting difference in the assessment of trade restrictiveness. Thus their book will be of interest to both theorists and practitioners.

After giving a nontechnical introduction to the topic, which includes a discussion of the theoretical and practical failings of other methods of measurement, Anderson and Neary propose two new indexes, the welfare-equivalent uniform tariff and the import-volume-equivalent uniform tariff, and present the theoretical foundation for these methods. The empirical work that follows applies the new approach to a range of issues, including the trade restrictiveness of domestic distortions and the use of a computable general equilibrium model to calculate the proposed measures of trade restrictiveness.

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. A Colombian government commission charged with researching more long-term tax and fiscal reforms gave rise to the selected essays included in this book, each coauthored by Colombian and North American public finance experts. The analyses and recommendations have particular policy relevance for developing economies in general.

The studies include both broad discussions of Colombian fiscal and tax systems and detailed analyses of such specific tax instruments as the payroll tax, value-added tax, and the bank debit tax. The focus is on three key concerns: the sustainability of Colombia's fiscal situation, possible reforms to the national tax system, and the fiscal relationship between the national and subnational governments. The theme that emerges from these studies—the importance of moving toward a more efficient and equitable tax system while also raising revenue—suggests the limitations of stopgap measures and the real need for long-term fiscal reform.

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