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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. But so far there is little consensus on the answers and disagreement on the appropriate mode of analysis.

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.

Just as macroeconomic models describe the overall economy within a changing, or dynamic, framework, the models themselves change over time. In this text Stephen J. Turnovsky reviews in depth several early models as well as a representation of more recent models. They include traditional (backward-looking) models, linear rational expectations (future-looking) models, intertemporal optimization models, endogenous growth models, and continuous time stochastic models. The author uses examples from both closed and open economies.

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.

An Integrated Approach

prepared by Debra Moore Patterson

An Integrated Approach

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.

Alan S. Blinder offers the dual perspective of a leading academic macroeconomist who served a stint as Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board—one who practiced what he had long preached and then returned to academia to write about it. He tells central bankers how they might better incorporate academic knowledge and thinking into the conduct of monetary policy, and he tells scholars how they might reorient their research to be more attuned to reality and thus more useful to central bankers.

edited and with an introduction by Benjamin M. Friedman The connection between price inflation and real economic activity has been a focus of macroeconomic research--and debate--for much of the past century.

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