What will economic policy look like once the global financial crisis is finally over? Will it resume the pre-crisis consensus, or will it be forced to contend with a post-crisis “new normal”? Have we made progress in addressing these issues, or does confusion remain? In April of 2015, the International Monetary Fund gathered leading economists, both academics and policymakers, to address the shape of future macroeconomic policy.
As the global economic crisis continues to cause damage, some policy makers have called for a more Keynesian approach to current economic problems. In this book, the economists Peter Temin and David Vines provide an accessible introduction to Keynesian ideas that connects Keynes’s insights to today’s global economy and offers readers a way to understand current policy debates. They survey economic thinking before Keynes and explain how difficult it was for Keynes to escape from conventional wisdom.
The modern study and analysis of macroeconomics begins by considering how microeconomic units—consumers and firms—make decisions, and then investigates how these choices interact to yield economy-wide outcomes. This innovative textbook takes this “modern” approach, teaching macroeconomics through its microeconomic foundations. It does so by adopting the representative agent paradigm. By modeling the representative consumer and the representative firm, students will learn to describe macroeconomic outcomes and consider the effects of macroeconomic policies.
In December 2009, the economist Kaushik Basu left the rarefied world of academic research for the nuts and bolts of policymaking. Appointed by the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, to be chief economic adviser (CEA) to the Government of India, Basu—a theorist, with special interest in development economics, and a professor of economics at Cornell University—discovered the complexity of applying economic models to the real world. Effective policymaking, Basu learned, integrates technical knowledge with political awareness.
Macroeconomists have been caricatured either as credulous savants in love with the beauty of their mathematical models or as free-market fundamentalists who admit no doubt as to the market’s wisdom. In this book, Kartik Athreya draws a truer picture, offering a nontechnical description of prominent ideas and models in macroeconomics, and arguing for their value as interpretive tools as well as their policy relevance.
Financial crises have some common storylines, among them bursting asset bubbles, bank failures, sharp tightening of credit, and downturn in trade. They are also different from one another. Some start with sudden reversal of international capital flows, others with domestic credit implosions. A challenge to economic research is to integrate common as well as disparate threads into a coherent analytical framework that is at the same time empirically testable.
In 2011, the International Monetary Fund invited prominent economists and economic policymakers to consider the brave new world of the post-crisis global economy. The result is a book that captures the state of macroeconomic thinking at a transformational moment.
Fiscal policy makers have faced an extraordinarily challenging environment over the last few years. At the outset of the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the first time advocated a fiscal expansion across all countries able to afford it, a seeming departure from the long-held consensus among economists that monetary policy rather than fiscal policy was the appropriate response to fluctuations in economic activity. Since then, the IMF has emphasized that the speed of fiscal adjustment should be determined by the specific circumstances in each country.
Since 2008, economic policymakers and researchers have occupied a brave new economic world. Previous consensuses have been upended, former assumptions have been cast into doubt, and new approaches have yet to stand the test of time. Policymakers have been forced to improvise and researchers to rethink basic theory. George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate and one of this volume’s editors, compares the crisis to a cat stuck in a tree, afraid to move.