Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whither Macroeconomics?

Yesterday, I went to the Second Story Secondhand Bookshop warehouse. The front store is located at Dupont Circle, but the warehouse Maryland, about one mile away from Ujang's apartment -- and he unbelievably has not came to that place yet :-D. It was not so much like The Strand of New York to find new books -- although they have some review copies --, but it's the place to look for some standard/classic off-print -- important stuffs that have been published in, say, the 80s or 90s.

Moreover, if you are a macro person, that's the place where you can still find a copy of Sargent-Wallace, or Tobin, books.

Looking at the economic section's shelf, it strikes me that the Reagan period (the late 70s and early 80s crisis) has produced substantial books on macro discussing the business cycles. It was a war between Lucas/Sargent/Wallace versus Solow/Tobin/Modigliani -- all are the giants of the professions. But the puzzle is that in recent crisis of the 2000s, macro people have been strangely silent. No books come out yet, so do the published article.

I mean, look at a series of respectable books on current crisis by Raghuram Rajan, Gary Gorton, and the likes. Mostly micro - with an exception of, probably, Shiller and Akerlof's Animal Spirit, which is, to me, more a sketch of reminder that uncertainty matters than a neat macro explanation on what is really going on.

Maybe macro people are truly caught on (and complacent about) the Great Moderation period, in which they think they knew how to tame business cycle -- and by that, leave the once a lively discussion on equilibrium, expectation, and market clearing process.

Is it the end of macroeconomics we at the Cafe used to know it? I don't know. But surely some books from macroeconomics perspective dealing with the latest crisis would help to confirm that macro is still able to generate ingenious ways of seeing things. The magic that in the past had been amazingly spelled out by Keynes, Friedman, Lucas, Tobin, and the likes.

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