Sunday, July 08, 2012

More on Macro Books

I spoke my piece last night on Mark Thoma's exposition/defense of macro.  I have no instinct to restate or reconsider, but I do want to offer a brief extension of remarks.

Specifically: Thoma's list, however respectable, is pretty abstruse and technical, way above the ordinary reader.  By which I mean me: I should say I assume it is respectable but I'm really not informed enough to judge any of the works he offers.  

Which set me to wondering: is there anything in macro from which the attentive outsider might actually gain enlightenment?  Of course in the nature of things, I cannot say, but I do herewith offer a few titles that gave me some satisfaction.  One: David A. Moss' A Concise Guide to Macro* Economics (2007), written, I gather, for the uninitiated among students at the Harvard Business School.  I'm a great admirer of Moss' When All Else Fails (2002) about "government as the ultimate risk manager."  The Guide gives me at least the illusion that I am actually learning something.   In the same vein with a somewhat different teaching strategy, I find I have not yet thrown away my copy of Peter Kennedy, Macroeconomic Essentials (2d ed. 2000).**

Harder but still accessible, I think: Buce Champ and Scott Freeman, Modeling Monetary Economies (1994), with equations and graphs that do not require an undue amount of heavy lifting.  Dryer but mostly readable, Peter Bernholz, Monetary Regimes and Inflation (2003), the summary of  life's work in studying the topic. 

And to round out five, I suppose I can throw in a novel--Arthur G. Solmssen's  A Princess  in Berlin (1980) about the legendary Post-WWI calamity in Germany (thanks again, TaxMom, this is your copy and yes, I should return it).

Final defensive thought: I suppose a critic will carp that Thoma was really writing about econometrics, not macro. I remarked last night that I think this a mischaracterization. In any event, I've never found anything remotely helpful for basic econometrics (Angrist and Pishke, Mostly Harmless Econometrics) ought to be banned under the Trade Descriptions Act.
*One word or two?  I know the accepted convention is "one," but I perversely want to stick with two.  And Moss had it as two words on his cover.

**It occurs to me there may very well be a later edition, but I am too lazy to check.

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

Third edition of Kennedy came out in 2010, per AMZN.

Mark is an econometrician, not a macroeconomist, by trade. I would be inclined to quibble that econometrics should be part of micro--the work done these days is all about adjusting models for individual variations ("tail risk," as it were).

But that would lead me to quibble that the problem remains the strange belief in micro foundations working at a macro level, without macro associations being considered. (It is only if you are a microeconomist in your thinking that you can believe that rent control is not a good thing for both renter and rentee.)