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Macroeconomics, 8th edition


Author: N. Gregory Mankiw

Publisher: Worth Publishers


Publish Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN-10: 1429240024

Pages: 608

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

An economist must be “mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher, in some degree . . . as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician.” So remarked John Maynard Keynes, the great British economist who, as much as anyone, could be called the father of macroeconomics. No single statement summarizes better what it means to be an economist.

As Keynes’s assessment suggests, students who aim to learn economics need to draw on many disparate talents. The job of helping students find and develop these talents falls to instructors and textbook authors. When writing this textbook for intermediate-level courses in macroeconomics, my goal was to make macroeconomics understandable, relevant, and (believe it or not) fun. Those of us who have chosen to be professional macroeconomists have done so because we are fascinated by the field. More important, we believe that the study of macroeconomics can illuminate much about the world and that the lessons learned, if properly applied, can make the world a better place. I hope this book conveys not only our profession’s accumulated wisdom but also its enthusiasm and sense of purpose.

This Book’s Approach

Macroeconomists share a common body of knowledge, but they do not all have the same perspective on how that knowledge is best taught. Let me begin this new edition by recapping four of my objectives, which together define this book’s approach to the field.

First, I try to offer a balance between short-run and long-run issues in macroeconomics. All economists agree that public policies and other events influence the economy over different time horizons. We live in our own short run, but we also live in the long run that our parents bequeathed us. As a result, courses in macroeconomics need to cover both short-run topics, such as the business cycle and stabilization policy, and long-run topics, such as economic growth, the natural rate of unemployment, persistent inflation, and the effects of government debt. Neither time horizon trumps the other.

Second, I integrate the insights of Keynesian and classical theories. Although Keynes’s General Theory provides the foundation for much of our current understanding of economic fluctuations, it is important to remember that classical economics provides the right answers to many fundamental questions. In this book I incorporate many of the contributions of the classical economists before Keynes and the new classical economists of the past several decades. Substantial coverage is given, for example, to the loanable-funds theory of the interest rate, the quantity theory of money, and the problem of time inconsistency. At the same time, I recognize that many of the ideas of Keynes and the new Keynesians are necessary for understanding economic fluctuations. Substantial coverage is given also to the IS –LM model of aggregate demand, the short-run tradeoff between inflation and unemployment, and modern models of business cycle dynamics.

Third, I present macroeconomics using a variety of simple models. Instead of pretending that there is one model that is complete enough to explain all facets of the economy, I encourage students to learn how to use and compare a set of prominent models. This approach has the pedagogical value that each model can be kept relatively simple and presented within one or two chapters. More important, this approach asks students to think like economists, who always keep various models in mind when analyzing economic events or public policies.

Fourth, I emphasize that macroeconomics is an empirical discipline, motivated and guided by a wide array of experience. This book contains numerous Case Studies that use macroeconomic theory to shed light on real-world data or events. To highlight the broad applicability of the basic theory, I have drawn the Case Studies both from current issues facing the world’s economies and from dramatic historical episodes. The Case Studies analyze the policies of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Ford, George Bush (both of them!), and Barack Obama. They teach the reader how to apply economic principles to issues from fourteenthcentury Europe, the island of Yap, the land of Oz, and today’s newspaper.

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