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Over the last ten years we have collaborated in co-writing and/or editing five

books on macroeconomics. The first of this series of books, A Modern Guide

to Macroeconomics: An Introduction to Competing Schools of Thought, was

published by Edward Elgar in 1994, while our most recent joint venture, An

Encyclopedia of Macroeconomics, was published by Edward Elgar in 2002.

During the course of co-writing and editing the Encyclopedia of Macroeconomics

a number of eminent economists, who contributed to the project,

asked if we had any plans to write a second edition of the Modern Guide to

Macroeconomics, a book which has received widespread critical acclaim and

been translated into French (Ediscience, 1997), Chinese (Commercial Press,

1998), Italian (Etas Libri, 1998), and Polish (Polish Scientific Publishers,

1998). Initially we intended to produce a second edition of the Modern Guide

to Macroeconomics involving amendments to each chapter, as well as updating

the data and references. However, as the project unfolded we decided that

the Modern Guide to Macroeconomics required an extensive rewrite, not only

involving major amendments to each chapter, but also requiring the addition

of two new chapters surveying the burgeoning literature on the ‘new political

macroeconomics’ and the ‘new growth’ literature. As a result of these extensive

changes we decided that the current book was sufficiently different to

warrant a new title, which reflects its theme and contents. In writing Modern

Macroeconomics: Its Origins, Development and Current State we have also

been kindly aided by two eminent scholars in their respective fields, Professor

Paul Davidson who contributed Chapter 8 on the Post Keynesian school

and Professor Roger Garrison who contributed Chapter 9 on the Austrian


The main aim of our new book, as reflected in its title, is to consider the

origins, development and current state of modern macroeconomics in a manner

appropriate for intermediate undergraduates taking courses in macroeconomics.

As such we have assumed that such students will already have a firm grasp

of basic economic principles and be familiar with introductory macroeconomic

theories and models as developed, for example, in textbooks such as those by

Abel and Bernanke (2001), Blanchard (2003), or Mankiw (2003). This book

should, however, also prove useful to students taking other undergraduate

economics courses, most notably in the history of economic thought, as well as

economic history. For the benefit of intermediate undergraduates we have

marked with an asterisk those references in the bibliography that are particularly

recommended for further reading. In providing extensive referencing the

book should also prove to be a useful introductory guide to the research

literature for postgraduate students in their preliminary year of study.

While the book is written so as to allow students on a range of degree

courses to read individual chapters in isolation, according to their interests

and needs, in line with the Modern Guide to Macroeconomics the book

follows a structured direction tracing the origins and development of modern

macroeconomics in historical perspective. In a book of this nature it is obviously

impossible to cover every area. We have therefore aimed to highlight

what we consider to have been the major issues that emerged following the

birth of macroeconomics in the 1930s.

Following the introductory chapter on understanding macroeconomics,

Chapter 2 considers the debate between Keynes and the old classical model

before tracing the development of the orthodox Keynesian school (Chapter

3), the orthodox monetarist school (Chapter 4), the new classical school

(Chapter 5), the real business cycle school (Chapter 6), the new Keynesian

school (Chapter 7), the Post Keynesian school (Chapter 8) and the Austrian

school (Chapter 9). Readers familiar with a Modern Guide to Macroeconomics

will recognize our chosen approach, namely to discuss the central tenets

underlying, and the policy implications of, these main competing schools of

thought in macroeconomics as they evolved in historical perspective. In

doing so we have taken the opportunity to include in Chapters 2–7 more

recent references and, more importantly, to assess the impact these schools

have had on the current state of macroeconomics. We have also introduced

much new material compared to the equivalently titled chapters in a Modern

Guide to Macroeconomics. To give two examples: in Chapter 2, section 2.14,

we have introduced a discussion of the causes and consequences of the Great

Depression, while in Chapter 3, section 3.5, we discuss the effectiveness of

fiscal and monetary policy for stabilization purposes when the Keynesian IS–

LM model is extended to an open economy. In this book the Post Keynesian

and Austrian schools command individual chapters (each written by leading

scholars in the area), rather than the single chapter approach used in the

Modern Guide to Macroeconomics. Furthermore, to reflect important developments

that have taken place in macroeconomics over the final decades of

the twentieth century we have introduced two entirely new chapters. In Chapter

10 we consider what has come to be known as the ‘new political

macroeconomics’, while in Chapter 11 we discuss the renaissance of research

into the area of ‘economic growth’. It is hoped that these changes will be

welcomed by reviewers and readers alike.

In line with the Modern Guide to Macroeconomics, to help bring the

subject matter alive and capture the imagination of the reader, we have

included at the end of certain chapters interviews with world-renowned scholars

who are experts in their field of study. We are extremely grateful to (listed in

the order in which the interviews appear in the book): Robert Skidelsky (a

leading authority on Keynes and the interwar period); the late James Tobin

(the 1981 Nobel Memorial Laureate, who was one of America’s most prominent

and distinguished Keynesian economists); Milton Friedman (the 1976

Nobel Memorial Laureate, who is widely recognized as the founding father

of monetarism); Robert E. Lucas Jr (the 1995 Nobel Memorial Laureate, who

is widely acknowledged as the leading figure in the development of new

classical macroeconomics); Edward Prescott (widely acknowledged as a leading

advocate of the real business cycle approach to economic fluctuations);

Greg Mankiw (a leading exponent of the new Keynesian school of macroeconomics);

Alberto Alesina (a leading contributor to the literature on the new

political macroeconomics); and Robert Solow (the 1987 Nobel Memorial

Laureate) and Paul Romer, who have made very influential contributions to

the field of economic growth. Their illuminating and contrasting answers

demonstrate that modern macroeconomics is both an exciting and controversial

subject. As an aside the reader may wonder why we have not included

interviews at the end of Chapter 8 on the Post Keynesian school and Chapter

9 on the Austrian school. The reason for this is that these two chapters have

been written by Paul Davidson, a leading world authority on Post Keynesian

economics, and Roger Garrison, a leading world authority on Austrian economics

– the two people we would have chosen to interview if they hadn’t

kindly agreed to write Chapters 8 and 9 respectively.

Thus, for the potential reviewer or prospective buyer it should be clear that

this book is far more than a second edition of the Modern Guide to Macroeconomics.

It is a new book which we hope successfully conveys the

importance of the issues under discussion. As Keynes recognized, the ideas

of economists are more powerful than is commonly understood. In this book

we have attempted to show why this is the case by tracing the development

and interaction of key events and ideas as they occurred during the twentieth

century and into the new millennium.

Brian Snowdon

Howard R. Vane