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Title: Macroeconomics: a critical companion.
Authors: Ben Fine and Ourania Dimakou. 
Keywords: Macroeconomics
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Pluto Press
Abstract: one of the two authors of this book has taught macroeconomics at graduate level for more than 40 years, the other is relatively new to the game, although recently trained. such a clash of experiences has been fruitful in deciding what to include in this text and how to include it. we have been presented with a number of problems in light of our objectives. First, our readership is liable to be mixed in abilities and knowledge. In general, we expect most of the basics from an undergraduate degree in economics. Even so, we have occasionally reviewed elementary material, partly because it is often improperly understood, and partly because it can look different when presented within a critical and more rounded perspective. For this and other reasons, we have provided a number of boxes dedicated to particular topics to supplement the text. Some are technical, some are not. Second, economics is (increasingly) technically demanding in terms of mathematical requirements. It is necessary to deploy and command technical material, both as skill acquisition in and of itself and to gain a sense of the nature of economics on the technical terms on which it is so dependent. As a result, many economics textbooks are disproportionately mathematical in content, difficult to follow and negligent of the motivation for, and significance of, one damn model after another. So the difficulty here is to offer some select technical material without it being at the expense of substantive content and serving purely as a goal in its own right. Exactly the same comment has been made regarding the counterpart volume Microeconomics: A critical companion, where it is probably even more applicable, although macroeconomics is certainly catching up (or even overtaking) given its rapprochement with microeconomics. Third, macroeconomics in principle covers a vast range of subject matter, although it has fashions of becoming more or less narrow in its scope and preoccupations - ranging over dealing with long-term growth, short-run deviations, crises, the national, the international, and so on. As such, a judicious choice has to be made concerning the breadth and depth of material to be presented. Fourth, unlike most other texts on macroeconomics, the critical stance adopted here reflects the goal of introducing students to alternative ways of thinking - often ways that were the orthodoxy but have now been discouraged and excluded from students' previous training, often rendering the idea of alternatives and alternative thinking both counterintuitive and subject to resistance if not incomprehension. The approach to this is uneven across the chapters, with greater or lesser attention to the mainstream, the technical material, the critique and what might be alternatives. Finally, one of the problems in teaching economics in general, and macroeconomics in particular, is that the technical demands can be so heavy upon students that they take up an undue weight of care and attention, in complete disproportion to the significance of what is being communicated. It takes a moment to say that maybe the {inancial system cannot be reduced to the supply and demand for money but much, much longer to explain how, upon that assumption and others, that New Classical Economics suggests state intervention is ineffective at best (see Chapter 8). But which of these is the more important? Of course, ease of expression and learning is far from the only or main criteria concerning what it is important to cover and how, but there are clearly some trade-offs. It is essential that students of economics are accomplished in the techniques they have been taught, but surely not without simultaneously having developed conceptual understandings and a keen sense of what is important or not, in terms of both what is within the material and what is not. Essentially, what follows represents a lecture course of 30 hours or more with an almost exclusive focus upon theory as opposed to applied macroeconomics, whether empirically or policy oriented (although we do offer some theoretical coverage of these topics). We would not describe what follows as an alternative or heterodox macroeconomics textbook. We are far from convinced that such a volume is possible or even desirable, reasons for which are given in Chapter 13. In some respects, our goals are both more modest and more ambitious than writing an alternative textbook of macroeconomics, received wisdom or set of models. Rather, by taking the presentation of macroeconomics as it is, or has been, as a critical point ofdeparture, we hope to elaborate its content, reveal its deficiencies and point to the sorts of considerations that need to be incorporated into our understandings of the macroeconomy. We want to thank, if not in name, those who commented on the text at various stages in its preparation. Thanks also to the team at Pluto, and especially Dan Harding for his meticulous copy-editing. Most of all, though, thanks to the students who have borne the burden of teaching us what to teach them and how best to attempt to do so. For a slightly fuller prefacing account of the difficulties of teaching economics critically, see the preface to the counterPatt Microeconomics volume.
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