Here are some of the “in the works” projects that I have on-going.
I have had the great pleasure of working with historian, actor, first person historical interpreter, and storyteller Mike Follin for almost a decade. Mike was instrumental in developing the initial relaunch of the Ohio Village, an outdoor living museum of first-person historical interpretation, at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio. Mike helped me develop several “characters” for the Village and other Ohio History Connection events.
I have convinced Mike since retiring from the Ohio History Connection (but hardly slowing down) to use just some of his historical knowledge and his endless talents at storytelling to help new audiences better understand the evolution of the macroeconomy. We are working on a project that will take the audience on a journey through the global economy of the interwar period. Follow up projects will cover other time periods.
In my three decades of teaching macroeconomics to MBA students I have found it most effective (and most interesting to the students) to explain how the macroeconomy has evolved over time alongside how macroeconomists explanations have evolved. However, class time was limited. MBA macroeconomics courses generally only last half a semester. Over the years students have asked me “is there a book that delves into these issues more in depth?” My answer was always: sadly no.
So, this is my attempt to fill that void. What I plan on doing is taking the reader simultaneously through the evolution of the macroeconomy (focusing mostly on the US and Western Europe) and the development of macroeconomic thought and model building. The time period covers, essentially, that of the founding of the United States up until the current day.
What we discover is that changes in the overall economy have forced macroeconomists to rethink how they model and explain how the economy functions. On the other hand, as what is “accepted” in macroeconomics changes, it has often had a significant impact on macroeconomic policy and thus how the overall economy functions. It is not a perfect relationship (meaning it does not happen ALL of the time) but the overlaps are often eye opening. This then begs the question: which will come next? Changes in how macroeconomists explain and model the economy or how economic policy changes in response to changes in the field of macroeconomics? Or might it be both? How these questions are answered will have significant impacts on the future of our economy and our society.
The intended audience is anyone with an interest in how markets function. This includes businesspeople, policymakers, financial market participants, interested citizens, and historians. A course or two in basic economics might prove to be helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
After taking the introduction to economics courses (often called “Principles of Microeconomics” and “Principles of Macroeconomics”) undergraduates go on to take the two “theory” or “intermediate” courses. While the topics covered in intermediate microeconomics are fairly well established, the topics covered in intermediate macroeconomics can vary widely depending on the textbook used and approach of the instructor. Most of the “market leading textbooks” in intermediate macroeconomics focus on only one approach be it the traditional Keynesian approach, the New Keynesian approach, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model approach or some other school of thought.
To me this bordered on being intellectually dishonest. By teaching only one approach are we not limiting our students’ intellectual development? Why not teach the students the different approaches, the empirical evidence both pro and con, and then let them make the decision about which approach is “best” or encourage them to come up with a different or even a hybrid approach?
In attempting to cover so much material it is imperative that the material is interesting to the students and that the students can see the relevance to the world around them. Building on the approach that I used in my Money, Banking, Financial Markets and Institutions text I take a student centered, conversational approach to get the students discussing and debating macroeconomic theory at an intermediate level.