Monday, March 29, 2004

Teach Yourself Macroeconomics

Now, it goes without saying that Brad DeLong and I are not anywhere near each other on the political spectrum, so it may seem strange to some people that I happen to have such a high opinion of the guy despite my opposition to a lot of what he believes in politically. This really isn't all that strange, at least not in my eyes, as long as one keeps in mind the distinction between positive and normative economics, between what is and what one feels ought to be (see here for a definition of both terms.)

I don't buy into Brad DeLong's concern for income inequality as a thing in itself, preferring to concentrate my attentions on absolute levels of income; if the poorest tenth could be made 15 percent better off only if the richest tenth could be made 150 percent better off, I would be more than happy to go along with such an arrangement, though I imagine that Dr. DeLong would not. Where I completely agree with, and in fact mostly defer to the good Professor is where the positive economics is concerned, as there's just no doubting that he knows his stuff on that score - Berkeley is very lucky to have him. Anyone who's still in doubt as to his understanding of his subject would do well to check out these online macroeconomics resources he's so generously provided gratis for all the world to learn from.

Not everyone can afford to get a decent macroeconomics textbook, nor do we all have access to decent libraries from which such books can easily be borrowed, but these notes ought at least to give the curious a head-start in learning how economies work, as seen from the viewpoint of those who get paid to think about the subject. For those of you who've engaged in sniping about the conclusions of economists in the past without having studied the subject in any depth, you just might discover that there's rather more to what these "Ivory Tower" intellectuals get up to than you'd imagined from your perch as armchair critics. As the great הלל once said, "now go and study!"