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The Nature of Macroeconomics
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The Nature of Macroeconomics

Instability and Change in the Capitalist System

9781840640694 Edward Elgar Publishing
Athol Fitzgibbons, formerly Associate Professor of Economics, Griffith University, Australia
Publication Date: 2000 ISBN: 978 1 84064 069 4 Extent: 192 pp
This book addresses the long absence of a satisfactory theory of macroeconomics. Keynesian theory is not consistent with rational self-interest, but neo-classical economics is unable to explain economic volatility and the trade cycle. Athol Fitzgibbons critiques the leading macroeconomic theories, which he believes are unduly mechanistic because they are incompatible with non-quantitative knowledge.

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This book addresses the long absence of a satisfactory theory of macroeconomics. Keynesian theory is not consistent with rational self-interest, but neo-classical economics is unable to explain economic volatility and the trade cycle. Athol Fitzgibbons critiques the leading macroeconomic theories, which he believes are unduly mechanistic because they are incompatible with non-quantitative knowledge.

The author sketches the intellectual history of partial knowledge and judgement so far as these relate to macroeconomics, and rejects the claims that Keynes recanted the analysis of practical reason in his Treatise on Probability. Fitzgibbons’s theme is the possibility of a new synthesis of Keynes and the neoclassical system. This stresses financial rationality, but it also recognizes that there is an element of indeterminacy in both government policies and the movements of the market.
Critical Acclaim
‘The Nature of Macroeconomics is a short but adventurous book that punches well above its weight . . . As part of a growing literature that identifies methodological issues as central to any appreciation of macroeconomic debate, and which seeks to under-labor for a more relevant useful – indeed, more scientific – macroeconomics, Fitzgibbons’ book is to be warmly welcomed.’
– Mark Setterfield, Review of Social Economy

‘Fitzgibbons examines the foundations of macroeconomic theory and policy and develops an insightful discussion of important issues, especially the state of knowledge of both market participants and policymakers . . . The Nature of Macroeconomics is clearly a book that contributes to the growth of our own partial knowledge.’
– David Dequech, Review of Political Economy

‘Athol Fitzgibbons’s book distils the main lesson of the debates on Keynes over the last 25 years: that macroeconomics has to be based on a theory of knowledge consistent with the way life is lived, where decisions are made in the face of imperfect knowledge. All existing theory (including, he argues, the General Theory) assumes either perfect knowledge or complete ignorance. He shows us why this has happened, and suggests a way out. It is a brave, knowledgeable and important book.’
– Victoria Chick, University College London, UK

‘A well-written, well-argued discussion of the foundations of macro. If you are unfamiliar with the arguments that macro is not, and cannot be, a traditional science, then this book is definitely worth reading.’
– David Colander, Middlebury College, Vermont, US
Contents
Contents: Preface Part I: The Economics of Indeterminacy 1. The Crisis in the Keynesian System 2. Indeterminate Decisions 3. Uncertainty and Decisions Part II: A Critique of Macroeconomics 4. Macroeconomic Theories 5. The Theory of Macroeconomic Policy Part III: Economics and Practical Reason 6. Keynes and the Intellectual Context 7. Conclusion
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