In classrooms Arthur M. Okun may be best remembered for Okun's Law, but his lasting legacy is the respect and admiration he earned from economists, practitioners, and policymakers. Equality and Efficiency is the perfect embodiment of that legacy, valued both by professional economists and those readers with a keen interest in social policy. To his fellow economists, Okun presents messages, in the form of additional comments and select citations, in his footnotes. To all readers, Okun presents an engaging dual theme: the market needs a place, and the market needs to be kept in its place.
As Okun puts it: Institutions in a capitalist democracy prod us to get ahead of our neighbors economically after telling us to stay in line socially. This double standard professes and pursues an egalitarian political and social system while simultaneously generating gaping disparities in economic well-being.
Today, Okun's dual theme feels incredibly prescient as we grapple with the hot-button topic of income inequality. In his foreword, Lawrence H. Summers declares: On what one might think of as questions of "economic philosophy," I doubt that Okun has been improved on in the subsequent interval. His discussion of how societies rely on rights as well as markets should be required reading for all young economists who are enamored with market solutions to all problems.
With a new foreword by Lawrence H. Summers
Arthur Melvin Okun is widely considered among the most important macroeconomists of the twentieth century. Born in 1928, in Jersey City, New Jersey, he received his A.B. and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and went on to teach economics at Yale University. In the 1960s he served as a senior economist, member, and, finally, as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
When Okun left the CEA, he joined the Brookings Institution. In 1970, he cofounded, with George Perry, the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA), which is still among the world's most prestigious economic journals and currently boasts sixteen Nobel Prize winners among its authors.
Known for his wit as well as his compassion, Okun reacted to surging inflation in the 1970s by developing an economic indicator he dubbed the Misery Index, which charted the well-being of Americans by combining the unemployment rate and inflation rate. In the years since, Okun's idea of indexing misery has been both repurposed and refined to track happiness and well-being across all sorts of indicators.
When Okun died unexpectedly at the age of just 51 in March 1980, he was hailed as an innovative and effective policy economist who was unique in holding the respect and admiration of both academic economists and practical politicians.
Okun is today remembered as an effective mediator between the realms of economic theory and analysis and the development and implementation of public policy. In this realm, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, with its difficult questions about the uneasy relationship between capitalism and democracy, is most certainly Okun's masterwork.
Since 1946, Henry Hazlitt’s bestselling Economics in One Lesson has popularized the belief that economics can be boiled down to one simple lesson: market prices represent the true cost of everything. But one-lesson economics tells only half the story. It can explain why markets often work so well, but it can’t explain why they often fail so badly—or what we should do when they stumble. As Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Samuelson quipped, “When someone preaches ‘Economics in one lesson,’ I advise: Go back for the second lesson.” In Economics in Two Lessons, John Quiggin teaches both lessons, offering a masterful introduction to the key ideas behind the successes—and failures—of free markets.
Economics in Two Lessons explains why market prices often fail to reflect the full cost of our choices to society as a whole. For example, every time we drive a car, fly in a plane, or flick a light switch, we contribute to global warming. But, in the absence of a price on carbon emissions, the costs of our actions are borne by everyone else. In such cases, government action is needed to achieve better outcomes.
Two-lesson economics means giving up the dogmatism of laissez-faire as well as the reflexive assumption that any economic problem can be solved by government action, since the right answer often involves a mixture of market forces and government policy. But the payoff is huge: understanding how markets actually work—and what to do when they don’t.
Brilliantly accessible, Economics in Two Lessons unlocks the essential issues at the heart of any economic question.
The authors detail strategies for solving dynamic structural models and present the full range of methods for characterizing and evaluating empirical implications, including calibration exercises, method-of-moment procedures, and likelihood-based procedures, both classical and Bayesian. The authors look at recent strides that have been made to enhance numerical efficiency, consider the expanded applicability of dynamic factor models, and examine the use of alternative assumptions involving learning and rational inattention on the part of decision makers. The treatment of methodologies for obtaining nonlinear model representations has been expanded, and linear and nonlinear model representations are integrated throughout the text. The book offers a rich array of implementation algorithms, sample empirical applications, and supporting computer code.
Structural Macroeconometrics is the ideal textbook for graduate students seeking an introduction to macroeconomics and econometrics, and for advanced students pursuing applied research in macroeconomics. The book's historical perspective, along with its broad presentation of alternative methodologies, makes it an indispensable resource for academics and professionals.
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head.
Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: Freakonomics.
Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of . . . well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.
What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and—if the right questions are asked—is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.
Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.
Bonus material added to the revised and expanded 2006 editionThe original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.Seven “Freakonomics” columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.Selected entries from the Freakonomics blog, posted between April 2005 and May 2006 at http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/.