ADVANCED MACROECONOMICS | Università degli studi di Bergamo


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Didattica Convenzionale
Secondo Semestre
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Those required by the degree programme.

Educational goals

The course is meant to provide an overview and a critical understanding of Macroeconomic theories and policies in a perspective of complexity. Its structure is built in order to give strong conceptual foundations about the working of the macroeconomy in a historically evolving (social and monetary institutional) setting.
Given the width of Macroeconomics, some approaches will be privileged as selective focuses. A number of theories will be presented according to their historical appearance. Nevertheless the purpose of this excursus is to highlight the role each theoretical perspective gives to the key variables of macroeconomics (income, employment, currency, interest rate, exchange rate): the course aims to make the student able to learn how a macroeconomic synthesis is built starting from the selection of simplifying foundations, which may turn out “critical” to the understanding of real world dynamics.
Three are the logical cornerstones of the course structure, as well as three the related educational targets.
1. Methodological: basic introduction to the relationship among macroeconomics and complexity. Present the main principles allowing the builiding of alternative theories of macroeconomic dynamics; in particular, scenarios where instability is temporary and exogenous will be faced with the alternative ones where endogenous levers act as destabilizing drivers of macroeconomic dynamics.
2. Theoretical and Analytical: illustrate some reference basic macroeconomic theory, showing its internal structure, the equilibria it implies and the dynamics it produces either endogenously or as an effect of exogenous shocks. The exposition starts with a narrative of the theories, then it comes to the elementary quantitative models traditionally used in the standard macroeconomic pedagogy. Finally the basic intuitions on the tools needed for more sophisticated macroeconomic modeling are suggested.
3. Empirical: illustrate the methodologies, questionsions, results and the controversial issues arising from the most recent empirical literature on macroeconomics.
At the end of the course the student is supposed:
1. (method): to gain a critical understanding of the topics presented during the lectures; he is also expected to learn how different methodological premises, can lead to very different implications in terms of: (a) representation of the same phenomena; (b) choice of the instruments (both languages, propositions and quantitative tools) and relevant relations; (c) policy prescriptions.
2. (theory): to know the pillars of standard macroeconomic literature, but also the relevant literature on endogenous fluctuations due to financial disturbance.
3. (analytics /empirics): to gain the elementary knowledge and analytical skills related to basic macroeconomic modeling with focus on financial instability. Main issues presented: timing (discrete vs. continuous time); time-horizons (short, medium, long run); information (asymmetric information vs. uncertainty); stochastic representation (objective vs. subjective; discrete vs continuous; ergodic vs. non ergodic); structure of quantitative relations (linear vs non-linear); representative framework (DSGE vs. stock and flow consistent). All these analytical choices are the preliminary aspects students are eventually supposed to be able to face while attempting any empirical exercise.
The course Students will be able to recognise the plurality of economic discourses, to assess economic policies, and to develop critical thinking and autonomous judgements. Given the methodological characterization of the course, they should acquire general tools/skills, suitable to advance in the field of scientific research with a focus on macroeconomics. The exposure to competing perspectives should suggest that dialectics and doubt are powerful cognitive tools, in order to address constructively the intrinsic uncertainty of economic relations, be they individual or systemic.

Course content

1. A Brief Overview of the Economic History and the Rise of Capitalism;
2. Sectoral Accounting and the Flow of Funds;
3. Money and Banking, and the role of Government;
4. Main macroeconomic approaches: a. The (Pre-Keynesian) Classical System; b. Keynes’s Critique and Alternative: the role of Effective Demand and Expectations; c. Unemployment and Inflation: the Phillips Curve and Beyond; d. Post World War II Mainstream Macro: Neoclassical Synthesis; Monetarism; New Classical Macroeconomics; Real Business Cycles; New Keynesian Macroeconomics; New Monetary Consensus; e. Post World War II Heterodox Macro: Antecedents (Marx & Marxism, Wicksell & Schumpeter, Kalecki) Monetary Circuit; The Role of Investment in Profit Generation; Hyman P. Minsky (Socialisation of Investments; Stabilising an Unstable Economy)
5. Recent Policy Debates. Macroeconomics in the Light of the Global Financial Crisis, the European Crisis and the Covid-Pandemics.

Mainstream view still tend to propose a macroeconomic framework where finance (not differently from money) has no role in affecting permanently the state of the economy, its perspectives of growth and prosperity: finance is at the best an opportunity (but no more than an useful mean), and at the worst it is the source of an inconvenient temporary disturbance.
Contrasting this reductive conception of the financial side of the economy there exist a full body of literature which becomes especially popular in times of crisis, but that can trace its roots back to the very origins of Economics as a Science. The course addresses such theoretical aspects, in the attempt to highlight the common basic cornerstones of a macroeconomic vision where finance can play a central role in determining endogenously the complex dynamic pattern of the economy.
The question of how macroeconomics should be reconstructed, overcoming the present state of disarray, will be dealt with, so to make it relevant again to the world in which we actually live in.

Teaching methods

Lectures, Power Point, Videos, Seminars, E-learning.

Attendance, though not compulsory, is strongly recommended, and will be monitored.

Assessment and Evaluation

The evaluation process is made by different steps, meant to assess different skills by students: knowledge of relevant literature, synthesis, critical thinking.
(1) Class presentation or assignment (30% of the score). At the beginning of the course the teachers will make arrangements in order to organize properly the presentations. Such presentations are supposed to cover part of the course material (in other words they are going to be complementary to the teacher's lectures). In particular, starting no earlier than 13th lecture, students will be asked to give their own presentations during lecture time. Each individual presentation is supposed to last 15 minutes, but students can present in groups (no more than three each group). In this way, during the second and third part of the course, each lecture will have different "voices": 2/3 by the teacher, 1/3 by students.
Students who are not attending the classes are supposed to contact the professors in order to have directions for an alternative/equivalent accomplishment.
2) Final exam (70% of the score). The final is divided in two parts. The first part is a 45 minutes test with two open questions (40% of the total score). The second part is a take home assignment (30% of the total score). Again it implies the answer to two open questions. The students are supposed to pick up the questions from an opportunity set made availabe by the teacher on the day of the exam. Take home questions are supposed to be answered in five days.

Further information

If the teaching is taught in mixed mode or remotely, changes can be made compared to what is stated in the syllabus to make the course and exams accessible also in these ways