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The Methodology of Modern Macroeconomics and the Descriptive Approach to Discounting

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  • Koen Vermeylen

    (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

Critics of modern macroeconomics often raise concerns about unwarranted welfare conclusions and data mining. This paper illustrates these concerns with a thought experiment, based on the debate in environmental economics about the appropriate discount rate in climate change analyses: I set up an economy where a social evaluator wants to determine the optimal time path of emission levels, and seeks advice for this from an old-style neo-classical macroeconomist and a new neo-classical (modern) macroeconomist; I then describe how both economists analyze the economy, their policy advice, and their mistakes. I then use the insights from this thought experiment to point out some pitfalls of the modern macroeconomic methodology.

Suggested Citation

  • Koen Vermeylen, 2013. "The Methodology of Modern Macroeconomics and the Descriptive Approach to Discounting," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-200/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20130200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nelson, Julie A., 2008. "Economists, value judgments, and climate change: A view from feminist economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 441-447, April.
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    6. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
    7. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 631-649.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    modern macroeconomics; methodology; descriptive; prescriptive; discount rate;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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