Macroeconomic research, present and past by Kenneth Kuttner

What is the state of macroeconomics? We explore this question by hand-collecting information on the epistemological approaches, theoretical and empirical methods and data sources used in macro research for 1,894 published papers. We find that over the past 40 years there has been a growing emphasis on increasingly sophisticated quantitative theory, such as DSGEs. Papers employing these methods account for the majority of articles in macro journals. The shift towards quantitative theory is mirrored by a decline in the use of econometric methods to test economic hypotheses. Microeconometric techniques have displaced time series methods, and empirical papers increasingly rely on micro and proprietary data sources. Market imperfections are pervasive, and the amount of research involving financial frictions has increased significantly in the past 10 years. The frequency with which non-macro JEL codes appear in macro articles indicates a great deal of overlap between macroeconomics and other fields.

Kenneth N. Kuttner is the Robert F. White Class of 1952 Professor of Economics at Williams College, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a research fellow of the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration at the University of Kobe. His research has addressed the roles of monetary aggregates and interest rates in monetary policy, inflation targeting, methods for estimating potential output, the Japanese economy, the impact of monetary policy on financial markets, and the effects of macroprudential policies on the property market. Prior to joining the Williams faculty, Kuttner was the Danforth-Lewis Professor of Economics at Oberlin College. He has served as an assistant vice president in the research departments of the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Chicago, where he specialized in the analysis of monetary policy issues. Kuttner earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1989.

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