Macroeconomics is a discipline of economics that investigates how a whole economy—the market or other large-scale systems—behaves. Macroeconomics is the study of macroeconomic phenomena such as inflation, price levels, economic growth rate, national income, gross domestic product (GDP), and changes in unemployment.
Macroeconomics is concerned with the overall performance, structure, and behavior of the economy, as opposed to microeconomics, which is primarily concerned with the decisions made by individual players in the economy (like people, households, industries, etc.).
What Is Macroeconomics?
Macroeconomics addresses some of the most important problems, such as: What causes unemployment? What factors contribute to inflation? What causes or promotes economic growth? Macroeconomics seeks to quantify an economy’s performance, explain what factors drive it, and forecast how performance may improve.
- Macroeconomics is the discipline of economics concerned with the overall structure, performance, behavior, and decision-making of the economy.
- Long-term economic growth and shorter-term business cycles are the two primary fields of macroeconomic study.
- Macroeconomics in its contemporary form is commonly characterized as beginning in the 1930s with John Maynard Keynes and his ideas regarding market behavior and governmental policy; various schools of thought have subsequently arisen.
- Microeconomics, as opposed to macroeconomics, is mainly concerned with the affects on and decisions made by individual players in the economy (people, companies, industries, etc.).
The study of economics is divided into two parts: macroeconomics and microeconomics. Macroeconomics, as the name indicates, examines the economy’s overall, big-picture predicament. Simply said, it focuses on how the economy as a whole operates and then studies how various sectors of the economy interact with one another to understand how the aggregate functions. This covers factors such as unemployment, GDP, and inflation. Macroeconomists create models that explain the connections between these variables. These macroeconomic models, and the forecasts they generate, are used by government entities to aid in the development and evaluation of economic, monetary, and fiscal policy; by businesses to set strategies in domestic and global markets, and by investors to forecast and plan for movements in various asset classes.
Given the massive size of government expenditures and the influence of economic policy on consumers and enterprises, macroeconomics plainly addresses important topics. Economic theories, when used correctly, may provide interesting insights into how economies work and the long-term ramifications of certain policies and actions. Macroeconomic theory can also help individual businesses and investors make better decisions through a more thorough understanding of the effects of broad economic trends and policies on their own industries.
Limitations of Macroeconomics
It is equally critical to recognize the limits of economic theory. Theories are often developed in a vacuum and lack real-world elements like taxes, regulation, and transaction costs. The actual world is likewise rather intricate, with issues of social choice and conscience that do not lend themselves to quantitative investigation.
Even given economic theory’s limitations, it is vital and desirable to monitor significant macroeconomic indices such as GDP, inflation, and unemployment. The success of firms, and hence their stocks, is heavily impacted by the economic circumstances in which they operate, and studying macroeconomic data may assist an investor in making better choices and identifying turning moments.
Similarly, understanding which ideas are popular and influencing a given political administration may be quite beneficial. A government’s core economic ideas will reveal a lot about how that government will handle taxes, regulation, government expenditure, and other measures. Investors may have a better grasp of economics and the implications of economic choices by better understanding economics and the consequences of economic actions.
Principles of Macroeconomics
Macroeconomics is a large science, but two particular fields of study are indicative of it. The first topic is concerned with the variables that influence long-term economic growth or gains in national income. The other is concerned with the causes and implications of short-term changes in national income and employment, sometimes referred to as the business cycle.
Economic growth is defined as an increase in an economy’s aggregate output. Macroeconomists attempt to understand the elements that promote or impede economic growth in order to support economic policies that encourage development, progress, and growing living standards.
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith’s famous 18th-century treatise that promoted free trade, laissez-faire economic policy, and widening the division of labor, was possibly the first, and definitely one of the key works in this area of study. Macroeconomists started to investigate growth using more rigorous mathematical models during the twentieth century. Physical capital, human capital, labor force, and technology are widely used to predict growth.
Overlaid on long-term macroeconomic growth patterns, the levels and rates of change of main macroeconomic indicators such as employment and national production fluctuate up and down, resulting in expansions and recessions, a phenomenon known as the business cycle. The 2008 financial crisis is a contemporary example, while the 1930s Great Depression provided the motivation for the creation of much current macroeconomic theory.
While the word “macroeconomics” is relatively new (it was coined in the 1940s), many of the key principles of macroeconomics have been studied for much longer. Topics like unemployment, pricing, growth, and trade have preoccupied economists nearly from the discipline’s inception, but their research has grown considerably more concentrated and specialized in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Elements of previous work by Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill clearly addressed themes that are today regarded as belonging to the area of macroeconomics.
Macroeconomics, in its contemporary form, is commonly described as beginning with John Maynard Keynes 1936 publication of The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. Keynes provided an explanation for the Great Depression’s aftermath when commodities remained unsold and employees were jobless. Keynes’ hypothesis sought to explain why markets may fail to clear.
Prior to the popularization of Keynes’ ideas, economists did not distinguish between microeconomics and macroeconomics. As stated by Leon Walras, the same microeconomic rules of supply and demand that operate in individual goods markets were recognized to interact between individual markets to bring the economy into general equilibrium. Economists such as Knut Wicksell, Irving Fisher, and Ludwig von Mises described the relationship between goods markets and large-scale financial variables like price levels and interest rates by highlighting the distinctive function that money plays in the economy as a medium of exchange.
Keynesian economics, as Keynes’ views became known, split into various different schools of thought over the twentieth century.
Schools of Thought in Macroeconomics
The study of macroeconomics is divided into several schools of thought, each with its own perspective on how markets and their players function.
Classical economists, based on Adam Smith’s initial views, felt that prices, wages, and rates are flexible and that markets tend to clear unless stifled by government interference. The phrase “classical economists” does not refer to a school of macroeconomic theory, but rather to a designation assigned first by Karl Marx and then by Keynes to prior economic philosophers with whom they disagreed, but who did not distinguish macroeconomics from microeconomics at all.
Keynesian economics was built primarily on the writings of John Maynard Keynes, and it marked the birth of macroeconomics as a distinct field of study from microeconomics. Keynesians consider aggregate demand to be the most important element in problems such as unemployment and the economic cycle. Keynesian economists think that active government involvement in the economic cycle can be handled via fiscal policy (spending more in recessions to generate demand) and monetary policy (stimulating demand with lower rates). Keynesian economists argue that the system is riddled with rigidities, notably sticky pricing that inhibits the appropriate clearing of supply and demand.
The Monetarist school is a branch of Keynesian economics that is mostly ascribed to Milton Friedman’s publications. Monetarists claim that, within and outside Keynesian models, monetary policy is a more effective and desirable policy instrument for managing aggregate demand than fiscal policy. Monetarists also recognize the limitations of monetary policy, which make fine-tuning the economy unwise, and instead urge adherence to policy guidelines that support stable rates of inflation.
The New Classical school, like the New Keynesians, is based mainly on the objective of integrating microeconomic foundations into macroeconomics in order to address the two fields’ apparent theoretical inconsistencies. The relevance of microeconomics and models based on it is emphasized by the New Classical school. New Classical economics think that all actors want to maximize utility and have rational expectations, which they include in macroeconomic models. New Classical economists argue that unemployment is primarily voluntary, that discretionary fiscal policy is disruptive, and that inflation can be handled by monetary policy.
The New Keynesian school likewise aims to strengthen old Keynesian economic ideas with microeconomic underpinnings. While New Keynesians acknowledge that people and corporations act on rational expectations, they continue to believe that there are a number of market failures, such as sticky pricing and wages. Because of this “stickiness,” the government may utilize fiscal and monetary policy to improve macroeconomic circumstances.
The Austrian School of Economics is an older school of thought that is seeing a renaissance in prominence. Austrian economic theories are mostly concerned with microeconomic phenomena, but because they, like the so-called classical economists, never strictly separated microeconomics from macroeconomics, Austrian theories have important implications for what are otherwise considered macroeconomic subjects. The Austrian business cycle theory, in particular, explains roughly synchronized (macroeconomic) fluctuations in economic activity across markets as a function of monetary policy, as well as the role that money and banks play in connecting (microeconomic) markets to one another and across time.
Macroeconomics vs. Microeconomics
Macroeconomics is distinct from microeconomics, which focuses on minor elements that influence individual and corporate decisions. Typically, factors considered in both microeconomics and macroeconomics have an impact on one another. For example, the degree of unemployment in the economy as a whole influences the availability of people from whom a firm may recruit.
A significant contrast between microeconomics and macroeconomics is that macroeconomic aggregates may occasionally act quite differently, or even oppositely, to corresponding microeconomic variables. For example, Keynes cited the so-called Paradox of Thrift, which contends that although saving money may be the key to increasing wealth for an individual when everyone seeks to raise their savings at the same time, it might lead to an economic slowdown and less wealth in the aggregate.
Meanwhile, microeconomics studies economic trends, or what may happen when people make specific decisions. Individuals are often divided into subgroups such as consumers, sellers, and company owners. These players engage with one another based on the rules of supply and demand for resources, with money and interest rates serving as price mechanisms for coordination.
If you liked this post please check out our other definition articles!