Macroeconomics - a European Text (Fourth Edition) by Michael Burda and Charles Wyplosz

Article excerpt

Macroeconomics - a European Text (fourth edition) By Michael Burda and Charles Wyplosz OUP ISBN 0-19-926496-1 576p.

I found this an invigorating but difficult book. The foreword does not make it clear who is the target audience. In my view it is much too difficult for "A" level students and probably for most undergraduates. There is a lot of technical and mathematical explaining which would put off many budding economists.

As the subtitle suggests, there is a strong European emphasis. This is reflected in a large amount of data in figures and tables from different European economies. The authors believe that the European economies have distinguishing features but that macroeconomic fundamentals are global in scope.

The content is substantial, covering the expected macroeconomic topics. It tends to assume a lot of basic knowledge and understanding. For example, it uses data on investment as a % of GDP to illustrate the rate of saving when discussing the relationship between savings and growth of GDP/capita. Without a thorough grounding, much of the text is difficult. I learned some new things - unsterilized foreign exchange markets, undampened oscillations in business cycles, and propagation channels (which I previously thought was a gardening technique!).

This book is attractive looking and colourful. It is divided into seven parts, which in turn are subdivided into chapters. Each chapter starts with an overview and ends with a summary. Most of these are useful although I did find the overview on monetary policy unconvincing because of its failure to refer to the relationship with fiscal policy.

The text is broken up with plenty of boxes and tables. At times the graphs and figures are overdone - for example, a half-page figure showing the trading hours of over twenty stock markets around the world, by Greenwich Mean Time, seems a bit nebulous to me. Key economic concepts are highlighted in red and outlined in the glossary, as well as being cross referenced to other relevant chapters.

In the authors' own preview of the book, they believe "it is best first to understand the broad areas of consensus" and concentrate on the common ground although they present most of the important disagreements among economists as well. …