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Howard Sherman and Michael Meeropol: Principles of Macroeconomics: Activist vs. Austerity Politics.

Howard Sherman and Michael Meeropol

Principles of Macroeconomics: Activist vs. Austerity Politics

M.E. Sharpe, New York, 2013, 395pp.

The seemingly indefatiguable Howard Sherman has made numerous contributions to challenging economic orthodoxy and developing political economic alternatives. Perhaps best known for his textbook Economics: an Introduction to Traditional and Radical Views (first launched in 1972, initially co-authored with his colleague E.K.Hunt and later, in more recent editions, with Reynold Nesiba and Phil O'Hara too), he has produced a steady stream of books over more than four decades. Here he teams up with Michael Meeropol to provide a challenging alternative to mainstream macroeconomics textbooks. The main title of the book looks bland enough but its sub-title clearly signals the political economic intent. The aim is to introduce students to the subject in a way that gets them to see why the prevailing post-GFC 'politics of austerity' rests on shaky theoretical foundations and needs to be challenged by people seeking a less punitive and more egalitarian policy approach.

Sherman's well-honed, distinctive style of writing is boldly evident here. It is bright and breezy, sometimes mixing colloquial language with the more academic terminology. He and his co-author marshal up-to-date evidence to illustrate the trends in the key variables on which macroeconomics must focus--output and incomes, exports and imports, wage and profit shares, consumer and corporate credit, investment and government spending, interest rates, quantitatative easing, etc. The information is presented in readily understandable formats.

The book's focus on US data and institutions probably limits its potential use as a textbook internationally. The categorisation of macroeconomic views as either Classical or Progressive (with Keynesian economics as contested terrain) may also not appeal to some heterodox economists seeking a more fully pluralist approach. Yet the book is successful in showing that a unit of study based on the standard concerns of mainstream macroeconomic theory and policy can raise all the big political economic questions if only teachers are willing to rise to the challenge.

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Author:Stilwell, Frank
Publication:Journal of Australian Political Economy
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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