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Lionel Robbins Lectures

Objectives and Means

The global economic crisis of 2008–2009 seemed a crisis not just of economic performance but also of the system's underlying political ideology and economic theory. But a second Great Depression was averted, and the radical shift to New Deal-like economic policies predicted by some never took place. Perhaps the correct response to the crisis is simply careful management of the macroeconomic challenges as we recover, combined with reform of financial regulation to prevent a recurrence.

In this book Ralph Gomory and William Baumol adapt classical trade models to the modern world economy. Trade today is dominated by manufactured goods, rapidly moving technology, and huge firms that benefit from economies of scale. This is very different from the largely agricultural world in which the classical theories originated. Gomory and Baumol show that the new and significant conflicts resulting from international trade are inherent in modern economies.

A Cross-Country Empirical Study

Research on economic growth has exploded in the past decade. Hundreds of empirical studies on economic growth across countries have highlighted the correlation between growth and a variety of variables. Determinants of Economic Growth, based on Robert Barro's Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures, delivered at the London School of Economics in February 1996, summarizes this important literature.

Departing from tradition, both Yegor Gaidar, former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and Karl Otto Pöhl, former Chairman of the German Bundesbank, were invited to give the 1993 Lionel Robbins Lectures. The experiences of each author reflect the vast economic changes spreading across Europe -- economic reform in the East and growing economic integration in the West. Gaidar helped launch Russian economic reforms in 1992; Pöhl fought the hyperinflation in Europe of the 1970s and 1980s and laid the groundwork for monetary stability in Western Europe.

Mexico offers a particularly interesting study of economic reform because of its successes and its ambitious scale. As that country's current Minister of Finance and Public Credit and a distinguished economist, Pedro Aspe offers an informed, inside look at attempts to modernize Mexico's economy through the 1970s and 1980s. Aspe examines how Mexico has tried to stabilize its economy with measures such as economic deregulation, fiscal reform, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and realistic budget management.

Do events of the 1930s carry a message for today? Lessons from the Great Depression provides an integrated view of the depression, covering the experience in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. It describes the causes of the depression, why it was so widespread and prolonged, and what brought about eventual recovery.

In an intriguing synthesis of current theories of international finance, trade, and industrial organization, Paul Krugman presents a provocative analysis of the extraordinary volatility of exchange rates in the 1980s.Krugman focuses on imperfect integration of the world economy, showing how this has become both a cause and effect of exchange rate instability. He outlines the costs and benefits of recent flexible-exchange rate policies and offers fresh insight into why the models that worked in the first half of the 1980s don't work in the growing uncertainty of the latter half.

Alan S. Blinder offers the dual perspective of a leading academic macroeconomist who served a stint as Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board--one who practiced what he had long preached and then returned to academia to write about it.