In that respect, the book brings the different strands of macroeconomics together into a single approach under which economic agents strive to make rational choices but, while doing so, sometimes misconstrue the data available to them. The result is imbalances between aggregate supply and aggregate demand that can cause economic contractions. These imbalances may be self-correcting, or they may become long-lived and require government intervention through the exercise of corrective monetary and fiscal policy.
Volume I examines economic behavior on the assumption that economic agents correctly interpret the data before them. It thus takes a “micro foundations” approach, under which aggregate supply equals aggregate demand.
Volume II allows for the possibility of myopia on the part of economic agents and for the resulting economic malperformance that can result from this myopia. It examines the short-run disparities between aggregate supply and aggregate demand that can result from ill-informed choices of individual economic agents or from a misdiagnosis of economic data by policy makers. It concludes with a review of recent U.S. economic policy.
The book aims to correct a good number of misconceptions that bedevil economic policymaking—among them the idea that protracted economic contractions necessarily call for increased government spending and lower taxes. It challenges the common understanding that government deficits raise interest rates and “crowd out” private investment.