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Macroeconomics for a Modern Economy

By EDMUND S. PHELPS* Expressionism was rooted in the new experience of metropolitan life that transformed Europe between 1860 and 1930. It [is] a visionary expression of what it feels like to be adrift, exhilarated, terrified in a fast-paced, incomprehensible world. —Jackie Wullschlager, “The Original Sensationalists,” Financial Times The modern economy began to supplant the traditional economy in several nations in the latter half of the nineteenth century—and in many more in the latter half of the twentieth. A system where selfemployment and self-finance was typical gave way to a system of companies having various business freedoms and enabling institutions. This was the “great transformation” on which historians and sociologists, as well as business commentators, were to write volumes. The modern economy, where fully adopted, has indeed been transformative for nations1—but much less so for economics. If there is a thread running through my publications, particularly the work discussed here, it is that I have tried in that work to bear in mind the distinctive nature of the modern economy.2 What is its nature? I. Modern Economies and Modern Economics * McVickar Professor of Political Economy and Director, Center on Capitalism and Society, Earth Institute, Columbia University. For http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Economic Review American Economic Association

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