This conference is based on the assumption that macroeconometric modeling should be seen as central to the development of macroeconomics. Such models were the way in which insights from macroeconomic theory were applied to policy. For example, the construction and running of large macroeconometric models was a major activity in many treasuries and central banks. Such models and models based on competing methodological approaches were a major element in the testing and development of macroeconomic theories and in attempts to resolve controversies, such that between Keynesianism and monetarism or between and new classicals and new Keynesians.
However, this close relationship between macroeconomics and macroeconometric modeling has not generally been acknowledged by historians of economics largely, we suggest, because a division of labour has emerged in which the history of macroeconomics has focused on macroeconomic theory, whilst the history of macroeconometric modeling has generally been seen as part of the history of econometrics, with a high proportion of accounts being written by practitioners. As a result the history of macroeconometric modeling remains not only disconnected from broader developments in macroeconomics but also unsystematic compared with histories of macroeconomic theory or econometrics. The aim of this conference is to make the history of macroeconometric modeling more central to the history of macroeconomics.
The history of macroeconometric modeling should, we contend, be of great interest to historians of economics who have, in recent years, paid much more attention to the institutional setting in which economists’ practices have developed. Whilst university economics departments have been very important, it is impossible to provide a serious history of macroeconometric modeling without taking into account the varied institutional settings in which it has been undertaken—treasuries, central banks, independent research institutes, international organizations (including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations) and private consultancy organizations. There are also different national traditions in such work and in its relationship to policy making.
In order to provide a more satisfactory history, that explores the interface of macroeconomics, econometrics and policymaking, there are many questions that we would like to see addressed:
- The role played by macroeconometric modeling in the history of macroeconomics as a whole: the share of the profession (researchers and graduate students) involved in macroeconometric modeling or conducting alternative empirical investigations; its history in textbooks; etc.
- Relationships between theoretical and applied work: the cross-fertilization of macro modeling and econometrics; the shaping of the theoretical agenda; policymakers’ engagement with these types of macroeconomics; etc.
- Technology and computation: the relationships between macroeconomists, econometricians and software developers; IT progress shaping macroeconometric modeling; etc.
- Places and communities: institutional basis of models; relationships between universities, central banks, consultancy firms and others producing macro models; was there convergence between the agendas and methods pursued by academics and central banks and if so what form did it take?
- Modelers and their clients: How did modelers engage with their clients?
We are interested in bringing together historians of science and of economics from different countries and with complementary interests to shed new light on the history of empirical macro, policymaking, monetary theories, policies and institutions.
The conference will be at Utrecht, The Netherlands, in one of the historical building in the Centre of Utrecht, and will be sponsored by the Tjalling Koopmans Institute (U.S.E. research Institute) and the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences (and hopefully a third funding agency). It is a two-day conference, on 6 and 7 April, 2017. We have already nine papers that will be presented and we are looking for additional contributions. Please submit your proposals to Marcel Boumans (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than January 10, 2017. Accepted submissions will be announced by January 20, 2017. Full papers are due by March 15, 2017.
Conference organizer: Marcel Boumans (Utrecht University)
Project organizers and scientific committee:
Roger Backhouse (University of Birmingham, UK, and Erasmus University, The Netherlands)
Marcel Boumans (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Béatrice Cherrier (University of Caen, France)
Pedro G. Duarte (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
Kevin Hoover (Duke University, USA)