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Review Essay

Can Economists Learn?

The Right Lessons From the Financial Crisis

In This Review

What Have We Learned? Macroeconomic Policy after the Crisis
What Have We Learned? Macroeconomic Policy after the Crisis
Edited by George A. Akerlof, Olivier J. Blanchard, David Rom
The MIT Press, 2014, 368 pp. $27.95 Purchase

Is it acceptable for a reviewer to complain about a book’s title? I hope so, because this one is pretty misleading. A number of valuable lessons can indeed be gleaned from the two and a half dozen essays that compose this quite interesting volume, but the book’s subject is described far more accurately by the title of the April 2013 International Monetary Fund conference that spawned it: “Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons.” (Yes, there was a “Rethinking Macro Policy I,” which resulted in an earlier MIT Press volume.)

The two subjects are related, of course. But readers expecting the insights of 31 prominent authors on what economists should have learned from the crisis may come away disappointed. For example, the book’s index does not even contain the words “bubble,” “subprime,” “Lehman,” or “AIG,” and there is only one reference to derivatives. Still, readers looking for

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