The best books that open your mind to the modeling of individual choices and aggregate phenomena

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a very bright little girl growing up in Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1960s. I passed the entrance exam for Girls’ Latin School in Boston without difficulty and set out for a lifelong journey through many great institutions of higher learning. By the time I was a university student, I knew I wanted to help solve social problems. So, I chose to become an economist. I’m a bit techy but I also have a passion for great writing and history. In recent years, my profession has allowed me to get to know Asia and its amazing cultures through my visits to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, China, India, and my current abode, Beirut!      


I wrote...

Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis: Theory and Policy in General Equilibrium

By Sumru Altug (editor), Jagjit S. Chadha (editor), Charles Nolan (editor)

Book cover of Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis: Theory and Policy in General Equilibrium

What is my book about?

This collection of essays applies modern micro-founded macroeconomic models to some of the most important economic policy questions facing monetary and macroeconomic policymakers.

Key issues surveyed include: consumption investment; growth and business cycles; the role of government; asset pricing; the interaction of monetary and fiscal policy; open-economy issues; stabilization policy and general equilibrium analysis of emerging market crises. The book includes specially commissioned chapters from recognized authorities.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Macroeconomic Theory: Economic Theory, Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

Sumru Altug Why did I love this book?

During my graduate school years at Carnegie-Mellon University, I was exposed to Thomas Sargent’s Macroeconomic Theory, which taught me how to work with difference equations.

More importantly, it inculcated the notion in me that economic theory and econometrics are inseparable notions. The approach that I attained from this book together with the courses that I took at Carnegie-Mellon’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration - GSIA as it was called then – have colored by my research outlook and my research itself over the years.

While Thomas Sargent produced many other graduate textbooks on macroeconomics in future years, I might say this was the most influential one (for me) in terms of the fluidity of its writing and its attempt to bridge macroeconomic theory and empirical research. 

By Thomas J. Sargent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Macroeconomic Theory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Macroeconomic Theory", in its first edition, was widely adopted for use as a graduate text; this updated and expanded version should find even greater popularity as a text and as a research reference. It has been substantially revised to include three entirely new chapters: The Consumption Function, Government Debt and Taxes, and Dynamic Optimal Taxation. Significant additions have been made to three of the original chapters dealing with difference equations, stochastic difference equations, and investment under uncertainty.


Book cover of The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

Sumru Altug Why did I love this book?

All economists, regardless of whether they profess to be Keynesians or not, have been influenced by Keynes’ General Theory.

I finally read this monumental volume through a copy that I borrowed from the library in the basement under the Department of Economics at Harvard University in the mid-2000s when I was visiting the Department with a short-term summer grant provided by Koc University. I could not help but be influenced by the structure and beauty of its language.

Keynes’ views on ‘animal spirits’ and the role of uncertainty in economic players’ decision-making have also played a role in my research on uncertainty and ambiguity with a variety of co-authors.   

By John Maynard Keynes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Maynard Keynes's 1936 General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money is a perfect example of the global power of critical thinking. A radical reconsideration of some of the founding principles and accepted axioms of classical economics at the time, it provoked a revolution in economic thought and government economic policies across the world. Unsurprisingly, Keynes's closely argued refutation of the then accepted grounds of economics employs all the key critical thinking skills: analysing and evaluating the old theories and their weaknesses; interpreting and clarifying his own fundamental terms and ideas; problem solving; and using creative thinking to go beyond…


Book cover of The New Classical Macroeconomics

Sumru Altug Why did I love this book?

This is a collected volume that Kevin Hoover of Duke University put together to provide a philosophical and methodological viewpoint on the empirical and quantitative research that was emerging from the Universities of Chicago, Minnesota, Carnegie-Mellon, Rochester in the 1970s and 1980s.

My own article, “Time-to-Build and Aggregate Fluctuations: Some New Evidence”, originally published in International Economic Review in 1989, was re-printed in this volume. Why was this article re-printed in this volume? It showed that a tightly-specified representative consumer model of aggregate fluctuations, regardless of the theoretical enhancements and econometric approach, could not explain series like aggregate output, consumption and investment jointly with aggregate hours.

While Kevin Hoover continued his methodological research on causality, micro-foundations of macroeconomics and the like, this research led me to delve into micro data models of consumption and labor supply with my co-author Robert Miller from CMU to model individual choices under aggregate shocks.     

By Kevin D. Hoover (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Classical Macroeconomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the past two decades the new classical macroeconomics has become the single most coherent school of macroeconomic thought. Always controversial, it has nonetheless captured centre-stage, and has become the standard by which competing schools of thought are judged. These volumes contain the most important and influential articles of the new classical school, as well as some important articles critical of new classical thinking. The volumes are arranged thematically, beginning with the rational expectations hypothesis and the application of general equilibrium to labour markets, and continuing with various new classical arguments for the ineffectiveness of government policy. The core of…


Book cover of The Mediterranean in the Ancient World

Sumru Altug Why did I love this book?

I read this wonderful book in the early 2000s when I had returned to Istanbul, Türkiye back from a professional position in the UK.

I was captivated by its description of the flora and fauna of our geography. I recall reading how the beloved chestnut trees of our region had made their way there from China. Braudel is an economic historian who is known to have placed physical and biological nature in the foreground of historical analysis. Thus, according to Braudel, nature is not merely space to be conquered or to be shaped by human desires.

Indeed, the organization of economic life in the Mediterranean was probably shaped by the diversity and difficulty of its geography as much as shaping it, as we argued in our article on Mediterranean business cycles published with Fabio Canova in Open Economies Review in 2013.   

By Fernand Braudel, Sian Reynolds (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mediterranean in the Ancient World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This general reader's history of the ancient mediterranean combines a thorough grasp of the scholarship of the day with an great historian's gift for imaginative reconstruction and inspired analogy. Extensive notes allow the reader to appreciate thestate of scholarship at the time of writing, the scale and breadth of Braudel's learning and the points where orthodoxy has changed, sometimes vindicating Braudel, sometimes proving him wrong. Above all the book offers us the chance to situate Braudel's mediterranean, born of a lifetime's love and knowledge, more clearly in the climates of the sea's history.


Book cover of An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire

Sumru Altug Why did I love this book?

Living in Istanbul over a long period since 1995 made me want to know its history better.

This book is one of best written and most influential books on the topic describing, as it does, not only the political and military history of the Ottoman Empire but also its economic and social fabric, its ability to innovate in a variety of fields and the reasons behind its rule over six centuries.

My interest in the topic eventually led to an influential publication with the economic historian Şevket Pamuk and our younger colleague Alpay Filiztekin in the European Review of Economic History in 2008 on the sources of economic growth for the region encompassing modern Türkiye between 1880-2005.      

By Halil Inalcik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This major contribution to Ottoman history is now published in paperback in two volumes: the original single hardback volume (1994) has been widely acclaimed as a landmark in the study of one of the most enduring and influential empires of modern times. The authors provide a richly detailed account of the social and economic history of the Ottoman region, from the origins of the Empire around 1300 to the eve of its destruction during World War One. The breadth of range and the fullness of coverage make these two volumes essential for an understanding of contemporary developments in both the…


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Book cover of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

Ethan Chorin Author Of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story-lover Middle East expert Curious Iconoclast Optimist

Ethan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Benghazi: A New History is a look back at the enigmatic 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, its long-tail causes, and devastating (and largely unexamined) consequences for US domestic politics and foreign policy. It contains information not found elsewhere, and is backed up by 40 pages of citations and interviews with more than 250 key protagonists, experts, and witnesses.

So far, the book is the main -- and only -- antidote to a slew of early partisan “Benghazi” polemics, and the first to put the attack in its longer term historical, political, and social context. If you want to understand some of the events that have shaped present-day America, from political polarization and the election of Donald Trump, to January 6, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russian expansionism, and the current Israel-Hamas war, I argue, you need to understand some of the twists and turns of America's most infamous "non-scandal, scandal.”

I was in Benghazi well before, during, and after the attack as a US diplomat and co-director of a medical NGO. I have written three books, and have been a contributor to The NYT, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, Salon, The Financial Times, Newsweek, and others.

By Ethan Chorin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On September 11, 2012, Al Qaeda proxies attacked and set fire to the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing a US Ambassador and three other Americans.  The attack launched one of the longest and most consequential 'scandals' in US history, only to disappear from public view once its political value was spent. 

Written in a highly engaging narrative style by one of a few Western experts on Libya, and decidely non-partisan, Benghazi!: A New History is the first to provide the full context for an event that divided, incited, and baffled most of America for more than three years, while silently reshaping…


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Interested in macroeconomics, the Ottoman Empire, and monetary policy?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about macroeconomics, the Ottoman Empire, and monetary policy.

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