Rebuilding Macroeconomics (RM) is a research network, initially funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council in 2017. We began at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and moved to our new home at the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP), University College London in mid-2021.
Our aim is to transform macroeconomics into a social science more relevant for addressing today’s major economic challenges. We ask fundamental questions about macroeconomics in the ‘real world’ and encourage rigorous, innovative and interdisciplinary research. We take fundamental uncertainty as ubiquitous, and that we respond through our social interactions. This shifts the emphasis towards questions of generation, innovation and sometimes crises, and away from systems that must always be in equilibrium.
We have funded 43 research projects and held over 40 public events since our inception, including with many central banks, the IMF and OECD. We have over 80 discussion and working papers on this site and, although not our objective, well over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles have been published as output from the projects we funded. From the threads running through these projects, we will present a future research programme which complements the macroeconomic orthodoxy.
Understanding the macroeconomy requires putting direct interaction at the centre of the analysis. Macroeconomists from John Maynard Keynes to Milton Friedman have long recognised the significance of this point. As we interact with others the properties of the ‘system as a whole’ become different at different levels of analysis. Friedman puts this perfectly: “the great mistake everyone makes is to confuse what is true for the individual with what is true for society as a whole: this is the most fascinating thing about economics.”
Robert Lucas wrote that “in cases of uncertainty, economic reasoning will be of no value.” We respectfully believe that the opposite is true: it is only in conditions of uncertainty that macroeconomists have anything to add beyond what their postulated agents can work out for themselves. We approach the economy as an open rather than closed system. The actions and strategies of agents depend on their expectations of others, and adapt as they learn from experience. The result is an economy which adapts creating new circumstances to respond to, including new markets and technologies and institutions.
Our core idea is to put direct interaction as the response to fundamental uncertainty at the centre of analysis. It enables us to interpret the economy as a means of generating and using knowledge. It explores the self-organising (not necessarily self-stabilising) order that grows from the direct interactions between millions of people as they seek to discover better frameworks to make sense of their changing world. It allows us to return to the time-honoured big macroeconomic questions of wealth creation, distribution, coordination, power and institutions.
Our model is structured to address the most pressing ‘real world’ questions. We will ask fundamental questions about macroeconomics and encourage rigorous and inter-disciplinary research. We look to fund exciting, disruptive and genuinely new research which takes risks and brings together inter-disciplinary ideas and new methods.
Our blue-print for Rebuilding Macroeconomics can be summarised in five stages:
We want to find out today’s most important macroeconomic policy questions that yield promising and sustainable research programmes. To discover the right questions, we hold three kinds of meetings:
Policy Meetings: private meetings with policy makers
Discovery Meetings: open meetings with academics, policy makers, civil society and business organisations
Public consultations: open meetings between the public and academics
2) Research hubs
From Discovery to Research Hubs, where scholars, policy-makers and practitioners coalesce around a substantive macroeconomic policy question to explore, learn from and challenge each other’s assumptions and ways of thinking and to consider possible new methods of investigation.
Each Hub is designed to exploit the potential for new policy relevant ideas that can flow from interdisciplinary engagement.
3) Pilot projects
Research Hubs will issue calls for pilot research projects to be funded by the network. We will support innovative and risky research ideas, and encourage inter-disciplinary research as well as extensions and adaptations of existing methodologies. We do not support projects that lack rigour or which we judge are better suited to funding from elsewhere.
Each stage of Rebuilding Macroeconomics is designed to re-connect academics with policy-makers and the general public. We aim to address any barriers between academia and the public about macroeconomic issues. We are committed to including public concerns while designing our Research Hubs and to explain key macroeconomic concepts and the findings of research supported by our network.
5) Road map
At the end of the investment period, the management team of Rebuilding Macroeconomics and Research Hub leaders will present a ‘road-map’ to the ESRC. This will summarise the outcomes of the research pilot projects and network discussions and provide an assessment of the direction of future macroeconomic research likely to yield the greatest social benefit. The ‘road-map’ will be a published record.
Meet The Advisory Group
Eric Lonergan (Chair),
Fund Manager, M & G Investments
Professor Wendy Carlin
Professor of Economics at UCL; and Leader of the CORE project
Joan Robinson Research Fellow in Heterodox Economics, Girton College, University of Cambridge
Professor Wouter Den Haan
Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science
Chief Economist, John Hancock Financial Services / Manulife Asset Management
Professor Anand Menon
Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, King’s College London; and Project Director for ‘UK in a changing Europe’
Dr Geoff Tily
MBE, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science
Executive Director, IPPR
Chief Executive, Resolution Foundation
Meet The Support Team
Former Management Group Members
Former Research Assistant
The Rebuilding Macroeconomics Network is hosted at the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London., at Maple House (Floor 7),149 Tottenham Court road, London, W1T 7NF. Visitors are welcome by prior appointment. Please Contact Us below.
To request information about an RM event, or any other Network activities, please contact the Director Angus Armstrong at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, stay up to date with our latest news and updates in our News section and Blog.