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As I had hoped to learn enough macroeconomic theory to get some research ideas, my goal at the beginning of this summer was to read through and complete the problems in an introductory advanced macroeconomics text (my first-year PhD macro courses left me more stunned than enlightened). I started with The McCandless's ABCs of RBCs, and quickly found that it was above my ability level when I reached problems I didn't even know how to set up, so now I'm trying Romer's Advanced Macroeconomics. I've gotta say that after having to consult the solutions manual several times through Chapter 2 out of 12, I'm feeling rather discouraged as the solutions involve methods that are not intuitive to me and not discussed in the text.

Is there even any point in someone with my skill level tackling such a task? I can't really see myself being a macroeconomic theorist after this, and it seems that the vast majority of empirical macroeconomic studies use reduced-form linear models backed by hand-waving arguments based on principles or intermediate theory, so I'm starting to doubt the utility of studying advanced theory at all.

I understand this may be an an "illegal" question here on Stack Exchange, so I won't protest if it's closed. But if not, does anyone have any tips for how to proceed?

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    $\begingroup$ I just took a course in Macroeconomics (Not at the Phd level) and the professor teaching the course gave us assignments analyzing real world data which helped reinforce the concept that these are not simply hand-waving arguments but can be usable in a practical sense. Based on what you are saying it seems that maybe you should make sure you have a strong grasp on the intermediate/undergraduate theory taught so that you can proceed to study the more advanced material without being "stunned". $\endgroup$ – FreakconFrank Jun 18 '17 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ Surprising to hear that I may not be all that good at intermediate theory -- I was far and away the top student in that course! But perhaps we didn't have enough empirical connections for anything to really stick. $\endgroup$ – economicist Jun 18 '17 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ I'd suggest reading up on some history of economic thought (e.g. Snowdon and Vane's Modern Macroeconomics). That will help you make more sense of what is otherwise a barrage of math. $\endgroup$ – Kenny LJ Jun 19 '17 at 7:32

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