I'm coming from a math background (so my mind is set up for Definitions-Observation-Lemma-Proof frameworks) and looking for recommendations of a Macroeconomics textbook mainly devoted to growth models and foreign exchange rates.

Any recommendations?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I have always thought it interesting that while there are hundreds of Mathematics for Economists books, the only Economics for Mathematicians book still seems to be JWS Cassels's typewritten notes from a 12 hour course he gave in the 1980s at Cambridge, and that was naturally microeconomics where you can set up plausible assumptions and prove interesting results. Macroeconomics does not lend itself to proof beyond some national accounting tautologies. $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 0:20

6 Answers 6


I really think a great place to start in general is Olivier Blanchard's "Macroeconomics". However, this is an economics undergraduate text and may not be optimal for a mathematician, especially given the structure you expect.

More to your taste may be the following standard texts:

"Introduction to modern economic growth" by Daron Acemoglu.

"Recursive Macroeconomic Theory" by Lars Ljungqvist and Thomas J. Sargent

"Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics" by Nancy L. Stokey, Robert E. Lucas and Edward C. Prescott

"Foundations of international macroeconomics" by Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff. A bit old by now, but a classic and a good place to start for international economic topics. Alternatively, try:

"Open Economy Macroeconomics" by Martín Uribe and Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé.

  • $\begingroup$ "Introduction to modern economic growth" by Daron Acemoglu looks good. However, key notions like inflation rate are not even defined? Is this expected? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ Same as "Open Economy Macroeconomics" $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21 at 10:03

I would also add the following books to the @BBKing list:

David Romer. Advanced Macroeconomics - the first three chapters devoted to growth are excellent (but it does not contain much about exchange rates).

Nelson Mark. International Macroeconomics and Finance - this is very good book for catching up with the research on exchange rates. It’s quite short but surprisingly thorough and it has very good balance between theory and empirical/statistical models.

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    $\begingroup$ Romer has an especially good treatment regarding the type of math you see at a higher level and would better suit your interests more than a typical undergrad textbook $\endgroup$
    – Brennan
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 18:27

"Definitions-Observation-Lemma-Proof" is not the right perspective for macro, and one will not, and should not, get that in a proper introduction. Start with an undergraduate text, such as Blanchard, for proper economic perspective.

(If a macro-economist wants a beginner's reference on algebraic geometry, one would recommend an undergraduate text, not Hartshorne.)

Same goes for the two sub-topics you specifically refer to---growth and international finance/international macro. Two suggestions are:

International Macroeconomics, Feenstra et al,

Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, Acemoglu.

Romer and Ljungqvist/Sargent are standard graduate texts. Romer to macro is what (baby) Rudin is for analysis. Stokey/Lucas is one of very few economics textbooks that are rigorous by mathematical standard, but it's meant to communicate some basic mathematics to economists, not for those with no economics background.

  • $\begingroup$ many introductory books in maths/applied-maths start with Definitions-Theorem-Proof. Typically, in maths one define objects and describes its property through propositions and theorem. This scheme can clearly be applied to the Cobb-Douglas production function for instance. Consequently, some mathematicians could expect that in the first chapters of an introduction, provided enough context is given. Exactly like a Physics book for mathematicians. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Actually "Introduction to modern economic growth" is such a type of book. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20 at 18:16

I would suggest that you also read books by Richard Duncan, e.g. The Dollar Crisis, to get a lucid explanation of the global economy from one of the few people who anticipated the 2006/7 financial crisis.

I have also seen approaches where economists use dynamic physics simulators to identify areas of the economy as being stable or unstable, though I am not sure who to recommend. Perhaps Steve Keen.


About growth theory, the two most advanced and widely used books are:

Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, Daron Acemoglu (2009)

Economic Growth, Robert J. Barro, Xavier I. Sala-I-Martin (2003)

About books providing models embodding financial features, I'd recommend:

Advanced macroeconomics, David Romer (2019)

Advanced International Trade, Feenstra (2016)

Let me tell you that without a solid background in microeconomics, it is almost impossible to fully understand growth models since they are heavily microfounded. For this purpose, the best micro book at graduate/PhD level by far (even if it's a bit "old") is:

Microeconomic Theory - Andreu Mas-Colell (1995)


It is not easy to answer without knowing exactly your needs, in particular with regard to mathematical formalizations and methods.

But, in addition to the books suggested by the other answers, I can suggest some other books useful for macroeconomics theory and mathematical and theorical methods.

A comprehensive book about dynamic models in macroeconomics is

Turnovsky, Stephen J., Methods of Macroeconomic Dynamics, Mit Press, 2000, $2^°$ ed.

It includes both deterministic and stochastic methods, focuses on growth, and has also a chapter on open economies.

In addition, there are two classical and important books, even if not recent, also focused on mathematical aspects and methods, at an advanced level:

Blanchard, Oliver J., Fisher, Stanley, Lectures on Macroeconomics, MIT Press, 1989.

Sargent,Thomas J. , Macroeconomic Theory, Academic Press, 1987.

Fisher and Blanchard is a well-known postgraduate macroeconomics book.

Sargent, even if a bit outdated, is an excellent exposition of some important aspects of mathematical macroeconomics.

As you know, Sargent is a Nobel prize, and one of the most of important authors of the rational expectations hypothesis. His treatment of stochastic macroeconomics (at the base also of the rational expectations literature), as least square projections, linear stochastic difference equations, in this book is rigorous and profound (I find that Sargent’s ability to expose is admirable).

In addition, there are some aspects of mathematical macroeconomics that are not easy to find elsewhere, for example the use of implicit function theorem for system of equations, in order to calculate the multipliers.


As for international economics, a well-known book is

Gandolfo, G., International Trade Theory and Policy, Springer Verlag, 2014.

It is mainly analytical (even if it has some parts on empirical verification of the theories), with mathematical Appendixes at an advanced level. And it focuses also on growth and international trade.


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