Abstract for: MacroLab20: A Framework for Comparative Macroeconomics

One casualty of the Great Recession was the theoretical 'consensus' coveted by orthodox macroeconomists. Yet, the increase in competition of ideas about how a modern macroeconomy works has been slow. Institutional inertia and 'sticky' textbooks are easy to blame but, in our view, another reason is the difficulty inherent in constructive comparison of competing schools of thought. Stock and flow modeling with system dynamics software can accommodate different macro theories and, given the transparency of SD models, contribute to comparative macroeconomics. This is a central purpose of MacroLab20, described in this paper. The original version reflected one co-author's approach to teaching introductory macroeconomics in the U.S., a context in which there is little incentive or time for exploring alternative theories. Two decades of international experience with MacroLab in both introductory and advanced courses and in applied research have highlighted the need to make the model more flexible. A pluralistic modeling framework, of course, does not mean 'anything goes.' Fundamental stock, flow, and feedback principles still shape the formulation of a theory. In this paper, we describe a framework for macro modeling and analysis that can accommodate competing theories and facilitate their comparison.