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Thread: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

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    How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

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    Hi all,

    So my school allows me to replace the intermediate macro requirement for the econ major with PhD Macro 1. From what I've heard, the materials covered by the two courses are fairly disjoint, with the intermediate macro course covering IS/LM and the phd course covering dynamic programming-type DSGE models. I'm planning on taking the PhD Macro course for 1) signalling and 2) preparing myself better for the first year in a PhD program, since I will have seen the mathematical techniques used in Macro before (dynamic programming is also relevant for structural IO, which I'm interested in).

    Could anyone who has taken both chimed in about this? Will I be at any significant disadvantage for not having taken intermediate macro before the PhD class? I know it will be hard, but I'm pretty good at math and programming so I think it will be doable if I put in the effort.

    As far as research interests go, I am not interested in macro (more interested in applied micro/structural IO), so I don't think any intuition lost from not taking the intermediate class will be too detrimental for me personally, if I never end up using macro in my work.

    Thank you!

    Pulsars

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    They are essentially unrelated (which actually tells you a lot about macro as a field).

    Take the PhD Macro only if you are confident you will do well. Even getting a B+ will take a lot of work and won't send a good signal.

    You might be better-served taking intermediate macro and a math class that includes some coverage of stochastic processes.

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    They are essentially unrelated (which actually tells you a lot about macro as a field).

    Take the PhD Macro only if you are confident you will do well. Even getting a B+ will take a lot of work and won't send a good signal.

    You might be better-served taking intermediate macro and a math class that includes some coverage of stochastic processes.
    Thank you tm_member. I have taken a stochastic processes class. How can I tell if Iíll do well? Iím thinking of attending math camp next summer to do better in the PhD courses.

    Lastly, what do you think would be the marginal benefit of taking Phd Macro in terms of signalling conditioned on already taking Phd Micro?

    Thanks!

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Look through the standard reference textbooks that PhD macro uses. That'll give you a simple guage on whether you'll be able to manage it nor not. Sargent and ljungqvist will be the first text that comes to mind.

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    Look through the standard reference textbooks that PhD macro uses. That'll give you a simple guage on whether you'll be able to manage it nor not. Sargent and ljungqvist will be the first text that comes to mind.
    The recommended textbooks according to the syllabus are Stokey and Ljungqvist. Is this standard or more on the difficult side?

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulsars View Post
    Thank you tm_member. I have taken a stochastic processes class. How can I tell if I’ll do well? I’m thinking of attending math camp next summer to do better in the PhD courses.

    Lastly, what do you think would be the marginal benefit of taking Phd Macro in terms of signalling conditioned on already taking Phd Micro?

    Thanks!
    You will probably do well if you easily got an A in Intermediate Micro and Advanced Calculus/Analysis.

    If you've already taken PhD micro and got an A or A- there is nothing PhD macro can do to help.

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulsars View Post
    The recommended textbooks according to the syllabus are Stokey and Ljungqvist. Is this standard or more on the difficult side?
    Stokey, Lucas, and Prescott (SLP) and Ljungqvist and Sargent (LS) are the standard macro textbooks most programs use. The difficulty of the course would be more accurately evaluated by the competitiveness of your program and whether it has a reputation for producing macroeconomists.

    I had pretty zero background in macro when I took the macro core. If you have past experience with dynamic programming (or simply like doing it), you should do fine.
    WWCBD: What Would Colonel Blotto Do?

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    While it is more of a sweeping statement, PhD macro is essentially dynamic programming and optimal control (aka Bellman, Euler, Hamiltonians and Pontryagins). If you've gotten those techniques down, at the very least, it'll be very manageable.

    Also, depending on where you take your PhD macro, you might also need to know Matlab so brushing up on those will help make the process manageable too.

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    It's not useful to have IS/LM, but it's very useful to have an intermediate macro class that's based on modern macro (even if the class doesn't cover dynamic programming), because you'll start to understand how to build macro models at an informal level. At my undergrad, the non-honors class was closer to the former, while the honors version was closer to the latter.

    Whether such an intermediate macro class exists at your college is dependent on luck. You should check with the instructor if you're unclear; ask them if the content would be helpful for grad macro.

    For non-USA students, their intermediate macro classes will tend to be simplified versions of graduate-level macro, so they should take it.

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    Re: How ecessary is it to take Intermediate Macro before PhD Macro 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    While it is more of a sweeping statement, PhD macro is essentially dynamic programming and optimal control (aka Bellman, Euler, Hamiltonians and Pontryagins). If you've gotten those techniques down, at the very least, it'll be very manageable.
    I don't agree entirely. When I took grad macro, the instructor asked each of us if we had dynamic programming. Around half of the class had dynamic programming from prior coursework (usually, master's degrees), but the instructor later told us that the best students were those who didn't take dynamic programming in the past. I was one of the latter group and scored two standard deviations above the median.

    IMO, having studied something like Romer's Advanced Macroeconomics will be more important than having learned dynamic programming. Grad macro teach you the Bellman equations, but they test you on actual macro models, and your ability to solve these models depends on your familiarity with macro topics.

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