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Macroeconomic research conducted at Northwestern has laid the foundations for entire areas of current investigation. The article "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy" (Journal of Political Economy 2005) by Charles Evans and faculty members Lawrence Christiano and Martin Eichenbaum is currently the most-cited paper in economics in the past decade, and provides the benchmark for current monetary dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) modeling at academic departments and central banks around the world. In the intersection of macroeconomics and labor economics, the dominant theoretical framework is the Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides matching model, a contribution for which faculty member Dale Mortensen was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Northwestern also provides leadership in economic growth and development, international trade, and the macro-political economy.

The recent financial crisis and "Great Recession" have moved research questions at the intersection of macroeconomics and finance to the forefront. Economists at Northwestern are uniquely placed to make progress on these issues due to the close integration with the finance group in Kellogg School of Management. Many faculty members and graduate students from both economics and finance are working in this area, and a number of graduate students draw advisors from both groups.

The macroeconomics group offers two weekly seminars: The Macroeconomics Workshop, features external speakers, and the Macroeconomics Lunch Seminar is devoted to graduate student presentations. Both are regularly attended by macroeconomics and finance faculty. There is also a macroeconomics reading group and additional seminars organized by the Kellogg Finance Department.

Macroeconomics faculty work closely with researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Federal Reserve Bank also organizes numerous conferences including annual meetings by the macro and monetary groups of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

The Center for International Macroeconomics financially supports macroeconomic research in the department, provides funding for long-term visitors, and organizes conferences. The Center also organizes the annual Advanced Workshop for Central Bankers, which deepens the connection from research to policy-making in the monetary arena.