Advice for Grad Students in Macro/Finance at BU:


Graduate students who want to work in macro or finance should take all of the following classes over their second and third years:

Ec 741/742 (Graduate Macro); Ec 744 (Economic Dynamics); Ec 745 (Asset Pricing and the Macroeconomy);

Ec 712 (Time Series); Ec 792 (International Finance).

Starting in their second year, students should also attend regularly:

-          the macro seminar (Tu, 12:30-2) and

-          the macro student workshop (Thursdays, 3:30-4:30).

See Bob King’s comments, with which I fully agree.

Good advice from famous people:

Writing advice by John Cochrane. See also McCloskey’s book.

Re style, I also liked this book: Joseph Williams: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Longman).

Advice by Monika Piazzesi

Greg Mankiw’s advice

General advice for PhD students


- Learn quickly how to use Scientific Word or Latex and how to use them to do presentations. (You can find plenty of help using google; for instance many people use WinEdit).

- Get a webpage.

- Matlab © is now the most popular software in macro. I advise to learn it quickly too, but there are alternatives such as Octave, or Gauss. Octave is free.

- For very demanding computational work, people usually use Fortran or C.

- If you work with very large data sets or if you have to do a lot of data “cleaning” as opposed to estimation, statistical packages such as SAS or Stata are attractive.

In many cases there are student versions available at a reduced price, which you may want to consider buying.


Matlab is a powerful language which can be used to solve models and to do empirical work.

The nice thing about Matlab is that writing code is easy and intuitive.

The bad thing is that in some cases the code needs to be carefully written to run fast, in particular one must often “vectorize” the code i.e. write operations with vectors and matrices rather than with loops. See here, here and here for examples and discussions, and see the Mathworks site which has good help and discussion forums.

Some people post their code on their webpage, which can be interesting to look at. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

John Cochrane, Nick Bloom, Lu Zhang, Monika Piazzesi, Joao Gomes, George Hall, Dean Corbae, Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde

Programming and Numerical Methods:

I recommend the following sources:

- Harald Uhlig’s toolkit for first-order linear approximation

- The following books are useful:

Adda and Cooper, Dynamic Economics, MIT Press: the easiest one

Judd: Numerical Methods in Economics, MIT Press: the reference

Fackler and Miranda: Applied Computational Economics and Finance, MIT Press

Marimon and Scott (ed): Computational Methods for the Study of Dynamics Economics, Oxford UP.


Journals such as the AER or the JPE have recently adopted a policy whereby authors must make programs and data available for replication purposes. In particular, the AER website has a download section where you can get authors’ data sets. You may want to take advantage of these possibilities.