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Levy Institute Publications
Strategic Analysis, March 2016 | March 2016 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro ZezzaOur latest strategic analysis reveals that the US economy remains fragile because of three persistent structural issues: weak demand for US exports, fiscal conservatism, and a four-decade trend in rising income inequality. It also faces risks from stagnation in the economies of the United States’ trading partners, appreciation of the dollar, and a contraction in asset prices. The authors provide a baseline and three alternative medium-term scenarios using the Levy Institute’s stock-flow consistent macro model: a dollar appreciation and reduced growth in US trading partners scenario; a stock market correction scenario; and a third scenario combining scenarios 1 and 2. The baseline scenario shows that future growth will depend on an increase in private sector indebtedness, while the remaining scenarios underscore the linkages between a fragile US recovery and instability in the global economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, January 2016 | January 2016 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro ZezzaThe Greek economy has not succeeded in restoring growth, nor has it managed to restore a climate of reduced uncertainty, which is crucial for stabilizing the business climate and promoting investment. On the contrary, the new round of austerity measures that has been agreed upon implies another year of recession in 2016.
After reviewing some recent indicators for the Greek economy, we project the trajectory of key macroeconomic indicators over the next three years. Our model shows that a slow recovery can be expected beginning in 2017, at a pace that is well below what is needed to alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment. We then analyze the impact of a public investment program financed by European institutions, of a size that is feasible given the current political and economic conditions, and find that, while such a plan would help stimulate the economy, it would not be sufficient to speed up the recovery. Finally, we revise our earlier proposal for a fiscal stimulus financed through the emission of a complementary currency targeted to job creation. Our model shows that such a plan, calibrated in a way that avoids inflationary pressures, would be more effective—without disrupting the targets the government has agreed upon in terms of its primary surplus, and without reversing the improvement in the current account.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, May 2015 | May 2015 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
The Greek economy has the potential to recover, and in this report we argue that access to alternative financing sources such as zero-coupon bonds (“Geuros”) and fiscal credit certificates could provide the impetus and liquidity needed to grow the economy and create jobs. But there are preconditions: the existing government debt must be rolled over and austerity policies put aside, restoring trust in the country’s economic future and setting the stage for sustainable income growth, which will eventually enable Greece to repay its debt.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, May 2015 | May 2015 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Greg Hannsgen, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro ZezzaIn this latest Strategic Analysis, the Institute’s Macro Modeling Team examines the current, anemic recovery of the US economy. The authors identify three structural obstacles—the weak performance of net exports, a prevailing fiscal conservatism, and high income inequality—that, in combination with continued household sector deleveraging, explain the recovery’s slow pace. Their baseline macro scenario shows that the Congressional Budget Office’s latest GDP growth projections require a rise in private sector spending in excess of income—the same unsustainable path that preceded both the 2001 recession and the Great Recession of 2007–9. To better understand the risks to the US economy, the authors also examine three alternative scenarios for the period 2015–18: a 1 percent reduction in the real GDP growth rate of US trading partners, a 25 percent appreciation of the dollar over the next four years, and the combined impact of both changes. All three scenarios show that further dollar appreciation and/or a growth slowdown in the trading partner economies will lead to an increase in the foreign deficit and a decrease in the projected growth rate, while heightening the need for private (and government) borrowing and adding to the economy’s fragility.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
e-pamphlet, March 2016 | March 2016 | Jordan Brennan
American Prosperity in Historical PerspectiveJordan Brennan, of Unifor and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, examines the rise of income inequality and the deceleration of economic growth in the United States in this two-part analysis. The first section explores the consolidation of corporate power, through mergers and acquisitions, between 1895 and 2013, and finds that reduced competition, declines in fixed asset investment, and the rise of practices such as stock buybacks have shifted investment away from the real economy, leading to weak economic growth and rising income inequality. The second section of Brennan’s analysis examines the interplay of labor unions, inflation, and income inequality. The author observes that the decline of unions as a countervailing force to corporate power and anti-inflationary monetary policy have shifted income away from middle- and lower-income groups. Similarly, he observes that over the past century inflation has tended to redistribute income from capital to labor—from the upper to the lower income strata. In this context, he observes that anti-inflation policy is a use of state power to effect a regressive redistribution of income.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jordan Brennan
Research Project Report, August 2015 | September 2015 | İpek Ilkkaracan, Kijong Kim, Tolga Kaya
The Turkish Case
Produced in partnership with the International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and UN Women, this report examines the demand-side rationale for a public investment in the social care sector—specifically, early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE)—by comparing its potential for job creation, pro-women allocation of jobs, and poverty reduction with an equivalent investment in the construction sector.
The authors find that a public investment of 20.7 billion TRY yields an estimated 290,000 new jobs in the construction sector and related sectors. However, an equal investment in ECCPE creates 719,000 new jobs in ECCPE and related sectors, or 2.5 times as many jobs. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of the ECCPE jobs go to women, whereas a mere 6 percent of new jobs go to women following an expansion of the construction sector.
ECCPE expansion is also shown to be superior in terms of the number of decent jobs (i.e., jobs with social security benefits) created: some 85 percent of new ECCPE jobs come with social security benefits, compared to the slightly more than 30 percent of construction jobs that come with equivalent benefits. Both expansions are found to benefit the poor, with an ECCPE expansion targeting prime-working-age poor mothers of small children showing the potential to reduce the relative poverty rate by 1.14 percentage points. In terms of fiscal sustainability, an ECCPE expansion is estimated to recoup 77 percent of public expenditures through increased government revenues, while construction recovers roughly 52 percent.
The report concludes that in addition to supply-side effects, there is a robust demand-side rationale for expanded funding of ECCPE, with clear benefits in terms of decent employment creation, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and fiscal sustainability. These findings have important implications for expanded public investment in the broader social care sector as a strategy that embraces gender budgeting while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Report, May 2015 | May 2015 | Rania Antonopoulos, Sofia Adam, Kijong Kim, Thomas Masterson, Dimitri B. PapadimitriouThis addendum to our June 2014 report, “Responding to the Unemployment Challenge: A Job Guarantee Proposal for Greece,” updates labor market data through 2014Q3 and identifies emerging employment and unemployment trends. The overarching aim of the report, the outcome of a study undertaken in 2013 by the Levy Institute in collaboration with the Observatory of Economic and Social Developments of the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Labour, is to provide policymakers and the general public research-based evidence of the macroeconomic and employment effects of a large-scale direct job creation program in Greece, and to invite critical rethinking of the austerity-driven macro policy instituted in 2010 as a condition of the loans made to Greece by its eurozone partners.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Report, April 2015 | April 2015This monograph is part of the Levy Institute’s Research and Policy Dialogue Project on Improving Governance of the Government Safety Net in Financial Crisis, a two-year project funded by the Ford Foundation.
This is the fourth in a series of reports summarizing the findings of the Research and Policy Dialogue Project on Improving Governance of the Government Safety Net in Financial Crisis, directed by Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray. This project explores alternative methods of providing a government safety net in times of crisis. In the global financial crisis that began in 2007, the United States used two primary responses: a stimulus package approved and budgeted by Congress, and a complex and unprecedented response by the Federal Reserve. The project examines the benefits and drawbacks of each method, focusing on questions of accountability, democratic governance and transparency, and mission consistency.
The project has also explored the possibility of reform that might place more responsibility for provision of a safety net on Congress, with a smaller role to be played by the Fed, enhancing accountability while allowing the Fed to focus more closely on its proper mission. Given the rise of shadow banking—a financial system that operates largely outside the reach of bank regulators and supervisors—the Fed faces a complicated problem. It might be necessary to reform finance, through downsizing and a return to what Hyman Minsky called “prudent banking,” before we can reform the Fed.
This report describes the overall scope of the project and summarizes key findings from the three previous reports, as well as additional research undertaken in 2014.Download:Associated Program:Related Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 141, 2016 | March 2016 | Jan KregelTo the extent that policymakers have learned anything at all from the Great Depression and the policy responses of the 1930s, the lessons appear to have been the wrong ones. In this public policy brief, Director of Research Jan Kregel explains why there is still a great deal we have to learn from the New Deal. He illuminates one of the New Deal’s principal objectives—quelling the fear and uncertainty of mass unemployment—and the pragmatic, experimental process through which the tool for achieving this objective—directed government expenditure—came to be embraced.
In the search for a blueprint from the 1930s, Kregel suggests that too much attention has been paid to the measures deployed to shore up the banking system, and that the approaches underlying the emergency financial policy measures of the recent period and those of the 1930s were actually quite similar. The more meaningful divergence between the 1930s and the post-2008 policy response, he argues, can be uncovered by comparing the actions that were taken (or not taken, as the case may be) to address the real sector of the economy following the resolution of the respective financial crises.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 140, 2015 | November 2015 | Mario Tonveronachi
Mario Tonveronachi, University of Siena, builds on his earlier proposal (The ECB and the Single European Financial Market) to advance financial market integration in Europe through the creation of a single benchmark yield curve based on debt certificates (DCs) issued by the European Central Bank (ECB). In this policy brief, Tonveronachi discusses potential changes to the ECB’s operations and their implications for member-state fiscal rules. He argues that his DC proposal would maintain debt discipline while mitigating the restrictive, counterproductive fiscal stance required today, simultaneously expanding national fiscal space while ensuring debt sustainability under the Maastricht limits, and offering a path out of the self-defeating policy regime currently in place.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mario TonveronachiRelated Topic(s):
Policy Note 2016/2 | April 2016 | Fernando J. Cardim de Carvalho
Brazil is mired in a joint economic and political crisis, and the way out is unclear. In 2015 the country experienced a steep contraction of output alongside elevated inflation, all while the fallout from a series of corruption scandals left the policymaking apparatus paralyzed. Looking ahead, implementing a policy strategy that has any hope of addressing the Brazilian economy’s multilayered problems would make serious demands on a political system that is most likely unable to bear it.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Policy Note 2016/1 | January 2016 | Dimitri B. PapadimitriouA complementary currency circulates within an economy alongside the primary currency without attempting to replace it. The Swiss WIR, implemented in 1934 as a response to the discouraging liquidity and growth prospects of the Great Depression, is the oldest and most significant complementary financial system now in circulation. The evidence provided by the long, successful operation of the WIR offers an opportunity to reconsider the creation of a similar system in Greece.
The complementary currency is a proven macroeconomic stabilizer—a spontaneous money creator with the capacity to sustain and increase an economy’s aggregate demand during downturns. A complementary financial system that supports regional development and employment-targeted programs would be a U-turn toward restoring people’s purchasing power and rebuilding Greece’s desperate economy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 52 | January 2016 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
Even under optimistic assumptions, the policy status quo being enforced in Greece cannot be relied upon to help recover lost incomes and employment within any reasonable time frame. And while a widely discussed public investment program funded by European institutions would help, a more innovative, better-targeted solution is required to address Greece’s protracted unemployment crisis: an “employer of last resort” (ELR) plan offering paid work in public projects, financed by issuing a nonconvertible “fiscal currency”—the Geuro.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 51 | December 2015 | Mario TonveronachiUntil market participants across the euro area face a single risk-free yield curve rather than a diverse collection of quasi-risk-free sovereign rates, financial market integration will not be complete. Unfortunately, the institution that would normally provide the requisite benchmark asset—a federal treasury issuing risk-free debt—does not exist in the euro area, and there are daunting political obstacles to creating such an institution.
There is, however, another way forward. The financial instrument that could provide the foundation for a single market already exists on the balance sheet of the European Central Bank (ECB): legally, the ECB could issue “debt certificates” (DCs) across the maturity spectrum and in sufficient amounts to create a yield curve. Moreover, reforming ECB operations along these lines may hold the key to addressing another of the euro area’s critical dysfunctions. Under current conditions, the Maastricht Treaty’s fiscal rules create a vicious cycle by contributing to a deflationary economic environment, which slows the process of debt adjustment, requiring further deflationary budget tightening. By changing national debt dynamics and thereby enabling a revision of the fiscal rules, the DC proposal could short-circuit this cycle of futility.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mario TonveronachiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 867 | May 2016 | Michalis Nikiforos, Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Gennaro Zezza
This paper examines the issue of the Greek public debt from different perspectives. We provide a historical discussion of the accumulation of Greece’s public debt since the 1960s and the role of public debt in the recent crisis. We show that the austerity imposed since 2010 has been unsuccessful in stabilizing the debt while at the same time taking a heavy toll on the Greek economy and society. The experience of the last six years shows that the country’s public debt is clearly unsustainable, and therefore a bold restructuring is needed. An insistence on the current policies is not justifiable either on pragmatic or on moral or any other grounds. The experience of Germany in the early post–World War II period provides some useful hints for the way forward. A solution to the Greek public debt problem is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the solution of the Greek and wider European crisis. A broader agenda that deals with the malaises of the Greek economy and the structural imbalances of the eurozone is of vital importance.Download:Associated Program(s):The State of the US and World Economies Monetary Policy and Financial Structure Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 866 | May 2016 | Massimo Amato, Luca Fantacci, Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Gennaro Zezza
Proposals for the Eurozone Crisis
After reviewing the main determinants of the current eurozone crisis, this paper discusses the feasibility of introducing fiscal currencies as a way to restore fiscal space in peripheral countries, like Greece, that have so far adopted austerity measures in order to abide by their commitments to eurozone institutions and the International Monetary Fund. We show that the introduction of fiscal currencies would speed up the recovery, without violating the rules of eurozone treaties. At the same time, these processes could help transition the euro from its current status as the single currency to the status of “common clearing currency,” along the lines proposed by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods as a system of international monetary payments. Eurozone countries could therefore move from “Plan B,” aimed at addressing member-state domestic problems, to a “Plan A” for a better European monetary system.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Book Series, November 2015 | November 2015
Edited by Rainer Kattel, Jan Kregel, and Mario Tonveronachi
Have past and more recent regulatory changes contributed to increased financial stability in the European Union (EU), or have they improved the efficiency of individual banks and national financial systems within the EU? Edited by Rainer Kattel, Tallinn University of Technology, Director of Research Jan Kregel, and Mario Tonveronachi, University of Siena, this volume offers a comparative overview of how financial regulations have evolved in various European countries since the introduction of the single European market in 1986. The collection includes a number of country studies (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia) that analyze the domestic financial regulatory structure at the beginning of the period, how the EU directives have been introduced into domestic legislation, and their impact on the financial structure of the economy. Other contributions examine regulatory changes in the UK and Nordic countries, and in postcrisis America.
Published by: Routledge
Book Series, November 2015 | November 2015 | L. Randall Wray
By L. Randall Wray
Perhaps no economist was more vindicated by the global financial crisis than Hyman P. Minsky (1919–1996). Although a handful of economists raised alarms as early as 2000, Minsky’s warnings began a half century earlier, with writings that set out a compelling theory of financial instability. Yet even today he remains largely outside mainstream economics; few people have a good grasp of his writings, and fewer still understand their full importance. Why Minsky Matters makes the maverick economist’s critically valuable insights accessible to general readers for the first time. Author L. Randall Wray shows that by understanding Minsky we will not only see the next crisis coming but we might be able to act quickly enough to prevent it.
As Wray explains, Minsky’s most important idea is that “stability is destabilizing”: to the degree that the economy achieves what looks to be robust and stable growth, it is setting up the conditions in which a crash becomes ever more likely. Before the financial crisis, mainstream economists pointed to much evidence that the economy was more stable, but their predictions were completely wrong because they disregarded Minsky’s insight. Wray also introduces Minsky’s significant work on money and banking, poverty and unemployment, and the evolution of capitalism, as well as his proposals for reforming the financial system and promoting economic stability.
A much-needed introduction to an economist whose ideas are more relevant than ever, Why Minsky Matters is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why economic crises are becoming more frequent and severe—and what we can do about it.
Published by: Princeton
Volume 25, No. 2 | March 2016 | Jonathan Hubschman
This issue includes two strategic analyses: one for the United States and one for Greece. The first reports that the US recovery continues to be hampered by structural weaknesses—rising income inequality, weak demand for US exports, and fiscal conservatism—while external risks include sluggish growth in US trading partners, dollar appreciation, and asset price declines. Turning to Greece, the medium-term outlook under the current policy regime continues to be bleak, and while efforts to spur investment could provide a measure of growth, these will not produce the levels of growth and employment needed to put the country on a sustainable path. The authors argue for a complementary currency (the Geuro) to fund a job creation program while honoring Greece’s commitments. A related policy note investigates Switzerland’s successful use of a complementary currency, emphasizing its countercyclical role in stabilizing the economy and supporting demand.
The Summaryalso includes new research on trends associated with economic stagnation and economic inequality in the United States, the current upheaval in the Brazilian economy, and the impacts of austerity on the redistribution of income in Europe. Other publications address the factors driving low central bank interest rates globally, the emergence of financial Dutch disease in Colombia, and arguments supporting functional finance as a pragmatic alternative to mainstream policy prescriptions. Gender equality issues are explored in an analysis of the conditions in Central Asia, the South Caucasus, and the Western CIS, and in a second paper examining methods to measure gender inequality. Prospective changes to the US Census’s collection of information on race, ancestry, and ethnicity are discussed in a policy note. The issue closes with a new paper on the application of graph theory to stock-flow consistent modeling.
Program: The State of the US and World Economies
- DIMITRI B. PAPADIMITRIOU, MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, and GENNARO ZEZZA, Destabilizing an Unstable Economy
- DIMITRI B. PAPADIMITRIOU, MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, and GENNARO ZEZZA, How Long Before Growth and Employment Are Restored in Greece?
- DIMITRI B. PAPADIMITRIOU, Complementary Currencies and Economic Stability
- JORDAN BRENNAN, Rising Corporate Concentration, Declining Trade Union Power, and the Growing Income Gap: American Prosperity in Historical Perspective FERNANDO J. CARDIM DE CARVALHO, Looking Into the Abyss? Brazil at the Mid-2010s
- MARKUS P. A. SCHNEIDER, STEPHEN KINSELLA, and ANTOINE GODIN, Redistribution in the Age of Austerity: Evidence from Europe, 2006–13
Program: Monetary Policy and Financial Structure
- TANWEER AKRAM, The Malady of Low Global Interest Rates
- ALBERTO BOTTA, ANTOINE GODIN, AND MARCO MISSAGLIA, Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, and Dutch Disease: The Case of Colombia
- GIUSEPPE MASTROMATTEO and LORENZO ESPOSITO, The Two Approaches to Money: Debt, Central Banks, and Functional Finance
Program: Gender Equality and the Economy
- BHAVYA AGGARWAL and LEKHA S. CHAKRABORTY, The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and Measuring Gender Inequality: A Technical Articulation for Asia-Pacific
- TAMAR KHITARISHVILI, Gender Dimensions of Inequality in the Countries of Central Asia, South Caucasus, and Western CIS
Program: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Structure
- JOEL PERLMANN and PATRICK NEVADA, The US Census Asks About Race and Ethnicity: 1980–2020
Program: Economic Policy for the 21st Century
Explorations in Theory and Empirical Analysis
- MIGUEL CARRIÓN ÂLVAREZ and DIRK EHNTS, The Roads Not Taken: Graph Theory and Macroeconomic Regimes in Stock-flow Consistent Modeling
- Gender and Macroeconomics: Current State of Research and Future Directions
- 25th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference
- The Hyman P. Minsky Summer Seminar
PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
- Publications and Presentations by Levy Institute Scholars
- Recent Levy Institute Publications
Conference Proceedings, April 15–16, 2015 | November 2015 | Barbara Ross, Michael Stephens
A conference organized by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College with support from the Ford Foundation
The 2015 Minsky Conference addressed, among other issues, the design, flaws, and current status of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, including implementation of the operating procedures necessary to curtail systemic risk and prevent future crises; the insistence on fiscal austerity exemplified by the recent pronouncements of the new Congress; the sustainability of the US economic recovery; monetary policy revisions and central bank independence; the deflationary pressures associated with the ongoing eurozone debt crisis and their implications for the global economy; strategies for promoting an inclusive economy and a more equitable income distribution; and regulatory challenges for emerging market economies. The proceedings include the conference program, transcripts of keynote speakers’ remarks, synopses of the panel sessions, and biographies of the participants.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Barbara Ross Michael Stephens