Levy Institute Publications
Policy Note 2020/2 | April 2020 | Alexander WilliamsThe federal government appears to have abandoned the idea of a coordinated public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the entirety to state and local governments. Meanwhile, the economic standstill resulting from necessary public health measures will soon cripple state and local budgets. Alexander Williams outlines a proposal for an intragovernmental automatic stabilizer program that would provide a backstop for state and local finances—both during the pandemic and beyond. Without this program, states will be severely constrained in their ability to respond to COVID-19, and balanced budget requirements will force them to cut jobs and raise taxes during the deepest recession in living memory.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alexander WilliamsRelated Topic(s):
Policy Note 2020/1 | March 2020 | Michalis Nikiforos
The Economic Implications of the PandemicThe spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is a major shock for the US and global economies. Research Scholar Michalis Nikiforos explains that we cannot fully understand the economic implications of the pandemic without reference to two Minskyan processes at play in the US economy: the growing divergence of stock market prices from output prices, and the increasing fragility in corporate balance sheets.
The pandemic did not arrive in the context of an otherwise healthy US economy—the demand and supply dimensions of the shock have aggravated an inevitable adjustment process. Using a Minskyan framework, we can understand how the current economic weakness can be perpetuated through feedback effects between flows of demand and supply and their balance sheet impacts.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, January 2020 | January 2020 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
2020 and BeyondThis Strategic Analysis examines the US economy’s prospects for 2020–23 and the risks that lie ahead. The baseline projection generated by the Levy Institute’s stock-flow consistent macroeconomic model shows that, given current fiscal arrangements and the slowdown in the global economy, the pace of the US recovery will slacken somewhat, with a growth rate that will average 1.5 percent over the next several years.
The authors then point to three factors that can derail this already weak baseline trajectory: (1) an overvalued stock market; (2) evidence that the corporate sector’s balance sheets are more fragile than they have ever been in the postwar period; and (3) risks in the foreign sector stemming from the slowdown of the global economy, an overvalued dollar, and the current administration’s erratic trade policy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, January 2020 | January 2020 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza2019 marked the third year of the continuing economic recovery in Greece, with real GDP and employment rising, albeit at modest rates. In this Strategic Analysis we note that the expansion has mainly been driven by net exports, with tourism playing a dominant role. However, household consumption and investment are still too far below their precrisis levels, and a stronger and sustainable recovery should target these components of domestic demand as well.
Fiscal austerity imposed on the Greek government has achieved its target in terms of public finances, such that some fiscal space is now available to stimulate the economy. Our simulations for the 2019–21 period show that under current conditions the economy is likely to continue on a path of modest growth, and that the amount of private investment needed for a stronger recovery is unlikely to materialize.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Statement of Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray to the House Budget Committee, US House of Representatives
Testimony, November 20, 2019 | November 2019 | L. Randall Wray, Yeva Nersisyan
Reexamining the Economic Costs of DebtOn November 20, 2019, Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray testified before the House Committee on the Budget on the topic of reexamining the economic costs of debt:
"In recent months a new approach to national government budgets, deficits, and debts—Modern Money Theory (MMT)—has been the subject of discussion and controversy. [. . .]
In this testimony I do not want to rehash the theoretical foundations of MMT. Instead I will highlight empirical facts with the goal of explaining the causes and consequences of the intransigent federal budget deficits and the growing national government debt. I hope that developing an understanding of the dynamics involved will make the topic of deficits and debt less daunting. I will conclude by summarizing the MMT views on this topic, hoping to set the record straight."
Update 1/7/2020: In an appendix, L. Randall Wray responds to a Question for the Record submitted by Rep. Ilhan OmarDownload:Associated Program(s):Author(s):L. Randall Wray Yeva NersisyanRelated Topic(s):
Research Project Report, April 2018 | April 2018 | L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Stephanie A. Kelton
A Path to Full EmploymentDespite reports of a healthy US labor market, millions of Americans remain unemployed and underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work. It is a problem that plagues our economy in good times and in bad—there are never enough jobs available for all who want to work. L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, and Stephanie A. Kelton examine the impact of a new “job guarantee” proposal that would seek to eliminate involuntary unemployment by directly creating jobs in the communities where they are needed.
The authors propose the creation of a Public Service Employment (PSE) program that would offer a job at a living wage to all who are ready and willing to work. Federally funded but with a decentralized administration, the PSE program would pay $15 per hour and offer a basic package of benefits. This report simulates the economic impact over a ten-year period of implementing the PSE program beginning in 2018Q1.
Unemployment, hidden and official, with all of its attendant social harms, is a policy choice. The results in this report lend more weight to the argument that it is a policy choice we need no longer tolerate. True full employment is both achievable and sustainable.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 148, 2020 | January 2020 | Yeva Nersisyan , L. Randall WrayIn this policy brief, Yeva Nersisyan and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray argue that assessing the “affordability” of the Green New Deal is a question of whether there are suitable and sufficient real resources than can be mobilized to implement this ambitious approach to climate policy. Only after a careful resource accounting can we address the question of whether taxes and other means might be needed to reduce private spending to avoid inflation as the Green New Deal is phased in.
Nersisyan and Wray provide a first attempt at resource budgeting for the Green New Deal, weighing available resources—including potential excess capacity and resources that can be shifted away from existing production—against what will be needed to implement the major elements of this plan to fight climate change and ensure a just transition to a more sustainable economic model.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Yeva Nersisyan L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 147, 2019 | March 2019 | Jan KregelAs global market integration collides with growing demands for national political sovereignty, Senior Scholar Jan Kregel contrasts two diametrically opposed approaches to managing the tensions between international financial coordination and national autonomy. The first, a road not taken, is John Maynard Keynes’s proposal to reform the postwar international financial system. The second is the approach taken in the establishment of the eurozone and the development of its settlement and payment system. Analysis of Keynes’s clearing union proposal and its underlying theoretical approach highlights the flaws of the current eurozone setup.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Report, September 2019 | September 2019 | Ajit Zacharias, Thomas Masterson, Fernando Rios-Avila, Michalis Nikiforos, Kijong Kim, Tamar Khitarishvili
A Macro-Micro Policy Model for Ghana and TanzaniaFeminist economics has long emphasized the role of physical and social infrastructure as determinants of the time women spend on household production (the provision of unpaid domestic services and care). Surprisingly, there is a lack of studies that directly investigate how infrastructure improvements affect the time spent on household production and commuting to work, which is another important unpaid activity for most employed individuals. We attempt to fill the lacunae in the research by studying this issue in the context of Ghana and Tanzania utilizing the framework of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty. Separately, while there are several studies (including those done previously at the Levy Institute) on the macroeconomic impacts of government expenditures on care, these assessments tend to be based primarily on employment multipliers along with simple macroeconomic assumptions. We develop a disaggregated and fully articulated macroeconomic model based on the social accounting matrices for the two countries to take account of the intersectoral linkages and external constraints, such as balance of payments, that are particularly important for many developing nations, including Ghana and Tanzania. The macro- and microeconomic aspects are integrated in a unified analytical framework via a top-down disaggregated macroeconomic model with microsimulation that is novel in that it enables the investigation of the gendered economic processes and outcomes at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels.
Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ajit Zacharias Thomas Masterson Fernando Rios-Avila Michalis Nikiforos Kijong Kim Tamar KhitarishviliRelated Topic(s):
Research Project Report, February 2018 | February 2018 | Scott Fullwiler, Stephanie A. Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, Marshall SteinbaumAmong the more ambitious policies that have been proposed to address the problem of escalating student loan debt are various forms of debt cancellation. In this report, Scott Fullwiler, Research Associate Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, and Marshall Steinbaum examine the likely macroeconomic impacts of a one-time, federally funded cancellation of all outstanding student debt.
The report analyzes households’ mounting reliance on debt to finance higher education, including the distributive implications of student debt and debt cancellation; describes the financial mechanics required to carry out the cancellation of debt held by the Department of Education (which makes up the vast majority of student loans outstanding) as well as privately owned student debt; and uses two macroeconometric models to provide a plausible range for the likely impacts of student debt cancellation on key economic variables over a 10-year horizon.
The authors find that cancellation would have a meaningful stimulus effect, characterized by greater economic activity as measured by GDP and employment, with only moderate effects on the federal budget deficit, interest rates, and inflation (while state budgets improve). These results suggest that policies like student debt cancellation can be a viable part of a needed reorientation of US higher education policy.
Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Scott Fullwiler Stephanie A. Kelton Catherine Ruetschlin Marshall SteinbaumRelated Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 62 | March 2020 | Yeva Nersisyan , L. Randall WrayAs the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the United States, it has become clear that, in addition to the public health response (which has been far less than adequate), an economic response is needed. Yeva Nersisyan and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray identify four steps that require immediate attention: (1) full coverage of medical costs associated with testing and treatment of COVID-19; (2) mandated paid sick leave and full coverage of associated costs; (3) debt relief for families; and (4) swift deployment of testing and treatment facilities to underserved communities.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Yeva Nersisyan L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 61 | March 2020 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro ZezzaThe rapidly growing uncertainty about the potential global fallout from an emerging pandemic is occurring against a background in which there is evidence US corporate sector balance sheets are significantly overstretched, exhibiting a degree of fragility that, according to some measures, is unmatched in the postwar historical record. The US economy is vulnerable to a shock that could trigger a cascade of falling asset prices and private sector deleveraging, with severe consequences for both the real and financial sides of the economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 949 | February 2020 | Christos PierrosThis paper extends the empirical stock-flow consistent (SFC) literature through the introduction of distributional features and labor market institutions in a Godley-type empirical SFC model. In particular, labor market institutions, such as the minimum wage and the collective bargaining coverage rate, are considered as determinants of the wage share and, in turn, of the distribution of national income. Thereby, the model is able to examine both the medium-term stability conditions of the economy via the evolution of the sectoral financial balances and the implications of functional income distribution on the growth prospects of the economy at hand. The model is then applied to the Greek economy. The empirical results indicate that the Greek economy has a significant structural competitiveness deficit, while the institutional regime is likely debt-led. The policies implemented in the context of the economic adjustment programs were highly inappropriate, triggering private sector insolvency. A minimum wage increase is projected to have a positive impact on output growth and employment. However, policies that would enhance the productive sector’s structural competitiveness are required in order to ensure the growth prospects of the Greek economy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Christos PierrosRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 948 | February 2020 | George Zestos, Rachel N. CookeThis paper analyzes recent macroeconomic developments in the eurozone, particularly in Germany. Several economic indicators are sending signals of a looming German recession. Geopolitical tensions caused by trade disputes between the United States and China, plus the risk of a disorderly Brexit, began disrupting the global supply chain in manufacturing. German output contraction has been centered on manufacturing, particularly the automobile sector. Despite circumstances that call for fiscal intervention to rescue the economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was overdue with corrective measures. This paper explains Germany’s hesitancy to protect its economy, which has been based on a political and historical ideology that that rejects issuing new public debt to increase public spending, thus leaving the economy exposed to the doldrums. The paper also considers serious shortcomings in the European Union’s (EU) foreign and defense policies that recently surfaced during the Syrian refugee crisis. The eurocrisis revealed near-fatal weaknesses of the European Monetary Union (EMU), which is still incomplete without a common fiscal policy, a common budget, and a banking union. Unless corrected, such deficiencies will cause both the EU and the EMU to dissolve if another asymmetric shock occurs. This paper also analyzes recent geopolitical developments that are crucial to the EU/eurozone’s existential crisis.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):George Zestos Rachel N. CookeRelated Topic(s):
Book Series, March 2018 | March 2018 | Jan Kregel
Edited by Marcella Corsi, Jan Kregel, and Carlo D'IppolitiEdited by Marcella Corsi, Sapienza University of Rome, Levy Institute Director of Research Jan Kregel, and Carlo D’Ippoliti, Sapienza University of Rome, this new collection of 16 essays is dedicated to Alessandro Roncaglia and deals with the themes that “have characterized his work or represent expressions of his personality, his interests and method," particularly his contributions to the interpretation of classical political economists as a means for informing present-day policy.
Published by: Anthem Press
Current Research Topics
From the Press Room
Research Scholar Pavlina Tcherneva calls for direct investment in infrastructure and employment to stimulate economic recovery
Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray testified before the House Committee on the Budget, November 20
OpEd: Don’t let politics derail Greece’s economic recovery
Fed's Bullard says economic data should improve, yield curve steepen in coming months
Financial market 'pause party' makes Fed rate cut less likely
The Rock-Star Appeal of Modern Monetary TheoryThe Sanders generation and a new economic idea
Minsky's MomentThe second in a series of articles on seminal economic ideas looks at Hyman Minsky’s hypothesis that booms sow the seeds of busts.