Working Papers

  • Working Paper No. 891 | May 2017
    A Survey

    The stock-flow consistent (SFC) modeling approach, grounded in the pioneering work of Wynne Godley and James Tobin in the 1970s, has been adopted by a growing number of researchers in macroeconomics, especially after the publication of Godley and Lavoie (2007), which provided a general framework for the analysis of whole economic systems, and the recognition that macroeconomic models integrating real markets with flow-of-funds analysis had been particularly successful in predicting the Great Recession of 2007–9. We introduce the general features of the SFC approach for a closed economy, showing how the core model has been extended to address issues such as financialization and income distribution. We next discuss the implications of the approach for models of open economies and compare the methodologies adopted in developing SFC empirical models for whole countries. We review the contributions where the SFC approach is being adopted as the macroeconomic closure of microeconomic agent-based models, and how the SFC approach is at the core of new research in ecological macroeconomics. Finally, we discuss the appropriateness of the name “stock-flow consistent” for the class of models we survey.

  • Working Paper No. 890 | May 2017
    Linking the State and Credit Theories of Money through a Financial Approach to Money

    The paper presents a financial approach to monetary analysis that links the credit and state theories of money. A premise of the functional approach to money is that “money is what money does.” In this approach, monetary and mercantile mechanics are conflated, which leads to the conclusion that unconvertible monetary instruments are worthless. The financial approach to money strictly separates the two mechanics and argues that major monetary disruptions occurred when the two were conflated. Monetary instruments have always been promissory notes. As such, their financial characteristics are central to their value and liquidity. One of the main financial requirements of any monetary instrument is that it be redeemable at any time. As long as this is the case, the fair value of an unconvertible monetary instrument is its face value. While the functional approach does not recognize the centrality of redemption, the paper shows that redemption plays a critical role in the state and credit views of money. Payments due to issuer and/or convertibility on demand are central to the possibility of par circulation. The paper shows that this has major implications for monetary analysis, both in terms of understanding monetary history and in terms of performing monetary analysis.

  • Working Paper No. 889 | May 2017

    This paper investigates the determinants of nominal yields of government bonds in the eurozone. The pooled mean group (PMG) technique of cointegration is applied on both monthly and quarterly datasets to examine the major drivers of nominal yields of long-term government bonds in a set of 11 eurozone countries. Furthermore, autoregressive distributive lag (ARDL) methods are used to address the same question for individual countries. The results show that short-term interest rates are the most important determinants of long-term government bonds’ nominal yields, which supports Keynes’s (1930) view that short-term interest rates and other monetary policy measures have a decisive influence on long-term interest rates on government bonds.

  • Working Paper No. 888 | April 2017

    Using data from the 2003–14 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), this paper examines the relationship between the state unemployment rate and the time that opposite-sex couples with children spend on childcare activities, and how this varies by the socioeconomic status (SES), race, and ethnicity of the mothers and fathers. The time that mothers and fathers spend providing primary and secondary child caregiving, solo time with children, and any time spent as a family are considered. To explore the impact of macroeconomic conditions on the amount of time parents spend with children, the time-use data are combined with the state unemployment rate data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis finds that the time parents spend on child-caregiving activities or with their children varies with the unemployment rate in low-SES households, African-American households, and Hispanic households. Given that job losses were disproportionately high for workers with no college degree, African-Americans, and Hispanics during the Great Recession, the results suggest that the burden of household adjustment during the crisis fell disproportionately on the households most affected by the recession.

  • Working Paper No. 887 | March 2017
    Job Creation in the Midst of Welfare State Sabotage

    President Trump’s faux populism may deliver some immediate short-term benefits to the economy, masking the devastating long-term effects from his overall policy strategy. The latter can be termed “welfare state sabotage” and is a wholesale assault on essential public sector institutions and macroeconomic stabilization features that were built during the New Deal era and ushered in the “golden age” of the American economy. Starting in the late ’70s, many of these institutions were significantly eroded by Republicans and Democrats alike, paving the way for the rise of Trump but paling in comparison with what is to come.

  • Working Paper No. 886 | March 2017

    This paper investigates the (lack of any lasting) impact of John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory on economic policymaking in Germany. The analysis highlights the interplay between economic history and the history of ideas in shaping policymaking in postwar (West) Germany. The paper argues that Germany learned the wrong lessons from its own history and misread the true sources of its postwar success. Monetary mythology and the Bundesbank, with its distinctive anti-inflationary bias, feature prominently in this collective odyssey. The analysis shows that the crisis of the euro today is largely the consequence of Germany’s peculiar anti-Keynesianism.

  • Working Paper No. 885 | February 2017

    This paper presents the quality analysis of the statistical matching conducted for a research study on household consumption behavior, household indebtedness, and inequality for Turkey. The match has been done for four years (2005, 2008, 2009, and 2012) of Household Budget Surveys (HBS) and the Survey for Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The aim of the statistical matching is to transfer household expenditure data from the HBS to the SILC to create synthetic data sets that have information on household consumption expenditures as well as household income and indebtedness. We are following the methodology of constrained statistical matching, using estimated propensity scores developed in Kum and Masterson (2010) to produce the synthetic data sets that we need. The analysis shows that the match is of high quality.

  • Working Paper No. 884 | February 2017
    Evidence from Turkey

    Using data from the 2006 Turkish Time-Use Survey, we examine gender differences in time allocation among married heterosexual couples over the life cycle. While we find large discrepancies in the gender division of both paid and unpaid work at each life stage, the gender gap in paid and unpaid work is largest among parents of infants compared to parents of older children and couples without children. The gender gap narrows as children grow up and parents age. Married women’s housework time remains relatively unchanged across their life cycle, while older men spend more time doing housework than their younger counterparts. Over the course of the life cycle, women’s total work burden increases relative to men’s. Placing our findings within the gendered institutional context in Turkey, we argue that gender-inequitable work-family reconciliation policies that are based on gendered assumptions of women’s role as caregivers exacerbate gender disparities in time use.

  • Working Paper No. 883 | February 2017
    An Empirical Analysis of G20 Countries

    This paper analyzes the effectiveness of public expenditures on economic growth within the analytical framework of comprehensive Neo-Schumpeterian economics. Using a fixed-effects model for G20 countries, the paper investigates the links between the specific categories of public expenditures and economic growth, captured in human capital formation, defense, infrastructure development, and technological innovation. The results reveal that the impact of innovation-related spending on economic growth is much higher than that of the other macro variables. Data for the study was drawn from the International Monetary Fund’s Government Finance Statistics database, infrastructure reports for the G20 countries, and the World Development Indicators issued by the World Bank.

  • Working Paper No. 882 | January 2017
    A Distributional Analysis of the Care Economy in Turkey

    This paper examines the aggregate and gender employment impact of expanding the early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE) sector in Turkey and compares it to the expansion of the construction sector. The authors’ methodology combines input-output analysis with a statistical microsimulation approach. Their findings suggest that the expansion of the ECCPE sector creates more jobs and does so in a more gender-equitable way than an expansion of the construction sector. In particular, it narrows the gender employment and earnings gaps, generates more decent jobs, and achieves greater short-run fiscal sustainability.

  • Working Paper No. 881 | January 2017

    This paper investigates the long-term determinants of Indian government bonds’ (IGB) nominal yields. It examines whether John Maynard Keynes’s supposition that short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields holds over the long-run horizon, after controlling for various key economic factors such as inflationary pressure and measures of economic activity. It also appraises whether the government finance variable—the ratio of government debt to nominal income—has an adverse effect on government bond yields over a long-run horizon. The models estimated here show that in India, short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields over the long run. However, the ratio of government debt and nominal income does not have any discernible adverse effect on yields over a long-run horizon. These findings will help policymakers in India (and elsewhere) to use information on the current trend in short-term interest rates, the federal fiscal balance, and other key macro variables to form their long-term outlook on IGB yields, and to understand the implications of the government’s fiscal stance on the government bond market.

  • Working Paper No. 880 | January 2017
    Evidence from Measures of Economic Well-Being

    The Great Recession had a tremendous impact on low-income Americans, in particular black and Latino Americans. The losses in terms of employment and earnings are matched only by the losses in terms of real wealth. In many ways, however, these losses are merely a continuation of trends that have been unfolding for more than two decades. We examine the changes in overall economic well-being and inequality as well as changes in racial economic inequality over the Great Recession, using the period from 1989 to 2007 for historical context. We find that while racial inequality increased from 1989 to 2010, during the Great Recession racial inequality in terms of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) decreased. We find that changes in base income, taxes, and income from nonhome wealth during the Great Recession produced declines in overall inequality, while only taxes reduced between-group racial inequality.

  • Working Paper No. 879 | December 2016

    This paper presents a methodological discussion of two recent “endogeneity” critiques of the Kaleckian model and the concept of distribution-led growth. From a neo-Keynesian perspective, and following Kaldor (1955) and Robinson (1956), the model is criticized because it treats distribution as quasi-exogenous, while in Skott (2016) distribution is viewed as endogenously determined by a series of (exogenous) institutional factors and social norms, and therefore one should focus on these instead of the functional distribution of income per se. The paper discusses how abstraction is used in science and economics, and employs the criteria proposed by Lawson (1989) for what constitutes an appropriate abstraction. Based on this discussion, it concludes that the criticisms are not valid, although the issues raised by Skott provide some interesting directions for future work within the Kaleckian framework.

  • Working Paper No. 878 | December 2016
    A Post-Keynesian/Evolutionist Critique

    This paper provides a critical analysis of expansionary austerity theory (EAT). The focus is on the theoretical weaknesses of EAT—the extreme circumstances and fragile assumptions under which expansionary consolidations might actually take place. The paper presents a simple theoretical model that takes inspiration from both the post-Keynesian and evolutionary/institutionalist traditions. First, it demonstrates that well-designed austerity measures hardly trigger short-run economic expansions in the context of expected long-lasting consolidation plans (i.e., when adjustment plans deal with remarkably high debt-to-GDP ratios), when the so-called “financial channel” is not operative (i.e., in the context of monetarily sovereign economies), or when the degree of export responsiveness to internal devaluation is low. Even in the context of non–monetarily sovereign countries (e.g., members of the eurozone), austerity’s effectiveness crucially depends on its highly disputable capacity to immediately stabilize fiscal variables.

    The paper then analyzes some possible long-run economic dynamics, emphasizing the high degree of instability that characterizes austerity-based adjustments plans. Path-dependency and cumulativeness make the short-run impulse effects of fiscal consolidation of paramount importance to (hopefully) obtaining any appreciable medium-to-long-run benefit. Should these effects be contractionary at the onset, the short-run costs of austerity measures can breed an endless spiral of recession and ballooning debt in the long run. If so, in the case of non–monetarily sovereign countries debt forgiveness may emerge as the ultimate solution to restore economic soundness. Alternatively, institutional innovations like those adopted since mid-2012 by the European Central Bank are required to stabilize the economy, even though they are unlikely to restore rapid growth in the absence of more active fiscal stimuli.

  • Working Paper No. 877 | November 2016

    Against the background of modern-day monetary proposals, ranging from a return to the gold standard to the wholesale abolition of currency, this paper seeks to draw implications from David Ricardo’s Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency for plans to reform the operation of central banks and extraordinary monetary policy. Although 200 years old, the “Ingot plan,” proposed during a period in which gold convertibility was suspended, appears to be applicable to modern monetary conditions and suggests possible avenues of reform.

  • Working Paper No. 876 | October 2016
    The Fed’s Unjustified Rationale

    In December 2015, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) initiated the process of “normalization,” with the objective of gradually raising the federal funds rate back to “normal”—i.e., levels that are “neither expansionary nor contrary” and are consistent with the established 2 percent longer-run goal for the annual Personal Consumption Expenditures index and the estimated natural rate of unemployment. This paper argues that the urgency and rationale behind the rate hikes are not theoretically sound or empirically justified. Despite policymakers’ celebration of “substantial” labor market progress, we are still short some 20 million jobs. Further, there is no reason to believe that the current exceptionally low inflation rates are transitory. Quite the contrary: without significant fiscal efforts to restore the bargaining power of labor, inflation rates are expected to remain below the Federal Open Market Committee’s long-term goal for years to come. Also, there is little empirical evidence or theoretical support for the FRB’s suggestion that higher interest rates are necessary to counter “excessive” risk-taking or provide a more stable financial environment.

  • Working Paper No. 875 | September 2016
    A Global Cap to Build an Effective Postcrisis Banking Supervision Framework

    The global financial crisis shattered the conventional wisdom about how financial markets work and how to regulate them. Authorities intervened to stop the panic—short-term pragmatism that spoke volumes about the robustness of mainstream economics. However, their very success in taming the collapse reduced efforts to radically change the “big bank” business model and lessened the possibility of serious banking reform—meaning that a strong and possibly even bigger financial crisis is inevitable in the future. We think an overall alternative is needed and at hand: Minsky’s theories on investment, financial stability, the growing weight of the financial sector, and the role of the state. Building on this legacy, it is possible to analyze which aspects of the post-2008 reforms actually work. In this respect, we argue that the only effective solution is to impose a global cap on the absolute size of banks.

    Associated Program(s):
    Giuseppe Mastromatteo Lorenzo Esposito
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 874 | September 2016
    Is There a Case for Gender-sensitive Horizontal Fiscal Equalization?

    This paper seeks to evaluate whether a gender-sensitive formula for the inter se devolution of union taxes to the states makes the process more progressive. We have used the state-specific child sex ratio (the number of females per thousand males in the age group 0–6 years) as one of the criteria for the tax devolution. The composite devolution formula as constructed provides maximum rewards to the state with the most favorable child-sex ratio, and the rewards progressively decline along with the declining sex ratio. In this formulation, the state with the most unfavorable child-sex ratio is penalized the most in terms of its share in the horizontal devolution. It is observed that the inclusion of gender criteria makes the intergovernmental fiscal transfers formula more equitable across states. This is not surprising given the monotonic decline in the sex ratio in some of the most high-income states in India.

  • Working Paper No. 873 | September 2016

    This document presents a description of the quality of match of the statistical matches used in the LIMTCP estimates prepared for Ghana and Tanzania. For Ghana, the statistical match combines the Living Standards Survey Round 6 (GLSS6) with the Ghana Time Use Survey (GTUS) 2009, and for Tanzania it combines the Household Budget Survey (THBS) 2012 with the time-use data obtained from the Integrated Labor Survey Module (ILFS) 2006. In both cases, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. Despite the differences in the survey years, the quality of match is high and the synthetic dataset appropriate for the time poverty analysis.

  • Working Paper No. 872 | August 2016
    Do Fiscal Rules Impose Hard Budget Constraints?

    The primary objective of rule-based fiscal legislation at the subnational level in India is to achieve debt sustainability by placing a ceiling on borrowing and the use of borrowed resources for public capital investment by phasing out deficits in the budget revenue account. This paper examines whether the application of fiscal rules has contributed to an increase in fiscal space for public capital investment spending in major Indian states. Our analysis shows that, controlling for other factors, there is a negative relationship between fiscal rules and public capital investment spending at the state level under the rule-based fiscal regime.

  • Working Paper No. 871 | August 2016

    New methodology for producing employment microsimulations is introduced, with a focus on farms and household nonfarm enterprises. Previous simulations have not dealt with the issue of reduced production in farm and nonfarm household enterprises when household members are placed in paid employment. In this paper, we present a method for addressing the trade-off between paid employment and the farm and nonfarm business activities individuals may already be engaged in. The implementation of the simulations for Ghana and Tanzania is described and the quality of the simulation results is assessed.

  • Working Paper No. 870 | August 2016
    The Effect of Immigration on Unemployment Transitions of Native-born Workers in the United States

    Although one would expect the unemployed to be the population most likely affected by immigration, most of the studies have concentrated on investigating the effects immigration has on the employed population. Little is known of the effects of immigration on labor market transitions out of unemployment. Using the basic monthly Current Population Survey from 2001–13 we match data for individuals who were interviewed in two consecutive months and identify workers who transition out of unemployment. We employ a multinomial model to examine the effects of immigration on the transition out of unemployment, using state-level immigration statistics. The results suggest that immigration does not affect the probabilities of native-born workers finding a job. Instead, we find that immigration is associated with smaller probabilities of remaining unemployed, but it is also associated with higher probabilities of workers leaving the labor force. This effect impacts mostly young and less educated people.

  • Working Paper No. 869 | June 2016
    Phases of Financialization within the 20th Century in the United States

    This paper explores from a historical perspective the process of financialization over the course of the 20th century. We identify four phases of financialization: the first, from the 1900s to 1933 (early financialization); the second, from 1933 to 1940 (transitory phase); the third, between 1945 and 1973 (definancialization); and the fourth period begins in the early 1970s and leads to the Great Recession (complex financialization). Our findings indicate that the main features of the current phase of financialization were already in place in the first period. We closely examine institutions within these distinct financial regimes and focus on the relative size of the financial sector, the respective regulation regime of each period, and the intensity of the shareholder value orientation, as well as the level of financial innovations implemented. Although financialization is a recent term, the process is far from novel. We conclude that its effects can be studied better with reference to economic history.

    Associated Program(s):
    Apostolos Fasianos Diego Guevara Christos Pierros
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 868 | June 2016
    The ECB’s Belated Conversion?

    This paper investigates the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policies. It identifies an antigrowth bias in the bank’s monetary policy approach: the ECB is quick to hike, but slow to ease. Similarly, while other players and institutional deficiencies share responsibility for the euro’s failure, the bank has generally done “too little, too late” with regard to managing the euro crisis, preventing protracted stagnation, and containing deflation threats. The bank remains attached to the euro area’s official competitive wage–repression strategy, which is in conflict with the ECB’s price stability mandate and undermines its more recent, unconventional monetary policy initiatives designed to restore price stability. The ECB needs a “Euro Treasury” partner to overcome the euro regime’s most serious flaw: the divorce between central bank and treasury institutions.

  • Working Paper No. 867 | May 2016

    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.

  • Working Paper No. 866 | May 2016
    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.

  • Working Paper No. 865 | May 2016
    Why Time Deficits Matter

    We describe the production of estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Buenos Aires, Argentina, and use it to analyze the incidence of time and income poverty. We find high numbers of hidden poor—those who are not poor according to the official measure but are found to be poor when using our time-adjusted poverty line. Large time deficits for those living just above the official poverty line are the reason for this hidden poverty. Time deficits are unevenly distributed by employment status, family type, and especially gender. Simulations of the impact of full-time employment on those households with nonworking (for pay) adults indicate that reductions in income poverty can be achieved, but at the cost of increased time poverty. Policy interventions that address the lack of both income and time are discussed.

  • Working Paper No. 864 | April 2016

    In this paper we analyze options for the European Central Bank (ECB) to achieve its single mandate of price stability. Viable options for price stability are described, analyzed, and tabulated with regard to both short- and long-term stability and volatility. We introduce an additional tool for promoting price stability and conclude that public purpose is best served by the selection of an alternative buffer stock policy that is directly managed by the ECB.

  • Working Paper No. 863 | March 2016

    US government indebtedness and fiscal deficits increased notably following the global financial crisis. Yet long-term interest rates and US Treasury yields have remained remarkably low. Why have long-term interest rates stayed low despite the elevated government indebtedness? What are the drivers of long-term interest rates in the United States? John Maynard Keynes holds that the central bank’s actions are the main determinants of long-term interest rates. A simple model is presented where the central bank’s actions are the key drivers of long-term interest rates through short-term interest rates and various monetary policy measures. The empirical findings reveal that short-term interest rates, after controlling for other crucial variables such as the rate of inflation, the rate of economic activity, fiscal deficits, government debts, and so forth, are the most important determinants of long-term interest rates in the United States. Public finance variables, such as government fiscal balances or government indebtedness, as a share of nominal GDP appear not to have any discernable effect on long-term interest rates.

  • Working Paper No. 862 | March 2016

    Japan has experienced stagnation, deflation, and low interest rates for decades. It is caught in a liquidity trap. This paper examines Japan’s liquidity trap in light of the structure and performance of the country’s economy since the onset of stagnation. It also analyzes the country’s liquidity trap in terms of the different strands in the theoretical literature. It is argued that insights from a Keynesian perspective are still quite relevant. The Keynesian perspective is useful not just for understanding Japan’s liquidity trap but also for formulating and implementing policies that can overcome the liquidity trap and foster renewed economic growth and prosperity. Paul Krugman (1998a, b) and Ben Bernanke (2000; 2002) identify low inflation and deflation risks as the cause of a liquidity trap. Hence, they advocate a credible commitment by the central bank to sustained monetary easing as the key to reigniting inflation, creating an exit from a liquidity trap through low interest rates and quantitative easing. In contrast, for John Maynard Keynes (2007 [1936]) the possibility of a liquidity trap arises from a sharp rise in investors’ liquidity preference and the fear of capital losses due to uncertainty about the direction of interest rates. His analysis calls for an integrated strategy for overcoming a liquidity trap. This strategy consists of vigorous fiscal policy and employment creation to induce a higher expected marginal efficiency of capital, while the central bank stabilizes the yield curve and reduces interest rate volatility to mitigate investors’ expectations of capital loss. In light of Japan’s experience, Keynes’s analysis and proposal for generating effective demand might well be a more appropriate remedy for the country’s liquidity trap.

  • Working Paper No. 861 | March 2016

    Money, in this paper, is defined as a power relationship of a specific kind, a stratified social debt relationship, measured in a unit of account determined by some authority. A brief historical examination reveals its evolving nature in the process of social provisioning. Money not only predates markets and real exchange as understood in mainstream economics but also emerges as a social mechanism of distribution, usually by some authority of power (be it an ancient religious authority, a king, a colonial power, a modern nation state, or a monetary union). Money, it can be said, is a “creature of the state” that has played a key role in the transfer of real resources between parties and the distribution of economic surplus.

    In modern capitalist economies, the currency is also a simple public monopoly. As long as money has existed, someone has tried to tamper with its value. A history of counterfeiting, as well as that of independence from colonial and economic rule, is another way of telling the history of “money as a creature of the state.” This historical understanding of the origins and nature of money illuminates the economic possibilities under different institutional monetary arrangements in the modern world. We consider the so-called modern “sovereign” and “nonsovereign” monetary regimes (including freely floating currencies, currency pegs, currency boards, dollarized nations, and monetary unions) to examine the available policy space in each case for pursuing domestic policy objectives.

  • Working Paper No. 860 | February 2016
    Brazil at the Mid-2010s

    The Brazilian economy in 2015 was afflicted by a lethal combination of decelerating activity and accelerating inflation. Expectations for 2016 are equally or even more adverse, since the effects of rising unemployment emerge only after a lag. The domestic debate has pitted analysts who believe the crisis is due exclusively to past policy mistakes against those who believe that all was well until the government decided to implement austerity policies in 2015. A closer examination of the evidence shows that, in fact, both causes contributed to the crisis. But it also suggests that its depth has a more proximate cause in the political collapse of the federal government in 2015, which led Brazilian society to an impasse for which one cannot yet visualize the solution.

  • Working Paper No. 859 | February 2016
    A Technical Articulation for Asia-Pacific

    Against the backdrop of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, this paper analyzes the measurement issues in gender-based indices constructed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and suggests alternatives for choice of variables, functional form, and weights. While the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (GII) conceptually reflects the loss in achievement due to inequality between men and women in three dimensions—health, empowerment, and labor force participation—we argue that the assumptions and the choice of variables to capture these dimensions remain inadequate and erroneous, resulting in only the partial capture of gender inequalities. Since the dimensions used for the GII are different from those in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), we cannot say that a higher value in the GII represents a loss in the HDI due to gender inequalities. The technical obscurity remains how to interpret GII by combining women-specific indicators with indicators that are disaggregated for both men and women. The GII is a partial construct, as it does not capture many significant dimensions of gender inequality. Though this requires a data revolution, we tried to reconstruct the GII in the context of Asia-Pacific using three scenarios: (1) improving the set of variables incorporating unpaid care work, pay gaps, intrahousehold decision making, exposure to knowledge networks, and feminization of governance at local levels; (2) constructing a decomposed index to specify the direction of gender gaps; and (3) compiling an alternative index using Principal Components Index for assigning weights. The choice of countries under the three scenarios is constrained by data paucity. The results reveal that the UNDP GII overestimates the gap between the two genders, and that using women-specific indicators leads to a fallacious estimation of gender inequality. The estimates are illustrative. The implication of the results broadly suggests a return to the UNDP Gender Development Index for capturing gender development, with an improvised set of choices and variables.

  • Working Paper No. 858 | January 2016

    The collapse of the Soviet Union initiated an unprecedented social and economic transformation of the successor countries and altered the gender balance in a region that counted gender equality as one of the key legacies of its socialist past. The transition experience of the region has amply demonstrated that the changes in the gender balance triggered by economic shifts are far from obvious, and that economic expansion and women’s economic empowerment do not always go hand in hand. Therefore, active measures to enhance women’s economic empowerment should be of central concern to the policy dialogue aimed at poverty and inequality reduction and inclusive growth. In this paper, we establish the current state of various dimensions of gender inequalities and their past dynamics in the countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and Western CIS (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine), and propose steps aimed at reducing those inequalities in the context of inclusive growth, decent job creation, and economic empowerment.

  • Working Paper No. 857 | December 2015

    This paper describes the transformations in federal classification of ethno-racial information since the civil rights era of the 1960s. These changes were introduced in the censuses of 1980 and 2000, and we anticipate another major change in the 2020 Census. The most important changes in 1980 introduced the Hispanic Origin and Ancestry questions and the elimination of two questions on parental birthplace. The latter decision has made it impossible to adequately track the progress of the new second generation. The change in 2000 allowed respondents to declare origins in more than one race; the anticipated change for 2020 will create a single question covering race and Hispanic Origin—or, stated more broadly, race and ethnic origin. We show that the 1980 changes created problems in race and ethnic classification that required a “fix,” and the transformation anticipated for 2020 will be that fix. Creating the unified question in the manner the Census Bureau is testing will accomplish by far the hardest part of what we believe should be done. However, we suggest two additional changes of a much simpler nature: restoring the parental birthplace questions (to the annual American Community Survey) and possibly eliminating the Ancestry question (the information it gathered will apparently now be obtained in the single race-and-ethnicity question). The paper is historical in focus. It surveys how the classification system prior to 1980 dealt with the tension between ethno-racial continuity and assimilation (differently for each major type of group); how the political pressures producing the changes of 1980 and 2000 changed the treatment of that tension; and, finally, the building pressure for a further change.

  • Working Paper No. 856 | December 2015
    Evidence from Europe, 2006–13

    We examine the relationship between changes in a country’s public sector fiscal position and inequality at the top and bottom of the income distribution during the age of austerity (2006–13). We use a parametric Lorenz curve model and Gini-like indices of inequality as our measures to assess distributional changes. Based on the EU’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions SLIC and International Monetary Fund data for 12 European countries, we find that more severe adjustments to the cyclically adjusted primary balance (i.e., more austerity) are associated with a more unequal distribution of income driven by rising inequality at the top. The data also weakly suggest a decrease in inequality at the bottom. The distributional impact of austerity measures reflects the reliance on regressive policies, and likely produces increased incentives for rent seeking while reducing incentives for workers to increase productivity.

    Associated Program(s):
    Markus P.A. Schneider Stephen Kinsella Antoine Godin
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 855 | November 2015
    Debt, Central Banks, and Functional Finance

    The scientific reassessment of the economic role of the state after the crisis has renewed interest in Abba Lerner’s theory of functional finance (FF). A thorough discussion of this concept is helpful in reconsidering the debate on the nature of money and the origin of the business cycle and crises. It also allows a reevaluation of many policy issues, such as the Barro–Ricardo equivalence, the cause of inflation, and the role of monetary policy.

    FF, throwing a different light on these issues, can provide a sound foundation for discussing income, fiscal, and monetary policy rules in the right context of flexibility in the management of national budgets, assessing what kind of policies should be awarded priority, and the effectiveness of tackling the crisis with the different part of public budget. It also allows us to understand ways of increasing efficiency through public investment while reducing the total operational costs of firms. In the specific context of the eurozone, FF is useful for assessing the institutional framework of the euro and how to improve it in the face of protracted low growth, deflation, and weak public finances.

  • Working Paper No. 854 | November 2015
    Graph Theory and Macroeconomic Regimes in Stock-flow Consistent Modeling

    Standard presentations of stock-flow consistent modeling use specific Post Keynesian closures, even though a given stock-flow accounting structure supports various different economic dynamics. In this paper we separate the dynamic closure from the accounting constraints and cast the latter in the language of graph theory. The graph formulation provides (1) a representation of an economy as a collection of cash flows on a network and (2) a collection of algebraic techniques to identify independent versus dependent cash-flow variables and solve the accounting constraints. The separation into independent and dependent variables is not unique, and we argue that each such separation can be interpreted as an institutional structure or policy regime. Questions about macroeconomic regime change can thus be addressed within this framework.

    We illustrate the graph tools through application of the simple stock-flow consistent model, or “SIM model,” found in Godley and Lavoie (2007). In this model there are eight different possible dynamic closures of the same underlying accounting structure. We classify the possible closures and discuss three of them in detail: the “standard” Godley–Lavoie closure, where government spending is the key policy lever; an “austerity” regime, where government spending adjusts to taxes that depend on private sector decisions; and a “colonial” regime, which is driven by taxation.

  • Working Paper No. 853 | November 2015
    The Case of Colombia

    In recent years, Colombia has grown relatively rapidly, but it has been a biased growth. The energy sector (the “locomotora minero-energetica,” to use the rhetorical expression of President Juan Manuel Santos) grew much faster than the rest of the economy, while the manufacturing sector registered a negative rate of growth. These are classic symptoms of the well-known “Dutch disease,” but our purpose here is not to establish whether or not the Dutch disease exists, but rather to shed some light on the financial viability of several, simultaneous dynamics: (1) the existence of a traditional Dutch disease being due to a large increase in mining exports and a significant exchange rate appreciation; (2) a massive increase in foreign direct investment, particularly in the mining sector; (3) a rather passive monetary policy, aimed at increasing purchasing power via exchange rate appreciation; (4) and more recently, a large distribution of dividends from Colombia to the rest of the world and the accumulation of mounting financial liabilities. The paper shows that these dynamics constitute a potential danger for the stability of the Colombian economy. Some policy recommendations are also discussed.

    Associated Program(s):
    Alberto Botta Antoine Godin Marco Missaglia
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  • Working Paper No. 852 | October 2015

    Long-term interest rates in advanced economies have been low since the global financial crisis. However, in the United States the Federal Reserve could begin to hike its policy rate, the federal funds target rate, before the end of the year. In the United Kingdom, the Bank of England could follow suit. What is the outlook for global long-term interest rates? What are the risks around interest rates? What can policymakers do to cure the malady of low interest rates? It is argued that global interest rates are likely to stay low in the remainder of this year and the first half of next year due to a combination of domestic and international factors, even if a few central banks gradually begin to tighten monetary policy. The cure for this malady lies in proactive fiscal policy and measures to support job growth. Boosting effective demand and promoting higher wages and real disposable income would help lift inflation rates close to their targets and raise long-term interest rates.

  • Working Paper No. 851 | October 2015
    A Stock-flow Consistent Model

    This paper presents a stock-flow consistent model+ of full-reserve banking. It is found that in a steady state, full-reserve banking can accommodate a zero-growth economy and provide both full employment and zero inflation. Furthermore, a money creation experiment is conducted with the model. An increase in central bank reserves translates into a two-thirds increase in demand deposits. Money creation through government spending leads to a temporary increase in real GDP and inflation. Surprisingly, it also leads to a permanent reduction in consolidated government debt. The claims that full-reserve banking would precipitate a credit crunch or excessively volatile interest rates are found to be baseless.

  • Working Paper No. 850 | October 2015

    We describe the medium-run macroeconomic effects and long-run development consequences of a financial Dutch disease that may take place in a small developing country with abundant natural resources. The first move is in financial markets. An initial surge in foreign direct investment targeting natural resources sets in motion a perverse cycle between exchange rate appreciation and mounting short- and medium-term capital flows. Such a spiral easily leads to exchange rate volatility, capital reversals, and sharp macroeconomic instability. In the long run, macroeconomic instability and overdependence on natural resource exports dampen the development of nontraditional tradable goods sectors and curtail labor productivity dynamics. We advise the introduction of constraints to short- and medium-term capital flows to tame exchange rate/capital flows boom-and-bust cycles. We support the implementation of a developmentalist monetary policy targeting competitive nominal and real exchange rates in order to encourage product and export diversification.

  • Working Paper No. 849 | October 2015
    A Micro- and Macroprudential Perspective

    Bank leverage ratios have made an impressive and largely unopposed return; they are mostly used alongside risk-weighted capital requirements. The reasons for this return are manifold, and they are not limited to the fact that bank equity levels in the wake of the global financial crisis (GFC) were exceptionally thin, necessitating a string of costly bailouts. A number of other factors have been equally important; these include, among others, the world’s revulsion with debt following the GFC and the eurozone crisis, and the universal acceptance of Hyman Minsky’s insights into the nature of the financial system and its role in the real economy. The best examples of the causal link between excessive debt, asset bubbles, and financial instability are the Spanish and Irish banking crises, which resulted from nothing more sophisticated than straightforward real estate loans. Bank leverage ratios are primarily seen as a microprudential measure that intends to increase bank resilience. Yet in today’s environment of excessive liquidity due to very low interest rates and quantitative easing, bank leverage ratios should also be viewed as a key part of the macroprudential framework. In this context, this paper discusses the role of leverage ratios as both microprudential and macroprudential measures. As such, it explains the role of the leverage cycle in causing financial instability and sheds light on the impact of leverage restraints on good bank governance and allocative efficiency.

  • Working Paper No. 848 | October 2015
    A Case Study of the Canadian Economy, 1935–75

    Historically high levels of private and public debt coupled with already very low short-term interest rates appear to limit the options for stimulative monetary policy in many advanced economies today. One option that has not yet been considered is monetary financing by central banks to boost demand and/or relieve debt burdens. We find little empirical evidence to support the standard objection to such policies: that they will lead to uncontrollable inflation. Theoretical models of inflationary monetary financing rest upon inaccurate conceptions of the modern endogenous money creation process. This paper presents a counter-example in the activities of the Bank of Canada during the period 1935–75, when, working with the government, it engaged in significant direct or indirect monetary financing to support fiscal expansion, economic growth, and industrialization. An institutional case study of the period, complemented by a general-to-specific econometric analysis, finds no support for a relationship between monetary financing and inflation. The findings lend support to recent calls for explicit monetary financing to boost highly indebted economies and a more general rethink of the dominant New Macroeconomic Consensus policy framework that prohibits monetary financing.

  • Working Paper No. 847 | October 2015
    A Post-Keynesian Interpretation of the Spanish Crisis

    The Spanish crisis is generally portrayed as resulting from excessive spending by households, associated with a housing bubble and/or excessive welfare spending beyond the economic possibilities of the country. We put forward a different hypothesis. We argue that the Spanish crisis resulted, in the main, from a widening deficit position in the nonfinancial corporate sector—the most important explanatory factor behind the country’s rising external imbalance—and a declining trend in profitability under a regime of financial liberalization and loose and unregulated lending practices. This paper argues that the central cause of the crisis is related to the nonfinancial corporate sector’s increasingly fragile financial position, which originated from the financial convergence that followed adoption of the euro.

    Associated Program(s):
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías Vernengo
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  • Working Paper No. 846 | October 2015
    Steindl after Summers

    The current debate on secular stagnation is suffering from some vagueness and several shortcomings. The same is true for the economic policy implications. Therefore, we provide an alternative view on stagnation tendencies based on Josef Steindl’s contributions. In particular, Steindl (1952) can be viewed as a pioneering work in the area of stagnation in modern capitalism. We hold that this work is not prone to the problems detected in the current debate on secular stagnation: It does not rely on the dubious notion of an equilibrium real interest rate as the equilibrating force of saving and investment at full employment levels, in principle, with the adjustment process currently blocked by the unfeasibility of a very low or even negative equilibrium rate. It is based on the notion that modern capitalist economies are facing aggregate demand constraints, and that saving adjusts to investment through income growth and changes in capacity utilization in the long run. It allows for potential growth to become endogenous to actual demand-driven growth. And it seriously considers the role of institutions and power relationships for long-run growth—and for stagnation.

  • Working Paper No. 845 | September 2015
    Assessing the ECB’s Crisis Management Performance and Potential for Crisis Resolution
    This study assesses the European Central Bank’s (ECB) crisis management performance and potential for crisis resolution. The study investigates the institutional and functional constraints that delineate the ECB’s scope for policy action under crisis conditions, and how the bank has actually used its leeway since 2007—or might do so in the future. The study finds that the ECB may well stand out positively when compared to other important euro-area or national authorities involved in managing the euro crisis, but that in general the bank did “too little, too late” to prevent the euro area from slipping into recession and protracted stagnation. The study also finds that expectations regarding the ECB’s latest policy initiatives may be excessively optimistic, and that proposals featuring the central bank as the euro’s savior through even more radical employment of its balance sheet are misplaced hopes. Ultimately, the euro’s travails can only be ended and the euro crisis resolved by shifting the emphasis toward fiscal policy; specifically, by partnering the ECB with a “Euro Treasury” that would serve as a vehicle for the central funding of public investment through the issuance of common Euro Treasury debt securities. 

  • Working Paper No. 844 | July 2015

    We present a model where the saving rate of the household sector, especially households at the bottom of the income distribution, becomes the endogenous variable that adjusts in order for full employment to be maintained over time. An increase in income inequality and the current account deficit and a consolidation of the government budget lead to a decrease in the saving rate of the household sector. Such a process is unsustainable because it leads to an increase in the household debt-to-income ratio, and maintaining it depends on some sort of asset bubble. This framework allows us to better understand the factors that led to the Great Recession and the dilemma of a repeat of this kind of unsustainable process or secular stagnation. Sustainable growth requires a decrease in income inequality, an improvement in the external position, and a relaxation of the fiscal stance of the government.

  • Working Paper No. 843 | July 2015

    This paper has two main objectives. The first is to propose a policy architecture that can prevent a very high public debt from resulting in a high tax burden, a government default, or inflation. The second objective is to show that government deficits do not face a financing problem. After these deficits are initially financed through the net creation of base money, the private sector necessarily realizes savings, in the form of either government bond purchases or, if a default is feared, “acquisitions” of new money.

  • Working Paper No. 842 | July 2015
    The Euro Treasury Plan

    The euro crisis remains unresolved and the euro currency union incomplete and extraordinarily vulnerable. The euro regime’s essential flaw and ultimate source of vulnerability is the decoupling of central bank and treasury institutions in the euro currency union. We propose a “Euro Treasury” scheme to properly fix the regime and resolve the euro crisis. This scheme would establish a rudimentary fiscal union that is not a transfer union. The core idea is to create a Euro Treasury as a vehicle to pool future eurozone public investment spending and to have it funded by proper eurozone treasury securities. The Euro Treasury could fulfill a number of additional purposes while operating mainly on the basis of a strict rule. The plan would also provide a much-needed fiscal boost to recovery and foster a more benign intra-area rebalancing.

  • Working Paper No. 841 | July 2015

    Marx’s theory of money is critiqued relative to the advent of fiat and electronic currencies and the development of financial markets. Specific topics of concern include (1) today’s identity of the money commodity, (2) possible heterogeneity of the money commodity, (3) the categories of land and rent as they pertain to the financial economy, (4) valuation of derivative securities, and (5) strategies for modeling, predicting, and controlling production and exchange of the money commodity and their interface with the real economy.

  • Working Paper No. 840 | July 2015

    A technical analysis shows that the doomsayers who support the euro at all costs and those who naively theorize that a single currency is the root of all evil are both wrong. A euro exit could be a way of getting back to growth, but at the same time it would entail serious risks, especially for wage earners. The most important lesson we can learn from the experience of the past is that the outcome, in terms of growth, distribution, and employment, depends on how a country remains in the euro; or, in the case of a euro exit, on the quality of the economic policies that are put in place once the country regains control of monetary and fiscal matters, rather than on abandoning the old exchange system as such. It all depends on how a country stays in the eurozone, or on how it leaves if need be.

    Associated Program:
    Riccardo Realfonzo Angelantonio Viscione
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  • Working Paper No. 839 | June 2015
    The Unit of Account, Inflation, Leverage, and Financial Fragility

    We hope to model financial fragility and money in a way that captures much of what is crucial in Hyman Minsky’s financial fragility hypothesis. This approach to modeling Minsky may be unique in the formal Minskyan literature. Namely, we adopt a model in which a psychological variable we call financial prudence (P) declines over time following a financial crash, driving a cyclical buildup of leverage in household balance sheets. High leverage or a low safe-asset ratio in turn induces high financial fragility (FF). In turn, the pathways of FF and capacity utilization (u) determine the probabilistic risk of a crash in any time interval. When they occur, these crashes entail discrete downward jumps in stock prices and financial sector assets and liabilities. To the endogenous government liabilities in Hannsgen (2014), we add common stock and bank loans and deposits. In two alternative versions of the wage-price module in the model (wage–Phillips curve and chartalist, respectively), the rate of wage inflation depends on either unemployment or the wage-setting policies of the government sector. At any given time t, goods prices also depend on endogenous markup and labor productivity variables. Goods inflation affects aggregate demand through its impact on the value of assets and debts. Bank rates depend on an endogenous markup of their own. Furthermore, in light of the limited carbon budget of humankind over a 50-year horizon, goods production in this model consumes fossil fuels and generates greenhouse gases.

    The government produces at a rate given by a reaction function that pulls government activity toward levels prescribed by a fiscal policy rule. Subcategories of government spending affect the pace of technical progress and prudence in lending practices. The intended ultimate purpose of the model is to examine the effects of fiscal policy reaction functions, including one with dual unemployment rate and public production targets, testing their effects on numerically computed solution pathways. Analytical results in the penultimate section show that (1) the model has no equilibrium (steady state) for reasons related to Minsky’s argument that modern capitalist economies possess a property that he called “the instability of stability,” and (2) solution pathways exist and are unique, given vectors of initial conditions and parameter values and realizations of the Poisson model of financial crises.

  • Working Paper No. 838 | May 2015
    Linkages and Their Implications

    Unpaid work, which falls outside of the national income accounts but within the general production boundary, is viewed as either “care” or as “work” by experts. This work is almost always unequally distributed between men and women, and if one includes both paid and unpaid work, women carry much more of the burden of work than men. This unequal distribution of work is unjust, and it implies a violation of the basic human rights of women. The grounds on which it is excluded from the boundary of national income accounts do not seem to be logical or valid. This paper argues that the exclusion reflects the dominance of patriarchal values and brings male bias into macroeconomics.

    This paper shows that there are multiple linkages between unpaid work and the conventional macroeconomy, and this makes it necessary to expand the boundary of conventional macroeconomics so as to incorporate unpaid work. The paper presents the two approaches: the valuation of unpaid work into satellite accounts, and the adoption of the triple “R” approach of recognition, reduction, and reorganization of unpaid work, recommended by experts. However, there is a need to go beyond these approaches to integrate unpaid work into macroeconomics and macroeconomic policies. Though some empirical work has been done in terms of integrating unpaid work into macro policies (for example, understanding the impacts of macroeconomic policy on paid and unpaid work), some sound theoretical work is needed on the dynamics of the linkages between paid and unpaid work, and how these dynamics change over time and space. The paper concludes that the time has come to recognize that unless unpaid work is included in macroeconomic analyses, they will remain partial and wrong. The time has also come to incorporate unpaid work into labor market analyses, and in the design of realistic labor and employment policies.

  • Working Paper No. 837 | May 2015
    A Keynes-Schumpeter-Minsky Synthesis

    This paper discusses the role that finance plays in promoting the capital development of the economy, with particular emphasis on the current situation of the United States and the United Kingdom. We define both “finance” and “capital development” very broadly. We begin with the observation that the financial system evolved over the postwar period, from one in which closely regulated and chartered commercial banks were dominant to one in which financial markets dominate the system. Over this period, the financial system grew rapidly relative to the nonfinancial sector, rising from about 10 percent of value added and a 10 percent share of corporate profits to 20 percent of value added and 40 percent of corporate profits in the United States. To a large degree, this was because finance, instead of financing the capital development of the economy, was financing itself. At the same time, the capital development of the economy suffered perceptibly. If we apply a broad definition—to include technological advances, rising labor productivity, public and private infrastructure, innovations, and the advance of human knowledge—the rate of growth of capacity has slowed.

    The past quarter century witnessed the greatest explosion of financial innovation the world had ever seen. Financial fragility grew until the economy collapsed into the global financial crisis. At the same time, we saw that much (or even most) of the financial innovation was directed outside the sphere of production—to complex financial instruments related to securitized mortgages, to commodities futures, and to a range of other financial derivatives. Unlike J. A. Schumpeter, Hyman Minsky did not see the banker merely as the ephor of capitalism, but as its key source of instability. Furthermore, due to “financialisation of the real economy,” the picture is not simply one of runaway finance and an investment-starved real economy, but one where the real economy itself has retreated from funding investment opportunities and is instead either hoarding cash or using corporate profits for speculative investments such as share buybacks. As we will argue, financialization is rooted in predation; in Matt Taibbi’s famous phrase, Wall Street behaves like a giant, blood-sucking “vampire squid.”

    In this paper we will investigate financial reforms as well as other government policy that is necessary to promote the capital development of the economy, paying particular attention to increasing funding of the innovation process. For that reason, we will look not only to Minsky’s ideas on the financial system, but also to Schumpeter’s views on financing innovation.

  • Working Paper No. 836 | April 2015

    This paper evaluates the presence of heterogeneity, by household type, in the elasticity of substitution between food expenditures and time and in the goods intensity parameter in the household food and eating production functions. We use a synthetic dataset constructed by statistically matching the American Time Use Survey and the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We establish the presence of heterogeneity in the elasticity of substitution and in the intensity parameter. We find that the elasticity of substitution is low for all household types.

  • Working Paper No. 835 | March 2015

    In recent years, Bolivia has experienced a series of economic and political transformations that have directly affected the labor markets, particularly the salaried urban sector. Real wages have shown strong increases across the distribution, while also presenting a decrease in inequality. Using an intertemporal decomposition approach, we find evidence that changes in demographic and labor market characteristics can explain only a small portion of the observed inequality decline. Instead, the results indicate that the decline in wage inequality was driven by the faster wage growth of usually low-paid jobs, and wage stagnation of jobs that require higher education or are in traditionally highly paid fields. While the evidence shows that the reduction in inequality is significant, we suggest that such an improvement might not be sustainable in the long run, since structural factors associated with productivity, such as workers’ level of education, explain only a small portion of these wage changes.

    Associated Program:
    Gustavo Canavire-Bacarreza Fernando Rios-Avila
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  • Working Paper No. 834 | March 2015

    John Maynard Keynes held that the central bank’s actions determine long-term interest rates through short-term interest rates and various monetary policy measures. His conjectures about the determinants of long-term interest rates were made in the context of advanced capitalist economies, and were based on his views on ontological uncertainty and the formation of investors’ expectations. Are these conjectures valid in emerging markets, such as India? This paper empirically investigates the determinants of changes in Indian government bonds’ nominal yields. Changes in short-term interest rates, after controlling for other crucial variables such as changes in the rates of inflation and economic activity, take a lead role in driving changes in the nominal yields of Indian government bonds. This vindicates Keynes’s theories, and suggests that his views on long-term interest rates are also applicable to emerging markets. Higher fiscal deficits do not appear to raise government bond yields in India. It is further argued that Keynes’s conjectures about investors’ outlooks, views, and expectations are fairly robust in a world of ontological uncertainty.

  • Working Paper No. 833 | February 2015
    A Blueprint for Reform
    If emerging markets are to achieve their objective of joining the ranks of industrialized, developed countries, they must use their economic and political influence to support radical change in the international financial system. This working paper recommends John Maynard Keynes’s “clearing union” as a blueprint for reform of the international financial architecture that could address emerging market grievances more effectively than current approaches.
    Keynes’s proposal for the postwar international system sought to remedy some of the same problems currently facing emerging market economies. It was based on the idea that financial stability was predicated on a balance between imports and exports over time, with any divergence from balance providing automatic financing of the debit countries by the creditor countries via a global clearinghouse or settlement system for trade and payments on current account. This eliminated national currency payments for imports and exports; countries received credits or debits in a notional unit of account fixed to national currency. Since the unit of account could not be traded, bought, or sold, it would not be an international reserve currency. The credits with the clearinghouse could only be used to offset debits by buying imports, and if not used for this purpose they would eventually be extinguished; hence the burden of adjustment would be shared equally—credit generated by surpluses would have to be used to buy imports from the countries with debit balances. Emerging market economies could improve upon current schemes for regionally governed financial institutions by using this proposal as a template for the creation of regional clearing unions using a notional unit of account. 

  • Working Paper No. 832 | February 2015
    The Contributions of John F. Henry
    This paper explores the rise of money and class society in ancient Greece, drawing historical and theoretical parallels to the case of ancient Egypt. In doing so, the paper examines the historical applicability of the chartalist and metallist theories of money. It will be shown that the origins and the evolution of money were closely intertwined with the rise and consolidation of class society and inequality. Money, class society, and inequality came into being simultaneously, so it seems, mutually reinforcing the development of one another. Rather than a medium of exchange in commerce, money emerged as an “egalitarian token” at the time when the substance of social relations was undergoing a fundamental transformation from egalitarian to class societies. In this context, money served to preserve the façade of social and economic harmony and equality, while inequality was growing and solidifying. Rather than “invented” by private traders, money was first issued by ancient Greek states and proto-states as they aimed to establish and consolidate their political and economic power. Rather than a medium of exchange in commerce, money first served as a “means of recompense” administered by the Greek city-states as they strived to implement the civic conception of social justice. While the origins of money are to be found in the origins of inequality, a well-functioning democratic society has the power to subvert the inequality-inducing characteristic of money via the use of money for public purpose, following the principles of Modern Money Theory (MMT). When used according to the principles of MMT, the inequality-inducing characteristic of money could be undermined, while the current trends in rising income and wealth disparities could be contained and reversed. 

  • Working Paper No. 831 | January 2015
    The Market Creating and Shaping Roles of State Investment Banks

    Recent decades witnessed a trend whereby private markets retreated from financing the real economy, while, simultaneously, the real economy itself became increasingly financialized. This trend resulted in public finance becoming more important for investments in capital development, technical change, and innovation. Within this context, this paper focuses on the roles played by a particular source of public finance: state investment banks (SIBs). It develops a conceptual typology of the different roles that SIBs play in the economy, which together show the market creation/shaping process of SIBs rather than their mere “market fixing” roles. This paper discusses four types of investments, both theoretically and empirically: countercyclical, developmental, venture capitalist, and challenge led. To develop the typology, we first discuss how standard market failure theory justifies the roles of SIBs, the diagnostics and evaluation toolbox associated with it, and resulting criticisms centered on notions of “government failures.” We then show the limitations of this approach based on insights from Keynes, Schumpeter, Minsky, and Polanyi, as well as other authors from the evolutionary economics tradition, which help us move toward a framework for public investments that is more about market creating/shaping than market fixing. As frameworks lead to evaluation tools, we use this new lens to discuss the increasingly targeted investments that SIBs are making, and to shed new light on the usual criticisms that are made about such directed activity (e.g., crowding out and picking winners). The paper ends with a proposal of directions for future research.

    Associated Program:
    Mariana Mazzucato Caetano C.R. Penna
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  • Working Paper No. 830 | January 2015

    This paper describes the quality of the statistical match between the Current Population Survey (CPS) March 2011 supplement and the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) 2011, which are used for the integrated inequality assessment model for the United States. In the first part of this paper, the alignment of the datasets is examined. In the second, various aspects of the match quality are described. The results show appropriate balance across different characteristics, with some imbalances within narrow characteristics.

  • Working Paper No. 829 | January 2015

    Before the global financial crisis, the assistance of a lender of last resort was traditionally thought to be limited to commercial banks. During the crisis, however, the Federal Reserve created a number of facilities to support brokers and dealers, money market mutual funds, the commercial paper market, the mortgage-backed securities market, the triparty repo market, et cetera. In this paper, we argue that the elimination of specialized banking through the eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA) has played an important role in the leakage of the public subsidy intended for commercial banks to nonbank financial institutions. In a specialized financial system, which the GSA had helped create, the use of the lender-of-last-resort safety net could be more comfortably limited to commercial banks.

    However, the elimination of GSA restrictions on bank-permissible activities has contributed to the rise of a financial system where the lines between regulated and protected banks and the so-called shadow banking system have become blurred. The existence of the shadow banking universe, which is directly or indirectly guaranteed by banks, has made it practically impossible to confine the safety to the regulated banking system. In this context, reforming the lender-of-last-resort institution requires fundamental changes within the financial system itself.

  • Working Paper No. 828 | January 2015
    The Indian Case

    Financialization creates space for the financial sector in economies, and in doing so helps to raise the share of financial assets in the portfolios held by market participants. Largely driven by deregulation, the process works to make financial assets relatively attractive as compared to other assets, by offering both better returns and potential capital gains. Both the trend toward a more financialized economy and the expected returns on financial investments have provided incentives to corporate managers to invest larger sums in financial assets, resulting in growth of the share of financial assets relative to other assets held in portfolios. Assets held in the financial sector, however, failed to generate asset growth for the corporates. The need to obtain resources by borrowing in order to meet current liabilities reflects a pattern of Ponzi finance on their part. This paper traces the above pattern in corporate holdings of assets and its implications, with emphasis on the Indian economy.

  • Working Paper No. 827 | January 2015
    Early Work on Endogenous Money and the Prudent Banker

    In this paper, I examine whether Hyman P. Minsky adopted an endogenous money approach in his early work—at the time that he was first developing his financial instability approach. In an earlier piece (Wray 1992), I closely examined Minsky’s published writings to support the argument that, from his earliest articles in 1957 to his 1986 book (as well as a handout he wrote in 1987 on “securitization”), he consistently held an endogenous money view. I’ll refer briefly to that published work. However, I will devote most of the discussion here to unpublished early manuscripts in the Minsky archive (Minsky 1959, 1960, 1970). These manuscripts demonstrate that in his early career Minsky had already developed a deep understanding of the nature of banking. In some respects, these unpublished pieces are better than his published work from that period (or even later periods) because he had stripped away some institutional details to focus more directly on the fundamentals. It will be clear from what follows that Minsky’s approach deviated substantially from the postwar “Keynesian” and “monetarist” viewpoints that started from a “deposit multiplier.” The 1970 paper, in particular, delineates how Minsky’s approach differs from the “Keynesian” view as presented in mainstream textbooks. Further, Minsky’s understanding of banking in those years appears to be much deeper than that displayed three or four decades later by much of the post-Keynesian endogenous-money literature.

  • Working Paper No. 826 | January 2015

    Following a methodology proposed by Jantzen and Volpert (2012), we use IRS Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) data for the United States (1921–2012) to estimate two Gini-like indices representing inequality at the bottom and the top of the income distribution. We also calculate the overall Gini index as a function of the parameters underlying the two indices. Our findings can be summarized as follows. First, we find that the increase in the Gini index from the mid 1940s to the late 1970s seems to be mostly explained by an increase in inequality at the bottom of the income distribution, which more than offsets the decrease in inequality at the top. The implication is that middle incomes gained relative to high incomes, but especially relative to low incomes. Conversely, it is rising inequality at the top that appears to drive the rise in the Gini index since 1981. Second, inequality at the top of the income distribution follows a U-shaped trajectory over time, similar to the pattern of the share of top incomes documented by Piketty and Saez (2003, 2006) and Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez (2011). Third, the welfare effects of the different forces behind an increasing Gini index can be evaluated in light of the Lorenz-dominance criterion proposed by Atkinson (1970): both top-driven and bottom-driven increases in the index appear not to imply strict Lorenz dominance by previous income distributions, and therefore are not associated with lower welfare in an absolute sense. In a relative sense, however, once average growth rates over the two periods are taken into account, the top-driven increase in inequality since 1981 appears to have been welfare reducing.

    Associated Program:
    Markus P.A. Schneider Daniele Tavani
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  • Working Paper No. 825 | January 2015
    What Should BNDES Do?

    The 2007–8 global financial crisis has shown the failure of private finance to efficiently allocate capital to finance real capital development. The resilience and stability of Brazil’s financial system has received attention, since it navigated relatively smoothly through the Great Recession and the collapse of the shadow banking system. This raises the question of whether it is possible that the alternative approaches followed by some developing countries might provide an indication of more stable regulatory approaches generally. There has been much discussion about how to support private long-term finance in order to meet Brazil’s growing infrastructure and investment needs. One of the essential functions of the financial system is to provide the long-term funding needed for long-lived and expensive capital assets. However, one of the main difficulties of the current private financial system is its failure to provide long-term financing, as the short-termism in Brazil’s financial market is a major obstacle to financing long-term assets. In its current form, the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) is the main source of long-term funding in the country. However, BNDES has been subject to a range of criticisms, such as crowding out private sector bank lending, and it is said to be hampering the development of the local capital market. This paper argues that, rather than following the traditional approach to justify the existence of public banks—and BNDES in particular, based on market failures—finding an effective answer to this question requires a theory of financial instability.

    Associated Program:
    Felipe Rezende
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  • Working Paper No. 824 | January 2015
    A New Framework for Envisioning and Evaluating a Mission-oriented Public Sector

    Today, countries around the world are seeking “smart” innovation-led growth, and hoping that this growth is also more “inclusive” and “sustainable” than in the past. This paper argues that such a feat requires rethinking the role of government and public policy in the economy—not only funding the “rate” of innovation, but also envisioning its “direction.” It requires a new justification of government intervention that goes beyond the usual one of “fixing market failures.” It also requires the shaping and creating of markets. And to render such growth more “inclusive,” it requires attention to the ensuing distribution of “risks and rewards.”

    To approach the innovation challenge of the future, we must redirect the discussion, away from the worry about “picking winners” and “crowding out” toward four key questions for the future:

    1. Directions: how can public policy be understood in terms of setting the direction and route of change; that is, shaping and creating markets rather than just fixing them? What can be learned from the ways in which directions were set in the past, and how can we stimulate more democratic debate about such directionality?
    2. Evaluation: how can an alternative conceptualization of the role of the public sector in the economy (alternative to MFT) translate into new indicators and assessment tools for evaluating public policies beyond the microeconomic cost/benefit analysis? How does this alter the crowding in/out narrative?
    3. Organizational change: how should public organizations be structured so they accommodate the risk-taking and explorative capacity, and the capabilities needed to envision and manage contemporary challenges?
    4. Risks and Rewards: how can this alternative conceptualization be implemented so that it frames investment tools so that they not only socialize risk, but also have the potential to socialize the rewards that enable “smart growth” to also be “inclusive growth”?

  • Working Paper No. 823 | December 2014
    A Sympathetic Critique

    This paper starts with a review of the literature about National Systems of Innovation (NSI), by linking the origin of the concept to the evolutionary theory of the firm and innovation. The first point reviews the flaws of the NSI concept by looking at the pioneering works of Chris Freeman, Bent-Åke Lundvall, and Richard Nelson. These authors’ definitions of NSI contain some striking aspects: (1) the definitions are so broad that they can encompass almost everything; (2) although all definitions share the central role played by institutions, the state and its policy are not explicitly mentioned; and (3) it is not clear if the NSI concept is a descriptive or a normative tool. The second point we would like to make is that, when the role of the financial system was finally recognized by evolutionary traditions, it was just added as a “new” element within the NSI. The main aim became one of including the financial system within the NSI and looking for the “right” financial system for the “right” type of innovation. After addressing the weaknesses of the conceptualization of the state within the NSI and the difficulty of the evolutionary theory in understanding the financialization of the economy, our third and last point refers to a new way to view innovations. As Mariana Mazzuccato shows, the state has always been a fundamental, though indirect, actor for the development of certain innovations in certain sectors. Yet this is not enough, especially in a period of crisis. The state should direct innovative activities toward more basic and social needs, thus becoming an “innovator of first resort.”

  • Working Paper No. 822 | December 2014

    An understanding of, and an intervention into, the present capitalist reality requires that we put together the insights of Karl Marx on labor, as well as those of Hyman Minsky on finance. The best way to do this is within a longer-term perspective, looking at the different stages through which capitalism evolves. In other words, what is needed is a Schumpeterian-like, nonmechanical view about long waves, where Minsky’s financial Keynesianism is integrated with Marx’s focus on capitalist relations of production. Both are essential elements in understanding neoliberalism’s ascent and collapse. Minsky provided crucial elements in understanding the capitalist “new economy.” This refers to his perceptive diagnosis of “money manager capitalism,” the new form of capitalism that came from the womb of the Keynesian era itself. It collapsed a first time with the dot-com crisis, and a second time, and more seriously, with the subprime crisis. The focus is on the long-term changes in capitalism, and especially on what L. Randall Wray appropriately calls Minsky’s “stages approach.” Our aim is to show that this theme has a deep connection with the topic of the socialization of investment, central in the conclusions of the latter’s 1975 book on Keynes.

  • Working Paper No. 821 | December 2014
    The Advantages of Owning the Magic Porridge Pot

    Over the past two decades there has been a revival of Georg Friedrich Knapp’s “state money” approach, also known as chartalism. The modern version has come to be called Modern Money Theory. Much of the recent research has delved into three main areas: mining previous work, applying the theory to analysis of current sovereign monetary operations, and exploring the policy space open to sovereign currency issuers. This paper focuses on “outside” money—the currency issued by the sovereign—and the advantages that accrue to nations that make full use of the policy space provided by outside money.

  • Working Paper No. 820 | November 2014
    Challenges for the Art of Monetary Policymaking in Emerging Economies

    This paper examines the emerging challenges to the art of monetary policymaking using the case study of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in light of developments in the Indian economy during the last decade (2003–04 to 2013–14). The paper uses Hyman P. Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis as the conceptual framework for evaluating the endogenous nature of financial instability and its potential impact on monetary policymaking, and addresses the need to pursue regulatory policy as a tool that is complementary to monetary policy in light of the agenda of reforms put forward by Minsky. It further reviews the extensions to the Minskyan hypothesis in the areas of setting fiscal policy, managing cross-border capital flows, and developing financial institutional infrastructure. The lessons learned from the interplay of policy choices in these areas and their impact on monetary policymaking at the RBI are presented.

  • Working Paper No. 819 | November 2014
    How a Five-year Suspension of the Debt Burden Could Overthrow Austerity

    The present study puts forward a plan for solving the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area (EA) in line with the interests of the working classes and the social majority. Our main strategy is for the European Central Bank (ECB) to acquire a significant part of the outstanding sovereign debt (at market prices) of the countries in the EA and convert it to zero-coupon bonds. No transfers will take place between individual states; taxpayers in any EA country will not be involved in the debt restructuring of any foreign eurozone country. Debt will not be forgiven: individual states will agree to buy it back from the ECB in the future when the ratio of sovereign debt to GDP has fallen to 20 percent. The sterilization costs for the ECB are manageable. This model of an unconventional monetary intervention would give progressive governments in the EA the necessary basis for developing social and welfare policies to the benefit of the working classes. It would reverse present-day policy priorities and replace the neoliberal agenda with a program of social and economic reconstruction, with the elites paying for the crisis. The perspective taken here favors social justice and coherence, having as its priority the social needs and the interests of the working majority.

    Associated Program:
    Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos John Milios Spyros Lapatsioras
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 818 | October 2014

    During the past two decades of economic stagnation and persistent deflation in Japan, chronic fiscal deficits have led to elevated and rising ratios of government debt to nominal GDP. Nevertheless, long-term Japanese government bonds’ (JGBs) nominal yields initially declined and have stayed remarkably low and stable since then. This is contrary to the received wisdom of the existing literature, which holds that higher government deficits and indebtedness shall exert upward pressures on government bonds’ nominal yields. This paper seeks to understand the determinants of JGBs’ nominal yields. It examines the relationship between JGBs’ nominal yields and short-term interest rates and other relevant factors, such as low inflation and persistent deflationary pressures and tepid growth. Low short-term interest rates, induced by monetary policy, have been the main reason for JGBs’ low nominal yields. It is also argued that Japan has monetary sovereignty, which gives the government of Japan the ability to meet its debt obligations. It enables the Bank of Japan to exert downward pressure on JGBs’ nominal yields by allowing it to keep short-term interest rates low and to use other tools of monetary policy. The argument that current short-term interest rates and monetary policy are the primary drivers of long-term interest rates follows Keynes’s (1930) insights.

  • Working Paper No. 817 | September 2014
    The Reemergence of Liquidity Preference and Animal Spirits in the Post-Keynesian Theory of Capital Markets

    Since the beginning of the fall of monetarism in the mid-1980s, mainstream macroeconomics has incorporated many of the principles of post-Keynesian endogenous money theory. This paper argues that the most important critical component of post-Keynesian monetary theory today is its rejection of the “natural rate of interest.” By examining the hidden assumptions of the loanable funds doctrine as it was modified in light of the idea of a natural rate of interest—specifically, its implicit reliance on an “efficient markets hypothesis” view of capital markets—this paper seeks to show that the mainstream view of capital markets is completely at odds with the world of fundamental uncertainty addressed by post-Keynesian economists, a world in which Keynesian liquidity preference and animal spirits rule the roost. This perspective also allows us to shed new light on the debate that has sprung up around the work of Hyman Minsky, calling into question to what extent he rejected the loanable funds view of financial markets. When Minsky’s theories are examined against the backdrop of the natural rate of interest version of the loanable funds theory, it quickly becomes clear that Minsky does not fall into the loanable funds camp.

  • Working Paper No. 816 | September 2014
    Policy Alternatives Addressing Divergences and Disparities between Member Countries

    In this paper we outline alternative policy recommendations addressing the problems of differential inflation, divergence in competitiveness, and associated current account imbalances within the euro area. The major purpose of these alternative policy proposals is to generate sustainably high demand and output growth in the euro area as a whole, providing high levels of noninflationary employment, as well as preventing “export-led mercantilist” and “debt-led consumption boom” types of development, both within the euro area and with respect to the role of the euro area in the world economy. We provide a basic framework in order to systematically address the related issues, making use of Anthony Thirlwall’s model of a “balance-of-payments-constrained growth rate.” Based on this framework, we outline the required stance for alternative economic policies and then discuss the implications for alternative monetary, wage/incomes, and fiscal policies in the euro area as a whole, as well as the consequences for structural and regional policies in the euro-area periphery in particular.

  • Working Paper No. 815 | September 2014

    This paper contributes to the literature on inequality and welfare policy by studying public support for redistributive policies in Israel, a society with an extreme level of socioeconomic inequality. Drawing on the relevant literature and taking into consideration the distinct demographic makeup of contemporary Israeli society, the study aims to describe public support for opportunity-enhancing and outcome-based redistributive policies and to explore the extent to which individual economic and demographic characteristics are associated with policy preferences. Analysis of data from a unique topical module of the 2008 Israel Social Survey reveals that support for opportunity-based programs is strong overall, but that the Israeli public is deeply divided along ethnic lines, religious affiliation, and immigration status. While results from multinomial regression analyses provide support for the self-interest theory, the findings also underscore the significance of various demographic and social indicators as determinants of policy preferences. These findings are discussed in light of the current debates on the sources of, and possible remedies for, the growing social and economic polarization within Israeli society.

  • Working Paper No. 814 | September 2014

    The paper examines the long-run fluctuations in growth and distribution through the prism of wage-and profit-led growth. We argue that the relation between distribution of income and growth changes over time. We propose an endogenous mechanism that leads to fluctuations between wage- and profit-led periods. Our model is a linear version of Goodwin’s predator–prey model, but with a reversal of the roles for predator and prey: the growth rate acts as the predator and the distribution of income as the prey. These fluctuations need to be taken into account when someone estimates empirically the effect of a change in distribution on utilization and growth. We also examine our argument in relation to the double movement of Karl Polanyi, the Kuznets curve, and the theories of long swings proposed by Albert Hirschman and Michal Kalecki.

  • Working Paper No. 813 | August 2014
    For Economic Stimulus, or for Austerity and Volatility?

    The implementation of economic reforms under new economic policies in India was associated with a paradigmatic shift in monetary and fiscal policy. While monetary policies were solely aimed at “price stability” in the neoliberal regime, fiscal policies were characterized by the objective of maintaining “sound finance” and “austerity.” Such monetarist principles and measures have also loomed over the global recession. This paper highlights the theoretical fallacies of monetarism and analyzes the consequences of such policy measures in India, particularly during the period of the global recession. Not only did such policies pose constraints on the recovery of output and employment, with adverse impacts on income distribution; but they also failed to achieve their stated goal in terms of price stability. By citing examples from southern Europe and India, this paper concludes that such monetarist policy measures have been responsible for stagnation, with a rise in price volatility and macroeconomic instability in the midst of the global recession.

  • Working Paper No. 812 | August 2014
    What Difference Did the Great Recession Make?

    Feminist and institutionalist literature has challenged the “Mancession” narrative of the 2007–09 recession and produced nuanced and gender-aware analyses of the labor market and well-being outcomes of the recession. Using American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data for 2003–12, this paper examines the recession’s impact on gendered patterns of time use over the course of the 2003–12 business cycle. We find that the gender disparity in paid and unpaid work hours followed a U-shaped pattern, narrowing during the recession and widening slightly during the jobless recovery. The change in unpaid work disparity was smaller than that in paid work, and was short-lived. Consequently, mothers’ total workload increased under the hardships of the Great Recession and declined only slightly during the recovery.

  • Working Paper No. 811 | July 2014
    An Evaluation Using the Maximum Entropy Bootstrap Method

    This paper challenges two clichés that have dominated the macroeconometric debates in India. One relates to the neoclassical view that deficits are detrimental to growth, as they increase the rate of interest, and in turn displace the interest-rate-sensitive components of private investment. The second relates to the assumption of “stationarity”—which has dominated the statistical inference in time-series econometrics for a long time—as well as the emphasis on unit root–type testing, which involves detrending, or differencing, of the series to achieve stationarity in time-series econometric models. The paper examines the determinants of rates of interest in India for the periods 1980–81 and 2011–12, using the maximum entropy bootstrap (Meboot) methodology proposed in Vinod 1985 and 2004 (and developed extensively in Vinod 2006, Vinod and Lopez-de-Lacalle 2009, and Vinod 2010 and 2013). The practical appeal of Meboot is that it does not necessitate all pretests, such as structural change and unit root–type testing, which involve detrending the series to achieve stationarity, which in turn is problematic for evolutionary short time series. It also solves problems related to situations where stationarity assumptions are difficult to verify—for instance, in mixtures of I(0) and nonstationary I(d) series, where the order of integration can be different for different series.

    What makes Meboot compelling for Indian data on interest rates? Prior to interest rate deregulation in 1992, studies to analyze the determinants of interest rates were rare in India. Analytical and econometric limitations to dealing with the nonvarying administered rates for a meaningful time-series analysis have been the oft-cited reason. Using high-frequency data, the existing attempts have focused on the recent financially deregulated interest rate regime to establish possible links between interest rates and macroeconomic variables (Chakraborty 2002 and 2012, Dua and Pandit 2002, and Goyal 2004). The results from the Meboot analysis revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the fiscal deficit is not significant for interest rate determination in India. This is in alignment with the existing empirical findings, where it was established that the interest rate is affected by changes in the reserve currency, expected inflation, and volatility in capital flows, but not by the fiscal deficit. This result has significant policy implications for interest rate determination in India, especially since the central bank has cited the high fiscal deficit as one of the prime constraints for flexibility in fixing the rates.

  • Working Paper No. 810 | June 2014
    Monetization Fears and Europe’s Narrowing Options

    With the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union and the euro, the national government debt of eurozone member-states became credit sensitive. While the potentially destabilizing impact of adverse cyclical conditions on credit-sensitive debt was seriously underestimated, the design was intentional, framed within a Friedman-Fischer-Buchanan view that “no monetization” rules provide a powerful means to discipline government behavior. While most countries follow some kind of “no monetization” rule, the one embraced by the eurozone was special, as it also prevented monetization on the secondary market for debt. This made all eurozone public debt defaultable—at least until the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the Outright Monetary Transactionsprogram, which can be seen as an enhanced rule-based approach that makes governments solvent on the condition that they balance their budgets. This has further narrowed Europe’s options for policy solutions that are conducive to job creation. An approach that would require no immediate changes in the European Union’s (EU) political structure would be for the EU to fund “net government spending in the interest of Europe” through the issue of a eurobond backed by the ECB.

  • Working Paper No. 809 | June 2014

    Work and life satisfaction depends on a number of pecuniary and nonpecuniary factors at the workplace and determines these in turn. We analyze these causal linkages using a structural vector autoregression approach for a sample of the German working populace collected from 1984 to 2008, finding that workplace autonomy plays an important causal role in determining well-being.

  • Working Paper No. 808 | June 2014
    A Quantile Approach

    Unemployment has been robustly shown to strongly decrease subjective well-being (or “happiness”). In the present paper, we use panel quantile regression techniques in order to analyze to what extent the negative impact of unemployment varies along the subjective well-­being distribution. In our analysis of British Household Panel Survey data (1996–2008) we find that, over the quantiles of our subjective well-being variable, individuals with high well-­being suffer less from becoming unemployed. A similar but stronger effect of unemployment is found for a broad mental well-being variable (GHQ-12). For happy and mentally stable individuals, it seems their higher well-being acts like a safety net when they become unemployed. We explore these findings by examining the heterogeneous unemployment effects over the quantiles of satisfaction with various life domains.

  • Working Paper No. 807 | June 2014

    Recent research stresses the macroeconomic dimension of income distribution, but no theory has yet emerged. In this note, we introduce factor shares into popular growth models to gain insights into the macroeconomic effects of income distribution. The cost of modifying existing models is low compared to the benefits. We find, analytically, that (1) the multiplier is equal to the inverse of the labor share and is about 1.4; (2) income distribution matters mostly in the medium run; (3) output is wage led in the short run, i.e., as long as unemployment persists; (4) capacity expansion is profit led in the full-employment long run, but this is temporary and unstable.

  • Working Paper No. 806 | May 2014
    Does Poverty Matter?

    Poverty status is an important factor influencing household production and the unpaid work time associated with it due to the role of household production as a coping strategy in mitigating the impact of economic downturns. In this paper, we examine the presence of poverty-based asymmetries in the unpaid work time changes of men and women during the Great Recession. Using the 2003–12 American Time Use Survey, we find that these changes indeed varied by poverty status. In particular, nonpoor women drove the reduction in unpaid work time among women. Among men, the lack of the change in unpaid work time masked the increase in poor men’s time and the decrease in nonpoor men’s time. Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions of the changes in the unpaid work time reveal that shifts in own and spousal employment status largely account for the gender-based differences in these changes, while shifts in the household structure partially explain the poverty-based differences. Nevertheless, sizable portions of the changes in time use remain unexplained by the shifting individual and household characteristics. The latter finding supports the hypothesis of poverty-based variation in the unpaid work time adjustments in that poor and nonpoor individuals appeared to have responded to the recession in different ways.

  • Working Paper No. 805 | May 2014
    Measures and Structural Factors

    Economic theory frequently assumes constant factor shares and often treats the topic as secondary. We will show that this is a mistake by deriving the first high-frequency measure of the US labor share for the whole economy. We find that the labor share has held remarkably steady indeed, but that the quasi-stability masks a sizable composition effect that is detrimental to labor. The wage component is falling fast and the stability is achieved by an increasing share of benefits and top incomes. Using NIPA and Piketty-Saez top-income data, we estimate that the US bottom 99 percent labor share has fallen 15 points since 1980. This amounts to a transfer of $1.8 trillion from labor to capital in 2012 alone and brings the US labor share to its 1920s level. The trend is similar in Europe and Japan. The decrease is even larger when the CPI is used instead of the GDP deflator in the calculation of the labor share.

  • Working Paper No. 804 | May 2014
    Empirical Studies

    In this second part of our study we survey the rapidly expanding empirical literature on the determinants of the functional distribution of income. Three major strands emerge: technological change, international trade, and financialization. All contribute to the fluctuations of the labor share, and there is a significant amount of self-reinforcement among these factors. For the case of the United States, it seems that the factors listed above are by order of increasing importance. We conclude by noting that the falling US wage shares cointegrates with rising inequality and a rising top 1 percent income share. Thus, all measures of income distribution provide the same picture. Liberalization and financialization worsen economic inequality by raising top incomes, unless institutions are strongly redistributive.

    The labor share has also fallen, for structural reasons and for reasons related to economic policy. Such explanations are left to parts III and IV of our study, respectively. Part I investigated the theories of income distribution.

  • Working Paper No. 803 | May 2014

    This series of working papers explores a theme enjoying a tremendous resurgence: the functional distribution of income—the division of aggregate income by factor share. This first installment surveys some landmark theories of income distribution. Some provide a technology-based account of the relative shares while others provide a demand-driven explanation (Keynes, Kalecki, Kaldor, Goodwin). Two questions lead to a better understanding of the literature: is income distribution assumed constant?, and is income distribution endogenous or exogenous? However, and despite their insights, these theories alone fail to fully explain the current deterioration of income distribution.

    Subsequent installments are dedicated to analyzing the empirical literature (part II), to the measurement and composition of the relative shares (part III), and to a study of the role of economic policy (part IV).

  • Working Paper No. 802 | May 2014
    Policy Challenges for Central Banks

    Central banks responded with exceptional liquidity support during the financial crisis to prevent a systemic meltdown. They broadened their tool kit and extended liquidity support to nonbanks and key financial markets. Many want central banks to embrace this expanded role as “market maker of last resort” going forward. This would provide a liquidity backstop for systemically important markets and the shadow banking system that is deeply integrated with these markets. But how much liquidity support can central banks provide to the shadow banking system without risking their balance sheets? I discuss the expanding role of the shadow banking sector and the key drivers behind its growing importance. There are close parallels between the growth of shadow banking before the recent financial crisis and earlier financial crises, with rapid growth in near monies as a common feature. This ebb and flow of shadow-banking-type liabilities are indeed an ingrained part of our advanced financial system. We need to reflect and consider whether official sector liquidity should be mobilized to stem a future breakdown in private shadow banking markets. Central banks should be especially concerned about providing liquidity support to financial markets without any form of structural reform. It would indeed be ironic if central banks were to declare victory in the fight against too-big-to-fail institutions, just to end up bankrolling too-big-to-fail financial markets.

  • Working Paper No. 801 | May 2014
    Debt, Finance, and Distributive Politics under a Kalecki-Goodwin-Minsky SFC Framework

    This paper describes the political economy of shadow banking and how it relates to the dramatic institutional changes experienced by global capitalism over past 100 years. We suggest that the dynamics of shadow banking rest on the distributive tension between workers and firms. Politics wedge the operation of the shadow financial system as government policy internalizes, guides, and participates in dealings mediated by financial intermediaries. We propose a broad theoretical overview to formalize a stock-flow consistent (SFC) political economy model of shadow banking (stylized around the operation of money market mutual funds, or MMMFs). Preliminary simulations suggest that distributive dynamics indeed drive and provide a nest for the dynamics of shadow banking.

  • Working Paper No. 800 | May 2014

    Behavioral economics has shown that individuals sometimes make decisions that are not in their best interests. This insight has prompted calls for behaviorally informed policy interventions popularized under the notion of “libertarian paternalism.” This type of “soft” paternalism aims at helping individuals without reducing their freedom of choice. We highlight three problems of libertarian paternalism: the difficulty of detecting what is in the best interest of an individual, the focus on freedom of choice at the expense of a focus on autonomy, and the neglect of the dynamic effects of libertarian-paternalistic policy interventions. We present a form of soft paternalism called “autonomy-enhancing paternalism” that seeks to constructively remedy these problems. Autonomy-enhancing paternalism suggests using insights from subjective well-being research in order to determine what makes individuals better off. It imposes an additional constraint on the set of permissible interventions highlighting the importance of autonomy in the sense of the capability to make critically reflected (i.e., autonomous) decisions. Finally, it acknowledges that behavioral interventions can change the strength of individual decision-making anomalies over time as well as influence individual preference learning. We illustrate the differences between libertarian paternalism and autonomy-enhancing paternalism in a simple formal model in the context of optimal sin nudges.

  • Working Paper No. 799 | May 2014
    A Financial View

    This paper develops the framework of analysis of monetary systems put together by authors such as Macleod, Keynes, Innes, and Knapp. This framework does not focus on the functions performed by an object but rather on its financial characteristics. Anything issued by anybody can be a monetary instrument and any type of material can be used to make a monetary instrument, as these are unimportant determinants of what a monetary instrument is. What matters is the existence of specific financial characteristics. These characteristics lead to a stable nominal value (parity) in the proper financial environment. This framework of analysis leads the researcher to study how the fair value of a monetary instrument changes and how that change differs from changes in the value of the unit of account. It also provides a road map to understanding monetary history and why monetary instruments are held.

  • Working Paper No. 798 | May 2014

    This paper describes the quality of the statistical matching between the March 2011 supplement to the Current Population Survey and the 2010 American Time Use Survey and Survey of Consumer Finances, which are used as the basis for the 2010 LIMEW estimates for the United States. In the first part of the paper, the alignment of the datasets is examined. In the second, various aspects of the match quality are described. The results indicate that the matches are of high quality, with some indication of bias in specific cases.

  • Working Paper No. 797 | April 2014
    Evidence from India on “Processes”

    Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) is a fiscal innovation. Innovation, for the purposes of this paper, is defined as a way of transforming a new concept into tangible processes, resources, and institutional mechanisms in which a benefit meets identified problems. GRB is a fiscal innovation in that it translates gender commitments into fiscal commitments by applying a “gender lens” to the identified processes, resources, and institutional mechanisms, and arrives at a desirable benefit incidence. The theoretical treatment of gender budgeting as a fiscal innovation is not incorporated, as the focus of this paper is broadly on the processes involved. GRB as an innovation has four specific components: knowledge processes and networking, institutional mechanisms, learning processes and building capacities, and public accountability and benefit incidence. The paper analyzes these four components of GRB in the context of India. The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy has been the pioneer of gender budgeting in India, and also played a significant role in institutionalizing gender budgeting within the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, in 2005. The Expert Committee Group on “Classification of Budgetary Transactions” makes recommendations on gender budgeting—Ashok Lahiri Committee recommendations—that will become part of the institutionalization process, integrating the analytical matrices of fiscal data through a gender lens and also the institutional innovations for GRB. Revisiting the 2004 Lahiri recommendations and revamping the process of GRB in India is inevitable, at both ex ante and ex post levels.

  • Working Paper No. 796 | April 2014
    The Financial Instability Hypothesis in the Era of Financialization

    The aim of this paper is to develop a structural explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis, grounded on the combination of two apparently incompatible financial theories: the financial instability hypothesis by Hyman P. Minsky and the theory of capital market inflation by Jan Toporowski. Our thesis is that, once the evolution of the financial market is taken into account, the financial Keynesianism of Minsky is still a valid framework to understand the events leading to the crisis.

  • Working Paper No. 795 | April 2014

    This paper contributes to the debate on income growth and distribution from a nonmainstream perspective. It looks, in particular, at the role that the degree of capacity utilization plays in the process of growth of an economy that is not perfectly competitive. The distinctive feature of the model presented in the paper is the hypothesis that the rate of capital depreciation is an increasing function of the degree of capacity utilization. This hypothesis implies analytical results that differ somewhat from those yielded by other Kaleckian models. Our model shows that, in a number of cases, the process of growth can be profit-led rather than wage-led. The model also determines the value to which the degree of capacity utilization converges in the long run.

  • Working Paper No. 794 | March 2014
    What’s New for Industrial Policy in the EU?

    In this paper, we analyze and try to measure productive and technological asymmetries between central and peripheral economies in the eurozone. We assess the effects such asymmetries would likely bring about on center–periphery divergence/convergence patterns, and derive some implications as to the design of future industrial policy at the European level. We stress that future European Union (EU) industrial policy should be regionally focused and specifically target structural changes in the periphery as the main way to favor center–periphery convergence and avoid the reappearance of past external imbalances. To this end, a wide battery of industrial policy tools should be considered, ranging from subsidies and fiscal incentives to innovative firms, public financing of R & D efforts, sectoral policies, and public procurements for home-produced goods. All in all, future EU industrial policy should be much more interventionist than it currently is, and dispose of much larger funds with respect to the present setting in order to effectively pursue both short-run stabilization and long-run development goals.

  • Working Paper No. 793 | March 2014

    The quality of match of the statistical match used in the LIMTIP estimates for South Korea in 2009 is described. The match combines the 2009 Korean Time Use Survey (KTUS 2009) with the 2009 Korean Welfare Panel Study (KWPS 2009). The alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. The match is of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets. The method used to simulate employment response to availability of jobs in the situation in which child-care subsidies are available is described. Comparisons of the donor and recipient groups for each of three stages of hot-deck statistical matching are presented. The resulting distribution of jobs, earnings, usual hours of paid employment, household production hours, and use of child-care services are compared to the distribution in the donor pools. The results do not appear to be anomalous, which is the best that can be said of the results of such a procedure.

  • Working Paper No. 792 | March 2014
    An Alternative to Economic Orthodoxy

    This paper explores the intellectual history of the state, or chartalist, approach to money, from the early developers (Georg Friedrich Knapp and A. Mitchell Innes) through Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, and Abba Lerner, and on to modern exponents Hyman Minsky, Charles Goodhart, and Geoffrey Ingham. This literature became the foundation for Modern Money Theory (MMT). In the MMT approach, the state (or any other authority able to impose an obligation) imposes a liability in the form of a generalized, social, legal unit of account—a money—used for measuring the obligation. This approach does not require the preexistence of markets; indeed, it almost certainly predates them. Once the authorities can levy such obligations, they can name what fulfills any obligation by denominating those things that can be delivered; in other words, by pricing them. MMT thus links obligatory payments like taxes to the money of account as well as the currency. This leads to a revised view of money and sovereign finance. The paper concludes with an analysis of the policy options available to a modern government that issues its own currency.

  • Working Paper No. 791 | March 2014
    Myth and Misunderstanding

    It is commonplace to speak of central bank “independence” as if it were both a reality and a necessity. While the Federal Reserve is subject to the “dual mandate,” it has substantial discretion in its interpretation of the vague call for high employment and low inflation. Most important, the Fed’s independence is supposed to insulate it from political pressures coming from Congress and the US Treasury to “print money” to finance budget deficits. As in many developed nations, this prohibition was written into US law from the founding of the Fed in 1913. In practice, the prohibition is easy to evade, as we found during World War II, when budget deficits ran up to a quarter of US GDP. If a central bank stands ready to buy government bonds in the secondary market to peg an interest rate, then private banks will buy bonds in the new-issue market and sell them to the central bank at a virtually guaranteed price. Since central bank purchases of securities supply the reserves needed by banks to buy government debt, a virtuous circle is created, so that the treasury faces no financing constraint. That is what the 1951 Accord was supposedly all about: ending the cheap source of US Treasury finance. Since the global financial crisis hit in 2007, these matters have come to the fore in both the United States and the European Monetary Union, with those worried about inflation warning that the central banks are essentially “printing money” to keep sovereign-government borrowing costs low.

    This paper argues that the Fed is not, and should not be, independent, at least in the sense in which that term is normally used. The Fed is a “creature of Congress,” created by public law that has evolved since 1913 in a way that not only increased the Fed’s assigned responsibilities but also strengthened congressional oversight. The paper addresses governance issues, which, a century after the founding of the Fed, remain somewhat unsettled. While the Fed should be, and appears to be, insulated from day-to-day political pressures, it is subject to the will of Congress. Further, the Fed cannot really be independent from the Treasury, because the Fed is the federal government’s bank, with almost all payments made by and to the government running through the Fed. As such, there is no “operational independence” that would allow the Fed to refuse to allow the Treasury to spend appropriated funds. Finally, the paper addresses troubling issues raised by the Fed’s response to the global financial crisis; namely, questions about transparency, accountability, and democratic governance.

  • Working Paper No. 790 | March 2014
    An Analysis over the Period of Asianization and Deindustrialization

    The purpose of this study is to explore the employment effects of changes in manufacturing output resulting from shifting trade patterns over the period 1995–2006. For 30 countries (21 OECD and 9 non-OECD countries) we estimate the changes in embodied labor content due to trade using factor-content analysis, breaking up the sources of these changes between trade with the North, the South and China. We also decompose changes in employment into its component changes within and across sectors. Our results present a net negative impact of trade on total employment in 30 countries over the period of analysis (despite employment gains in 17 countries). Except for the Philippines and the Republic of Korea, trade with China has a negative impact on total employment in all countries, with a stronger negative effect on women’s employment. Employment losses in the South due to a surge in imports from China are coupled with declining exports to the North, as many countries in the North shift their imports to emerging economies in Asia. Decomposition results indicate that the decline in the share of women’s employment is mainly due to shifts between sectors rather than changes within sectors. Changes in women’s employment are still highly dependent on movements in “traditional” manufacturing sectors, including food, textiles, and wearing apparel.

    Associated Program:
    Burca Kizilirmak Emel Memiş Şirin Saraçoğlu Ebru Voyvoda
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  • Working Paper No. 789 | March 2014
    The Road Not Taken

    It is common knowledge that John Maynard Keynes advocated bold government action to deal with recessions and unemployment. What is not commonly known is that modern “Keynesian policies” bear little, if any, resemblance to the policy measures Keynes himself believed would guarantee true full employment over the long run. This paper corrects this misconception and outlines “the road not taken”; that is, the long-term program for full employment found in Keynes’s writings and elaborated on by others in works that are missing from mainstream textbooks and policy initiatives. The analysis herein focuses on why the private sector ordinarily fails to produce full employment, even during strong expansions and in the presence of strong government action. It articulates the reasons why the job of the policymaker is, not to “nudge” private firms to create jobs for all, but to do so itself directly as a matter of last resort. This paper discusses various designs of direct job creation policies that answer Keynes’s call for long-run full employment policies.

  • Working Paper No. 788 | March 2014
    The Case of the United States

    One of the main contributions of Modern Money Theory (MMT) has been to explain why monetarily sovereign governments have a very flexible policy space that is unconstrained by hard financial limits. Not only can they issue their own currency to pay public debt denominated in their own currency, but they can also easily bypass any self-imposed constraint on budgetary operations. Through a detailed analysis of the institutions and practices surrounding the fiscal and monetary operations of the treasury and central bank of the United States, the eurozone, and Australia, MMT has provided institutional and theoretical insights into the inner workings of economies with monetarily sovereign and nonsovereign governments. The paper shows that the previous theoretical conclusions of MMT can be illustrated by providing further evidence of the interconnectedness of the treasury and the central bank in the United States.

  • Working Paper No. 787 | January 2014
    Case Studies from Latin America

    This paper analyzes the economic impact of unions on productivity in the manufacturing sector across six Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. Using an augmented Cobb-Douglas production function, the paper finds that unions have positive, but mostly small, effects on productivity, with the exception of Argentina, with a large negative effect, and Bolivia, with no effect. An analysis on profitability shows that, in most cases, the positive productivity effects barely offset higher union compensation, and that unions are negatively related to investment in capital and R & D. Different explanations for these effects are discussed.

  • Working Paper No. 786 | January 2014
    An Assessment from Popper’s Philosophy

    The rational expectations hypothesis (REH) is the standard approach to expectations formation in macroeconomics. We discuss its compatibility with two strands of Karl Popper´s philosophy: his theory of knowledge and learning, and his “rationality principle” (RP). First, we show that the REH is utterly incompatible with the former. Second, we argue that the REH can nevertheless be interpreted as a heuristic device that facilitates economic modeling and, consequently, it may be justified along the same lines as Popper´s RP. We then argue that, our position as to the resolution of this paradox notwithstanding, Popper´s philosophy provides a metatheoretical framework with which we can evaluate the REH. Within this framework, the REH can be viewed as a heuristic device or strategy that fulfils the same function as, for instance, the optimizing assumption. However, we believe that the REH imparts a serious methodological bias, since, by implying that macroeconomic instability is caused exclusively by “exogenous” shocks that randomly hit the economy, it precludes the analysis of any sources of inherent instability caused by the making of (nonrandom) errors by individuals, and hence it favors the creation of an institutional configuration that may be ill suited to address this type of instability.

  • Working Paper No. 785 | January 2014
    Empirical Description of Gender-specific Outcomes and Budgeting

    Incorporating time in public policymaking is an elusive area of research. Despite the fact that gender budgeting is emerging as a significant tool to analyze the socioeconomic impacts of fiscal policies and thus identify their impacts on gender equity, the integration of time-use statistics in this process remains incomplete, or is even entirely absent, in most countries. If gender budgeting is predominantly based on the index-based empirical description of gender-specific outcomes, a reexamination of the construction of the gender (inequality) index is needed. This is necessary if we are to avoid an incomplete description of the gender-specific outcomes in budget policymaking. Further, “hard-to-price” services are hardly analyzed in public policymaking. This issue is all the more revealing, as the available gender-inequality index—based on health, empowerment, and labor market participation – so far has not integrated time-use statistics in its calculations. From a public finance perspective, the gender budgeting process often rests on the assumption that mainstream expenditures, such as public infrastructure, are nonrival in nature, and that applying a gender lens to these expenditures is not feasible. This argument is refuted by time budget statistics. The time budget data reveal that this argument is often flawed, as there is an intrinsic gender dimension to nonrival expenditures.

  • Working Paper No. 784 | January 2014
    Economic Thought and Political Realities

    The Federal Reserve has been criticized for not forestalling the financial crisis of 2007–09, and for its unconventional monetary policies that have followed. Its critics have raised questions as to whom, if anyone, reins in the Federal Reserve if and when its policies are misguided or abusive. This paper traces the principal changes in governance of the Federal Reserve over its history. These changes have, for the most part, developed in the wake of economic upheavals, when Fed policy has been challenged. The aim is to identify relevant issues regarding governance and to establish a basis for change, if needed. It describes the governance mechanism established by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, traces the passing of this mechanism in the 1920s and 1930s, and assays congressional efforts to expand oversight in the 1970s. It also considers the changes in Fed policies induced by the financial crisis of 2007–09 and the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. It concludes that the original internal governance mechanism, a system of checks and balances that aimed to protect all the important interest groups in the country, faded in the 1920s and was never adequately replaced. In light of the Federal Reserve’s continued growth in power and influence, this deficiency constitutes a threat not only to “stakeholders” but also to the independence of the Federal Reserve itself.

    Associated Program:
    Bernard Shull
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  • Working Paper No. 783 | January 2014
    A Sovereign Currency Approach
    This paper examines the fiscal and monetary policy options available to China as a sovereign currency-issuing nation operating in a dollar standard world. We first summarize a number of issues facing China, including the possibility of slower growth, global imbalances, and a number of domestic imbalances. We then analyze current monetary and fiscal policy formation and examine some policy recommendations that have been advanced to deal with current areas of concern. We next outline the sovereign currency approach and use it to analyze those concerns. We conclude with policy recommendations consistent with the policy space open to China.

  • Working Paper No. 782 | December 2013

    In this paper an alternative approach for the estimation of higher-order linear fixed-effects models is described. The strategy relies on the transformation of the data prior to calculating estimations of the model. While the approach is computationally intensive, the hardware requirements for the estimation process are minimal, allowing for the estimation of models with more than two high-order fixed effects for large datasets. An illustration of the implementation is presented using the US Census Bureau Current Population Survey data with four fixed effects.

  • Working Paper No. 781 | December 2013

    The paper seeks to lay out a stock-flow-based theoretical framework that provides a foundation for a general theory of pricing. Contemporary marginalist economics is usually based on the assumption that prices are set in line with the value placed on goods by consumers. It does not take into account expectations, or the fact that real goods are often simultaneously assets. Meanwhile, contemporary theories of asset markets are flawed in that they either rely, implicitly or explicitly, on a market equilibrium framework or provide no framework at all. This paper offers a working alternative that relies, not on a market equilibrium framework, but rather on a stock-flow equilibrium framework. In doing so, we lay out a properly general theory of pricing that can be applied to any market—whether financial, real, or a real market that has been financialized—and which does not require that prices inevitably tend toward some prespecified market equilibrium.

  • Working Paper No. 780 | November 2013
    The Euro Needs a Euro Treasury

    The euro crisis remains unresolved even as financial markets may seem calm for now. The current euro regime is inherently flawed, and recent reforms have failed to turn this dysfunctional regime into a viable one. Our investigation is informed by the “cartalist” critique of traditional “optimum currency area” theory (Goodhart 1998). Various proposals to rescue the euro are assessed and found lacking. A “Euro Treasury” scheme operating on a strict rule and specifically designed not to be a transfer union is proposed here as a condition sine qua non for healing the euro’s potentially fatal birth defects. The Euro Treasury proposed here is the missing element that will mend the current fiscal regime, which is unworkable without it. The proposed scheme would end the currently unfolding euro calamity by switching policy from a public thrift campaign that can only impoverish Europe to a public investment campaign designed to secure Europe’s future. No mutualization of existing national public debts is involved. Instead, the Euro Treasury is established as a means to pool eurozone public investment spending and have it funded by proper eurozone treasury securities.

  • Working Paper No. 779 | November 2013
    An Application to the Labor Market

    This paper argues that a hierarchy of ideals exists in market interactions that sets the benchmark on the norm of fairness associated with these interactions, thus affecting pricing decisions associated with market exchange. As norms emerge, an ideal determines the criteria of optimal behavior and serves as a basis for market exchange. Norms homogenize the diversity of commodities in market interactions according to a hierarchy of norms and values. The paper then goes on to illustrate how this hierarchy of ideals works in the labor market, leading to inequality of access to jobs and wages between groups of individuals. Groups socially perceived to be diverging from the context-dependent dominant ideal are likely to suffer most in market interactions.

    Associated Program:
    Aurélie Charles
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  • Working Paper No. 778 | November 2013
    A Reply to Critics

    One of the main contributions of Modern Money Theory (MMT) has been to explain why monetarily sovereign governments have a very flexible policy space that is unencumbered by hard financial constraints. Through a detailed analysis of the institutions and practices surrounding the fiscal and monetary operations of the treasury and central bank of many nations, MMT has provided institutional and theoretical insights about the inner workings of economies with monetarily sovereign and nonsovereign governments. MMT has also provided policy insights with respect to financial stability, price stability, and full employment. As one may expect, several authors have been quite critical of MMT. Critiques of MMT can be grouped into five categories: views about the origins of money and the role of taxes in the acceptance of government currency, views about fiscal policy, views about monetary policy, the relevance of MMT conclusions for developing economies, and the validity of the policy recommendations of MMT. This paper addresses the critiques raised using the circuit approach and national accounting identities, and by progressively adding additional economic sectors.

  • Working Paper No. 777 | October 2013

    This paper presents a small macroeconomic model describing the main mechanisms of the process of credit creation by the private banking system. The model is composed of a core unit—where the dynamics of income, credit, and aggregate demand are determined—and a set of sectoral accounts that ensure its stock-flow consistency. In order to grasp the role of credit and banks in the functioning of the economic system, we make an explicit distinction between planned and realized variables, thanks to which, while maintaining the ex-post accounting consistency, we are able to introduce an ex-ante wedge between current aggregate income and planned expenditure. Private banks are the only economic agents capable of filling this gap through the creation of new credit. Through the use of numerical simulation, we discuss the link between credit creation and the expansion of economic activity, also contributing to a recent academic debate on the relation between income, debt, and aggregate demand.

    Associated Program:
    Giovanni Bernardo Emanuele Campiglio
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  • Working Paper No. 776 | September 2013
    A Critique of the German Debt Brake from a Post-Keynesian Perspective

    The German debt brake is often regarded as a great success story, and has therefore served as a role model for the Euro area and its fiscal compact. In this paper we fundamentally criticize the debt brake. We show that (1) it suffers from serious shortcomings, and its success is far from certain even from a mainstream point of view; (2) from a Post-Keynesian perspective, it completely neglects the requirements for fiscal policies of member-countries in a currency union and will prevent fiscal policy from contributing to the necessary rebalancing in the Euro area; and (3) alternative scenarios, which could avoid the deflationary pressures of the German debt brake on domestic demand and contribute to internally rebalancing the Euro area, are extremely unlikely, as they would have to rely on unrealistic shifts in the functional income distribution and/or investment and savings behavior in Germany.

    Associated Program:
    Eckhard Hein Achim Truger
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  • Working Paper No. 775 | September 2013
    The Limits to Neo-Kaleckian Models and a Kaldorian Proposal

    We argue that a fundamental difference between Post-Keynesian approaches to economic growth lies in their treatment of investment. Kaleckian-Robinsonian models postulate an investment function dependent on the accelerator and profitability. Some of these models rely on the importance of profitability, captured by the profit share, to make the case for profit-led growth. For their part, Kaldorian models place the emphasis on the accelerator. More important, investment is a derived demand; that is, it is ruled by the adjustment of capacity to exogenous demand, which, in turn, determines the normal level of capacity utilization.

    In our view, the Kaldorian approach is better equipped to deal with some of the issues relating income distribution to accumulation with effective demand in the long run. We develop a Kaldorian open-economy model to examine the conditions under which an increase in real wages can produce profit or wage-led growth, showing that the limit to a wage-led expansion is a binding external constraint. The role and limitations of wages as a determinant of growth are further examined through spectral techniques and cycle analysis for a subset of developed economies. The evidence indicates that real wages are positively related to growth, investment, and capacity utilization. It also highlights the role of finance in sustaining expansions, suggesting that debt-led growth should not be identified with profit-led growth.

    Associated Program:
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías Vernengo
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  • Working Paper No. 774 | September 2013

    Turkish economic growth has been characterized by periodic crises since financial liberalization reforms were enacted in the early 1990s. Given the phenomenally low female labor force participation rate in Turkey (one of the lowest in the world) and the limited scope of the country’s unemployment insurance scheme, there appears to be ample room for a female added worker effect as a household strategy against unemployment shocks under economic crises. Using micro data from household labor force surveys for the 2004–10 period, we examine the extent to which an unemployment shock to the primary male earner instigates female members of the household to move from nonparticipant status to labor market participation.

    This paper differs from the earlier few studies on the added worker effect in Turkey in a number of aspects. First, rather than simply basing the analysis on a static association between women’s observed participation status and men’s observed unemployment status in the survey period, we explore whether there is a dynamic relationship between transitions of women and men across labor market states. To do this, we make use of a question introduced to the Household Labor Force Survey in 2004 regarding the survey respondent’s labor market status in the previous year. This allows us to explore transitions by female members of households from nonparticipant status in the previous year to participant status in the current year, in response to male members making a transition from employed in the previous period to unemployed in the current period. We explore whether and to what extent the primary male earner’s move from employed to unemployed status determines the probability of married or single female full-time homemakers entering the labor market. We estimate the marginal effect of the unemployment shock on labor market transition probability for the overall sample as well as for different groups of women, and hence demonstrate that the effect varies widely depending on the particular characteristics of the woman—for example, her education level, age, urban/rural residence, and marital and parental status.

    We find that at the micro level an unemployment shock to the household increases the probability of a female homemaker entering the labor market by 6–8 percent. The marginal effects vary substantially across different groups of women by age, rural or urban residence, and education. For instance, a household unemployment shock increases by up to 34 percent the probability that a university graduate homemaker in the 20–45 age group will enter the labor market; for a high school graduate the probability drops to 17 percent, while for her counterpart with a secondary education the marginal effect is only 7 percent.

    Our estimate of the total (weighted) number of female added workers in the crisis years shows that only around 9 percent of the homemakers in households experiencing an unemployment shock enter the labor market. Hence we conclude that, while some households experiencing unemployment shocks do use the added worker effect as a coping strategy, this corresponds to a relatively small share. We attribute this finding to the deeply embedded structural constraints against female labor market participation in Turkey.

    Associated Program:
    Serkan Değirmenci İpek Ilkkaracan

  • Working Paper No. 773 | August 2013

    Keynes had many plausible things to say about unemployment and its causes. His “mercurial mind,” though, relied on intuition, which means that he could not strictly prove his hypotheses. This explains why Keynes’s ideas immediately invited bastardizations. One of them, the Phillips curve synthesis, turned out to be fatal. This paper identifies Keynes’s undifferentiated employment function as a sore spot. It is replaced by the structural employment function, which also supersedes the bastard Phillips curve. The paper demonstrates in a formal and rigorous manner why there is no trade-off between price inflation and unemployment.

    Associated Program:
    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

  • Working Paper No. 772 | August 2013
    A Critical Assessment of Fiscal Fine-Tuning

    The present paper offers a fundamental critique of fiscal policy as it is understood in theory and exercised in practice. Two specific demand-side stabilization methods are examined here: conventional pump priming and the new designation of fiscal policy effectiveness found in the New Consensus literature. A theoretical critique of their respective transmission mechanisms reveals that they operate in a trickle-down fashion that not only fails to secure and maintain full employment but also contributes to the increasing postwar labor market precariousness and the erosion of income equality. The two conventional demand-side measures are then contrasted with the proposed alternative—a bottom-up approach to fiscal policy based on a reinterpretation of Keynes’s original policy prescriptions for full employment. The paper offers a theoretical, methodological, and policy rationale for government intervention that includes specific direct-employment and investment initiatives, which are inherently different from contemporary hydraulic fine-tuning measures. It outlines the contours of the modern bottom-up approach and concludes with some of its advantages over conventional stabilization methods.

  • Working Paper No. 771 | August 2013
    In Search of Causality
    This paper analyzes the trajectories of the Greek public deficit and sovereign debt over the last three decades and their connection to the political and economic environment, paying special attention to the causality between the public and the foreign deficit. The authors argue that, from 1980 to 1995, causality ran from the public deficit to the foreign deficit but has since reversed, a result of the European monetary unification process and the adoption of the common currency. This hypothesis is tested and verified econometrically using the Granger causality and cointegration analyses. 
    Associated Program:
    Michalis Nikiforos Laura Carvalho Christian Schoder

  • Working Paper No. 770 | July 2013
    An Essay on the Business Cycle
    This paper presents a discussion of the forces at play behind the economic fluctuations in the medium run and their relation with the short-run macroeconomic equilibrium. The business cycle is the result of two separate phenomena. On the one hand, there is the instability caused by the discrepancy between expected and realized outcomes. On the other hand, this instability is contained by the inherent contradictions of capitalism; the upswing carries within it “the seeds of its own destruction.” The same happens with the downswing. The paper provides a formal exposition of these insights, a discussion of how the formulation of this mechanism resembles the simple harmonic motion of classical mechanics, and an empirical evaluation. 

  • Working Paper No. 769 | July 2013

    The quality of match of the statistical match used in the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP) estimates for Turkey in 2006 is described. The match combines the 2006 Zaman Kullanim Anketi (ZKA 2006) with the 2006 Hanehalki Bütçe Anketi (HBA 2006). These are the national time-use survey and household income and expenditure surveys, respectively. The alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are detailed. The match is of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

    The quality of the simulation of employment gains for Turkey in 2006 is then described. All eligible adults not working for pay, as employers, or as unpaid household workers were assigned jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. Household consumption was then assigned to each household in the simulation containing a job recipient. The recipient group was compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production generated in the simulation. In both cases, the simulations were of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.

  • Working Paper No. 768 | July 2013

    This paper evaluates the gender wage gap among wage workers along the wage distribution in Georgia between 2004 and 2011, based on the recentered influence function (RIF) decomposition approach developed in Firpo, Fortin, and Lemieux (2009). We find that the gender wage gap decreases along the wage distribution, from 0.64 log points to 0.54 log points. Endowment differences explain between 22 percent and 61 percent of the observed gender wage gap, with the explained proportion declining as we move to the top of the distribution. The primary contributors are the differences in the work hours, industrial composition, and employment in the state sector. A substantial portion of the gap, however, remains unexplained, and can be attributed to the differences in returns, especially in the industrial premia.

    The gender wage gap consistently declined between 2004 and 2011. However, the gap remains large, with women earning 45 percent less than men in 2011. The reduction in the gender wage gap between 2004 and 2007, and the switch from a glass-ceiling shape for the gender gap distribution to a sticky-floor shape, was driven by the rising returns in the state sector for men at the bottom, and by women at the top of the wage distribution. Between 2009 and 2011, the decline in the gender wage gap can be explained by the decrease in men’s working hours, which was larger than the decrease in women’s working hours. We assess the robustness of our findings using the statistical matching decomposition method developed in Ñopo (2008) in order to address the possibility that the high degree of industrial segregation may bias our results. The Ñopo decomposition results enrich our understanding of the factors that underlie the gender wage gap but do not alter our key findings, and in fact support their robustness.

    This paper is part of the World Bank's gender assessment program in the South Caucasus.

  • Working Paper No. 767 | June 2013
    The Making of a Vulnerable Haven

    This paper investigates Germany’s vulnerability to the ongoing Euroland crisis. In 2010–11, Germany experienced a strong rebound from the global financial crisis of 2008–09. The Euroland crisis then meant record low interest rates and a depressed euro that boosted German extra-area exports. But the crisis that started in Euroland’s so-called periphery has meanwhile reached the core. With pro-euro sentiments dwindling fast across the European Union (EU), the future of the euro remains uncertain no matter what European Central Bank President Mario Draghi may promise. Germany’s “safe haven” status may turn out to be a double-edged sword. In case of a euro breakup, swift appreciation of the new deutschmark would abruptly worsen German competitiveness and the German economy would crater as a result. Additional wealth losses on Germany’s international investment position would also loom. Appreciating Germany’s own vulnerability to the euro crisis should help the German authorities to understand that their policy prescriptions are anything but in Germany’s own best interest, which is also good for the authorities in euro partner countries to recognize. Germany is bound to catch up with the reality that it is very vulnerable to the enormous wreckage and unnecessary hardship German-style policies are causing across Europe. The EU, most likely under French leadership, will have to convince Germany to embark on a fundamental policy course change, or else call an ugly end to the euro disaster.

  • Working Paper No. 766 | June 2013

    Should shocks be part of our macro-modeling tool kit—for example, as a way of modeling discontinuities in fiscal policy or big moves in the financial markets? What are shocks, and how can we best put them to use? In heterodox macroeconomics, shocks tend to come in two broad types, with some exceptions for hybrid cases. What I call Type 1 shocks are one-time exogenous changes in parameters or variables. They are used, for example, to set computer simulations in motion or to pose an analytical question about dynamic behavior outside of equilibrium. On the other hand, Type 2 shocks, by construction, occur at regular time intervals, and are usually drawn at random from a probability distribution of some kind. This paper is an appreciation and a survey of shocks and their admittedly scattered uses in the heterodox macro literature, along with some proposals and thoughts about using shocks to improve models. Since shocks of both types might appear at times to be ad hoc when used in macro models, this paper examines possible justifications for using them.

  • Working Paper No. 765 | May 2013
    Following the financial crisis of 2008, transition countries—the economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—experienced an increase in female labor force participation rates and a decrease in male labor force participation rates, in part because male-dominated sectors were hit the hardest. These developments have prompted many to argue that women have been spared the full-blown effects of the crisis. In this paper, we critically evaluate this claim by investigating the extent to which the increase in the female labor force participation rate may have reflected a distress labor supply response to the crisis. We use the data on the 28 countries of the transition region assessed in the 2010 Life in Transition Survey. We find the presence of the female added worker effect, driven by married 45- to 54-year-old women with no children in the household. This effect is the strongest among the region’s middle-income countries. Among men, a negative relationship between labor force participation and household-specific income shocks is indicated.

    Unlike the differences in the response to household-specific income shocks, the labor supply response to a weaker macroeconomic environment is negative for both men and women—hinting at the presence of the “discouraged worker” effect, which cuts across gender lines. We conclude that the decrease in men’s labor force participation observed during this crisis is likely a combined result of the initial sectoral contraction and the subsequent impact of the discouraged worker effect. For women, on the other hand, the added worker effect appears to outweigh the discouraged worker effect, contributing to an increase in their labor force participation rate. Our findings highlight the presence of heterogeneity in the way in which household-specific shocks, as opposed to economy-wide conditions, affect both female and male labor force participation rates.

  • Working Paper No. 764 | May 2013

    Recent episodes of housing bubbles, which occurred in several economies after the burst of the United States housing market, suggest studying the evolution of housing prices from a global perspective. We utilize a theoretical model for the purposes of this contribution, which identifies the main drivers of housing price appreciation—for example, income, residential investment, financial elements, fiscal policy, and demographics. In the second stage of our analysis, we test our theoretical hypothesis by means of a sample of 18 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries from 1970 to 2011. We employ the vector error correction econometric technique in terms of our empirical analysis. This allows us to model the long-run equilibrium relationship and the short-run dynamics, which also helps to account for endogeneity and reverse-causality problems.

    Associated Program:
    Philip Arestis Ana Rosa González

  • Working Paper No. 763 | May 2013

    This working paper looks at excess reserves in historical context and analyzes whether they constitute a monetary policy problem for the Federal Reserve System (the “Fed”) or a potentially inflationary problem for the rest of us. Generally, this analysis shows that both absolute and relative sizes of excess reserves are a big problem for the Fed as well as the general public be-cause of their inflationary potential. However, like all contingencies, the timing and extent of the damage that reserve-driven inflation might cause are uncertain. It is even possible today to find articles in both scholarly circles and the popular press arguing either that the inflationary blow-off might never happen or that an increasing tendency toward prolonged deflation is the more probable outcome.

  • Working Paper No. 762 | April 2013

    Highlighting that France and Germany held largely contradicting hopes and aspirations for Europe’s common currency, this paper analyzes how the resulting euro contradiction conditioned the ongoing euro crisis as well as current strategies to resolve it. While Germany generally prevailed in hammering out the design of the euro policy regime, the German authorities have failed to see the inconsistency in their policy endeavors: the creation of a model whose workability presupposes that others behave differently cannot be made to work by forcing everyone to behave like Germany. This fundamental misunderstanding has made Germany the main culprit in the euro crisis, but it has yet to face the full consequences of its actions. Germany had sought every protection against the much-dreaded euro “transfer union,” but its own conduct has made that very outcome inevitable. Conversely, having been disappointed in its own hopes for the euro, France is now facing the prospect of a lost generation—a prospect, shared with other debtor nations in the union, that has undermined the Franco-German alliance and may soon turn it into the ultimate euro battleground.


  • Working Paper No. 761 | March 2013
    The Case of China

    The recent declines in China’s financial account balance ended the “twin surplus” era and led to a modest decline in the stock of official reserves, which reflects a reversal in expectations for the Chinese currency. Negative balances, which have been visible in China’s financial balances since the last quarter of 2011, have heightened fears/anxiety in markets. These deficits stand in sharp contrast to the typical financial account surplus that existed until 2010. The announcement in September 2011 by Chinese monetary authorities of a “two-way floating” RMB in the foreign exchange market has unsettled market expectations and has led to a sharp fall in the financial balance. The latter brought a change in the expectations regarding the RMB-USD exchange rate. This change was reflected in the drop in foreign exchange assets, which was caused by a jump in short-term trade credits to prepay (for imports) in dollars, a rise in dollar advances from banks, and a withdrawal of dollar deposits. These changes have, of late, been a cause of concern relating to the future of China’s economic relations vis-à-vis trading and financial partners, which include the United States.

    The experience of China, in a changing world beset with deregulation and with speculation affecting her external balance in recent years, provides further confirmation of John Maynard Keynes’s observation, in 1937, regarding uncertainty in markets: “About these matters there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know.”

  • Working Paper No. 760 | March 2013

    As domestic exports usually require imported inputs, the value of exports differs from the domestic value added contained in exports. The higher the domestic value added contained in exports, the higher the domestic national income created by exports will be. In this case, exports will expand the domestic market. Therefore, exports will push economic growth in two ways: through their direct effect on aggregate demand, and through their effect on the domestic market. For these reasons, the estimate of the magnitude of the domestic value added contained in exports helps explain the capacity of exports to lead economic growth.

    Domestic exports may be classified as direct and indirect exports. Direct exports are the goods sold to other countries; indirect exports are the domestically produced inputs incorporated in direct exports. The distinction between direct and indirect exports leads to a distinction between direct and indirect domestic value added contained in exports. The income of the factors directly involved in the production of exports constitutes direct domestic value added; the income contained in domestically produced inputs incorporated into exports constitutes the indirect domestic value added. Therefore, the magnitude of indirect value added depends on the density of the domestic intersectorial linkages.

    The aim of this paper is to present an estimation of the domestic indirect value added contained in Mexico’s manufacturing exports in two ways. The first derives from the fact that a direct exporting sector may be the vehicle through which other sectors export in an indirect way; this leads us to estimate the indirect value added contained in exports by sector of origin. The second refers to the destination of this indirect value added—that is, to the direct exporting sectors in which the value added contained in indirect exports of each sector appears.  

    Based on the input-output table for Mexico (National Institute of Statistics and Geography–INEGI 2008), we estimate the domestic value added contained in inputs used to produce Mexican manufacturing exports. We show separately the domestic value added from maquiladoraexports and from exports produced by the rest of the manufacturing sector. In order to distinguish the indirect value added in exports by sector of origin and destination of the intermediate inputs, we work with square matrices of indirect domestic value–added multipliers.

    Associated Program:
    Gerardo Fujii-Gambero Rosario Cervantes-Martínez
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  • Working Paper No. 759 | March 2013
    A Post-Keynesian View

    Several explanations of the “great inflation moderation” (1982–2006) have been put forth, the most popular being that inflation was tamed due to good monetary policy, good luck (exogenous shocks such as oil prices), or structural changes such as inventory management techniques. Drawing from Post-Keynesian and structuralist theories of inflation, this paper uses a vector autoregression with a Post-Keynesian identification strategy to show that the decline in the inflation rate and inflation volatility was due primarily to (1) wage declines and (2) falling import prices caused by international competition and exchange rate effects. The paper uses a graphical analysis, impulse response functions, and variance decompositions to support the argument that the decline in inflation has in fact been a “wage and import price moderation,” brought about by declining union membership and international competition. Exchange rate effects have lowered inflation through cheaper import and oil prices, and have indirectly affected wages through strong dollar policy, which has lowered manufacturing wages due to increased competition. A “Taylor rule” differential variable was also used to test the “good policy” hypothesis. The results show that the Taylor rule differential has a smaller effect on inflation, controlling for other factors.

    Associated Program:
    Nathan Perry Nathaniel Cline
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  • Working Paper No. 758 | March 2013
    The Low and Extended Lending Rates that Revived the Big Banks

    Walter Bagehot’s putative principles of lending in liquidity crises—to lend freely to solvent banks with good collateral but at penalty rates—have served as a theoretical basis for thinking about the lender of last resort for close to 100 years, while simultaneously providing justification for central bank real-world intervention. If we presume Bagehot’s principles to be both sound and adhered to by central bankers, we would expect to find the lending by the Fed during the global financial crisis in line with such policies. Taking Bagehot’s principles at face value, this paper aims to examine one of these principles—central bank lending at penalty rates—and to determine whether it did in fact conform to this standard. A comprehensive analysis of these rates has revealed that the Fed did not, in actuality, follow Bagehot’s classical doctrine. Consequently, the intervention not only generated moral hazard but also set the stage for another crisis. This working paper is part of the Ford Foundation project “A Research and Policy Dialogue Project on Improving Governance of the Government Safety Net in Financial Crisis” and continues the investigation of the Fed’s bailout of the financial system—the most comprehensive study of the raw data to date.

  • Working Paper No. 757 | March 2013
    A Gender Perspective

    This paper discusses social protection initiatives in the context of developing countries and explores the opportunities they present for promoting a gender-equality agenda and women’s empowerment. The paper begins with a brief introduction on the emergence of social protection (SP) and how it is linked to economic and social policy. Next, it reviews the context, concepts, and definitions relevant to SP policies and identifies gender-specific social and economic risks and corresponding SP instruments, drawing on country-level experiences. The thrust of the paper is to explore how SP instruments can help or hinder the process of altering rigid gendered roles, and offers a critical evaluation of SP interventions from the standpoint of women’s inclusion in economic life. Conditional cash transfers and employment guarantee programs are discussed in detail. An extensive annotated bibliography accompanies this paper as a resource for researchers and practitioners.

    An extensive annotated bibliography accompanies this paper as a resource for researchers and practitioners.

  • Working Paper No. 756 | February 2013
    Does the Gender of the Migrant Matter?

    Utilizing a nationally representative sample of households from Sri Lanka, this study examines gender differences in the long-term impact of temporary labor migration. We use a propensity score matching (PSM) framework to compare households with return migrants, households with current migrants, and equivalent nonmigrant households in terms of a variety of outcomes. Our results show that households that send women abroad are relatively poor and utilize migration to catch up with the average household, whereas sending a man abroad allows an already advantaged household to further strengthen their economic position. We also find that remittances from females emphasize investment in home improvements and acquisition of farm land and nonfarm assets, whereas remittances of men are channeled more toward housing assets and business ventures.

  • Working Paper No. 755 | February 2013
    Building an Argument for a Shared Society

    This paper presents a review of the literature on the economics of shared societies. As defined by the Club de Madrid, shared societies are societies in which people hold an equal capacity to participate in and benefit from economic, political, and social opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, or other attributes, and where, as a consequence, relationships between the groups are peaceful. Our review centers on four themes around which economic research addresses concepts outlined by the Club de Madrid: the effects of trust and social cohesion on growth and output, the effect of institutions on development, the costs of fractionalization, and research on the policies of social inclusion around the world.

  • Working Paper No. 754 | February 2013

    Do all types of demand have the same effect on output? To answer this question, I estimate a cointegrated vector autoregressive (VAR) model of consumption, investment, and government spending on US data, 1955–2007. I find that: (1) economic growth can be decomposed into a short-run (transitory) cycle gravitating around a long-run (permanent) trend made of consumption shocks and government spending; (2) the estimated fluctuations are investment dominated, they coincide remarkably with the business cycle, and they are highly correlated with capacity utilization in both labor and capital; and (3) the long-run multipliers point to a large induced-investment phenomenon and to a smaller, but still significantly positive, government spending multiplier, around 1.5. The results cover a lot of theoretical ground: Paul Samuelson’s accelerator principle, John Kenneth Galbraith’s stress on consumption and government spending, Jan Tinbergen's investment-driven business cycle, and Robert Eisner’s inquiries on the investment function. The results are particularly useful to distinguish between economic policies for the short and long runs, albeit no attempt is made at this point to inquire into the effectiveness of specific economic policies.

  • Working Paper No. 753 | February 2013

    This paper addresses the critique of the aggregational problem attached to the financial instability hypothesis of Hyman Minsky. The core of this critique is based on the Kaleckian analytical framework and, in very broad terms, states that the expenditure of firms for investment is at the same time a source of income for the firms producing capital goods. Hence, even if investments are debt financed, as in Minsky’s analysis, the overall level of indebtedness of the firm sector remains unchanged, since the debts of investing firms are balanced by the income of capital goods–producing firms. According to the critics, Minsky incurs a fallacy of composition when he does not take this dynamic into account when applying his micro analysis of investment at the macro level. The aim of this paper is to clarify the consequences of debt-financed investments over the financial structure of an aggregate economy. Starting from the works of Michał Kalecki and Josef Steindl, we developed a stock-flow consistent analysis of a highly simplified economy under four different financial regimes: (1) debt-financed with no distributed profits, (2) debt-financed with distributed profits, (3) internally financed with no distributed profits, and (4) internally financed with distributed profits. The results of our investigation show that debt-financed investments do not lead to a worsening of the financial position of the firm sector only if specific assumptions are taken into account.


  • Working Paper No. 752 | February 2013

    One might expect that rising US income inequality would reduce demand growth and create a drag on the economy because higher-income groups spend a smaller share of income. But during a quarter century of rising inequality, US growth and employment were reasonably strong, by historical standards, until the Great Recession. This paper analyzes this paradox by disaggregating household spending, income, saving, and debt between the bottom 95 percent and top 5 percent of the income distribution. We find that the top 5 percent did indeed spend a smaller share of income, but demand drag did not occur because the spending share of the bottom 95 percent rose, accompanied by a historic increase in borrowing. The unsustainable rise in household leverage concentrated in the bottom 95 percent ultimately spawned the Great Recession. The demand drag of rising inequality could be one explanation for the stagnant recovery in the recession’s aftermath.

    Associated Program:
    Barry Z. Cynamon Steven M. Fazzari
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  • Working Paper No. 751 | February 2013
    The Fed versus the Classicals

    Nineteenth-century British economists Henry Thornton and Walter Bagehot established the classical rules of behavior for a central bank, acting as lender of last resort, seeking to avert panics and crises: Lend freely (to temporarily illiquid but solvent borrowers only) against the security of sound collateral and at above-market, penalty interest rates. Deny aid to unsound, insolvent borrowers. Preannounce your commitment to lend freely in all future panics. Also lend for short periods only, and have a clear, simple, certain exit strategy. The purpose is to prevent bank runs and money-stock collapses—collapses that, by reducing spending and prices, will, in the face of downward inflexibility of nominal wages, produce falls in output and employment.

    In the financial crisis of 2008–09 the Federal Reserve adhered to some of the classical rules—albeit using a credit-easing rather than a money stock–protection rationale—while deviating from others. Consistent with the classicals, the Fed filled the market with liquidity while lending to a wide variety of borrowers on an extended array of assets. But it departed from the classical prescription in charging subsidy rather than penalty rates, in lending against tarnished collateral and/or purchasing assets of questionable value, in bailing out insolvent borrowers, in extending its lending deadlines beyond intervals approved by classicals, and in failing both to precommit to avert all future crises and to articulate an unambiguous exit strategy. Given that classicals demonstrated that satiating panic-induced demands for cash are sufficient to end crises, the Fed might think of abandoning its costly and arguably inessential deviations from the classical model and, instead, return to it.

  • Working Paper No. 750 | January 2013

    The relevant economic literature frequently focuses on the impact of credit shocks on housing prices. The doctrine of the “New Consensus Macroeconomics” completely ignores bank credit. The “Great Recession,” however, has highlighted the significance of bank credit. The purpose of this contribution is to revisit this important macroeconomic variable. We propose to endogenize the volume of bank credit by paying special attention to those variables that are related to the real estate market, which can be considered key to the evolution of bank credit. Our theoretical hypothesis is tested by means of a sample of 15 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) economies from 1970 to 2011. We apply the cointegration technique for the latter purpose, which permits the modeling of the long-run equilibrium relationship and the dynamics of the short run, along with an error-correction term.

  • Working Paper No. 749 | January 2013
    A Distinctive Feature of the Business Cycle in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Using two standard cycle methodologies (classical and deviation cycle) and a comprehensive sample of 83 countries worldwide, including all developing regions, we show that the Latin American and Caribbean cycle exhibits two distinctive features. First, and most important, its expansion performance is shorter and, for the most part, less intense than that of the rest of the regions considered; in particular, that of East Asia and the Pacific. East Asia’s and the Pacific’s expansions last five years longer than those of Latin American and the Caribbean, and its output gain is 50 percent greater. Second, the Latin American and Caribbean region tends to exhibit contractions that are not significantly different from those other regions in terms of duration and amplitude. Both these features imply that the complete Latin American and Caribbean cycle has, overall, the shortest duration and smallest amplitude in relation to other regions. The specificities of the Latin American and Caribbean cycle are not confined to the short run. These are also reflected in variables such as productivity and investment, which are linked to long-run growth. East Asia’s and the Pacific’s cumulative gain in labor productivity during the expansionary phase is twice that of Latin American and the Caribbean. Moreover, the evidence also shows that the effects of the contraction in public investment surpass those of the expansion, leading to a declining trend over the entire cycle. In this sense, we suggest that policy analysis needs to increase its focus on the expansionary phase of the cycle. Improving our knowledge of the differences in the expansionary dynamics of countries and regions can further our understanding of the differences in their rates of growth and levels of development. We also suggest that, while the management of the cycle affects the short-run fluctuations of economic activity and therefore volatility, it is not trend neutral. Hence, the effects of aggregate demand management policies may be more persistent over time, and less transitory, than currently thought.

    Associated Program:
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Daniel Titelman Pablo Carvallo
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  • Working Paper No. 748 | January 2013
    Evidence from India

    The effectiveness of public spending remains a relatively elusive empirical issue. This preliminary analysis is an attempt, using benefit incidence methodology, to define the effectiveness of spending at the subnational government level in India’s health sector. The results reveal that the public health system is “seemingly” more equitable in a few states, while regressivity in the pattern of public health-care utilization is observed in others. Both results are to be considered with caution, as the underdeveloped market for private inpatient care in some states might be a factor in the disproportionate crowding-in of inpatients, making the public health-care system simply appear more equitable. However, patients “voting with their feet” and choosing better, private services seems evident only in the higher-income quintiles. Results also suggest that polarization is distinctly evident in the public provisioning of health-care services, though more related to inpatient, rather than ambulatory, services.

    Associated Program:
    Lekha S. Chakraborty Yadawendra Singh Jannet Farida Jacob
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  • Working Paper No. 747 | January 2013
    Lessons for Central Bank Independence

    The 1951 Treasury – Federal Reserve Accord is an important milestone in central bank history. It led to a lasting separation between monetary policy and the Treasury’s debt-management powers, and established an independent central bank focused on price stability and macroeconomic stability. This paper revisits the history of the Accord and elaborates on the role played by Marriner Eccles in the events that led up to its signing. As chairman of the Fed Board of Governors since 1934, Eccles was also instrumental in drafting key banking legislation that enabled the Federal Reserve System to take on a more independent role after the Accord. The global financial crisis has generated renewed interest in the Accord and its lessons for central bank independence. The paper shows that Eccles’s support for the Accord—and central bank independence—was clearly linked to the strong inflationary pressures in the US economy at the time, but that he was as supportive of deficit financing in the 1930s. This broader interpretation of the Accord holds the key to a more balanced view of Eccles’s role at the Federal Reserve, where his contributions from the mid-1930s up to the Accord are seen as equally important. For this reason, the Accord should not be seen as the eternal beacon for central bank independence but rather as an enlightened vision for a more symmetric policy role for central banks, with equal weight on fighting inflation and preventing depressions.

  • Working Paper No. 746 | January 2013
    A Kaleckian Perspective

    This paper examines a major channel through which financialization or finance-dominated capitalism affects macroeconomic performance: the distribution channel. Empirical data for the following dimensions of redistribution in the period of finance-dominated capitalism since the early 1980s is provided for 15 advanced capitalist economies: functional distribution, personal/household distribution, and the share and composition of top incomes. Based on the Kaleckian approach to the determination of income shares, the effects of financialization on functional income distribution are studied in more detail. Some stylized facts of financialization are integrated into the Kaleckian approach, and by means of reviewing empirical and econometric literature it is found that financialization and neoliberalism have contributed to the falling labor income share since the early 1980s through three main Kaleckian channels: (1) a shift in the sectoral composition of the economy; (2) an increase in management salaries and rising profit claims of the rentiers, and thus in overheads; and (3) weakened trade union bargaining power.

  • Working Paper No. 745 | January 2013

    The aim of the paper is to provide an overview of the current stock-flow consistent (SFC) literature. Indeed, we feel the SFC approach has recently led to a blossoming literature, requiring a new summary after the work of Dos Santos (2006) and, above all, after the publication of the main reference work on the methodology, Godley and Lavoie’s Monetary Economics: An Integrated Approach to Credit, Money, Income, Production and Wealth (2007). The paper is developed along the following lines. First, a brief historical analysis investigates the roots of this class of models that can be traced as far back as 1949 and the work of Copeland. Second, the competing points of view regarding some of its main controversial aspects are underlined and used to classify the different methodological approaches followed in using these models. Namely, we discuss (1) how the models are solved, (2) the treatment of time and its implication, and (3) the need—or not—of microfoundations. These results are then used in the third section of the paper to develop a bifocal perspective, which allows us to divide the literature reviewed according to both its subject and the methodology. We explore various topics such as financialization, exchange rate modeling, policy implication, the need for a common framework within the post-Keynesian literature, and the empirical use of SFC models. Finally, the conclusions present some hypotheses (and wishes) over the possible lines of development of the stock-flow consistent models.

  • Working Paper No. 744 | December 2012
    Empirical Evidence on Fiscal Deficit – Interest Rate Linkages and Financial Crowding Out

    Controlling for capital flows using the high-frequency macro data of a financially deregulated regime, this paper examines whether there is any evidence of the fiscal deficit determining the interest rate in the context of India. The period of analysis is FY 2006–07 (April) to FY 2011 (April). Contrary to the debates in policy circles, the paper finds that an increase in the fiscal deficit does not cause a rise in interest rates. Using the asymmetric vector autoregressive model, the paper establishes that the interest rate is affected by changes in the reserve currency, expected inflation, and volatility in capital flows, but not by the fiscal deficit. This result has significant policy implications for interest rate determination in India, especially since the central bank has cited the high fiscal deficit as the prime reason for leaving the rates unchanged in all of its recent policy announcements. The paper analyzes both long- and short-term interest rates to determine the occurrence of financial crowding out, and finds that the fiscal deficit does not appear to be causing either shorts and longs. However, a reverse causality is detected, from interest rates to deficits.

  • Working Paper No. 743 | December 2012

    This paper provides a theoretical explanation of the accumulation process, which accounts for the developments in the financial markets over the recent past. Specifically, our approach is focused on the presence of correlations between physical and financial investment, and how the latter could affect the former. In order to achieve this objective, two assets are considered: equities and bonds. This choice permits us to account for two extreme alternative possibilities: taking risk in the short run with unknown profits, or undertaking a commitment to the long run with known yields. This proposal also accounts for the influence of the cost of external finance and the impact of financial uncertainty, as proxied by the interest rate in the former case and the exchange rate in the latter case; thereby utilizing the Keynesian notion of conventions in the determination of investment. The model thus formulated is subsequently estimated by applying the difference GMM and the system GMM in a panel of 14 OECD countries from 1970 to 2010.

    Associated Program:
    Philip Arestis Ana Rosa González Óscar Dejuán
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  • Working Paper No. 742 | December 2012
    The Economic Consequences of Parochial Policy

    Financial market crises with the threat of a subsequent debt-deflation depression have occurred with increasing regularity in the United States from 1980 through the present. Almost reflexively, when confronted with such circumstances, US institutions and the policymakers that run them have responded in a fashion that has consistently thwarted debt-deflation-depression dynamics. It is true that these “remedies,” as they succeeded, increasingly contributed to a moral hazard in US and global financial markets that culminated with the crisis that began in 2007. Nonetheless, the straightforward steps taken by established institutions enabled the United States to derail depression dynamics, while European 1930s-style austerity proved as ineffective as it was almost a century ago. Europe’s, and specifically Germany’s, steadfast refusal to embrace the US recipe has fostered mushrooming economic hardship on the continent. The situation is gruesome, and any serious student of economic history had to have known, given European policy commitments, that it was destined to turn out this way.

    It is easy to understand why misguided policies drove initial European responses. Economic theory has frowned on Keynes. Economic successes, especially in Germany, offered up the wrong lessons, and enduring angst about inflation was a major distraction. At the outset, the wrong medicine for the wrong disease was to be expected.

    What is much harder to fathom is why such a poisonous elixir continues to be proffered amid widespread evidence that the patient is dying. Deconstructing cognitive dissonance in other spheres provides an explanation. Not surprisingly, knowing what one wants to happen at home completely informs one’s claims concerning what will be good for one’s neighbors. In such a construct, the last best hope for Europe is ECB President Mario Draghi. He seems to be able to speak German and yet act European.

  • Working Paper No. 741 | December 2012

    The analytical starting point determines the course of a theoretical investigation and, ultimately, the productiveness of an approach. The classics took production and accumulation as their point of departure; the neoclassics, exchange. Exchange implies behavioral assumptions and notions like rationality, optimization, and equilibrium. It is widely recognized that this approach has led into a cul-de-sac. To change a theory means to change its premises; or, in Keynes’s words, to “throw over” the axioms. The present paper swaps the standard behavioral axioms for structural axioms and applies the latter to the analysis of the emergence of secondary markets from the flow part of the economy. Real and nominal residuals at first give rise to the accumulation of the stock of money and the stock of commodities. These stocks constitute the demand-and-supply side of secondary markets. The pricing in these markets is different from the pricing in the primary markets. Realized appreciation in the secondary markets is different from income or profit. To treat primary and secondary markets alike is therefore a category mistake. Vice versa, to take a set of objective propositions as the analytical starting point yields a comprehensive and consistent theory of market exchange and valuation.

  • Working Paper No. 740 | December 2012
    Austerity’s Myopic Logic and the Need for a European Federal Union in a Post-Keynesian Eurozone Center–Periphery Model

    In this paper, we analyze the role of the current institutional setup of the eurozone in fostering the ongoing peripheral euro countries’ sovereign debt crisis. In line with Modern Money Theory, we stress that the lack of a federal European government running anticyclical fiscal policy, the loss of euro member-states’ monetary sovereignty, and the lack of a lender-of-last-resort central bank have significantly contributed to the generation, amplification, and protraction of the present crisis. In particular, we present a Post-Keynesian eurozone center–periphery model through which we show how, due to the incomplete nature of eurozone institutions with respect to a full-fledged federal union, diverging trends and conflicting claims have emerged between central and peripheral euro countries in the aftermath of the 2007–08 financial meltdown. We emphasize two points. (1) Diverging trends and conflicting claims among euro countries may represent decisive obstacles to the reform of the eurozone toward a complete federal entity. However, they may prove to be self-defeating in the long run should financial turbulences seriously deepen in large peripheral countries. (2) Austerity packages alone do not address the core problems of the eurozone. These packages would make sense only if they were included in a much wider reform agenda whose final purpose was the creation of a government banker and a federal European government that could run expansionary fiscal stances. In this sense, the unlimited bond-buying program recently launched by the European Central Bank is interpreted as a positive, albeit mild step in the right direction out of the extreme monetarism that has thus far shaped eurozone institutions.

  • Working Paper No. 739 | November 2012
    A Theoretical and Empirical Discussion of the Kaleckian Model of Growth and Distribution

    This paper examines the “utilization controversy” around the Kaleckian model of growth and distribution. We show that the Federal Reserve data on capacity utilization, which have been used by both sides of this debate, are the wrong kind of data for the issue under examination. Instead, a more appropriate measurement can be derived from the data on the Average Workweek of Capital. We argue that the long-run dynamic adjustment proposed by Kaleckian scholars lacks a coherent economic rationale, and provide an alternative path toward the endogeneity of the desired utilization at the micro and macro levels. Finally, we examine the proposed adjustment mechanism econometrically. Our results verify the endogeneity of the normal utilization rate.

  • Working Paper No. 738 | November 2012

    Research Associate Jörg Bibow investigates the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the (mal)functioning of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), focusing on the German intellectual and historical traditions behind the euro policy regime and its central bank guardian. His analysis contrasts Keynes’s chartalist conception of money and central banking with the postwar traditions nourished by the Bundesbank and based on a fear of fiscal dominance. Keynes viewed the central bank as an instrument of the state, controlling the financial system and wider economy but ultimately an integral part of, and controlled by, the state. By contrast, the “Maastricht (EMU) regime” (of German design) positions the central bank as controlling the state. Essentially, Bibow observes, the national success of the Bundesbank model in pre-EMU times has left Europe stuck with a policy regime that is wholly unsuitable for the area as a whole. But regime reform is complicated by severely unbalanced competitiveness positions and debt overhang legacies. Refocusing the ECB on growth and price stability would have to be a part of any solution, as would refocusing area-wide fiscal policy on growth and investment.

  • Working Paper No. 737 | November 2012

    This paper examines the endogeneity (or lack thereof) of the rate of capacity utilization in the long run at the firm level. We provide economic justification for the adjustment of the desired rate of utilization toward the actual rate on behalf of a cost-minimizing firm after examining the factors that determine the utilization of resources. The cost-minimizing firm has an incentive to increase the utilization of its capital if the rate of the returns to scale decreases as its production increases. The theory of economies of scale provides justification for this kind of behavior. In this manner, the desired rate of utilization becomes endogenous.

  • Working Paper No. 736 | November 2012

    This paper argues that the usual framing of discussions of money, monetary policy, and fiscal policy plays into the hands of conservatives.That framing is also largely consistent with the conventional view of the economy and of society more generally. To put it the way that economists usually do, money “lubricates” the market mechanism—a good thing, because the conventional view of the market itself is overwhelmingly positive. Acknowledging the work of George Lakoff, this paper takes the position that we need an alternative meme, one that provides a frame that is consistent with a progressive social view if we are to be more successful in policy debates. In most cases, the progressives adopt the conservative framing and so have no chance. The paper advances an alternative framing for money and shows how it can be used to reshape discussion. The paper shows that the Modern Money Theory approach is particularly useful as a starting point for framing that emphasizes use of the monetary system as a tool to accomplish the public purpose.

    It is not so much the accuracy of the conventional view of money that we need to question, but rather the framing. We need a new meme for money, one that would emphasize the social, not the individual. It would focus on the positive role played by the state, not only in the creation and evolution of money, but also in ensuring social control over money. It would explain how money helps to promote a positive relation between citizens and the state, simultaneously promoting shared values such as liberty, democracy, and responsibility. It would explain why social control over money can promote nurturing activities over the destructive impulses of our “undertakers” (Smith’s evocative term for capitalists).

  • Working Paper No. 735 | November 2012

    The Federal Reserve has been criticized for not preventing the risky behavior of large financial companies prior to the financial crisis of 2008–09, for approving mergers that aggravated the “too big to fail” problem, and for its substantial contribution to bailouts when their risk management failed. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, in attempting to diminish financial instability and eliminate too-big-to-fail policies, has established a new regulatory framework and laid out new responsibilities for the Federal Reserve. In doing so, it appears to address criticisms of the central bank by constricting its autonomy. The law, however, has also extended the Federal Reserve’s supervisory authority and expanded its capacity to exercise regulatory control over its extended domain. This new authority is in addition to the augmentation of its monetary powers over the past several years.

    This paper reviews and evaluates both constraints imposed on the Federal Reserve by the Dodd-Frank Act and the expansion of Federal Reserve authority. It finds that the constraints are unlikely to have much impact, but the expansion of authority constitutes a significant increase in power and influence. The paper concludes that the expansion of Federal Reserve authority invites questions about the organizational design and governance of the central bank, and its traditional autonomy.

  • Working Paper No. 734 | October 2012

    In this paper the euro crisis is interpreted as the latest episode in the crisis of finance-dominated capitalism. For 11 initial Euro area countries, the major features of finance-dominated capitalism are analyzed; specifically, the increasing inequality of income distribution and the rising imbalances of current accounts. Against this background, the euro crisis and the economic policy reactions of European governments and institutions are examined. It is shown that deflationary stagnation policies have prevailed since 2010, resulting in massive real GDP losses; some improvement in the price competitiveness of the crisis countries but considerable and persistent current account imbalances; reductions in government deficit–to-GDP ratios but continuously rising trends in gross government debt–to-GDP ratios; a risk of further recession for the euro area as a whole—and the increasing threat of the euro’s ultimate collapse. Therefore, an alternative macroeconomic policy approach tackling the basic contradictions of finance-dominated capitalism and the deficiencies of European economic policy institutions and strategies—in particular, the lack of (1) an institution convincingly guaranteeing public debt and (2) a stable and sustainable financing mechanism for acceptable current account imbalances—is outlined.

  • Working Paper No. 733 | October 2012
    An SFC Analysis of Great Surges of Development

    Schumpeter, a century ago, argued that boom-and-bust cycles are intrinsically related to the functioning of a capitalistic economy. These cycles, inherent to the rise of innovation, are an unavoidable consequence of the way in which markets evolve and assimilate successive technological revolutions. Furthermore, Schumpeter’s analysis stressed the fundamental role played by finance in fostering innovation, in defining bank credit as the “monetary complement” of innovation. Nevertheless, we feel that the connection between innovation and firm financing has seldom been examined from a theoretical standpoint, not only by economists in general, but even within the Neo-Schumpeterian research line. Our paper aims at analyzing both the long-term structural change process triggered by innovation and the related financial dynamics inside the coherent framework provided by the stock-flow consistent (SFC) approach. The model presents a multisectoral economy composed of consumption and capital goods industries, a banking sector, and two household sectors: capitalists and wage earners. The SFC approach helps us to track the flows of funds resulting from the rise of innovators in the system. The dynamics of prices, employment, and wealth distribution among the different sectors and social groups is analyzed. Above all, the essential role of finance in fostering innovation and its interaction with the real economy is underlined.

    Associated Program:
    Alessandro Caiani Antoine Godin Stefano Lucarelli
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  • Working Paper No. 732 | September 2012
    The Employer of Last Resort as an Institution for Change

    Over the past decade and a half the ability of the employer-of-last-resort (ELR) proposal to deliver full employment and price stability has been discussed at length in the literature. A different issue has received relatively little attention—namely, the concern that even when the ELR produces these macroeconomic benefits, it does so by offering “low-paying” “dead-end” jobs, further denigrating the unemployed. In this context, the important buffer stock feature of the ELR is misconstrued as a hydraulic mechanism that prioritizes macroeconomic stability over the program’s benefits to the unemployed.

    This paper argues that the two objectives are not mutually exclusive by revisiting Argentina’s experience with Plan Jefes and its subsequent reform. Plan Jefes is the only direct job creation program in the world specifically modeled after the modern ELR proposal developed in the United States. With respect to macroeconomic stability, the paper reviews how it exhibits some of the key stabilizing features of ELR that have been postulated in the literature, even though it was not designed as an unconditional job guarantee. Plan Jefes also illustrated that public employment programs can have a transformative impact on persistent socioeconomic problems such as poverty and gender disparity. Women—by far the largest group of program beneficiaries—report key benefits to their communities, families, children, and (importantly) themselves from participation in Jefes.

    Argentina’s experience shows that direct job creation programs that offer employment at a base wage can have the unique capacity to empower and undermine prevailing structures that produce and reproduce poverty and gender disparities. Because the latter two problems are multidimensional, the ELR cannot be treated as a panacea, but rather as an important policy tool that remedies some of the most entrenched and resilient causes of poverty and gender inequality. The paper examines survey evidence based on narratives by female participants in Jefes to assess these potentially transformative aspects of the ELR proposal.

  • Working Paper No. 731 | September 2012
    An Essential Rectification of the Accounting Approach

    This paper takes the explanatory superiority of the integrated monetary approach for granted. It will be demonstrated that the accounting approach could do even better, provided it frees itself from theoretically ill-founded notions like GDP and other artifacts of the equilibrium approach. National accounting as such does not provide a model of the economy but is, rather, the numerical reflex of the underlying theory. It is this theory that will be scrutinized, rectified, and ultimately replaced in what follows. The formal point of reference is “the integrated approach to credit, money, income, production and wealth” of Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie.

  • Working Paper No. 730 | August 2012

    Market economies and command economies have long been differentiated by the presence of alternative choice in the form of diversity. Yet most mainstream economic theory is premised on the existence of uniformity. This paper develops the implications of this contradiction for the theory of prices, income creation, and the analysis of the recent financial crisis, and provides a critique of traditional theory from an institutionalist perspective developed by J. Fagg Foster.

  • Working Paper No. 729 | August 2012

    As the heirs to classical political economy and the German historical school, the American institutionalists retained rent theory and its corollary idea of unearned income. More than any other institutionalist, Thorstein Veblen emphasized the dynamics of banks financing real estate speculation and Wall Street maneuvering to organize monopolies and trusts. Yet despite the popularity of his writings with the reading public, his contribution has remained isolated from the academic mainstream, and he did not leave behind a “school.”

    Veblen criticized academic economists for having fallen subject to “trained incapacity” as a result of being turned into factotums to defend rentier interests. Business schools were painting an unrealistic happy-face picture of the economy, teaching financial techniques but leaving out of account the need to reform the economy’s practices and institutions.

    In emphasizing how financial “predation” was hijacking the economy’s technological potential, Veblen’s vision was as materialist and culturally broad as that of the Marxists, and as dismissive of the status quo. Technological innovation was reducing costs but breeding monopolies as the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sectors joined forces to create a financial symbiosis cemented by political-insider dealings—and a trivialization of economic theory as it seeks to avoid dealing with society’s failure to achieve its technological potential. The fruits of rising productivity were used to finance robber barons who had no better use of their wealth than to reduce great artworks to the status of ownership trophies and achieve leisure-class status by funding business schools and colleges to promote a self-congratulatory but deceptive portrayal of their wealth-grabbing behavior.

  • Working Paper No. 728 | July 2012
    A Post-Keynesian Approach

    Conventional wisdom about the business cycle in Latin America assumes that monetary shocks cause deviations from the optimal path, and that the triggering factor in the cycle is excess credit and liquidity. Further, in this view the origin of the contraction is ultimately related to the excesses during the expansion. For that reason, it follows that avoiding the worst conditions during the bust entails applying restrictive economic policies during the expansion, including restrictive fiscal and monetary policies. In this paper we develop an alternative approach that suggests that fiscal restraint may not have a significant impact in reducing the risks of a crisis, and that excessive fiscal conservatism might actually exacerbate problems. In the case of Central America, the efforts to reduce fiscal imbalances, in conjunction with the persistent current account deficits, implied that financial inflows, with remittances being particularly important in some cases, allowed for an expansion of a private spending boom that proved unsustainable once the Great Recession led to a sharp fall in external funds. In the case of South America, the commodity boom created conditions for growth without hitting the external constraint. Fiscal restraint in the South American context has resulted, in some cases, in lower rates of growth than what otherwise would have been possible as a result of the absence of an external constraint. Yet the lower reliance on external funds made South American countries less vulnerable to the external shock waves of the Great Recession than Central American economies.

    Associated Program:
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías Vernengo
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 727 | July 2012

    The method for simulation of labor market participation used in the LIMTIP models for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. In each case, all eligible adults not working full-time were assigned full-time jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. The feasibility of assessing the quality of the simulations is discussed. For each simulation, the recipient group is compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production produced in the simulation. In each case, the simulations are of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.

  • Working Paper No. 726 | June 2012
    The US Recession of 2007–09

    The recession precipitated by the US financial crisis of 2007 accelerated the convergence of women’s and men’s employment rates, as men experienced disproportionate job losses and women’s entry into the labor force gathered pace. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data for 2003–10, this study examines whether the recession also occasioned a decline in disparity in unpaid work burdens and provided impetus for overall progress toward equity in the workloads, leisure time, and personal care hours of mothers and fathers. Controlling for the prerecession trends, we find that the recession contributed to the convergence of both paid and unpaid work only during the December 2007–June 2009 period. The combined effect of the recession and the jobless recovery was a move toward equity in the paid work hours of mothers and fathers, a relative increase in the total workload of mothers, and a relative decline in their personal care and leisure time.

    Associated Program:
    Günseli Berik Ebru Kongar
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 725 | May 2012
    A Caveat Emptor for Regional Scientists

    Over the last 20 years or so, mainstream economists have become more interested in spatial economics and have introduced largely neoclassical economic concepts and tools to explain phenomena that were previously the preserve of economic geographers. One of these concepts is the aggregate production function, which is also central to much of regional growth theory. However, as Franklin Fisher, inter alios, has shown, the conditions necessary to aggregate microproduction functions into an aggregate production function are so stringent that in all probability the aggregate production function does not exist. This paper shows that the good statistical fits commonly found empirically are solely due to the use of value data and an underlying accounting identity. The result is that the estimates obtained cannot be regarded as providing evidence of the underlying technological structure of the spatial economy, including the aggregate elasticity of substitution, the degree of returns to scale, and the rate of technical progress.

  • Working Paper No. 724 | May 2012

    This paper surveys the context and contours of contemporary Post-Keynesian Institutionalism (PKI). It begins by reviewing recent criticism of conventional economics by prominent economists as well as examining, within the current context, important research that paved the way for PKI. It then sketches essential elements of PKI—drawing heavily on the contributions of Hyman Minsky—and identifies directions for future research. Although there is much room for further development, PKI offers a promising starting point for economics after the Great Recession.

  • Working Paper No. 723 | May 2012

    Recently, some have wondered whether a fiscal stimulus plan could reduce the government’s budget deficit. Many also worry that fiscal austerity plans will only bring higher deficits. Issues of this kind involve endogenous changes in tax revenues that occur when output, real wages, and other variables are affected by changes in policy. Few would disagree that various paradoxes of austerity or stimulus might be relevant, but such issues can be clarified a great deal with the help of a complete heterodox model.

    In light of recent world events, this paper seeks to improve our understanding of the dynamics of fiscal policy and financial crises within the context of two-dimensional (2D) and five-dimensional heterodox models. The nonlinear version of the 2D model incorporates curvilinear functions for investment and consumption out of unearned income. To bring in fiscal policy, I make use of a rule with either (1) dual targets of capacity utilization and public production, or (2) a balanced-budget target. Next, I add discrete jumps and policy-regime switches to the model in order to tell a story of a financial crisis followed by a move to fiscal austerity. Then, I return to the earlier model and add three more variables and equations: (1) I model the size of the private- and public-sector labor forces using a constant growth rate and account for their social reproduction by introducing an unemployment-insurance scheme; and (2) I make the markup endogenous, allowing its rate of change to depend, in a possibly nonlinear way, on capacity utilization, the real wage relative to a fixed norm, the employment rate, profitability, and the business sector’s desired capital-stock growth rate. In the conclusion, I comment on the implications of my results for various policy issues.

  • Working Paper No. 722 | May 2012
    Sustainable Full Employment

    In most economies, the potential of saving energy via insulation and more efficient uses of electricity is important. In order to reach the Kyoto Protocol objectives, it is urgent to develop policies that reduce the production of carbon dioxide in all sectors of the economy. This paper proposes an analysis of a green-jobs employer-of-last-resort (ELR) program based on a stock-flow consistent (SFC) model with three productive sectors (consumption, capital goods, and energy) and two household sectors (wage earners and capitalists). By increasing the energy efficiency of dwellings and public buildings, the green-jobs ELR sector implies a shift in consumption patterns from energy consumption toward consumption of goods. This could spur the private sector and thus increase employment. Lastly, the jobs guarantee program removes all involuntary unemployment and decreases poverty while lowering carbon dioxide emissions. The environmental policy proposed in this paper is macroeconomic and offers a structural change of the economy instead of the usual micro solutions.

  • Working Paper No. 721 | May 2012

    This paper investigates the causes behind the euro debt crisis, particularly Germany’s role in it. It is argued that the crisis is not primarily a “sovereign debt crisis” but rather a (twin) banking and balance of payments crisis. Intra-area competitiveness and current account imbalances, and the corresponding debt flows that such imbalances give rise to, are at the heart of the matter, and they ultimately go back to competitive wage deflation on Germany’s part since the late 1990s. Germany broke the golden rule of a monetary union: commitment to a common inflation rate. As a result, the country faces a trilemma of its own making and must make a critical choice, since it cannot have it all —perpetual export surpluses, a no transfer / no bailout monetary union, and a “clean,” independent central bank. Misdiagnosis and the wrongly prescribed medication of austerity have made the situation worse by adding a growth crisis to the potpourri of internal stresses that threaten the euro’s survival. The crisis in Euroland poses a global “too big to fail” threat, and presents a moral hazard of perhaps unprecedented scale to the global community.

  • Working Paper No. 720 | May 2012
    A FAVAR Model for Greece and Ireland

    This paper examines the underlying dynamics of selected euro-area sovereign bonds by employing a factor-augmenting vector autoregressive (FAVAR) model for the first time in the literature. This methodology allows for identifying the underlying transmission mechanisms of several factors; in particular, market liquidity and credit risk. Departing from the classical structural vector autoregressive (VAR) models, it allows us to relax limitations regarding the choice of variables that could drive spreads and credit default swaps (CDSs) of euro-area sovereign debts. The results show that liquidity, credit risk, and flight to quality drive both spreads and CDSs of five years’ maturity over swaps for Greece and Ireland in recent years. Greece, in particular, is facing an elastic demand for its sovereign bonds that further stretches liquidity. Moreover, in current illiquid market conditions spreads will continue to follow a steep upward trend, with certain adverse financial stability implications. In addition, we observe a negative feedback effect from counterparty credit risk.

  • Working Paper No. 719 | May 2012

    The paper evaluates the fiscal policy initiatives during the Great Recession in the United States. It argues that, although the nonconventional fiscal policies targeted at the financial sector dwarfed the conventional countercyclical stabilization efforts directed toward the real sector, the relatively disappointing impact on employment was a result of misdirected funding priorities combined with an exclusive and ill-advised focus on the output gap rather than on the employment gap. The paper argues further that conventional pump-priming policies are incapable of closing this employment gap. In order to tackle the formidable labor market challenges observed in the United States over the last few decades, policy could benefit from a fundamental reorientation away from trickle-down Keynesianism and toward what is termed here a “bottom-up approach” to fiscal policy. This approach also reconsiders the nature of countercyclical government stabilizers.

  • Working Paper No. 718 | May 2012
    Further Reflections on Temple’s Criticisms and Misunderstandings

    In a reply to Felipe and McCombie (2010a), Temple (2010) has largely ignored the main arguments that underlie the accounting identity critique of the estimation of production functions using value data. This criticism suggests that estimates of the parameters of aggregate production functions cannot be regarded as reflecting the underlying technology of the industry. While Temple concedes some points, he erroneously believes that the critique holds only under some ad hoc assumptions. As a consequence, he argues that the critique works only “part-time.” This rejoinder discusses Temple’s arguments and demonstrates that the critique works full-time.

  • Working Paper No. 717 | May 2012

    This paper integrates the various strands of an alternative, heterodox view on the origins of money and the development of the modern financial system in a manner that is consistent with the findings of historians and anthropologists. As is well known, the orthodox story of money’s origins and evolution begins with the creation of a medium of exchange to reduce the costs of barter. To be sure, the history of money is “lost in the mists of time,” as money’s invention probably predates writing. Further, the history of money is contentious. And, finally, even orthodox economists would reject the Robinson Crusoe story and the evolution from a commodity money through to modern fiat money as historically accurate. Rather, the story told about the origins and evolution of money is designed to shed light on the “nature” of money. The orthodox story draws attention to money as a transactions-cost-minimizing medium of exchange.

    Heterodox economists reject the formalist methodology adopted by orthodox economists in favor of a substantivist methodology. In the formalist methodology, the economist begins with the “rational” economic agent facing scarce resources and unlimited wants. Since the formalist methodology abstracts from historical and institutional detail, it must be applicable to all human societies. Heterodoxy argues that economics has to do with a study of the institutionalized interactions among humans and between humans and nature. The economy is a component of culture; or, more specifically, of the material life process of society. As such, substantivist economics cannot abstract from the institutions that help to shape economic processes; and the substantivistproblem is not the formal one of choice, but a problem concerning production and distribution.

    A powerful critique of the orthodox story regarding money can be developed using the findings of comparative anthropology, comparative history, and comparative economics. Given the embedded nature of economic phenomenon in prior societies, an understanding of what money is and what it does in capitalist societies is essential to this approach. This can then be contrasted with the functioning of precapitalist societies in order to allow identification of which types of precapitalist societies would use money and what money would be used for in these societies. This understanding is essential for informed speculation on the origins of money. The comparative approach used by heterodox economists begins with an understanding of the role money plays in capitalist economies, which shares essential features with analyses developed by a wide range of Institutionalist, Keynesian, Post Keynesian, and Marxist macroeconomists. This paper uses the understanding developed by comparative anthropology and comparative history of precapitalist societies in order to logically reconstruct the origins of money.

  • Working Paper No. 716 | April 2012
    A Minskyan Approach

    This paper presents a method to capture the growth of financial fragility within a country and across countries. This is done by focusing on housing finance in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Following the theoretical framework developed by Hyman P. Minsky, the paper focuses on the risk of amplification of shock via a debt deflation instead of the risk of a shock per se. Thus, instead of focusing on credit risk, for example, financial fragility is defined in relation to the means used to service debts, given credit risk and all other sources of shocks. The greater the expected reliance on capital gains and debt refinancing to meet debt commitments, the greater the financial fragility, and so the higher the risk of debt deflation induced by a shock if no government intervention occurs. In the context of housing finance, this implies that the growth of subprime lending was not by itself a source of financial fragility; instead, it was the change in the underwriting methods in all sectors of the mortgage markets that created a financial situation favorable to the emergence of a debt deflation. Stated alternatively, when nonprime and prime mortgage lending moved to asset-based lending instead of income-based lending, the financial fragility of the economy grew rapidly.

  • Working Paper No. 715 | April 2012
    What Is It, Who Is in It, and Why?

    This paper provides a working definition of what the middle-income trap is. We start by defining four income groups of GDP per capita in 1990 PPP dollars: low-income below $2,000; lower-middle-income between $2,000 and $7,250; upper-middle-income between $7,250 and $11,750; and high-income above $11,750. We then classify 124 countries for which we have consistent data for 1950–2010. In 2010, there were 40 low-income countries in the world, 38 lower-middle-income, 14 upper-middle-income, and 32 high-income countries. Then we calculate the threshold number of years for a country to be in the middle-income trap: a country that becomes lower-middle-income (i.e., that reaches $2,000 per capita income) has to attain an average growth rate of per capita income of at least 4.7 percent per annum to avoid falling into the lower-middle-income trap (i.e., to reach $7,250, the upper-middle-income threshold); and a country that becomes upper-middle-income (i.e., that reaches $7,250 per capita income) has to attain an average growth rate of per capita income of at least 3.5 percent per annum to avoid falling into the upper-middle-income trap (i.e., to reach $11,750, the high-income level threshold). Avoiding the middle-income trap is, therefore, a question of how to grow fast enough so as to cross the lower-middle-income segment in at most 28 years, and the upper-middle-income segment in at most 14 years. Finally, the paper proposes and analyzes one possible reason why some countries get stuck in the middle-income trap: the role played by the changing structure of the economy (from low-productivity activities into high-productivity activities), the types of products exported (not all products have the same consequences for growth and development), and the diversification of the economy. We compare the exports of countries in the middle-income trap with those of countries that graduated from it, across eight dimensions that capture different aspects of a country’s capabilities to undergo structural transformation, and test whether they are different. Results indicate that, in general, they are different. We also compare Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines according to the number of products that each exports with revealed comparative advantage. We find that while Korea was able to gain comparative advantage in a significant number of sophisticated products and was well connected, Malaysia and the Philippines were able to gain comparative advantage in electronics only.

  • Working Paper No. 714 | April 2012
    China and India

    The narrative as well as the analysis of global imbalances in the existing literature are incomplete without the part of the story that relates to the surge in capital flows experienced by the emerging economies. Such analysis disregards the implications of capital flows on their domestic economies, especially in terms of the “impossibility” of following a monetary policy that benefits domestic growth. It also fails to recognize the significance of uncertainty and changes in expectation as factors in the (precautionary) buildup of large official reserves. The consequences are many, and affect the fabric of growth and distribution in these economies. The recent experiences of China and India, with their deregulated financial sectors, bear this out.

    Financial integration and free capital mobility, which are supposed to generate growth with stability (according to the “efficient markets” hypothesis), have not only failed to achieve their promises (especially in the advanced economies) but also forced the high-growth developing economies like India and China into a state of compliance, where domestic goals of stability and development are sacrificed in order to attain the globally sanctioned norm of free capital flows.

    With the global financial crisis and the specter of recession haunting most advanced economies, the high-growth economies in Asia have drawn much less attention than they deserve. This oversight leaves the analysis incomplete, not only by missing an important link in the prevailing network of global trade and finance, but also by ignoring the structural changes in these developing economies—many of which are related to the pattern of financialization and turbulence in the advanced economies.

  • Working Paper No. 713 | April 2012
    A Reinterpretation of Henry Simons’s “Rules versus Authorities in Monetary Policy"

    Henry Simons’s 1936 article “Rules versus Authorities in Monetary Policy” is a classical reference in the literature on central bank independence and rule-based policy. A closer reading of the article reveals a more nuanced policy prescription, with significant emphasis on the need to control short-term borrowing; bank credit is seen as highly unstable, and price level controls, in Simons’s view, are not be possible without limiting banks’ ability to create money by extending loans. These elements of Simons’s theory of money form the basis for Hyman P. Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis. This should not come as a surprise, as Simons was Minsky’s teacher at the University of Chicago in the late 1930s. I review the similarities between their theories of financial instability and the relevance of their work for the current discussion of macroprudential tools and the conduct of monetary policy. According to Minsky and Simons, control of finance is a prerequisite for successful monetary policy and economic stabilization.

  • Working Paper No. 712 | April 2012
    How to Achieve a Better Balance between Global and Official Liquidity

    Global liquidity provision is highly procyclical. The recent financial crisis has resulted in a flight to safety, with severe strains in key funding markets leading central banks to employ highly unconventional policies to avoid a systemic meltdown. Bagehot’s advice to “lend freely at high rates against good collateral” has been stretched to the limit in order to meet the liquidity needs of dysfunctional financial markets. As the eligibility criteria for central bank borrowing have been tweaked, it is legitimate to ask, How elastic should the supply of central bank currency be?

    Even when the central bank has the ability to create abundant official liquidity, there should be some limits to its support for the financial sector. Traditionally, the misuse of the fiat money privilege has been limited by self-imposed rules that central bank loans must be fully backed by gold or collateralized in some other way. But since the onset of the crisis, we have seen how this constraint has been relaxed to accommodate the demand for market support. My suggestion is that there has to be some upper limit, and that we should work hard to find guidelines and policies that can limit the need for central bank liquidity support in future crises.

    In this paper, I review the recent expansion of central bank liquidity support during the crisis, before discussing the collateral polices related to central banks’ lender-of-last-resort and market-maker-of-last-resort policies and their rationale. I then examine the relationship between the central bank and the treasury, and the potential threat to central bank independence if they venture into too much risky balance sheet expansion. A discussion about the exceptional growth of the shadow banking system follows. I introduce the concept of “liquidity illusion” to describe the fragility upon which much of the sector is based, and note that market growth has been based largely on a “fair-weather” view that central banks will support the market on rainy days. I argue that we need a better theoretical framework to understand the growth in the shadow banking system and the role of central banks in providing liquidity in a crisis.

    Recently, the concept of “endogenous finance” has been used to explain the strong procyclical tendencies of the global financial system. I show that this concept was central to Hyman P. Minsky’s theory of financial instability, and suggest that his insights should be integrated into the ongoing search for a better theoretical framework for understanding the growth of the shadow banking system and how we can limit official liquidity support for this system. I end the paper with a summary and a discussion of some of the policy issues. I note that the Basel III “package” will hopefully reduce the need for central bank liquidity support in the future, but suggest that further structural reforms of the financial sector are needed to ease the tension between freewheeling private credit expansion and the limited ability or willingness of central banks to provide unlimited official liquidity support in a future crisis.

  • Working Paper No. 711 | March 2012
    A Minskyan Interpretation of the Causes, the Fed’s Bailout, and the Future

    This paper provides a quick review of the causes of the Global Financial Crisis that began in 2007. There were many contributing factors, but among the most important were rising inequality and stagnant incomes for most American workers, growing private sector debt in the United States and many other countries, financialization of the global economy (itself a very complex process), deregulation and desupervision of financial institutions, and overly tight fiscal policy in many nations. The analysis adopts the “stages” approach developed by Hyman P. Minsky, according to which a gradual transformation of the economy over the postwar period has in many ways reproduced the conditions that led to the Great Depression. The paper then moves on to an examination of the US government’s bailout of the global financial system. While other governments played a role, the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve assumed much of the responsibility for the bailout. A detailed examination of the Fed’s response shows how unprecedented—and possibly illegal—was its extension of the government’s “safety net” to the biggest financial institutions. The paper closes with an assessment of the problems the bailout itself poses for the future.

  • Working Paper No. 710 | March 2012
    A Historic Monetary Policy Pivot Point and Moment of (Relative) Clarity

    Not since the Great Depression have monetary policy matters and institutions weighed so heavily in commercial, financial, and political arenas. Apart from the eurozone crisis and global monetary policy issues, for nearly two years all else has counted for little more than noise on a relative risk basis.

    In major developed economies, a hypermature secular decline in interest rates is pancaking against a hard, roughly zero lower-rate bound (i.e., barring imposition of rather extreme policies such as a tax on cash holdings, which could conceivably drive rates deeply negative). Relentlessly mounting aggregate debt loads are rendering monetary- and fiscal policy–impaired governments and segments of society insolvent and struggling to escape liquidity quicksands and stubbornly low or negative growth and employment trends.

    At the center of the current crisis is the European Monetary Union (EMU)—a monetary union lacking fiscal and political integration. Such partial integration limits policy alternatives relative to either full federal integration of member-states or no integration at all. As we have witnessed since spring 2008, this operationally constrained middle ground progressively magnifies economic divergence and political and social discord across member-states.

    Given the scale and scope of the eurozone crisis, policy and actions taken (or not taken) by the European Central Bank (ECB) meaningfully impact markets large and small, and ripple with force through every major monetary policy domain. History, for the moment, has rendered the ECB the world’s most important monetary policy pivot point.

    Since November 2011, the ECB has taken on an arguably activist liquidity-provider role relative to private banks (and, in some important measure, indirectly to sovereigns) while maintaining its long-held post as rhetorical promoter of staunch fiscal discipline relative to sovereignty-encased “peripheral” states lacking full monetary and fiscal integration. In December 2011, the ECB made clear its intention to inject massive liquidity when faced with crises of scale in future. Already demonstratively disposed toward easing due to conditions on their respective domestic fronts, other major central banks have mobilized since the third quarter of 2011. The collective global central banking policy posture has thus become more homogenized, synchronized, and directionally clear than at any time since early 2009.

  • Working Paper No. 709 | February 2012
    Motives, Countermeasures, and the Dodd-Frank Response

    Government forbearance, support, and bailouts of banks and other financial institutions deemed “too big to fail” (TBTF) are widely recognized as encouraging large companies to take excessive risk, placing smaller ones at a competitive disadvantage and influencing banks in general to grow inefficiently to a “protected” size and complexity. During periods of financial stress, with bailouts under way, government officials have promised “never again.” During periods of financial stability and economic growth, they have sanctioned large-bank growth by merger and ignored the ongoing competitive imbalance.

    Repeated efforts to do away with TBTF practices over the last several decades have been unsuccessful. Congress has typically found the underlying problem to be inadequate regulation and/or supervision that has permitted important financial companies to undertake excessive risk. It has responded by strengthening regulation and supervision. Others have located the underlying problem in inadequate regulators, suggesting the need for modifying the incentives that motivate their behavior. A third explanation is that TBTF practices reflect the government’s perception that large financial firms serve a public interest—they constitute a “national resource” to be preserved. In this case, a structural solution would be necessary. Breakups of the largest financial firms would distribute the “public interest” among a larger group than the handful that currently hold a disproportionate concentration of financial resources.

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 constitutes the most recent effort to eliminate TBTF practices. Its principal focus is on the extension and augmentation of regulation and supervision, which it envisions as preventing excessive risk taking by large financial companies; Congress has again found the cause for TBTF practices in the inadequacy of regulation and supervision. There is no indication that Congress has given any credence to the contention that regulatory motivations have been at fault. Finally, Dodd-Frank eschews a structural solution, leaving the largest financial companies intact and bank regulatory agencies still with extensive discretion in passing on large bank mergers. As a result, the elimination of TBTF will remain problematic for years to come.

  • Working Paper No. 708 | February 2012

    What is called “capitalism” is best understood as a series of stages. Industrial capitalism has given way to finance capitalism, which has passed through  pension fund capitalism since the 1950s and a US-centered monetary imperialism since 1971, when the fiat dollar (created mainly to finance US global military spending) became the world’s monetary base. Fiat dollar credit made possible the bubble economy after 1980, and its substage of casino capitalism. These economically radioactive decay stages resolved into debt deflation after 2008, and are now settling into a leaden debt peonage and the austerity of neo-serfdom.

    The end product of today’s Western capitalism is a neo-rentier economy—precisely what industrial capitalism and classical economists set out to replace during the Progressive Era from the late 19th to early 20th century. A financial class has usurped the role that landlords used to play—a class living off special privilege. Most economic rent is now paid out as interest. This rake-off interrupts the circular flow between production and consumption, causing economic shrinkage—a dynamic that is the opposite of industrial capitalism’s original impulse. The “miracle of compound interest,” reinforced now by fiat credit creation, is cannibalizing industrial capital as well as the returns to labor.

    The political thrust of industrial capitalism was toward democratic parliamentary reform to break the stranglehold of landlords on national tax systems. But today’s finance capital is inherently oligarchic. It seeks to capture the government—first and foremost the treasury, central bank, and courts—to enrich (indeed, to bail out) and untax the banking and financial sector and its major clients: real estate and monopolies. This is why financial “technocrats” (proxies and factotums for high finance) were imposed in Greece, and why Germany opposed a public referendum on the European Central Bank’s austerity program.

  • Working Paper No. 707 | February 2012
    A Proposal for Ireland

    Euroland is in a crisis that is slowly but surely spreading from one periphery country to another; it will eventually reach the center. The blame is mostly heaped upon supposedly profligate consumption by Mediterraneans. But that surely cannot apply to Ireland and Iceland. In both cases, these nations adopted the neoliberal attitude toward banks that was pushed by policymakers in Europe and America, with disastrous results. The banks blew up in a speculative fever and then expected their governments to absorb all the losses. The situation was similar in the United States, but in our case the debts were in dollars and our sovereign currency issuer simply spent, lent, and guaranteed 29 trillion dollars’ worth of bad bank decisions. Even in our case it was a huge mistake—but it was “affordable.” Ireland and Iceland were not so lucky, as their bank debts were in “foreign” currencies. By this I mean that even though Irish bank debt was in euros, the Government of Ireland had given up its own currency in favor of what is essentially a foreign currency—the euro, which is issued by the European Central Bank (ECB). Every euro issued in Ireland is ultimately convertible, one to one, to an ECB euro. There is neither the possibility of depreciating the Irish euro nor the possibility of creating ECB euros as necessary to meet demands for clearing. Ireland is in a situation similar to that of Argentina a decade ago, when it adopted a currency board based on the US dollar. And yet the authorities demand more austerity, to further reduce growth rates. As both Ireland and Greece have found out, austerity does not mean reduced budget deficits, because tax revenues fall faster than spending can be cut. Indeed, as I write this, Athens has exploded in riots. Is there an alternative path?

    In this piece I argue that there is. First, I quickly summarize the financial foibles of Iceland and Ireland. I will then—also quickly—summarize the case for debt relief or default. Then I will present a program of direct job creation that could put Ireland on the path to recovery. Understanding the financial problems and solutions puts the jobs program proposal in the proper perspective: a full implementation of a job guarantee cannot occur within the current financial arrangements. Still, something can be done.

  • Working Paper No. 706 | February 2012
    An Augmented Minskyan-Kaleckian Model

    This paper augments the basic Post-Keynesian markup model to examine the effects of different fiscal policies on prices and income distribution. This is an approach à la Hyman P. Minsky, who argued that in the modern era, government is both “a blessing and a curse,” since it stabilizes profits and output by imparting an inflationary bias to the economy, but without stabilizing the economy at or near full employment. To build on these insights, the paper considers several distinct functions of government: 1) government as an income provider, 2) as an employer, and 3) as a buyer of goods and services. The inflationary and distributional effects of each of these fiscal policies differ considerably. First, the paper examines the effects of income transfers to individuals and firms (in the form of unemployment insurance and investment subsidies, respectively). Next, it considers government as an employer of workers (direct job creation) and as a buyer of goods and services (indirect job creation). Finally, it modifies the basic theoretical model to incorporate fiscal policy à laMinsky and John Maynard Keynes, where the government ensures full employment through direct job creation of all of the unemployed unable to find private sector work, irrespective of the phase of the business cycle. The paper specifically models Minsky’s proposal for government as the employer of last resort (ELR), but the findings would apply to any universal direct job creation plan of similar design. The paper derives a fundamental price equation for a full-employment economy with government. The model presents a “price rule” for government spending that ensures that the ELR is not a source of inflation. Indeed, the fundamental equation illustrates that in the presence of such a price rule, at full employment inflationary effects are observed from sources other thanthe public sector employment program.

  • Working Paper No. 705 | February 2012
    Lessons from Argentina

    The literature on public employment policies such as the job guarantee (JG) and the employer of last resort (ELR) often emphasizes their macroeconomic stabilization effects. But carefully designed and implemented policies like these can also have profound social transformative effects. In particular, they can help address enduring economic problems such as poverty and gender disparity. To examine how, this paper will look at the reform of Argentina’s Plan Jefes into Plan Familias. Plan Jefes was the hallmark stabilization policy of the Argentine government after the 2001 crisis. It guaranteed a public sector job in a community project to unemployed male and female heads of households. The vast majority of beneficiaries, however, turned out to be poor women. For a number of reasons that are explored below, the program was later reformed into a cash transfer policy, known as Plan Familias, that still exists today. The paper examines this reform in order to evaluate the relative impact of such policies on some of the most vulnerable members of society; namely, poor women. An examination of the Argentine experience based on survey evidence and fieldwork reveals that poor women overwhelmingly want paid work opportunities, and that a policy such as the JG or the ELR cannot only guarantees full employment and macroeconomic stabilization, but it can also serve as an institutional vehicle that begins to transform some of the structures and norms that produce and reproduce gender disparities. These transformative features of public employment policies are elucidated by turning to the capabilities approach developed by Amartya Sen and elaborated by Martha Nussbaum—an approach commonly invoked in the feminist literature. This paper examines how the access to paid employment can enhance what Sen defines as an individual’s “substantive freedom.” Any policy that fosters genuine freedom begins with an understanding of what the targeted population (in this case, poor women) wants. It then devises a strategy that guarantees that such opportunities exist and removes the obstacles to accessing these opportunities.

  • Working Paper No. 704 | January 2012
    A Dissenting View

    It is commonplace to link neoclassical economics to 18th- or 19th-century physics and its notion of equilibrium, of a pendulum once disturbed eventually coming to rest. Likewise, an economy subjected to an exogenous shock seeks equilibrium through the stabilizing market forces unleashed by the invisible hand. The metaphor can be applied to virtually every sphere of economics: from micro markets for fish that are traded spot, to macro markets for something called labor, and on to complex financial markets in synthetic collateralized debt obligations—CDOs. Guided by invisible hands, supplies balance demands and markets clear. Armed with metaphors from physics, the economist has no problem at all extending the analysis across international borders to traded commodities, to what are euphemistically called capital flows, and on to currencies themselves. Certainly there is a price, somewhere, somehow, that will balance supply and demand. The orthodox economist is sure that if we just get the government out of the way, the market will do the dirty work. The heterodox economist? Well, she is less sure. The market might not work. It needs a bit of coaxing. Imbalances can persist. Market forces can be rather impotent. The visible hand of government can hasten the move toward balance.

    Orthodox economists as well as most heterodox economists see the Global Financial Crisis as a consequence of domestic and global imbalances. The most common story blames the US Federal Reserve for excessive monetary ease that spurred borrowing, and the US fiscal and trade imbalances for a surplus of liquidity sloshing around global financial markets. Looking to the specific problems in Euroland, the imbalances are attributed to profligate Mediterraneans. The solution is to restore global balance, which requires some combination of higher exchange rates for the Chinese, reduction of US trade deficits, and Teutonic fiscal discipline in the United States, the UK, and Japan, as well as on the periphery of Europe.

    This paper takes an alternative view, following the sectoral balances approach of Wynne Godley, combined with the modern money theory (MMT) approach derived from the work of Innes, Knapp, Keynes, Lerner, and Minsky. The problem is not one of financial imbalance, but rather one of an imbalance of power. There is too much power in the hands of the financial sector, money managers, the predator state, and Europe’s center. There is too much privatization and pursuit of the private purpose, and too little use of government to serve the public interest. In short, there is too much neoliberalism and too little democracy, transparency, and accountability of government.

  • Working Paper No. 703 | January 2012

    We use the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-being (LIMEW), the most comprehensive income measure available to date, to compare economic well-being in Canada and the United States in the first decade of the 21st century. This study represents the first international comparison based on LIMEW, which differs from the standard measure of gross money income (MI) in that it includes noncash government transfers, public consumption, income from wealth, and household production, and nets out all personal taxes.

    We find that, relative to the United States, median equivalent LIMEW was 11 percent lower in Canada in 2000. By 2005, this gap had narrowed to 7 percent, while the difference in median equivalent MI was only 3 percent. Inequality was notably lower in Canada, with a Gini coefficient of 0.285 for equivalent LIMEW in 2005, compared to a US coefficient of 0.376—a  gap that primarily reflects the greater importance of income from wealth in the States. However, the difference in Gini coefficients declined between 2000 and 2005. We also find that the elderly were better off relative to the nonelderly in the United States, but that high school graduates did better relative to college graduates in Canada.

  • Working Paper No. 702 | January 2012
    A Post-Keynesian Interpretation of the European Debt Crisis

    Conventional wisdom suggests that the European debt crisis, which has thus far led to severe adjustment programs crafted by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in both Greece and Ireland, was caused by fiscal profligacy on the part of peripheral, or noncore, countries in combination with a welfare state model, and that the role of the common currency—the euro—was at best minimal.This paper aims to show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the crisis in Europe is the result of an imbalance between core and noncore countries that is inherent in the euro economic model. Underpinned by a process of monetary unification and financial deregulation, core eurozone countries pursued export-led growth policies—or, more specifically, “beggar thy neighbor” policies—at the expense of mounting disequilibria and debt accumulation in the periphery. This imbalance became unsustainable, and this unsustainability was a causal factor in the global financial crisis of 2007–08. The paper also maintains that the eurozone could avoid cumulative imbalances by adopting John Maynard Keynes’s notion of the generalized banking principle (a fundamental principle of his clearing union proposal) as a central element of its monetary integration arrangement.

  • Working Paper No. 701 | December 2011

    Using data from the Bicol region of the Philippines, we examine why women are more educated than men in a rural, agricultural economy in which women are significantly less likely than men to participate in the labor market. We hypothesize that educational homogamy in the marriage market and cross-productivity effects in the household allow Filipino women to reap substantial benefits from schooling regardless of whether they enter the labor market. Our estimates reveal that the return to schooling for women is approximately 20 percent in both labor and marriage markets. In comparison, men experience a 12 percent return to schooling in the labor market. By using birth order, sibship size, percent of male siblings, and parental education as instruments, we correct for a significant downward bias that is caused by the endogeneity of schooling attainment.

    Associated Program:
    Sanjaya DeSilva Mohammed Mehrab Bin Bakhtiar
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  • Working Paper No. 700 | December 2011

    This paper takes off from Jan Kregel’s paper “Shylock and Hamlet, or Are There Bulls and Bears in the Circuit?” (1986), which aimed to remedy shortcomings in most expositions of the “circuit approach.” While some “circuitistes” have rejected John Maynard Keynes’s liquidity preference theory, Kregel argued that such rejection leaves the relation between money and capital asset prices, and thus investment theory, hanging. This paper extends Kregel’s analysis to an examination of the role that banks play in the circuit, and argues that banks should be modeled as active rather than passive players. This also requires an extension of the circuit theory of money, along the lines of the credit and state money approaches of modern Chartalists who follow A. Mitchell Innes. Further, we need to take Charles Goodhart’s argument about default seriously: agents in the circuit are heterogeneous credit risks. The paper concludes with links to the work of French circuitist Alain Parguez.

  • Working Paper No. 699 | December 2011

    Ricardian trade theory was based on the cost of labor at a time when grain and other consumer goods accounted for most subsistence spending. But today’s budgets are dominated by payments to the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector and to newly privatized monopolies. This has made FIRE the determining factor in trade competitiveness.

    The major elements in US family budgets are housing (with prices bid up on credit), debt service, and health insurance—and wage withholding for financializing Social Security and Medicare. Industrial firms also have been financialized, using debt leverage to increase their return on equity. The effect is for interest to increase as a proportion of cash flow (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA). Corporate raiders pay their high-interest bondholders, while financial managers also are using EBITDA for stock buybacks to increase share prices (and hence the value of their stock options).

    Shifting taxes off property and onto employment and retail sales spurs the financialization of family and business budgets as tax cuts on property are capitalized into higher bank loans. Payments to government agencies for taxes and presaving for Social Security and Medicare absorb another 30 percent of family budgets. These transfer payments to the FIRE sector and government agencies have transformed international cost structures, absorbing roughly 75 percent of US family budgets. This helps explain the deteriorating US industrial trade balance as the economy has become financialized.

  • Working Paper No. 698 | December 2011

    There have been a number of estimates of the total amount of funding provided by the Federal Reserve to bail out the financial system. For example, Bloomberg recently claimed that the cumulative commitment by the Fed (this includes asset purchases plus lending) was $7.77 trillion. As part of the Ford Foundation project “A Research and Policy Dialogue Project on Improving Governance of the Government Safety Net in Financial Crisis,” Nicola Matthews and James Felkerson have undertaken an examination of the data on the Fed’s bailout of the financial system—the most comprehensive investigation of the raw data to date. This working paper is the first in a series that will report the results of this investigation.

    The purpose of this paper is to provide a descriptive account of the Fed’s extraordinary response to the recent financial crisis. It begins with a brief summary of the methodology, then outlines the unconventional facilities and programs aimed at stabilizing the existing financial structure. The paper concludes with a summary of the scope and magnitude of the Fed’s crisis response. The bottom line: a Federal Reserve bailout commitment in excess of $29 trillion.

  • Working Paper No. 697 | November 2011
    A Dynamic Kaleckian Approach

    This paper studies the effects of an (exogenous) increase of nominal wages on profits, output, and growth. Inspired by an article by Michał Kalecki (1991), who concentrated on the effects on total profits, the paper develops a model that explicitly considers the dynamics of demand, prices, profits, and investment. The outcomes of the initial wage rise are found to be path dependent and crucially affected by the firms’ initial response to an increase in demand and a decrease in profit margins. The present model, which relates to other Post Keynesian/Kaleckian contributions, can offer an alternative to the mainstream approach to analyzing the effects of wage increases.

    Associated Program:
    Fabrizio Patriarca Claudio Sardoni
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  • Working Paper No. 696 | November 2011
    The US Business Cycle of 2003–10

    The US economic crisis and recession of 2007–09 accelerated the convergence of women’s and men’s employment rates as men experienced disproportionate job losses and women’s entry into the labor force gathered pace. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data for 2003–10, this study examines whether the narrowing gap in paid work over this period was mirrored in unpaid work, personal care, and leisure time. We find that the gender gap in unpaid work followed a U-pattern, narrowing during the recession but widening afterward. Through segregation analysis, we trace this U-pattern to the slow erosion of gender segregation in housework and, through a standard decomposition analysis of time use by employment status, show that this pattern was mainly driven by movement toward gender-equitable unpaid hours of women and men with the same employment status. In addition, gender inequality in leisure time increased over the business cycle.

    Associated Program:
    Günseli Berik Ebru Kongar
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  • Working Paper No. 695 | November 2011
    Explosion in the 1990s versus Implosion in the 2000s

    Orthodox and heterodox theories of financial crises are hereby compared from a theoretical viewpoint, with emphasis on their genesis. The former view (represented by the fourth-generation models of Paul Krugman) reflects the neoclassical vision whereby turbulence is an exception; the latter insight (represented by the theories of Hyman P. Minsky) validates and extends John Maynard Keynes’s vision, since it is related to a modern financial world. The result of this theoretical exercise is that Minsky’s vision represents a superior explanation of financial crises and current events in financial systems because it considers the causes of financial crises as endogenous to the system. Crucial facts in relevant financial crises are mentioned in section 1, as an introduction; the orthodox models of financial crises are described in section 2; the heterodox models of financial crises are outlined in section 3; the main similarities and differences between orthodox and heterodox models of financial crises are identified in section 4; and conclusions based on the information provided by the previous section are outlined in section 5. References are listed at the end of the paper.

  • Working Paper No. 694 | October 2011
    Some Remarks on the Current Stability Programs, 2011–14

    This paper evaluates whether the 2011 national stability programs (SPs) of the euro area countries are instrumental in achieving economic stability in the European Monetary Union (EMU). In particular, we analyze how the SPs address the double challenge of public deficits and external imbalances. Our analysis rests, first, on the accounting identities of the public, private, and foreign financial balances; and second, on the consideration of all SPs at once rather than separately. We find that conclusions are optimistic regarding GDP growth and fiscal consolidation, while current account rebalancing is neglected. The current SPs reach these conclusions by assuming strong global export markets, entrenched current account imbalances within the EMU as well as the deterioration of private financial balances in the current account deficit countries. By means of our simulations we conclude, on the one hand, that the failure of favorable global macroeconomic developments to materialize may lead to the opposite of the desired stability by exacerbating imbalances in the euro area. On the other hand, given symmetric efforts at rebalancing, the simulation suggests that for surplus countries that reduce their current account, a more expansionary fiscal policy will likely be required to maintain growth rates.

    Associated Program:
    Gregor Semieniuk Till van Treeck Achim Truger
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  • Working Paper No. 693 | October 2011
    Yet another rescue plan for the European Monetary Union (EMU) is making its way through central Europe, but no one is foolish enough to believe that it will be enough. Greece’s finance minister reportedly said that his nation cannot continue to service its debt, and hinted that a 50 percent write-down is likely. That would be just the beginning, however, as other highly indebted periphery nations will follow suit. All the major European banks will be hit—and so will the $3 trillion US market for money market mutual funds, which have about half their funds invested in European banks. Add in other US bank exposure to Europe and you are up to a potential $3 trillion hit to US finance. Another global financial crisis is looking increasingly likely.

    We first summarize the situation in Euroland. Our main argument will be that the problem is not due to profligate spending by some nations but rather the setup of the EMU itself. We then turn to US problems, assessing the probability of a return to financial crisis and recession. We conclude that difficult times lie ahead, with a high probability that another collapse will be triggered by events in Euroland or in the United States. We conclude with an assessment of possible ways out. It is not hard to formulate economically and technically simple policy solutions for both the United States and Euroland. The real barrier in each case is political—and, unfortunately, the situation is worsening quickly in Europe. It may be too late already.

  • Working Paper No. 692 | October 2011

    The quality of match of three statistical matches used in the LIMTIP estimates for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. The first match combines the 2005 Uso del Tiempo (UT 2005) with the 2006 Encuesto Annual de Hogares (EAH) for Argentina. The second match combines the 2007 Encuesta Experimental sobre Uso del Tiempo en el Gran Santiago (EUT 2007) with the 2006 Encuesta Caracteristización Socioeconómica Nacional (CASEN 2006) for Chile. The third match combines the 2008 Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH 2008) with the 2009 Encuesta Nacional sobre Uso del Tiempo (ENUT 2009) for Mexico. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. In each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Working Paper No. 691 | October 2011
    The Effects of Child Care and Elder Care on the Standard of Living

    Transforming care for children and the elderly from a private to a public domain engenders a series of benefits to the economy that improve our standard of living. We assess the positive impacts of social care from both receivers’ and providers’ points of view. The benefits to care receivers are various, ranging from private, higher returns to education to enhancing subjective well-being and health outcomes. The economy-wide spillovers of the benefits are noteworthy. Early childhood education reduces costs of law enforcement and generates higher long-term economic growth. Home-based health care lowers absenteeism and job losses that otherwise undermine labor productivity, providing adequate care at a lower cost and delaying admission into high-cost institutional care. Social care improves mothers’ labor-market attachment with higher lifetime income; it also lowers physical and psychological burdens of elder care that are becoming more prevalent with an aging population. Social care investment creates more job opportunities than other public spending, especially for workers from poor households and with low levels of educational attainment. The broad contributions of social care to our standard of living should be recognized in the public discourse, particularly in this era of fiscal austerity.

  • Working Paper No. 690 | October 2011

    Official poverty thresholds are based on the implicit assumption that the household with poverty-level income possesses sufficient time for household production to enable it to reproduce itself as a unit. Several authors have questioned the validity of the assumption and explored alternative methods to account for time deficits in the measurement of poverty. I critically review the alternative approaches within a unified framework to highlight the commonalities and relative merits of individual approaches. I also propose a two-dimensional, time-income poverty measure that accounts for intrahousehold disparities in the division of household labor and briefly discuss its uses in thinking about antipoverty policies.

  • Working Paper No. 689 | October 2011

    Immigration is having an increasingly important effect on the social insurance system in the United States. On the one hand, eligible legal immigrants have the right to eventually receive pension benefits but also rely on other aspects of the social insurance system such as health care, disability, unemployment insurance, and welfare programs, while most of their savings have direct positive effects on the domestic economy. On the other hand, most undocumented immigrants contribute to the system through taxed wages but are not eligible for these programs unless they attain legal status, and a large proportion of their savings translates into remittances that have no direct effects on the domestic economy. Moreover, a significant percentage of immigrants migrate back to their countries of origin after a relatively short period of time, and their savings while in the United States are predominantly in the form of remittances. Therefore, any analysis that tries to understand the impact of immigrant workers on the overall system has to take into account the decisions and events these individuals face throughout their lives, as well as the use of the government programs they are entitled to. We propose a life-cycle Overlapping Generations (OLG) model in a general equilibrium framework of legal and undocumented immigrants’ decisions regarding consumption, savings, labor supply, and program participation to analyze their role in the financial sustainability of the system. Our analysis of the effects of potential policy changes, such as giving some undocumented immigrants legal status, shows increases in capital stock, output, consumption, labor productivity, and overall welfare. The effects are relatively small in percentage terms but considerable given the size of our economy.

  • Working Paper No. 688 | September 2011
    Greece’s Debt Crisis in Context

    According to author and journalist C. J. Polychroniou, Greece was unfit to join the euro: its entry was orchestrated by fabricating the true state of the country’s fiscal condition, and its subsequent “growth performance” rested upon heavy state borrowing and European Union (EU) transfers. Moreover, the Greek economic crisis is also a political and moral crisis, as financial scandals and corruption have been major sources of wealth creation.

    The EU and International Monetary Fund bailout plan (May 2010), which includes a structural adjustment program with harsh austerity measures, has been a social and economic catastrophe. Such policy ensures that Greece will default and be forced to exit the euro, says Polychroniou, but compelling Greek citizens to take charge of their own economic problems and national faults may be the best scenario. Extreme EU neoliberal policies also increase the risk of the eurozone’s dissolution.

  • Working Paper No. 687 | September 2011
    A Study of Rice Farms in the Bicol Region, Philippines

    This paper presents an empirical investigation of the relationship between the spread, spatially and temporally, of market institutions and improvements in the productivity and efficiency of farmers. The data used in this study were collected over two decades in a sample of rice farms in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. Our estimates reveal a significant inverse relationship between distance from the market and farm productivity and efficiency in 1983. While there are substantial improvements in yields, unit costs, and efficiency in the two decades that followed, the gains are larger in the more remote and sparsely populated villages. This finding suggests that the relationship between remoteness and farm outcomes has weakened over time. We also find that the development of markets in the peripheral villages and the improved connectivity between the peripheral villages and market centers are facilitated by population growth, infrastructural investments (specifically, irrigation and roads), and the availability of agricultural extension programs.

  • Working Paper No. 686 | September 2011

    This paper provides estimates of the impact of the recent economic crisis on paid and unpaid work time in Turkey. The data used in this study come from the first and only time-use survey available at the national level. Infrequency of collection of time-use data in Turkey does not allow us to make a direct comparison of pre- versus postcrisis time-use patterns. We introduce a tractable way for estimating these possible effects by measuring the impact of an increase in unemployment risk on time-use patterns of women and men living in couple households. The method developed here can be applied to other developing-country cases where there is a lack of longitudinal data availability. Our findings support the argument that economic crises reinforce the preexisting gender inequalities in work time.

  • Working Paper No. 685 | September 2011

    The main purpose of this study is to explore the potential expansionary effect stemming from the monetization of debt. We develop a simple macroeconomic model with Keynesian features and four sectors: creditor households, debtor households, businesses, and the public sector. We show that such expansionary effect stems mainly from a reduction in the financial cost of servicing the public debt. The efficacy of the channel that allegedly operates through the compression of the risk/term premium on securities is found to be ambiguous. Finally, we show that a country that issues its own currency can avoid becoming stuck in a structural “liquidity trap,” provided its central bank is willing to monetize the debt created by a strong enough fiscal expansion.

  • Working Paper No. 684 | September 2011

    This paper reviews the key insights of Hyman P. Minsky in arguing why finance cannot be left to free markets, drawing on the East Asian development experience. The paper suggests that Minsky’s more complete stock-flow consistent analytical framework, by putting finance at the center of analysis of economic and financial system stability, is much more pragmatic and realistic compared to the prevailing neoclassical analysis. Drawing upon the East Asian experience, the paper finds that Minsky’s analysis has a system-wide slant and correctly identifies Big Government and investment as driving employment and profits, respectively. Specifically, his two-price system can aid policymakers in correcting the systemic vulnerability posed by asset bubbles. By concentrating on cash-flow analysis and funding behaviors, Minsky’s analysis provides the link between cash flows and changes in balance sheets, and therefore can help identify unsustainable Ponzi processes. Overall, his multidimensional analytical framework is found to be more relevant than ever in understanding the Asian crisis, the 2008 global financial crisis, and policymaking in the postcrisis world.

  • Working Paper No. 683 | September 2011

    Currency market intervention–cum–reserve accumulation has emerged as the favored “self-insurance” strategy in recipient countries of excessive private capital inflows. This paper argues that capital account management represents a less costly alternative line of defense deserving renewed consideration, especially in the absence of fundamental reform of the global monetary and financial order. Mainstream arguments in favor of financial globalization are found unconvincing; any indirect benefits allegedly obtainable through hot money inflows are equally obtainable without actually tolerating such inflows. The paper investigates the experiences of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs) in the global crisis and subsequent recovery, focusing on their respective policies regarding capital flows.

  • Working Paper No. 682 | August 2011
    Final Working Paper Version

    This paper adumbrates a theory of what might be going wrong in the monetary SVAR literature and provides supporting empirical evidence. The theory is that macroeconomists may be attempting to identify structural forms that do not exist, given the true distribution of the innovations in the reduced-form VAR. The paper shows that this problem occurs whenever (1) some innovation in the VAR has an infinite-variance distribution and (2) the matrix of coefficients on the contemporaneous terms in the VAR’s structural form is nonsingular. Since (2) is almost always required for SVAR analysis, it is germane to test hypothesis (1). Hence, in this paper, we fit α-stable distributions to VAR residuals and, using a parametric-bootstrap method, test the hypotheses that each of the error terms has finite variance.

  • Working Paper No. 681 | August 2011

    This paper begins by recounting the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis (GFC). The triggering event, of course, was the unfolding of the subprime crisis; however, the paper argues that the financial system was already so fragile that just about anything could have caused the collapse. It then moves on to an assessment of the lessons we should have learned. Briefly, these include: (a) the GFC was not a liquidity crisis, (b) underwriting matters, (c) unregulated and unsupervised financial institutions naturally evolve into control frauds, and (d) the worst part is the cover-up of the crimes. The paper argues that we cannot resolve the crisis until we begin going after the fraud, and concludes by outlining an agenda for reform, along the lines suggested by the work of Hyman P. Minsky.

  • Working Paper No. 680 | July 2011

    This report presents estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) for a representative sample of Canadian households in 1999 and 2005. The results indicate that there was only modest growth in the average Canadian household’s total command over economic resources in the six years between 1999 and 2005. Although inequality in economic well-being increased slightly over the 1999–2005 period, the LIMEW was more equally distributed across Canadian households than more common income measures (such as after-tax income) in both 1999 and 2005. The median household’s economic well-being was lower in Canada than in the United States in both years.

  • Working Paper No. 679 | July 2011

    We construct estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being for France for the years 1989 and 2000. We also estimate the standard measure of disposable cash income (DI) from the same data sources. We analyze overall trends in the level and distribution of household well-being using both measures for France as a whole and for subgroups of the French population. The average French household experienced a slower rate of growth in LIMEW than DI over the period. A substantial portion of the growth in well-being for the middle quintile was a result of increases in net government expenditures and income from wealth. We also found that the well-being of families headed by single females relative to married couples deteriorated much more, while the well-being of households headed by the elderly relative to households headed by the nonelderly improved much more than indicated by the standard measure of disposable income. The conventional measure indicates that a steep decline in economic inequality took place between 1989 and 2000, while our measure indicates no such change. We argue that these outcomes can be traced to the difference in the treatment of the role of wealth in shaping economic inequality. Our measure also indicates that, on balance, government expenditures and taxes did not have an inequality-reducing effect in France for both years. This is, again, contrary to conventional wisdom.

  • Working Paper No. 678 | July 2011
    Reevaluating the Role of Fiscal Policy

    Conventional wisdom contends that fiscal policy was of secondary importance to the economic recovery in the 1930s. The recovery is then connected to monetary policy that allowed non-sterilized gold inflows to increase the money supply. Often, this is shown by measuring the fiscal multipliers, and demonstrating that they were relatively small.

    This paper shows that problems with the conventional measures of fiscal multipliers in the 1930s may have created an incorrect consensus on the irrelevance of fiscal policy. The rehabilitation of fiscal policy is seen as a necessary step in the reinterpretation of the positive role of New Deal policies for the recovery.

    Associated Program:
    Nathan Perry Matías Vernengo
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 677 | July 2011
    A Nonmainstream Perspective

    The global financial crisis has now spread across multiple countries and sectors, affecting both financial and real spheres in the advanced as well as the developing economies. This has been caused by policies based on “rational expectation” models that advocate deregulated finance, with facilities for easy credit and derivatives, along with globalized exposures for financial institutions. The financial crisis has combined with long-term structural changes in the real economy that trend toward underconsumption, generating contractionary effects therein and contributing to further instabilities in the financial sector. The responses so far from US monetary authorities have not been effective, especially in dealing with issues of unemployment and low real growth in the United States, or in other countries. Nor have these been of much use in the context of the lost monetary and fiscal autonomy in both developing countries and the eurozone, especially with the debt-related distress in the latter. Solutions to the current maladies in the global economy include strict control of financial speculation and the institution of an “employer of last resort” policy, both at the initiative of the state.

  • Working Paper No. 676 | July 2011

    The quality of match for each of four statistical matches used in the LIMEW estimates for France for 1989 and 2000 is described. The first match combines the 1992 Enquête sur les Actifs Financiers with the 1989–90 Enquête Budget de Famille (BDF). The second match combines the 1998 General Social Survey (EDT) with the 1989–90 BDF. The third match combines the 2003–04 Enquête Patrimoine with the 2000–01 BDF. The fourth match combines the 1999 EDT with the 2000 BDF. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. In each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Working Paper No. 675 | July 2011

    This paper traces the rise of export-led growth as a development paradigm and argues that it is exhausted owing to changed conditions in emerging market (EM) and developed economies. The global economy needs a recalibration that facilitates a new paradigm of domestic demand-led growth. Globalization has so diversified global economic activity that no country or region can act as the lone locomotive of global growth. Political reasoning suggests that EM countries are not likely to abandon export-led growth, nor will the international community implement the international arrangements needed for successful domestic demand-led growth. Consequently, the global economy likely faces asymmetric stagnation.

  • Working Paper No. 674 | July 2011
    A Proposal in Terms of “Institutional Fragility”

    The relevancy of Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH) in the current (and still unfolding) crisis has been clearly acknowledged by both economists and regulators. While most papers focus on discussing to what extent the FIH or Minsky’s Big Bank/Big Government interpretation is appropriate to explain and sort out the crisis, some authors have also emphasized the need to consider the institutional foundations of Minsky’s work (Whalen 2007, Wray 2008, Dimsky 2010). The importance of institutions within the FIH was strongly emphasized by Minsky himself, who assigned them the function of constraining the development of financial fragility. Yet only limited literature has focused on the institutional aspects on Minsky’s FIH. The reason for this may be that they were mainly dealt with by Minsky in his latest papers, and they have remained, to some extent, incomplete, unclear, and even ambiguous. In our view, a synthesis of Minsky’s proposals, along with a clarification and theoretical justification, remains to be done. Our objective in this paper is to contribute to this theoretical project. It leads us to propose that the notion of “institutional fragility” can constitute a useful perspective to complement and justify the endogenous development of financial fragility within the FIH. Eventually, this view may contribute to the debate about international financial governance.

  • Working Paper No. 673 | June 2011

    We present strong empirical evidence favoring the role of effective demand in the US economy, in the spirit of Keynes and Kalecki. Our inference comes from a statistically well-specified VAR model constructed on a quarterly basis from 1980 to 2008. US output is our variable of interest, and it depends (in our specification) on (1) the wage share, (2) OECD GDP, (3) taxes on corporate income, (4) other budget revenues, (5) credit, and the (6) interest rate. The first variable was included in order to know whether the economy under study is wage led or profit led. The second represents demand from abroad. The third and fourth make up total government expenditure and our arguments regarding these are based on Kalecki’s analysis of fiscal policy. The last two variables are analyzed in the context of Keynes’s monetary economics. Our results indicate that expansionary monetary, fiscal, and income policies favor higher aggregate demand in the United States.

    Associated Program:
    Julio López-Gallardo Luis Reyes-Ortiz
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  • Working Paper No. 672 | May 2011
    A Ricardo-Keynes Synthesis

    The paper provides a novel theory of income distribution and achieves an integration of monetary and value theories along Ricardian lines, extended to a monetary production economy as understood by Keynes. In a monetary economy, capital is a fund that must be maintained. This idea is captured in the circuit of capital as first defined by Marx. We introduce the circuit of fixed capital; this circuit is closed when the present value of prospective returns from employing it is equal to its supply price. In a steady-growth equilibrium with nominal wages and interest rates given, the equation that closes the circuit of fixed capital can be solved for prices, implying a definitive income distribution. Accordingly, the imputation for fixed capital costs is equivalent to that of a money contract of equal length, which is the payment per period that will repay the cost of the fixed asset, together with interest. It follows that if capital assets remain in use for a period longer than is required to amortize them, their earnings beyond that period have an element of pure rent.

    Associated Program:
    Nazim Kadri Ekinci
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  • Working Paper No. 671 | May 2011
    Case Studies in South Africa and the United States

    This paper demonstrates the strong impacts that public job creation in social care provisioning has on employment creation. Furthermore, it shows that mobilizing underutilized domestic labor resources and targeting them to bridge gaps in community-based services yield strong pro-poor income growth patterns that extend throughout the economy. Social care provision also contributes to promoting gender equality, as women—especially from low-income households—constitute a major workforce in the care sector. We present the ex-ante policy simulation results from two country case studies: South Africa and the United States. Both social accounting matrix–based multiplier analysis and propensity ranking–based microsimulation provide evidence of the pro-poor impacts of the social care expansion.

  • Working Paper No. 670 | May 2011
    What Does It Say About the Opportunities for Growth and Structural Transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa?

    In this paper we look at the economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in the context of structural transformation. We use Hidalgo et al.’s (2007) concept of product space to show the evolution of the region’s productive structure, and discuss the opportunities for growth and diversification. The majority of SSA countries are trapped in the export of unsophisticated, highly standard products that are poorly connected in the product space; this makes the process of structural transformation of the region particularly difficult. The products that are nearby to those they already export have the same characteristics. Therefore, shifting to these products will do little to improve SSA’s growth prospects. To jump-start and sustain growth, governments must implement policies and provide public inputs that will encourage the private sector to invest in new and more sophisticated activities.

  • Working Paper No. 669 | May 2011
    A Mesoanalysis

    Economists’ principal explanations of the subprime crisis differ from those developed by noneconomists in that the latter see it as rooted in the US legacy of racial/ethnic inequality, and especially in racial residential segregation, whereas the former ignore race. This paper traces this disjuncture to two sources. What is missing in the social science view is any attention to the market mechanisms involved in subprime lending; and economists, on their side, have drawn too tight a boundary for “the economic,” focusing on market mechanisms per se,to the exclusion of the households and community whose resources and outcomes these mechanisms affect. Economists’ extensive empirical studies of racial redlining and discrimination in credit markets have, ironically, had the effect of making race analytically invisible. Because of these explanatory lacunae, two defining aspects of the subprime crisis have not been well explained. First, why were borrowers that had previously been excluded from equal access to mortgage credit instead super included in subprime lending? Second, why didn’t the flood of mortgage brokers that accompanied the 2000s housing boom reduce the proportion of minority borrowers who were burdened with costly and ultimately unpayable mortgages? This paper develops a mesoanalysis to answer the first of these questions. This analysis traces the coevolution of banking strategies and client communities, shaped by and reinforcing patterns of racial/ethnic inequality. The second question is answered by showing how unequal power relations impacted patterns of subprime lending. Consequences for gender inequality in credit markets are also briefly discussed.

    Associated Program:
    Gary A. Dymski Jesus Hernandez Lisa Mohanty
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  • Working Paper No. 668 | May 2011
    Functional Finance and Full Employment

    Forty-five years ago, the A. Philip Randolph Institute issued “The Freedom Budget,” in which a program for economic transformation was proposed that included a job guarantee for everyone ready and willing to work, a guaranteed income for those unable to work or those who should not be working, and a living wage to lift the working poor out of poverty. Such policies were supported by a host of scholars, civic leaders, and institutions, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; indeed, they provided the cornerstones for King’s “Poor Peoples’ Campaign” and “economic bill of rights.”

    This paper proposes a “New Freedom Budget” for full employment based on the principles of functional finance. To counter a major obstacle to such a policy program, the paper includes a “primer” on three paradigms for understanding government budget deficits and the national debt: the deficit hawk, deficit dove, and functional finance perspectives. Finally, some of the benefits of the job guarantee are outlined, including the ways in which the program may serve as a vehicle for a variety of social policies.

  • Working Paper No. 667 | April 2011

    We construct estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being for Great Britain for the years 1995 and 2005. We also produce estimates of the official British measures HBAI (from the Department for Work and Pensions annual report titled “Households below Average Income”) and ROI (from the Office of National Statistics Redistribution of Income analysis). We analyze overall trends in the level and distribution of household well-being using all three measures for Great Britain as a whole and for subgroups of the British population. Gains in household economic well-being between 1995 and 2005 vary by the measure used, from 23 percent (HBAI) to 32 percent (LIMEW) and 35 percent (ROI). LIMEW shows that much of the middle class’s gain in well-being was as a result of increases in government expenditures. LIMEW also marks a greater increase in economic well-being among elderly households due to the increase in their net worth. The redistributive effect of net government expenditures decreased notably between 1995 and 2005 according to the official measures, primarily due to the change in the distributive impact of government expenditures.

  • Working Paper No. 666 | April 2011
    The Dollar versus the Euro in a Cartalist Perspective

    This paper suggests that the dollar is not threatened as the hegemonic international currency, and that most analysts are incapable of understanding the resilience of the dollar, not only because they ignore the theories of monetary hegemonic stability or what, more recently, has been termed the geography of money; but also as a result of an incomplete understanding of what a monetary hegemon does. The hegemon is not required to maintain credible macroeconomic policies (i.e., fiscally contractionary policies to maintain the value of the currency), but rather to provide an asset free of the risk of default. It is argued that the current crisis in Europe illustrates why the euro is not a real contender for hegemony in the near future.

    Associated Program:
    David Fields Matías Vernengo
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  • Working Paper No. 665 | April 2011
    Don’t Forget Finance

    Given the economy’s complex behavior and sudden transitions as evidenced in the 2007–08 crisis, agent-based models are widely considered a promising alternative to current macroeconomic practice dominated by DSGE models. Their failure is commonly interpreted as a failure to incorporate heterogeneous interacting agents. This paper explains that complex behavior and sudden transitions also arise from the economy’s financial structure as reflected in its balance sheets, not just from heterogeneous interacting agents. It introduces “flow-of-funds” and “accounting” models, which were preeminent in successful anticipations of the recent crisis. In illustration, a simple balance-sheet model of the economy is developed to demonstrate that nonlinear behavior and sudden transition may arise from the economy’s balance-sheet structure, even without any microfoundations. The paper concludes by discussing one recent example of combining flow-of-funds and agent-based models. This appears a promising avenue for future research.

  • Working Paper No. 664 | March 2011

    The creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has not brought significant gains to the Portuguese economy in terms of real convergence with wealthier eurozone countries. We analyze the causes of the underperformance of the Portuguese economy in the last decade, discuss its growth prospects within the EMU, and make two proposals for urgent institutional reform of the EMU. We argue that, under the prevailing institutional framework, Portugal faces a long period of stagnation, high unemployment, and painful structural reform, and conclude that, in the absence of institutional reform of the EMU, getting out of the eurozone represents a serious political option for Portugal.

    Associated Program(s):
    Pedro Leao Alfonso Palacio-Vera
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  • Working Paper No. 663 | March 2011

    The quality of match of four statistical matches used in the LIMEW estimates for Great Britain for 1995 and 2005 is described. The first match combines the fifth (1995) wave of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) with the 1995–96 Family Resources Survey (FRS). The second match combines the 1995 time-use module of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys Omnibus Survey with the 1995–96 FRS. The third match combines the 15th wave (2005) of the BHPS with the 2005 FRS. The fourth match combines the 2000 United Kingdom Time Use Survey with the 2005 FRS. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. In each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Working Paper No. 662 | March 2011

    This paper examines the causes and consequences of the current global financial crisis. It largely relies on the work of Hyman Minsky, although analyses by John Kenneth Galbraith and Thorstein Veblen of the causes of the 1930s collapse are used to show similarities between the two crises. K.W. Kapp’s “social costs” theory is contrasted with the recently dominant “efficient markets” hypothesis to provide the context for analyzing the functioning of financial institutions. The paper argues that, rather than operating “efficiently,” the financial sector has been imposing huge costs on the economy—costs that no one can deny in the aftermath of the economy’s collapse. While orthodox approaches lead to the conclusion that money and finance should not matter much, the alternative tradition—from Veblen and Keynes to Galbraith and Minsky—provides the basis for developing an approach that puts money and finance front and center. Including the theory of social costs also generates policy recommendations more appropriate to an economy in which finance matters.

  • Working Paper No. 661 | March 2011

    The world’s worst economic crisis since the 1930s is now well into its third year. All sorts of explanations have been proffered for the causes of the crisis, from lax regulation and oversight to excessive global liquidity. Unfortunately, these narratives do not take into account the systemic nature of the global crisis. This is why so many observers are misled into pronouncing that recovery is on the way—or even under way already. I believe they are incorrect. We are, perhaps, in round three of a nine-round bout. It is still conceivable that Minsky’s “it”—a full-fledged debt deflation with failure of most of the largest financial institutions—could happen again.

    Indeed, Minsky’s work has enjoyed unprecedented interest, with many calling this a “Minsky moment” or “Minsky crisis.” However, most of those who channel Minsky locate the beginnings of the crisis in the 2000s. I argue that we should not view this as a “moment” that can be traced to recent developments. Rather, as Minsky argued for nearly 50 years, we have seen a slow realignment of the global financial system toward “money manager capitalism.” Minsky’s analysis correctly links postwar developments with the prewar “finance capitalism” analyzed by Rudolf Hilferding, Thorstein Veblen, and John Maynard Keynes—and later by John Kenneth Galbraith. In an important sense, over the past quarter century we created conditions similar to those that existed in the run-up to the Great Depression, with a similar outcome. Getting out of this mess will require radical policy changes no less significant than those adopted in the New Deal.

  • Working Paper No. 660 | March 2011

    This paper provides a brief exposition of financial markets in Post Keynesian economics. Inspired by John Maynard Keynes’s path-breaking insights into the role of liquidity and finance in “monetary production economies,” Post Keynesian economics offers a refreshing alternative to mainstream (mis)conceptions in this area. We highlight the importance of liquidity—as provided by the financial system—to the proper functioning of real world economies under fundamental uncertainty, contrasting starkly with the fictitious modeling world of neo-Walrasian exchange economies. The mainstream vision of well-behaved financial markets, channeling saving flows from savers to investors while anchored by fundamentals, complements a notion of money as an arbitrary numéraire and mere convenience, facilitating exchange but otherwise “neutral.” From a Post Keynesian perspective, money and finance are nonneutral but condition and shape real economic performance. It takes public policy to anchor asset prices and secure financial stability, with the central bank as the key public policy tool.


  • Working Paper No. 659 | March 2011

    Stability is destabilizing. These three words concisely capture the insight that underlies Hyman Minsky’s analysis of the economy’s transformation over the entire postwar period. The basic thesis is that the dynamic forces of a capitalist economy are explosive and must be contained by institutional ceilings and floors. However, to the extent that these constraints achieve some semblance of stability, they will change behavior in such a way that the ceiling will be breached in an unsustainable speculative boom. If the inevitable crash is “cushioned” by the institutional floors, the risky behavior that caused the boom will be rewarded. Another boom will build, and the crash that follows will again test the safety net. Over time, the crises become increasingly frequent and severe, until finally “it” (a great depression with a debt deflation) becomes possible.

    Policy must adapt as the economy is transformed. The problem with the stabilizing institutions that were put in place in the early postwar period is that they no longer served the economy well by the 1980s. Further, they had been purposely degraded and even in some cases dismantled, often in the erroneous belief that “free” markets are self-regulating. Hence, the economy evolved over the postwar period in a manner that made it much more fragile. Minsky continually formulated and advocated policy to deal with these new developments. Unfortunately, his warnings were largely ignored by the profession and by policymakers—until it was too late.

  • Working Paper No. 658 | March 2011
    Rethinking Money as a Public Monopoly

    In this paper I first provide an overview of alternative approaches to money, contrasting the orthodox approach, in which money is neutral, at least in the long run; and the Marx-Veblen-Keynes approach, or the monetary theory of production. I then focus in more detail on two main categories: the orthodox approach that views money as an efficiency-enhancing innovation of markets, and the Chartalist approach that defines money as a creature of the state. As the state’s “creature,” money should be seen as a public monopoly. I then move on to the implications of viewing money as a public monopoly and link that view back to Keynes, arguing that extending Keynes along these lines would bring his theory up to date.

  • Working Paper No. 657 | March 2011

    For the past generation Norway has supplied Europe and other regions with oil, taking payment in euros or dollars. It then sends nearly all this foreign exchange abroad, sequestering its oil-export receipts—which are in foreign currency—in the “oil fund,” to invest mainly in European and US stocks and bonds. The fund now exceeds $500 billion, second in the world to that of Abu Dhabi.

    It is claimed that treating these savings as a mutual fund invested in a wide array of US, European, and other stocks and bonds (and now real estate) avoids domestic inflation that would result from spending more than 4 percent of the returns to this fund at home. But the experience of sovereign wealth funds in China, Singapore, and other countries has been that investing in domestic infrastructure serves to lower the cost of living and doing business, making the domestic economy more competitive, not less.

    This paper cites the debate that extends from US 19th-century institutional doctrine to the approach of long-time Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Yevgeny Primakov to illustrate the logic behind spending central bank and other sovereign foreign-exchange returns on modernizing and upgrading the domestic economy rather than simply recycling the earnings to US and European financial markets in what looks like an increasingly risky economic environment, as these economies confront debt deflation and increasing fiscal tightness.

  • Working Paper No. 656 | March 2011

    This paper begins by defining, and distinguishing between, money and finance, and addresses alternative ways of financing spending. We next examine the role played by financial institutions (e.g., banks) in the provision of finance. The role of government as both regulator of private institutions and provider of finance is also discussed, and related topics such as liquidity and saving are explored. We conclude with a look at some of the new innovations in finance, and at the global financial crisis, which could be blamed on excessive financialization of the economy.

  • Working Paper No. 655 | March 2011

    In the aftermath of the global financial collapse that began in 2007, governments around the world have responded with reform. The outlines of Basel III have been announced, although some have already dismissed its reform agenda as being too little (and too late!). Like the proposed reforms in the United States, it is argued, Basel III would not have prevented the financial crisis even if it had been in place. The problem is that the architects of reform are working around the edges, taking current bank activities as somehow appropriate and trying to eliminate only the worst excesses of the 2000s.

    Hyman Minsky would not be impressed.

    Before we can reform the financial system, we need to understand what the financial system does—or, better, what it should do. To put it as simply as possible, Minsky always insisted that the proper role of the financial system is to promote the “capital development” of the economy. By this he did not simply mean that banks should finance investment in physical capital. Rather, he was concerned with creating a financial structure that would be conducive to economic development to improve living standards, broadly defined.

    In this paper, we first examine Minsky’s general proposals for reform of the economy—how to restore stable growth that promotes job creation and rising living standards. We then turn to his proposals for financial reform. We will focus on his writing in the early 1990s, when he was engaged in a project at the Levy Economics Institute on reconstituting the financial system (Minsky 1992a, 1992b, 1993, 1996). As part of that project, he offered his insights on the fundamental functions of a financial system. These thoughts lead quite naturally to a critique of the financial practices that precipitated the global financial crisis, and offer a path toward thorough-going reform.

  • Working Paper No. 654 | March 2011
    Financial Fragility Indexes

    With the Great Recession and the regulatory reform that followed, the search for reliable means to capture systemic risk and to detect macrofinancial problems has become a central concern. In the United States, this concern has been institutionalized through the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which has been put in charge of detecting threats to the financial stability of the nation. Based on Hyman Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis, the paper develops macroeconomic indexes for three major economic sectors. The index provides a means to detect the speed with which financial fragility accrues, and its duration; and serves as a complement to the microprudential policies of regulators and supervisors. The paper notably shows, notably, that periods of economic stability during which default rates are low, profitability is high, and net worth is accumulating are fertile grounds for the growth of financial fragility.

  • Working Paper No. 653 | March 2011

    In this paper I will follow Hyman Minsky in arguing that the postwar period has seen a slow transformation of the economy from a structure that could be characterized as “robust” to one that is “fragile.” While many economists and policymakers have argued that “no one saw it coming,” Minsky and his followers certainly did! While some of the details might have surprised Minsky, certainly the general contours of this crisis were foreseen by him a half century ago. I will focus on two main points: first, the past four decades have seen the return of “finance capitalism”; and second, the collapse that began two years ago is a classic “Fisher-Minsky” debt deflation. The appropriate way to analyze this transformation and collapse is from the perspective of what Minsky called “financial Keynesianism”—a label he preferred over Post Keynesian because it emphasized the financial nature of the capitalist economy he analyzed.

  • Working Paper No. 652 | March 2011

    The Queen of England famously asked her economic advisers why none of them had seen “it” (the global financial crisis) coming. Obviously, the answer is complex, but it must include reference to the evolution of macroeconomic theory over the postwar period—from the “Age of Keynes,” through the Friedmanian era and the return of Neoclassical economics in a particularly extreme form, and, finally, on to the New Monetary Consensus, with a new version of fine-tuning. The story cannot leave out the parallel developments in finance theory—with its efficient markets hypothesis—and in approaches to regulation and supervision of financial institutions.

    This paper critically examines these developments and returns to the earlier Keynesian tradition to see what was left out of postwar macro. For example, the synthesis version of Keynes never incorporated true uncertainty or “unknowledge,” and thus deviated substantially from Keynes’s treatment of expectations in chapters 12 and 17 of the General Theory. It essentially reduced Keynes to sticky wages and prices, with nonneutral money only in the case of fooling. The stagflation of the 1970s ended the great debate between “Keynesians” and “Monetarists” in favor of Milton Friedman’s rules, and set the stage for the rise of a succession of increasingly silly theories rooted in pre-Keynesian thought. As Lord Robert Skidelsky (Keynes’s biographer) argues, “Rarely in history can such powerful minds have devoted themselves to such strange ideas.” By returning to Keynes, this paper attempts to provide a new direction forward.

  • Working Paper No. 651 | February 2011
    The Competitiveness Debate Again

    Current discussions about the need to reduce unit labor costs (especially through a significant reduction in nominal wages) in some countries of the eurozone (in particular, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) to exit the crisis may not be a panacea. First, historically, there is no relationship between the growth of unit labor costs and the growth of output. This is a well-established empirical result, known in the literature as Kaldor’s paradox. Second, construction of unit labor costs using aggregate data (standard practice) is potentially misleading. Unit labor costs calculated with aggregate data are not just a weighted average of the firms’ unit labor costs. Third, aggregate unit labor costs reflect the distribution of income between wages and profits. This has implications for aggregate demand that have been neglected. Of the 12 countries studied, the labor share increased in one (Greece), declined in nine, and remained constant in two. We speculate that this is the result of the nontradable sectors gaining share in the overall economy. Also, we construct a measure of competitiveness called unit capital costs as the ratio of the nominal profit rate to capital productivity. This has increased in all 12 countries. We conclude that a large reduction in nominal wages will not solve the problem that some countries of the eurozone face. If this is done, firms should also acknowledge that unit capital costs have increased significantly and thus also share the adjustment cost. Barring solutions such as an exit from the euro, the solution is to allow fiscal policy to play a larger role in the eurozone, and to make efforts to upgrade the export basket to improve competitiveness with more advanced countries. This is a long-term solution that will not be painless, but one that does not require a reduction in nominal wages.

  • Working Paper No. 650 | January 2011

    This paper argues for a fundamental reorientation of fiscal policy, from the current aggregate demand management model to a model that explicitly and directly targets the unemployed. Even though aggregate demand management has several important benefits in stabilizing an unstable economy, it also has a number of serious drawbacks that merit its reconsideration. The paper identifies the shortcomings that can be observed during both recessions and economic recoveries, and builds the case for a targeted demand-management approach that can deliver economic stabilization through full employment and better income distribution. This approach is consistent with Keynes’s original policy recommendations, largely neglected or forgotten by economists across the theoretical spectrum, and offers a reinterpretation of his proposal for the modern context that draws on the work of Hyman Minsky.

  • Working Paper No. 649 | January 2011

    This paper reconsiders fiscal policy effectiveness in light of the recent economic crisis. It examines the fiscal policy approach advocated by the economics profession today and the specific policy actions undertaken by the Bush and Obama administrations. An examination of the labor market renders the contemporary aggregate demand–management approach wholly inadequate for achieving certain macroeconomic objectives, such as the stabilization of investment and investor expectations, the generation and maintenance of full employment, and the equitable distribution of incomes. The paper reconsiders the policy effectiveness of alternative fiscal policy approaches, and argues that a policy that directly targets the labor demand gap (as opposed to the output gap) is far more effective in stabilizing employment, incomes, investment, and balance sheets.

  • Working Paper No. 648 | January