Publications

Working Papers

  • 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
    Theories

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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. 
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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías Vernengo
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  • 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.

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    Author(s):
    Günseli Berik Ebru Kongar
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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    Nathan Perry Matías Vernengo
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  • 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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    Author(s):
    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.

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    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.

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    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 2011

    This paper discusses support for, and opposition to, racial classification of European immigrants among high-level researchers at both the United States Immigration Commission of 1907–11 (the Dillingham Commission) and the Census Bureau during those same years. A critical distinction must be made between the Commission members—political appointees who mostly supported some form of restriction at the time of their appointment—and the top research staff, whose views were remarkably wide ranging. Moreover, even staff members committed to a racialized outlook—such as Daniel Folkmar, author of the Commission’s infamous Dictionary of Races and Peoples—deserve a closer look than historians have given them; for example, Folkmar and his superior on the staff had requested commentary from Franz Boas, who was then emerging as the most prestigious academic critic of racial theories (theories that assume group differences in behavior arise from biological endowments). Another feature of the narrative concerns the surprising number of staff who transferred from the Commission to the Census Bureau to work on the 1910 Census. Debates continued at the Bureau as well, this time over how to present the results of the new “mother tongue” question, which had been introduced to the Census questionnaire in response to pressure for a European “race” question. Indeed, Folkmar was also the chief author of the Census Bureau report on the mother-tongue data.

  • Working Paper No. 647 | December 2010

    This paper advances three fundamental propositions regarding money:

    (1) As R. W. Clower (1965) famously put it, money buys goods and goods buy money, but goods do not buy goods.

    (2) Money is always debt; it cannot be a commodity from the first proposition because, if it were, that would mean that a particular good is buying goods.

    (3) Default on debt is possible.

    These three propositions are used to build a theory of money that is linked to common themes in the heterodox literature on money. The approach taken here is integrated with Hyman Minsky’s (1986) work (which relies heavily on the work of his dissertation adviser, Joseph Schumpeter [1934]); the endogenous money approach of Basil Moore; the French-Italian circuit approach; Paul Davidson’s (1978) interpretation of John Maynard Keynes, which relies on uncertainty; Wynne Godley’s approach, which relies on accounting identities; the “K” distribution theory of Keynes, Michal Kalecki, Nicholas Kaldor, and Kenneth Boulding; the sociological approach of Ingham; and the chartalist, or state money, approach (A. M. Innes, G. F. Knapp, and Charles Goodhart). Hence, this paper takes a somewhat different route to develop the more typical heterodox conclusions about money.

     

  • Working Paper No. 646 | December 2010
    Blending Across Four Generations of German-Americans

    New data from the IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) project permit an exploration of the demographic basis for ethnic survival across successive generations. I first explore the degree of ethnic blending among the grandchildren of early- to mid-19th-century German immigrants; second, these descendants’ own marital choices; and third, the likely composition of the fourth generation to which they would give birth. Fundamental questions include: How high is the rate of single versus mixed origins after so many generations in America? How large an absolute number of single-origin individuals remain (given the combined impact of out-marriage, on the one hand, and cumulative fertility, on the other)? How much less likely are single-origin individuals of the third generation to in-marry relative to those in the second generation? And how do all these patterns differ across 31,000 local geographic areas? I exploit the full-count 1880 Census dataset and the Linked Representative Sample, which captures males in 1880 as well as in one of the 1900–30 enumerations. Limiting attention to those who were adolescents in 1880, we have three generations’ worth of ethnic information on each sample member traced across time (birthplace as well as parents’ and grandparents’ birthplaces, from their parents’ responses) and ethnic information covering two generations for the women they eventually married.

  • Working Paper No. 645 | December 2010

    Beyond its original mission to “furnish an elastic currency” as lender of last resort and manager of the payments system, the Federal Reserve has always been responsible (along with the Treasury) for regulating and supervising member banks. After World War II, Congress directed the Fed to pursue a dual mandate, long interpreted to mean full employment with reasonable price stability. The Fed has been left to decide how to achieve these objectives, and it has over time come to view price stability as the more important of the two. In our view, the Fed’s focus on inflation fighting diverted its attention from its responsibility to regulate and supervise the financial sector, and its mandate to keep unemployment low. Its shift of priorities contributed to creation of the conditions that led to this crisis. Now in its third phase of responding to the crisis and the accompanying deep recession—so-called “quantitative easing 2,” or “QE2”—the Fed is currently in the process of purchasing $600 billion in Treasuries. Like its predecessor, QE1, QE2 is unlikely to seriously impact either of the Fed’s dual objectives, however, for the following reasons: (1) additional bank reserves do not enable greater bank lending; (2) the interest rate effects are likely to be small at best given the Fed’s tactical approach to QE2, while the private sector is attempting to deleverage at any rate, not borrow more; (3) purchases of Treasuries are simply an asset swap that reduce the maturity and liquidity of private sector assets but do not raise incomes of the private sector; and (4) given the reduced maturity of private sector Treasury portfolios, reduced net interest income could actually be mildly deflationary.

    The most fundamental shortcoming of QE—or, in fact, of using monetary policy in general to combat the recession—is that it only “works” if it somehow induces the private sector to spend more out of current income. A much more direct approach, particularly given much-needed deleveraging by the private sector, is to target growth in after tax incomes and job creation through appropriate and sufficiently large fiscal actions. Unfortunately, stimulus efforts to date have not met these criteria, and so have mostly kept the recession from being far worse rather than enabling a significant economic recovery. Finally, while there is identical risk to the federal government whether a bailout, a loan, or an asset purchase is undertaken by the Fed or the Treasury, there have been enormous, fundamental differences in democratic accountability for the two institutions when such actions have been taken since the crisis began. Public debates surrounding the wisdom of bailouts for the auto industry, or even continuing to provide benefits to the unemployed, never took place when it came to the Fed committing trillions of dollars to the financial system—even though, again, the federal government is “on the hook” in every instance.

  • Working Paper No. 644 | December 2010
    It’s the Economic Structure . . . Duh!

    Becoming a rich country requires the ability to produce and export commodities that embody certain characteristics. We classify 779 exported commodities according to two dimensions: (1) sophistication (measured by the income content of the products exported); and (2) connectivity to other products (a well-connected export basket is one that allows an easy jump to other potential exports). We identify 352 “good” products and 427 “bad” products. Based on this, we categorize 154 countries into four groups according to these two characteristics. There are 34 countries whose export basket contains a significant share of good products. We find 28 countries in a “middle product” trap. These are countries whose export baskets contain a significant share of products that are in the middle of the sophistication and connectivity spectra. We also find 17 countries that are in a “middle-low” product trap, and 75 countries that are in a difficult and precarious “low product” trap. These are countries whose export baskets contain a significant share of unsophisticated products that are poorly connected to other products. To escape this situation, these countries need to implement policies that would help them accumulate the capabilities needed to manufacture and export more sophisticated and better connected products.

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    Jesus Felipe Utsav Kumar Arnelyn Abdon
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  • Working Paper No. 643 | December 2010
    Some Caveats

    Since the early 1990s, the number of papers estimating econometric models and using other quantitative techniques to try to understand different aspects of the Chinese economy has mushroomed. A common feature of some of these studies is the use of neoclassical theory as the underpinning for the empirical implementations. It is often assumed that factor markets are competitive, that firms are profit maximizers, and that these firms respond to the same incentives that firms in market economies do. Many researchers find that the Chinese economy can be well explained using the tools of neoclassical theory. In this paper, we (1) review two examples of estimation of the rate of technical progress, and (2) discuss one attempt at modeling investment. We identify their shortcomings and the problems with the alleged policy implications derived. We show that econometric estimation of neoclassical models may result in apparently sensible results for misinformed reasons. We conclude that modeling the Chinese economy requires a deeper understanding of its inner workings as both a transitional and a developing economy.

     

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    Jesus Felipe John McCombie
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  • Working Paper No. 642 | December 2010

    China occupies a unique position among developing countries. Its success in achieving relative stability in the financial sector since the institution of reforms in 1979 has given way to relative instability since the beginning of the current global financial crisis. Over the last few years, China has been on a path of capital account opening that has drawn larger inflows of capital from abroad, both foreign-direct and portfolio investment. Of late, a surge in these inflows has introduced problems for the monetary authorities in continuing with an autonomous monetary policy in China, especially with large additions to official reserves, the latter in a bid to avoid further appreciation of the country’s domestic currency. Like other developing countries, China today faces the “impossible trilemma” of managing the exchange rate with near-complete capital mobility and an autonomous monetary policy. Facing problems in devising and sustaining this policy, China has been using expansionary fiscal policy to tackle the impact of shrinking export demand. The recent drive on the part of Chinese authorities to boost real demand in the countryside and to revamp the domestic market shows a promise far different from that of the financial rescue packages in many advanced nations.

    The close integration of China with the world economy over the last two decades has raised concerns from different quarters that relate both to (1) the possible effects of the recent global downturn on China and (2) the second-round effects of a downturn in China for the rest of world.

     

  • Working Paper No. 641 | December 2010
    Is the Curse More Difficult to Dispel in Oil States than in Mineral States?

    The hypothesis of the natural resource curse has captivated the economics profession, and since the mid-1990s has generated a large body of policymaking initiatives aimed at dispelling the curse. In this paper, we evaluate how the effect of resource abundance on economic growth has changed since these policies were first introduced by comparing the periods 1970–89 and 1996–2008. We disaggregate resources into oil, gas, coal, and nonfuel mineral resources, and find that disaggregation unmasks diverse effects of resources on concurrent economic and institutional outcomes, as well as on the ability of countries to transform their economic and institutional infrastructure. We consider resource dependence and institutional quality as two channels linking resource abundance to economic growth in the context of an instrumental variables (IV) model. In addition to exploring these channels, the IV framework enables us to test for the endogeneity of the measures of resource dependence and institutional quality in the growth regressions, paying particular attention to the weakness of the instruments.

     

  • Working Paper No. 640 | December 2010
    Remedies for High Unemployment and Fears of Fiscal Crisis

    In recent years, the US public debt has grown rapidly, with last fiscal year’s deficit reaching nearly $1.3 trillion. Meanwhile, many of the euro nations with large amounts of public debt have come close to bankruptcy and loss of capital market access. The same may soon be true of many US states and localities, with the governor of California, for example, publicly regretting that he has been forced to cut bone, and not just fat, from the state’s budget. Chartalist economists have long attributed the seemingly limitless borrowing ability of the US government to a particular kind of monetary system, one in which money is a “creature of the state” and the government can create as much currency and bank reserves as it needs to pay its bills (this is not to say that it lacks the power to impose taxes). In this paper, we examine this situation in light of recent discussions of possible limits to the federal government’s use of debt and the Federal Reserve’s “printing press.” We examine and compare the fiscal situations in the United States and the eurozone, and suggest that the US system works well, but that some changes must be made to macro policy if the United States and the world as a whole are to avoid another deep recession.

     

  • Working Paper No. 639 | November 2010

    The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing is presented as injecting $600 billion into “the economy.” But instead of getting banks lending to Americans again—households and firms—the money is going abroad, through arbitrage interest-rate speculation, currency speculation, and capital flight. No wonder foreign economies are protesting, as their currencies are being pushed up.

  • Working Paper No. 638 | November 2010

    An extensive literature argues that India’s manufacturing sector has underperformed, and that the country has failed to industrialize; in particular, it has failed to take advantage of its labor-abundant comparative advantage. India’s manufacturing sector is smaller as a share of GDP than that of East Asian countries, even after controlling for GDP per capita. Hence, its contribution to overall GDP growth is modest. Without greater participation of the secondary sector, the argument goes, the country will not be able to develop and become a modern economy. Standard arguments blame the “license-permit raj,” the small-scale industrial policy, and the supposedly stringent laws. All these were part of the industrial policy regime instituted after independence, which favored the heavy-machinery subsector. We show that this policy bias negatively affected the development of India’s labor-intensive sector, as the country should export with comparative advantage a larger number of these products, given its income per capita. However, India’s manufacturing sector is relatively well diversified and sophisticated, given also the country’s income per capita. In particular, India’s inroads into machinery, metals, chemicals, and other capital- and skilled labor–intensive products has allowed the country to accumulate a large number of capabilities. This positions India well to expand its exports of other sophisticated products.

  • Working Paper No. 637 | November 2010
    Some Postrecession Regulatory Implications

    Over the past 40 years, regulatory reforms have been undertaken on the assumption that markets are efficient and self-corrective, crises are random events that are unpreventable, the purpose of an economic system is to grow, and economic growth necessarily improves well-being. This narrow framework of discussion has important implications for what is expected from financial regulation, and for its implementation. Indeed, the goal becomes developing a regulatory structure that minimizes the impact on economic growth while also providing high-enough buffers against shocks. In addition, given the overarching importance of economic growth, economic variables like profits, net worth, and low default rates have been core indicators of the financial health of banking institutions.

    This paper argues that the framework within which financial reforms have been discussed is not appropriate to promoting financial stability. Improving capital and liquidity buffers will not advance economic stability, and measures of profitability and delinquency are of limited use to detect problems early. The paper lays out an alternative regulatory framework and proposes a fundamental shift in the way financial regulation is performed, similar to what occurred after the Great Depression. It is argued that crises are not random, and that their magnitude can be greatly limited by specific pro-active policies. These policies would focus on understanding what Ponzi finance is, making a difference between collateral-based and income-based Ponzi finance, detecting Ponzi finance, managing financial innovations, decreasing competitions in the banking industry, ending too-big-to-fail, and deemphasizing economic growth as the overarching goal of an economic system. This fundamental change in regulatory and supervisory practices would lead to very different ways in which to check the health of our financial institutions while promoting a more sustainable economic system from both a financial and a socio-ecological point of view.

  • Working Paper No. 636 | November 2010

    This paper examines Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s recipe for deflation fighting and the specific policy actions he took in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Both in his academic and in his policy work, Bernanke has made the case that monetary policy is able to stem deflationary forces largely because of its “fiscal components,” and that governments like those in the United States or Japan face no constraints in financing these fiscal components. On the other hand, he has recently expressed strong concerns about the size of the federal budget deficit, calling for its reversal in the name of financial sustainability. The paper argues that these positions are fundamentally at odds with each other, and resolves the paradox by arguing on theoretical and technical grounds that there are no fundamental differences in financing conventional government spending programs and what Bernanke considers to be the fiscal components of monetary policy.

  • Working Paper No. 635 | November 2010
    A Review of the Literature

    This paper provides a survey of the literature on trade theory, from the classical example of comparative advantage to the New Trade theories currently used by many advanced countries to direct industrial policy and trade. An account is provided of the neo-classical brand of reciprocal demand and resource endowment theories, along with their usual empirical verifications and logical critiques. A useful supplement is provided in terms of Staffan Linder’s theory of “overlapping demand,” which provides an explanation of trade structure in terms of aggregate demand. Attention is drawn to new developments in trade theory, with strategic trade providing inputs to industrial policy. Issues relating to trade, growth, and development are dealt with separately, supplemented by an account of the neo-Marxist versions of trade and underdevelopment.

  • Working Paper No. 634 | November 2010

    The post-1945 mode of global integration has outlived its early promise. It has become exploitative rather than supportive of capital investment, public infrastructure, and living standards.

    In the sphere of trade, countries need to rebuild their self-sufficiency in food grains and other basic needs. In the financial sphere, the ability of banks to create credit (loans) at almost no cost, with only a few strokes on their computer keyboards, has led North America and Europe to become debt ridden—a contagion that now threatens to move into Brazil and other BRIC countries as banks seek to finance buyouts and lend against these countries' natural resources, real estate, basic infrastructure, and industry. Speculators, arbitrageurs, and financial institutions using "free money" see these economies as easy pickings. But by obliging countries to defend themselves financially, they and their predatory credit creation are helping to bring the era of free capital movements to an end.

    Does Brazil really need inflows of foreign credit for domestic spending when it can create this at home? Foreign lending ends up in its central bank, which invests its reserves in US Treasury and euro bonds that yield low returns, and whose international value is likely to decline against the BRIC currencies. Accepting credit and buyout "capital inflows" from the North thus provides a "free lunch" for key-currency issuers of dollars and euros, but it does not significantly help local economies.

  • Working Paper No. 633 | November 2010
    New Evidence in the Debate about the Creation of Second Generation Educational Outcomes in Israel

    There is much interest in explaining the persistent ethnic gaps in education among Israeli Jews; specifically, the much lower attainments of those from Asian and African countries compared to the rest—Mizrahim vs. Ashkenazim, respectively. Some explanations (especially early ones) have stressed premigration immigrant characteristics, particularly the relatively lower level of educational attainment among Mizrahim. More recent interpretations have tended to focus on discrimination of various sorts that took place after the immigrants arrived in Israel. Crucial evidence for the discriminatory effect was introduced by Yaakov Nahon (1987), who demonstrated a shift toward a Mizrahi-Ashkenazi dichotomy in educational attainment between birth cohorts of adult immigrants and birth cohorts of adults born in Israel. From this evidence, a wide range of scholars concluded that the premigration educational characteristics of immigrants could not explain Israeli educational patterns, and that, consequently, the explanation based on discrimination was thereby greatly strengthened.

    In this paper, we use the 1961 Israel census public-use dataset to refine Nahon’s analysis. Instead of using age cohorts as proxies for “fathers” and “children,” we focus on actual fathers and their children. Our results vary substantially from Nahon’s. In fact, we find that the educational attainment of immigrant fathers clusters quite closely around the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi dichotomy, and conclude that it is no longer reasonable to rule out the premigration hypothesis. This outcome leaves researchers with a more challenging explanatory task than before, because they are now faced with the notoriously difficult situation of having to determine the relative influence of premigration characteristics, on the one hand, and of discriminatory processes, on the other.

  • Working Paper No. 632 | November 2010
    A Structural VAR Analysis

    This paper investigates private net saving in the US economy—divided into its principal components, households and (nonfinancial) corporate financial balances—and its impact on the GDP cycle from the 1980s to the present. Furthermore, we investigate whether the financial markets (stock prices, BAA spread, and long-term interest rates) have a role in explaining the cyclical pattern of the two private financial balances. We analyze all these aspects estimating a VAR—between household and (nonfinancial) corporate financial balances (also known as the corporate financing gap), financial markets, and the economic cycle—and imposing restrictions on the matrix A to identify the structural shocks. We find that households and corporate balances react to financial markets as theoretically expected, and that the economic cycle reacts positively to corporate balance, in accordance with the Minskyan view of the operation of the economy that we have embraced.

  • Working Paper No. 631 | October 2010

    This paper explores the degree of structural change of the Philippine economy using the input-output framework. It examines how linkages among economic sectors evolved over 1979–2000, and identifies which economic sectors exhibited the highest intersectoral linkages. We find that manufacturing is consistently the key sector in the Philippine economy. Specifically, resource-intensive and scale-intensive manufacturing industries exhibit the highest linkages. We also find a growing impact on the economy of private services and transportation, communication, and storage sectors, probably due to the globalization of these activities. Overall, however, the services sector exhibits lower intersectoral linkages than the manufacturing sector. We conclude that the Philippines cannot afford to leapfrog the industrialization stage and largely depend on a service-oriented economy when the potential for growth still lies primarily in manufacturing.

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    Nedelyn Magtibay-Ramos Gemma Estrada Jesus Felipe
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  • Working Paper No. 630 | October 2010
    The Case of India

    India has been experiencing rising inflows of overseas capital since the deregulation of its financial sector. Often looked upon as a success story among other emerging economies, the country has been subject to pitfalls and trilemmas that deserve attention. It has been officially recognized by the Governors of RBI that the financial crisis in India reflects the “dirty face” of what is described in the literature as the impossible trinity, along with the volatility in the markets that was caused by speculative capital in search of profits. However, Joseph Stiglitz observed that India’s policymakers, “particularly the Reserve Bank of India, are already doing a great job. I wish the US Federal Reserve displayed the same understanding of the role of regulation that the RBI has done, at least so far.” Recently, the United States made a path-breaking move with the launching of the recent bill on the regulation of Wall Street, which was passed by a majority of the Senate on May 20, 2010. We urge the implementation of similar laws in India and other emerging economies, especially in view of the fact that the recent moves for financial deregulation in these countries have, rather, been in the opposite direction.

  • Working Paper No. 629 | October 2010

    This paper examines the growth experience of the Central Asian economies after the breakup of the Soviet Union. In particular, it evaluates the impact of being landlocked and resource rich. The main conclusions are: (1) Over the period 1994–2006, the landlocked resource-scarce developing countries of Central Asia grew at a slower pace than other landlocked resource-scarce developing countries; on the other hand, resource-rich developing countries in Central Asia grew at the same pace as other resource-rich developing economies. (2) Having “good” neighbors pays off in the form of growth spillovers; this calls for greater regional cooperation and enhanced regional integration through regional transport infrastructure, improved trade facilitation, and enhanced and coordinated economic policies. And (3) countries with a higher share of manufacturing exports in GDP grow faster, and the more sophisticated a country’s export basket, the higher its future growth; Central Asian countries should, therefore, take a more aggressive stance in supporting export diversification and upgrading.

  • Working Paper No. 628 | October 2010
    A Gravity Model

    With a decrease in formal trade barriers, trade facilitation has come into prominence as a policy tool for promoting trade. In this paper, we use a gravity model to examine the relationship between bilateral trade flows and trade facilitation. We also estimate the gains in trade derived from improvements in trade facilitation for the Central Asian countries. Trade facilitation is measured through the World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index (LPI). Our results show that there are significant gains in trade as a result of improving trade facilitation in these countries. These gains in trade vary from 28 percent in the case of Azerbaijan to as much as 63 percent in the case of Tajikistan. Furthermore, intraregional trade increases by 100 percent. Among the different components of LPI, we find that the greatest increase in total trade comes from improvement in infrastructure, followed by logistics and efficiency of customs and other border agencies. Also, our results show that the increase in bilateral trade, due to an improvement in the exporting country’s LPI, in highly sophisticated, more differentiated, and high-technology products is greater than the increase in trade in less sophisticated, less differentiated, and low-technology products. This is particularly important for the Central Asian countries as they try to reduce their dependence on exports of natural resources and diversify their manufacturing base by shifting to more sophisticated goods. As they look for markets beyond their borders, trade facilitation will have an important role to play.

  • Working Paper No. 627 | October 2010

    For the past decade, the US economy has been driven not by industrial investment but by a real estate bubble. Although the United States may seem to be the leading example of industrial capitalism, its economy is no longer based mainly on investing in capital goods to employ labor to produce output to sell at a profit. The largest sector remains real estate, whose cash flow (EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) accounts for over a quarter of national income. Financially, mortgages account for 70 percent of the US economy’s interest payments, reflecting the fact that real estate is the financial system’s major customer.

    As the economy’s largest asset category, real estate generates most of the economy’s capital gains. The gains are the aim of real investors, as the real estate sector normally operates without declaring any profit. Investors agree to pay their net rental income to their mortgage banker, hoping to sell the property at a capital gain (mainly a land-price gain).

    The tax system encourages this debt pyramiding. Interest and depreciation absorb most of the cash flow, leaving no income tax due for most of the post-1945 period. States and localities have shifted their tax base off property onto labor via income and sales taxes. Most important, capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than are current earnings. Investors do not have to pay any capital gains tax at all as long as they invest their gains in the purchase of new property.

    This tax favoritism toward real estate—and behind it, toward bankers as mortgage lenders—has spurred a shift in US investment away from industry and toward speculation, mainly in real estate but also in the stock and bond markets. A postindustrial economy is thus largely a financialized economy that carries its debt burden by borrowing against capital gains to pay the interest and taxes falling due.

  • Working Paper No. 626 | October 2010

    We use the real wage–profit rate schedule to examine the direction of technical change in India’s organized manufacturing sector during 1980–2007. We find that technical change was Marx biased (i.e., declining capital productivity with increasing labor productivity) through the 1980s and 1990s; and Hicks neutral (increasing both capital and labor productivity) post-2000. The historical experience suggests that Hicks-neutral technical change may only be a passing phase before we see a return to the long-term trend of Marx-biased technical change. We also find that the real profit rate has increased from about 30 percent to a very high 45 percent, that the real wage rate increased marginally, and that the share of capital in value added doubled. Overall, technical change in India’s organized manufacturing sector during 1980–2007 favored capital.

     

  • Working Paper No. 625 | October 2010
    A Dubious Success Story in Monetary Economics

    This paper critically assesses the rise of central bank independence (CBI) as an apparent success story in modern monetary economics. As to the observed rise in CBI since the late 1980s, we single out the role of peculiar German traditions in spreading CBI across continental Europe, while its global spread may be largely attributable to the rise of neoliberalism. As to the empirical evidence alleged to support CBI, we are struck by the nonexistence of any compelling evidence for such a case. The theoretical support for CBI ostensibly provided by modeling exercises on the so-called time-inconsistency problem in monetary policy is found equally wanting. Ironically, New Classical modelers promoting the idea of maximum CBI unwittingly reinstalled a (New Classical) “benevolent dictator” fiction in disguise. Post Keynesian critiques of CBI focus on the money neutrality postulate as well as potential conflicts between CBI and fundamental democratic values. John Maynard Keynes’s own contributions on the issue of CBI are found worth revisiting.

     

  • Working Paper No. 624 | September 2010

    We reinterpret unit labor costs (ULC) as the product of the labor share in value added, times a price adjustment factor. This allows us to discuss the functional distribution of income. We use data from India’s organized manufacturing sector and show that while India’s ULC displays a clear upward trend since 1980 (with a decline since the early 2000s), this is exclusively the result of the increase in the price deflator used to calculate the ULC. The labor share of India’s organized manufacturing sector has been on a downward trend, from 60 percent in 1980 to 26 percent in 2007. This means that the sector’s capital share increased from 40 to 74 percent over the same period. We also find that real wages have increased minimally during the period analyzed—well below labor productivity—while the real profit rate and unit capital costs have increased substantially. We conclude that if India’s organized manufacturing sector has lost any competitiveness, it is the result of the increase in unit capital costs. Our analysis questions policy recommendations that advocate wage moderation, which result from simply looking at the evolution of the ULC, and that blame the loss of competitiveness on high or increasing wages.

  • Working Paper No. 623 | September 2010
    A Keynes-Minsky Episode?

    The enormity and pervasiveness of the global economic crisis that began in 2008 makes it relevant to analyze the circumstances that can explain this catastrophe. This will also provide clues to the appropriate remedial measures needed to prevent future occurrences of similar developments.

    The paper begins with some theoretical concerns relating to factors that could trigger a similar crisis. The first of these concerns relates to the deregulated financial institutions and the growing uncertainty that can be witnessed in these liberalized financial markets. The secondrelates to financial engineering with innovations in these markets, simultaneously providing cushions against risks while generating flows of liquidity that remain beyond the conventional sources of bank credit.

    Interpreting the role of uncertainty, one can observe the connections between investment and finance, both of which are subject to changes in the state of expectations. The initial formulation can be traced back to John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory (1936), where liquidity preference is linked to asset prices and new investments. The Keynesian analysis of the impact of uncertainty related expectations was reformulated in 1986 by Hyman P. Minsky, who introduced the possibility of sourcing external finance through debt, which further adds to the impact of uncertainty. Minsky’s characterization of deregulated financial markets considers the newfangled sources of nonbank credit, especially with the involvement of banks in the securities market under the universal banking model.

    As for the institutional arrangements that provide for profits on transactions, financial assets bought and sold in the primary market as initial public offerings of stocks are usually transacted later, in the secondary market, where these are no longer backed by physical assets.In the upswing, finance creates a myriad of financial claims and liabilities, and thus becomes increasingly remote from the real economy, while innovations to hedge and insulate assets continue to proliferate in the financial market, especially in the presence of uncertainty.

    The paper dwells on an account of the pattern of the financial crisis and its spread in the United States. This is appended by a stylized account of the turn of events in terms of a theoretical model that highlights the role of uncertainty in the process.

  • Working Paper No. 622 | September 2010

    This paper discusses recent UK monetary policies as instances of John Kenneth Galbraith’s “innocent fraud,” including the idea that money is a thing rather than a relationship, the fallacy of composition (i.e., that what is possible for one bank is possible for all banks), and the belief that the money supply can be controlled by reserves management. The origins of the idea of quantitative easing (QE), and its defense when it was applied in Britain, are analyzed through this lens. An empirical analysis of the effect of reserves on lending is conducted; we do not find evidence that QE “worked,” either by a direct effect on money spending, or through an equity market effect. These findings are placed in a historical context in a comparison with earlier money control experiments in the UK.

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    Dirk Bezemer Geoffrey Gardiner
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  • Working Paper No. 621 | September 2010

    We need to go beyond the accepted notions relating to the role of women in the economy and society, especially in terms of what is recognized in mainstream theory and policy as “work” done by women. Thus, the traditional gender roles, with the man as the breadwinner and the woman in the role of housekeeper, do not explain the contribution of women in general. We also need to go beyond standard models to interpret the intrahousehold gender inequities. We do not gain much insight from dwelling on the cooperative-conflict type of bargaining concepts either, which are offered in the literature to unfold the process of women’s subordination within households. The issues relate to the intrahousehold power structure, which has an inbuilt bias against female members under patriarchy.

    In terms of a policy agenda, especially in the context of social and economic disparities that affect women in particular, we need to recognize not only the collective social norms but also the unequal power relations that influence the sexual division of labor, both within the family and in the workplace. A notion of “gendered moral rationality,” complemented by the Rawlsian concept of “justice as fairness” (implying compensation for the underprivileged), can be used to devise policy that addresses the status of women both in the workplace and at home. We need a concerted move toward sensitization of gender issues and scrutiny entailing a gender audit at every level of activity. This may work at least partially until society is ready to remodel itself by treating men and women equally.

  • Working Paper No. 620 | September 2010
    An Empirical Comparison of Multidimensional Approaches Using Data for the US and Spain

    This paper presents a comparative analysis of the approaches to poverty based on income and wealth that have been proposed in the literature. Two types of approaches are considered: those that look at income and wealth separately when defining the poverty frontier, and those in which these two dimensions are integrated into a single index of welfare. We illustrate the implications of these approaches on the structure of poverty using data for two industrialized countries—for example, the United States and Spain. We find that the incidence of poverty in these two countries varies significantly depending on the poverty definition adopted. Despite this variation, our results suggest that the poverty problem is robust to changes in the way poverty is measured. Regarding the identification of the poor, there is a high level of misclassification between the poverty indices: for most of the pairwise comparisons, the proportion of households that are misclassified is above 50 percent. Interestingly, the rate of misclassification in the United States is significantly lower than in Spain. We argue that the higher correlation between income and wealth in the United States contributes to explaining the greater overlap between poverty indices in this country.

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    Francisco Azpitarte
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  • Working Paper No. 619 | September 2010
    Recovery Prospects and the Future

    The global crisis of 2007–09 affected developing Asia largely through a decline in exports to the developed countries and a slowdown in remittances. This happened very quickly, and by 2009 there were already signs of recovery (except on the employment front). This recovery was led by China’s impressive performance, aided by a large stimulus package and easy credit. But China needs to make efforts toward rebalancing its economy. Although private consumption has increased at a fast pace during the last decades, investment has done so at an even faster pace, with the consequence that the share of consumption in total output is very low. The risk is that the country may fall into an underconsumption crisis.

    Looking at the medium and long term, developing Asia’s future is mixed. There is one group of countries with a highly diversified export basket. These countries have an excellent opportunity to thrive if the right policies are implemented. However, there is another group of countries that relies heavily on natural resources. These countries face a serious challenge, since they must diversify.

  • Working Paper No. 618 | September 2010

    The quality of match of four statistical matches used in the LIMEW estimates for the United States for 1992 and 2007 is described. The first match combines the 1992 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) with the 1993 March Supplement to the Current Population Survey, or Annual Demographic Supplement (ADS). The second match combines the 1985 American Use of Time Project survey (AUTP) with the 1993 ADS. The third match combines the 2007 SCF with the 2008 March Supplement to the CPS, now called the Annual Social and Economics Supplement (ASEC). The fourth match combines the 2007 American Time Use Survey with the 2008 ASEC. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. Also in each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Working Paper No. 617 | September 2010
    The Risk of Unraveling the Global Rebalancing

    This paper investigates China’s role in creating global imbalances, and the related call for a massive renminbi revaluation as a (supposed) panacea to forestall their reemergence as the world economy recovers from severe crisis. We reject the prominence widely attributed to China as a cause of global imbalances and the exclusive focus on the renminbi-dollar exchange rate as misguided. And we emphasize that China's response to the global crisis has been exemplary. Apart from acting as a growth leader in the global recovery by boosting domestic demand to offset the slump in exports, China has in the process successfully completed the first stage in rebalancing its economy, which is in stark contrast to other leading trading nations that have simply resumed previous policy patterns. The second stage in China’s rebalancing will consist of further strengthening private consumption. We argue that this will be best supported by continued reliance on renminbi stability and capital account management, so as to assure that macroeconomic policies can be framed in line with domestic development requirements.

  • Working Paper No. 616 | September 2010
    We rank 5,107 products and 124 countries according to the Hidalgo and Hausmann (2009) measures of complexity. We find that: (1) the most complex products are in machinery, chemicals, and metals, while the least complex products are raw materials and commodities, wood, textiles, and agricultural products; (2) the most complex economies in the world are Japan, Germany, and Sweden, and the least complex, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and Nigeria; (3) the major exporters of the more complex products are the high-income countries, while the major exporters of the less complex products are the low-income countries; and (4) export shares of the more complex products increase with income, while export shares of the less complex products decrease with income. Finally, we relate the measure of product complexity with the concept of Complex Products and Systems, and find a high degree of conformity between them.

  • Working Paper No. 615 | September 2010
    The quality of match of four statistical matches used in the LIMEW estimates for Canada for 1999 and 2005 is described. The first match combines the 1999 Survey of Financial Security (SFS) with the 1999 Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID). The second match combines the 1998 General Social Survey (GSS) with the 1999 SLID. The third match combines the 2005 SFS with the 2005 SLID. The fourth match combines the 2005 GSS with the 2005 SLID. In each case, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. Also in each case, the matches are of high quality, given the nature of the source datasets.

  • Working Paper No. 614 | August 2010

    With the global crisis, the policy stance around the world has been shaken by massive government and central bank efforts to prevent the meltdown of markets, banks, and the economy. Fiscal packages, in varied sizes, have been adopted throughout the world after years of proclaimed fiscal containment. This change in policy regime, though dubbed the “Keynesian moment,” is a “short-run fix” that reflects temporary acceptance of fiscal deficits at a time of political emergency, and contrasts with John Maynard Keynes’s long-run policy propositions. More important, it is doomed to be ineffective if the degree of tolerance of fiscal deficits is too low for full employment.

    Keynes’s view that outside the gold standard fiscal policies face real, not financial, constraints is illustrated by means of a simple flow-of-funds model. This shows that government deficits do not take financial resources from the private sector, and that demand for net financial savings by the private sector can be met by a rising trade surplus at the cost of reduced consumption, or by a rising government deficit financed by the monopoly supply of central bank credit. Fiscal deficits can thus be considered functional to the objective of supplying the private sector with a provision of financial wealth sufficient to restore demand. By contrast, tax hikes and/or spending cuts aimed at reducing the public deficit lower the available savings of the private sector, and, if adopted too soon, will force the adjustment by way of a reduction of demand and standard of living.

    This notion, however, is not applicable to the euro area, where constraints have been deliberately created that limit public deficits and the supply of central bank credit, thus introducing national solvency risks. This is a crucial flaw in the institutional structure of Euroland, where monetary sovereignty has been removed from all existing fiscal authorities. Absent a reassessment of its design, the euro area is facing a deflationary tendency that may further erode the economic welfare of the region.

  • Working Paper No. 613 | August 2010
    From Capabilities to Opportunities
    We develop an Index of Opportunities for 130 countries based on their capabilities to undergo structural transformation. The Index of Opportunities has four dimensions, all of them characteristic of a country’s export basket: (1) sophistication; (2) diversification; (3) standardness; and (4) possibilities for exporting with comparative advantage over other products. The rationale underlying the index is that, in the long run, a country’s income is determined by the variety and sophistication of the products it makes and exports, which reflect its accumulated capabilities. We find that countries like China, India, Poland, Thailand, Mexico, and Brazil have accumulated a significant number of capabilities that will allow them to do well in the long run. These countries have diversified and increased the level of sophistication of their export structures. At the other extreme, countries like Papua New Guinea, Malawi, Benin, Mauritania, and Haiti score very poorly in the Index of Opportunities because their export structures are neither diversified nor sophisticated, and they have accumulated very few and unsophisticated capabilities. These countries are in urgent need of implementing policies that lead to the accumulation of capabilities.

  • Working Paper No. 612 | August 2010

    Before we can reform the financial system, we need to understand what banks do; or, better, what banks should do. This paper will examine the later work of Hyman Minsky at the Levy Institute, on his project titled “Reconstituting the United States’ Financial Structure.” This led to a number of Levy working papers and also to a draft book manuscript that was left uncompleted at his death in 1996. In this paper I focus on Minsky’s papers and manuscripts from 1992 to 1996 and his last major contribution (his Veblen-Commons Award–winning paper).

    Much of this work was devoted to his thoughts on the role that banks do and should play in the economy. To put it as succinctly as possible, Minsky always insisted that the proper role of the financial system was 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. Central to his argument is the understanding of banking that he developed over his career. Just as the financial system changed (and with it, the capitalist economy), Minsky’s views evolved. I will conclude with general recommendations for reform along Minskyan lines.

  • Working Paper No. 611 | August 2010
    The key factor underlying China’s fast development during the last 50 years is its ability to master and accumulate new and more complex capabilities, reflected in the increase in diversification and sophistication of its export basket. This accumulation was policy induced and not the result of the market, and began before 1979. Despite its many policy mistakes, if China had not proceeded this way, in all likelihood it would be a much poorer country today. During the last 50 years, China has acquired revealed comparative advantage in the export of both labor-intensive products (following its factor abundance) and sophisticated products, although the latter does not indicate that there was leapfrogging. Analysis of China’s current export opportunity set indicates that it is exceptionally well positioned (especially taking into account its income per capita) to continue learning and gaining revealed comparative advantage in the export of more sophisticated products. Given adequate policies, carefully thought-out and implemented reforms, and skillful management of constraints and risks, China has the potential to continue thriving. This does not mean, however, that high growth will continue indefinitely.

  • Working Paper No. 610 | August 2010
    A Strategy for Effective and Equitable Job Creation
    Massive job losses in the United States, over eight million since the onset of the “Great Recession,” call for job creation measures through fiscal expansion. In this paper we analyze the job creation potential of social service–delivery sectors—early childhood development and home-based health care—as compared to other proposed alternatives in infrastructure construction and energy. Our microsimulation results suggest that investing in the care sector creates more jobs in total, at double the rate of infrastructure investment. The second finding is that these jobs are more effective in reaching disadvantaged workers—those from poor households and with lower levels of educational attainment. Job creation in these sectors can easily be rolled out. States already have mechanisms and implementation capacity in place. All that is required is policy recalibration to allow funds to be channeled into sectors that deliver jobs both more efficiently and more equitably.

  • Working Paper No. 609 | August 2010
    We forecast average annual GDP growth for 147 countries for 2010–30. We use a cross-country regression model where the long-run fundamentals are determined by countries’ accumulated capabilities and the capacity to undergo structural transformation.
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    Jesus Felipe Utsav Kumar Arnelyn Abdon
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  • Working Paper No. 608 | August 2010
    The economic returns to education in transition countries have been extensively evaluated in the literature. The present study contributes to this literature by estimating the returns to education in Georgia during the last transition period 2000–04. We find very low returns to education in Georgia and little evidence of an increasing trend in the returns. This picture contrasts with somewhat higher rates of return to education in the mid-1990s in Georgia and the recent estimates from other transition countries. A further analysis of the shifts in the supply and demand for education sheds light on possible causes. In particular, on the supply side, the decline in the quality of education in the 1990s has negated the improvements in the provision of skills needed by market economies during this period. On the demand side, the expansion of the Georgian economy has taken place in the direction of fields such as public administration and education that employ a highly educated workforce but do not remunerate well. Yet it would be a mistake to conclude that education is not a valuable asset in Georgia. The role of education is largely manifested in its impact on the employability of individuals, an issue that has been overlooked in the transition literature. Once this impact is taken into account, education is shown to play an increasingly important role in influencing the earnings of the working population in Georgia. The paper uses the ordinary least squares approach, instrumental variables approach, and sample selection correction, taking into account conditional and unconditional marginal effects of education on earnings.

  • Working Paper No. 607 | August 2010
    Standard and Behavioral Approaches to Agency and Labor Markets
    Employers structure pay and employment relationships to mitigate agency problems. A large literature in economics documents how the resolution of these problems shapes personnel policies and labor markets. For the most part, the study of agency in employment relationships relies on highly stylized assumptions regarding human motivation, e.g., that employees seek to earn as much money as possible with minimal effort. In this essay, we explore the consequences of introducing behavioral complexity and realism into models of agency within organizations. Specifically, we assess the insights gained by allowing employees to be guided by such motivations as the desire to compare favorably to others, the aspiration to contribute to intrinsically worthwhile goals, and the inclination to reciprocate generosity or exact retribution for perceived wrongs. More provocatively, from the standpoint of standard economics, we also consider the possibility that people are driven, in ways that may be opaque even to themselves, by the desire to earn social esteem or to shape and reinforce identity.

  • Working Paper No. 606 | August 2010

    The subprime financial crisis has forced several North American and European central banks to take extraordinary measures and to modify some of their operational procedures. These changes have made even clearer the deficiencies and lack of realism in mainstream monetary theory, as can be found in both undergraduate textbooks and most macroeconomic models. They have also forced monetary authorities to reject publicly some of the assumptions and key features of mainstream monetary theory, fearing that, on that mistaken basis, actors in the financial markets would misrepresent and misjudge the consequences of the actions taken by the monetary authorities. These changes in operational procedures also have some implications for heterodox monetary theory; in particular, for post-Keynesian theory.

    The objective of this paper is to analyze the implications of these changes in operational procedures for our understanding of monetary theory. The evolution of the operating procedures of the Federal Reserve since August 2007 is taken as an exemplar. The American case is particularly interesting, both because it was at the center of the financial crisis and because the US monetary system and its federal funds rate market are the main sources of theorizing in monetary economics.

     

  • Working Paper No. 605 | June 2010
    An Evolutionary Approach to the Measure of Financial Fragility
    Different frameworks of analysis lead to different conceptions of financial instability and financial fragility. On one side, the static approach conceptualizes financial instability as an unfortunate byproduct of capitalism that results from unpredictable random forces that no one can do anything about except prepare for through adequate loss reserves, capital, and liquidation buffers. On the other side, the evolutionary approach conceptualizes financial instability as something that the current economic system invariably brings upon itself through internal market and nonmarket forces, and that requires change in financial practices rather than merely good financial buffers. This paper compares the two approaches in order to lay the foundation for the empirical analysis developed within the evolutionary approach. The paper shows that, with the use of macroeconomic data, it is possible to detect financial fragility, especially Ponzi finance. The methodology is applied to residential housing in the US household sector and is able to capture some of the trends that are known to be sources of economic difficulties. Notably, the paper finds that Ponzi finance was going on in the housing sector from at least 2004 to 2007, which concurs with other works based on more detailed data.

  • Working Paper No. 604 | June 2010
    The Financial Trilemma and the Wall Street Complex

    This would seem an opportune moment to reshape banking systems in the Americas. But any effort to rethink and improve banking must acknowledge three major barriers. The first is a crisis of vision: there has been too little consideration of what kind of banking system would work best for national economies in the Americas. The other two constraints are structural. Banking systems in Mexico and the rest of Latin America face a financial regulation trilemma, the logic and implications of which are similar to those of smaller nations’ macroeconomic policy trilemma. The ability of these nations to impose rules that would pull banking systems in the direction of being more socially productive and economically functional is constrained both by regional economic compacts (in the case of Mexico, NAFTA) and by having a large share of the domestic banking market operated by multinational banks.

    For the United States, the structural problem involves the huge divide between Wall Street megabanks and the remainder of the US banking system. The ambitions, modes of operation, and economic effects of these two different elements of US banking are quite different. The success, if not survival, of one element depends on the creation of a regulatory atmosphere and set of enabling federal government subsidies or supports that is inconsistent with the success, or survival, of the other element.

  • Working Paper No. 603 | June 2010
    A Critique of This Time Is Different, by Reinhart and Rogoff

    The worst global downturn since the Great Depression has caused ballooning budget deficits in most nations, as tax revenues collapse and governments bail out financial institutions and attempt countercyclical fiscal policy. With notable exceptions, most economists accept the desirability of expansion of deficits over the short term but fear possible long-term effects. There are a number of theoretical arguments that lead to the conclusion that higher government debt ratios might depress growth. There are other arguments related to more immediate effects of debt on inflation and national solvency. Research conducted by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff is frequently cited to demonstrate the negative impacts of public debt on economic growth and financial stability. In this paper we critically examine their work. We distinguish between a nation that operates with its own floating exchange rate and nonconvertible (sovereign) currency, and a nation that does not. We argue that Reinhart and Rogoff’s results are not relevant to the case of the United States.

  • Working Paper No. 602 | June 2010
    The use of government fiscal stimulus to support the economy in the recent economic crisis has brought increases in government deficits and increased government debt. This has produced an interest in sustainable government debt and the role of deficits in the economy. This paper argues in favor of a concept of "responsible" government policy, referring to positions held by Franklin and Marshall Professor Will Lyons. The idea is that government should be responsible to the needs and desires of its citizens, but that this should go beyond physical security and education, to economic security. Building on the fallacy of composition and misplaced concreteness, it suggests that in an integrated macro system an increased desire to save on the part of the private sector will be self-defeating unless the government acts in a responsible manner to support those desires. This can only be done by government dissaving via an expenditure deficit. The outstanding government debt simply represents the desires of the public to hold safe financial assets, and can only be unsustainable if the public’s desires change. The government should always be responsive to these desires, and adjust its expenditure policy.

  • Working Paper No. 601 | June 2010
    Motives, Countermeasures, and Prospects
    Regulatory forbearance and government financial support for the largest US financial companies during the crisis of 2007–09 highlighted a "too big to fail" problem that has existed for decades. As in the past, effects on competition and moral hazard were seen as outweighed by the threat of failures that would undermine the financial system and the economy. As in the past, current legislative reforms promise to prevent a reoccurrence.

    This paper proceeds on the view that a better understanding of why too-big-to-fail policies have persisted will provide a stronger basis for developing effective reforms. After a review of experience in the United States over the last 40 years, it considers a number of possible motives. The explicit rationale of regulatory authorities has been to stem a systemic threat to the financial system and the economy resulting from interconnections and contagion, and/or to assure the continuation of financial services in particular localities or regions. It has been contended, however, that such threats have been exaggerated, and that forbearance and bailouts have been motivated by the "career interests" of regulators. Finally, it has been suggested that existing large financial firms are preserved because they serve a public interest independent of the systemic threat of failure they pose—they constitute a "national resource."

    Each of these motives indicates a different type of reform necessary to contain too-big-to-fail policies. They are not, however, mutually exclusive, and may all be operative simultaneously. Concerns about the stability of the financial system dominate current legislative proposals; these would strengthen supervision and regulation. Other kinds of reform, including limits on regulatory discretion, would be needed to contain "career interest" motivations. If, however, existing financial companies are viewed as serving a unique public purpose, then improved supervision and regulation would not effectively preclude bailouts should a large financial company be on the brink of failure. Nor would limits on discretion be binding.

    To address this motivation, a structural solution is necessary. Breakups through divestiture, perhaps encompassing specific lines of activity, would distribute the "public interest" among a larger group of companies than the handful that currently hold a disproportionate and growing concentration of financial resources. The result would be that no one company, or even a few, would appear to be irreplaceable. Neither economies of scale nor scope appear to offset the advantages of size reduction for the largest financial companies. At a minimum, bank merger policy that has, over the last several decades, facilitated their growth should be reformed so as to contain their continued absolute and relative growth. An appendix to the paper provides a review of bank merger policy and proposals for revision.

  • Working Paper No. 600 | May 2010
    This study is concerned with the measurement of poverty in the context of developing countries. We argue that poverty rankings must take into account time use dimensions of paid and unpaid work jointly. Reviewing the current state of the literature on this topic, our methodology introduces a critical but missing analytical distinction between time poverty and time deprivation. On this basis, we proceed to provide empirical evidence by using South African time use survey data compiled in 2000. Our findings show that existing methods that work well for advanced countries require modification when adopted in the case of a developing country. The results identify a group of adults who previously were inadvertently missing, as they were considered "time wealthy."

  • Working Paper No. 599 | May 2010
    A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Microneighborhoods in Kingston, New York
    This paper use spatial econometric models to test for racial preferences in a small urban housing market. Identifying racial preferences is difficult when unobserved neighborhood amenities vary systematically with racial composition. We adopt three strategies to redress this problem: (1) we focus on housing price differences across microneighborhoods in the small and relatively homogenous city of Kingston, New York; (2) we introduce GIS-based spatial amenity variables as controls in the hedonic regressions; and (3) we use spatial error and lag models to explicitly account for the spatial dependence of unobserved neighborhood amenities. Our simple OLS estimates agree with the consensus in the literature that black neighborhoods have lower housing prices. However, racial price discounts are no longer significant when we account for the spatial dependence of errors. Our results suggest that price discounts in black neighborhoods are caused not by racial preferences but by the demand for amenities that are typically not found in black neighborhoods.
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    Sanjaya DeSilva Anh Pham Michael Smith
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  • Working Paper No. 598 | May 2010
    Gender Perspectives and Policy Choices
    This paper looks at the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), where economies have been most dramatically hit by the global crisis and its impact is likely to be most long-lasting, especially among poor and vulnerable groups. Using poverty as the main axis, it looks at aspects of economic and social development in countries at similar poverty levels to identify the degree of fiscal space in each, as well as the different policy choices made. The paper argues that despite such economic fundamentals as increasing external debt, worsening current account imbalances, and demands for a balanced budget, governments have policy choices to make about how to protect different groups, especially the most vulnerable—including women.

  • Working Paper No. 597 | May 2010
    This paper sets out to investigate the forces and conditions that led to the emergence of global imbalances preceding the worldwide crisis of 2007–09, and both the likelihood and the potential sustainability of reemerging global imbalances as the world economy recovers from that crisis. The “Bretton Woods 2” hypothesis of sustainable global imbalances featuring a quasi-permanent US current account deficit overlooked that the domestic counterpart to the United States’ external deficit—soaring household indebtedness—was based not on safe debts but rather toxic ones. We critique the “global saving glut” hypothesis, and propose the “global dollar glut” hypothesis in its stead. With the US private sector in retrenchment mode, the question arises whether fiscal expansion might not only succeed in filling the gap in US domestic demand but also restart global arrangements along BW2 lines, albeit this time based on public debt—call it “Bretton Woods 3.” This paper explores the chances of a BW3 regime, highlighting the role of “dollar leveraging” in sustaining US trade deficits. Longer-term prospects for a postdollar standard are discussed in the light of John Maynard Keynes’s “bancor” plan.

  • Working Paper No. 596 | May 2010
    The process of constructing impulse-response functions (IRFs) and forecast-error variance decompositions (FEVDs) for a structural vector autoregression (SVAR) usually involves a factorization of an estimate of the error-term variance-covariance matrix V. Examining residuals from a monetary VAR, this paper finds evidence suggesting that all of the variances in V are infinite. Specifically, this study estimates alpha-stable distributions for the reduced-form error terms. The ML estimates of the residuals’ characteristic exponents α range from 1.5504 to 1.7734, with the Gaussian case lying outside 95 percent asymptotic confidence intervals for all six equations of the VAR. Variance-stabilized P-P plots show that the estimated distributions fit the residuals well. Results for subsamples are varied, while GARCH(1,1) filtering yields standardized shocks that are also all likely to be non-Gaussian alpha stable. When one or more error terms have infinite variance, V cannot be factored. Moreover, by Proposition 1, the reduced-form DGP cannot be transformed, using the required nonsingular matrix, into an appropriate system of structural equations with orthogonal, or even finite-variance, shocks. This result holds with arbitrary sets of identifying restrictions, including even the null set. Hence, with one or more infinite-variance error terms, structural interpretation of the reduced-form VAR within the standard SVAR model is impossible.

  • Working Paper No. 595 | May 2010
    The recycling problem is general, and is not confined to a multicurrency setting: whenever there are surplus and deficit units—that is, everywhere—adjustment in real terms can be either upward or downward. The question is, Which? An attempt is made to formulate the problem in terms of the European Monetary Union. While the problem seems clear, the resolution is not. It is proposed to engage the issue through a detour consistent with the Maastricht rules. Inadequate as this is, it highlights the limits of technical arrangements when governments are confronted with political economy—namely, the inability to set the rules of the larger game from within a set of axiomatically predetermined rules dependent on the fact and practice of sovereignty. Even so, an attempt at persuasion through clarification of the issues—in particular, by highlighting the distinction between recycling and transfers—may be a useful preliminary. Some of the paper’s evocations, notably on oligopoly, may be taken as merely heuristic.

  • Working Paper No. 594 | May 2010
    This paper argues that modified versions of the so-called “New Cambridge” approach to macroeconomic modeling are both quite useful for modeling real capitalist economies in historical time and perfectly compatible with the “vision” underlying modern Post-Keynesian stock-flow consistent macroeconomic models. As such, New Cambridge–type models appear to us as an important contribution to the tool kit available to applied macroeconomists in general, and to heterodox applied macroeconomists in particular.

  • Working Paper No. 593 | May 2010
    The paper examines three aspects of a financial crisis of domestic origin. The first section studies the evolution of a debt-financed consumption boom supported by rising asset prices, leading to a credit crunch and fluctuations in the real economy, and, ultimately, to debt deflation. The next section extends the analysis to trace gradual evolution toward Ponzi finance and its consequences. The final section explains the link between the financial and the real sector of the economy, pointing to an inherent liquidity problem. The paper concludes with comments on the interactions between the three aspects.

  • Working Paper No. 592 | May 2010
    The 2008 global financial crisis was the consequence of the process (1) of financialization, or the creation of massive fictitious financial wealth, that began in the 1980s,; and (2) the hegemony of a reactionary ideology—namely, neoliberalism—based on self-regulated and efficient markets. Although laissez-faire capitalism is intrinsically unstable, the lessons of  the 1929 stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s were transformed into theories and institutions or regulations that led to the “30 glorious years of capitalism” (1948–77) and that could have helped avoid a financial crisis as profound as the present one. But it did not, because a coalition of rentiers and “financists” achieved hegemony and, while deregulating the existing financial operations, refused to regulate the financial innovations that made these markets even  riskier. Neoclassical economics played the role of a meta-ideology as it legitimized, mathematically and “scientifically,” neoliberal ideology and deregulation. From this crisis a new democratic capitalist system will emerge, though its character is difficult to predict. It will not be financialized, but the glory years’ tendencies toward a global and knowledge-based capitalism in which professionals  have more say than rentier capitalists, as well as the tendency to improve democracy by making it more social and participative, will be resumed.
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    Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
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  • Working Paper No. 591 | March 2010

    This paper investigates the spread of what started as a crisis at the core of the global financial system to emerging economies. While emerging economies had exhibited some resilience through the early stages of the financial turmoil that began in the summer of 2007, they have been hit hard since mid-2008. Their deteriorating fortunes are only partly attributable to the collapse in world trade and sharp drop in commodity prices. Things were made worse by emerging markets’ exposure to the turmoil in global finance itself. As “innocent bystanders,” even countries that had taken out “self-insurance” proved vulnerable to the global “sudden stop” in capital flows. We critique loanable funds theoretical interpretations of global imbalances and offer an alternative explanation that emphasizes the special status of the US dollar. Instead of taking out even more self-insurance, developing countries should pursue capital account management to enlarge their policy space and reduce external vulnerabilities.

  • Working Paper No. 590 | March 2010

    Despite the policy realm’s growing recognition of fiscal devolution in gender development, there have been relatively few attempts to translate gender commitments into fiscal commitments. This paper aims to engage in this significant debate, focusing on the plausibility of incorporating gender into financial devolution, with the Thirteenth Finance Commission of India as backdrop. Given the disturbing demographics—the monotonous decline in the juvenile sex ratio, especially in some of the prosperous states of India—there can be no valid objection to using Finance Commission transfers for this purpose. A simple method for accomplishing this could be to introduce some weight in favor of the female population of the states in the Commission’s fiscal devolution formula. The message would be even stronger and more appropriate if the population of girl children only—that is, the number of girls in the 0–6 age cohort—is adopted as the basis for determining the states’ relative shares of the amount to be disbursed by applying the allotted weight. A special dispensation for girls would also be justifiable in a scheme of need-based equalization transfers. While social mores cannot be changed by fiscal fiats, particularly when prejudices run deep, a proactive approach by a high constitutional body like the Finance Commission is called for, especially when the prejudices are blatantly oppressive. Indeed, such action is imperative. The intergovernmental transfer system can and should play a role in upholding the right to life for India’s girl children. That being said, it needs to be mentioned that it is not plausible to incorporate more gender variables in the Finance Commission’s already complex transfer formula. In other words, inclusion of a “gender inequality index” in the formula may not result in the intended results, as the variables included in the index may cancel one another out. Accepting the fact that incorporating gender criteria in fiscal devolution could only be the second-best principle for engendering fiscal policy, the paper argues that newfound policy space for the feminization of local governance, coupled with an engendered fiscal devolution to the third tier, can lead to public expenditure decisions that correspond more closely to the revealed preferences (“voice”) of women. With the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, this policy space is favorable at the local level for conducting gender responsive budgeting.

  • Working Paper No. 589 | March 2010
    I find here that the early and mid-aughts (2001 to 2007) witnessed both exploding debt and a consequent “middle-class squeeze.” Median wealth grew briskly in the late 1990s. It grew even faster in the aughts, while the inequality of net worth was up slightly. Indebtedness, which fell substantially during the late 1990s, skyrocketed in the early and mid-aughts; among the middle class, the debt-to-income ratio reached its highest level in 24 years. The concentration of investment-type assets generally remained as high in 2007 as during the previous two decades. The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth holdings, after stabilizing throughout most of the 1990s, widened in the years between 1998 and 2001, but then narrowed during the early and mid-aughts. Wealth also shifted in relative terms, away from young households (particularly those under age 45) and toward those in the 55–74 age group. Projections to July 2009, made on the basis of changes in stock and housing prices, indicate that median wealth plunged by 36 percent and there was a fairly steep rise in wealth inequality, with the Gini coefficient advancing from 0.834 to 0.865.

  • Working Paper No. 588 | March 2010

    This paper proposes a difference-in-differences strategy to decompose the contributions of various types of discrimination to the black-white wage differential. The proposed estimation strategy is implemented using data from the Young Physicians Survey. The results suggest that potential discrimination plays a small role in the racial wage gap among physicians. At most, discrimination lowers the hourly wages of black physicians by 3.3 percent. Decomposition shows that consumer discrimination accounts for all of the potential discrimination in the physician market, and that the effect of firm discrimination may actually favor black physicians. Interpretations of the estimates, however, are complicated by the possibility that, relative to white physicians, black physicians negatively self-select into self-employment.

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    Tsu-Yu Tsao Andrew Pearlman
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  • Working Paper No. 587 | February 2010

    While most economists agree that the world is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, there is little agreement as to what caused it. Some have argued that the financial instability we are witnessing is due to irrational exuberance of market participants, fraud, greed, too much regulation, et cetera. However, some Post Keynesian economists following Hyman P. Minsky have argued that this is a systemic problem, a result of internal market processes that allowed fragility to build over time. In this paper we focus on the shift to the “shadow banking system” and the creation of what Minsky called the money manager phase of capitalism. In this system, rapid growth of leverage and financial layering allowed the financial sector to claim an ever-rising proportion of national income—what is sometimes called “financialization”—as the financial system evolved from hedge to speculative and, finally, to a Ponzi scheme.

    The policy response to the financial crisis in the United States and elsewhere has largely been an attempt to rescue money manager capitalism. Moreover, in the case of the United States. the bailout policy has contributed to further concentration of the financial sector, increasing dangers. We believe that the policies directed at saving the system are doomed to fail—and that alternative policies should be adopted. The effective solution should come in the way of downsizing the financial sector by two-thirds or more, and effecting fundamental modifications.

  • Working Paper No. 586 | February 2010

    The current financial crisis has been characterized as a “Minsky” moment, and as such provides the conditions required for a reregulation of the financial system similar to that of the New Deal banking reforms of the 1930s. However, Minsky’s theory was not one that dealt in moments but rather in systemic, structural changes in the operations of financial institutions. Therefore, the framework for reregulation must start with an understanding of the longer-term systemic changes that took place between the New Deal reforms and their formal repeal under the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act. This paper attempts to identify some of those changes and their sources. In particular, it notes that the New Deal reforms were eroded by an internal process in which commercial banks that were given a monopoly position in deposit taking sought to remove those protections because unregulated banks were able to provide substitute instruments that were more efficient and unregulated but unavailable to regulated banks, since they involved securities market activities that would eventually be recognized as securitization. Regulators and the courts contributed to this process by progressively ruling that these activities were related to the regulated activities of the commercial banks, allowing them to reclaim securities market activities that had been precluded in the New Deal legislation. The 1999 Act simply made official the de facto repeal of the 1930s protections. Any attempt to provide reregulation of the system will thus require safeguards to ensure that this internal process of deregulation is not repeated.

  • Working Paper No. 585 | February 2010

    The extension of the subprime mortgage crisis to a global financial meltdown led to calls for fundamental reregulation of the United States financial system. However, that reregulation has been slow in implementation and the proposals under discussion are far from fundamental. One explanation for this delay is the fact that many of the difficulties stemmed not from lack of regulation but from a failure to fully implement existing regulations. At the same time, the crisis evolved in stages, interspersed by what appeared to be the system’s return to normalcy. This evolution can be defined in terms of three stages (regulation and supervision, securitization, and a run on investment banks), each stage associated with a particular failure of regulatory supervision. It thus became possible to argue at each stage that all that was necessary was the appropriate application of existing regulations, and that nothing more needed to be done. This scenario progressed until the collapse of Lehman Brothers brought about a full-scale recession and attention turned to support of the real economy and employment, leaving the need for fundamental financial regulation in the background.

  • Working Paper No. 584 | February 2010

    This paper investigates the United States dollar’s role as the international currency of choice as a key contributing factor in critical global developments that led to the crisis of 2007–09, and considers the future role of the dollar as the global economy emerges from that crisis. It is argued that the dollar is likely to retain its hegemonic status for a few more decades, but that United States spending powered by public rather than private debt would provide a more sustainable motor for global growth. In the process, the “Bretton Woods II” regime depicted by Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber (2003) as sustainable despite featuring persistent US current account deficits may turn into a “Bretton Woods III” regime that sees US fiscal policy and public debt as “minding the store” in maintaining US and global growth.

  • Working Paper No. 583 | November 2009
    The Fiction and Reality of the 10th Anniversary Blast

    This paper investigates why Europe fared particularly poorly in the global economic crisis that began in August 2007. It questions the self-portrait of Europe as the victim of external shocks, pushed off track by reckless policies pursued elsewhere. It argues instead that Europe had not only contributed handsomely to the buildup of global imbalances since the 1990s and experienced their implosive unwinding as an internal crisis from the beginning, but that it had also nourished its own homemade intra-Euroland and intra-EU imbalances, the simultaneous implosion of which has further aggravated Europe's predicament. To keep its own house in order in the future, Euroland must shun the outdated “stability oriented” policy wisdom inherited from Germany’s mercantilist past and Bundesbank mythology. Steps toward a fiscal union to back the euro are also warranted.

  • Working Paper No. 582 | November 2009
    The Methodological Puzzles of the Financial Instability Analysis

    The recent revival of Hyman P. Minsky’s ideas among policymakers, economists, bankers, financial institutions, and the mass media, synchronized with the increasing gravity of the subprime financial crisis, demands a reappraisal of the meaning and scope of the “financial instability hypothesis” (FIH). We argue that we need a broader approach than that conventionally pursued, in order to understand not only financial crises but also the periods of financial calm between them and the transition from stability to instability. In this paper we aim to contribute to this challenging task by restating the strictly financial part of the FIH on the basis of a generalization of Minsky’s taxonomy of economic units. In light of this restatement, we discuss a few methodological issues that have to be clarified in order to develop the FIH in the most promising direction.

  • Working Paper No. 581 | October 2009
    Did the New Deal Prolong or Worsen the Great Depression?

    Since the current recession began in December 2007, New Deal legislation and its effectiveness have been at the center of a lively debate in Washington. This paper emphasizes some key facts about two kinds of policy that were important during the Great Depression and have since become the focus of criticism by new New Deal critics: (1) regulatory and labor relations legislation, and (2) government spending and taxation. We argue that initiatives in these policy areas probably did not slow economic growth or worsen the unemployment problem from 1933 to 1939, as claimed by a number of economists in academic papers, in the popular press, and elsewhere. To substantiate our case, we cite some important economic benefits of New Deal–era laws in the two controversial policy areas noted above. In fact, we suggest that the New Deal provided effective medicine for the Depression, though fiscal policy was not sufficiently countercyclical to conquer mass unemployment and prevent the recession of 1937–38; 1933’s National Industrial Recovery Act was badly flawed and poorly administered, and the help provided by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 came too late to have a big effect on the recovery.

  • Working Paper No. 580 | October 2009

    This paper contrasts the orthodox approach with an alternative view on finance, saving, deficits, and liquidity. The conventional view on the cause of the current global financial crisis points first to excessive United States trade deficits that are supposed to have “soaked up” global savings. Worse, this policy was ultimately unsustainable because it was inevitable that lenders would stop the flow of dollars. Problems were compounded by the Federal Reserve’s pursuit of a low-interest-rate policy, which involved pumping liquidity into the markets and thereby fueling a real estate boom. Finally, with the world awash in dollars, a run on the dollar caused it to collapse. The Fed (and then the Treasury) had to come to the rescue of US banks, firms, and households. When asset prices plummeted, the financial crisis spread to much of the rest of the world. According to the conventional view, China, as the residual supplier of dollars, now holds the fate of the United States, and possibly the entire world, in its hands. Thus, it’s necessary for the United States to begin living within its means, by balancing its current account and (eventually) eliminating its budget deficit.

    I challenge every aspect of this interpretation. Our nation operates with a sovereign currency, one that is issued by a sovereign government that operates with a flexible exchange rate. As such, the government does not really borrow, nor can foreigners be the source of dollars. Rather, it is the US current account deficit that supplies the net dollar saving to the rest of the world, and the federal government budget deficit that supplies the net dollar saving to the nongovernment sector. Further, saving is never a source of finance; rather, private lending creates bank deposits to finance spending that generates income. Some of this income can be saved, so the second part of the saving decision concerns the form in which savings might be held—as liquid or illiquid assets. US current account deficits and federal budget deficits are sustainable, so the United States does not need to adopt austerity, nor does it need to look to the rest of the world for salvation. Rather, it needs to look to domestic fiscal stimulus strategies to resolve the crisis, and to a larger future role for government in helping to stabilize the economy.

  • Working Paper No. 579 | October 2009
    The Core of the Financial Instability Hypothesis in Light of the Subprime Crisis

    This paper aims to help bridge the gap between theory and fact regarding the so-called “Minsky moments” by revisiting the “financial instability hypothesis” (FIH). We limit the analysis to the core of FIH—that is, to its strictly financial part. Our contribution builds on a reexamination of Minsky’s contributions in light of the subprime financial crisis. We start from a constructive criticism of the well-known Minskyan taxonomy o f financial units (hedge, speculative, and Ponzi) and suggest a different approach that allows a continuous measure of the unit’s financial conditions. We use this alternative approach to account for the cyclical fluctuations of financial conditions that endogenously generate instability and fragility. We may thus suggest a precise definition of the “Minsky moment” as the starting point of a Minskyan process—the phase of a financial cycle when many financial units suffer from both liquidity and solvency problems. Although the outlined approach is very simple and has to be further developed in many directions, we may draw from it a few policy insights on ways of stabilizing the financial cycle.

  • Working Paper No. 578 | September 2009

    This paper applies Hyman Minsky’s approach to provide an analysis of the causes of the global financial crisis. Rather than finding the origins in recent developments, this paper links the crisis to the long-term transformation of the economy from a robust financial structure in the 1950s to the fragile one that existed at the beginning of this crisis in 2007. As Minsky said, “Stability is destabilizing”: the relative stability of the economy in the early postwar period encouraged this transformation of the economy. Today’s crisis is rooted in what he called “money manager capitalism,” the current stage of capitalism dominated by highly leveraged funds seeking maximum returns in an environment that systematically under-prices risk. With little regulation or supervision of financial institutions, money managers have concocted increasingly esoteric instruments that quickly spread around the world. Those playing along are rewarded with high returns because highly leveraged funding drives up prices for the underlying assets. Since each subsequent bust wipes out only a portion of the managed money, a new boom inevitably rises. Perhaps this will prove to be the end of this stage of capitalism–the money manager phase. Of course, it is too early even to speculate on the form capitalism will take. I will only briefly outline some policy implications.

  • Working Paper No. 577 | September 2009

    This paper evaluates gender wage differentials in Georgia between 2000 and 2004. Using ordinary least squares, we find that the gender wage gap in Georgia is substantially higher than in other transition countries. Correcting for sample selection bias using the Heckman approach further increases the gender wage gap. The Blinder Oaxaca decomposition results suggest that most of the wage gap remains unexplained. The explained portion of the gap is almost entirely attributed to industrial variables. We find that the gender wage gap in Georgia diminished between 2000 and 2004.

  • Working Paper No. 576 | September 2009

    This paper investigates the relationship between asset markets and business cycles with regard to the US economy. We consider the Goldman Sachs approach (2003) developed to study the dynamics of financial balances.

    By means of a small econometric model we find that asset market dynamics are fundamental to determining the long-run financial sector balance dynamics. The gap between long-run equilibrium values and the actual values of the financial balances help to explain the cyclical path of the economy. Among all financial sectors balances, the financing gap in the corporate sector shows a leading effect on business cycles, in a Minskyan spirit. The last results appear innovative with respect to Goldman Sachs’s findings. Furthermore, our econometric results are robust and quite stable.

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    Paolo Casadio Antonio Paradiso
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  • Working Paper No. 575 | August 2009

    Utilizing a 2002 household-level World Bank Survey for rural Turkey, this paper explores the link between concentration of land ownership and rural factor markets. We construct a unique index that measures market malfunctioning based on the neoclassical model linking land and labor endowments through factor markets to household income. We further test whether land ownership concentration affects market malfunctioning. Our empirical investigation supports the claim that factor markets are structurally limited in reducing existing inequalities as a result of land ownership concentration. Our findings show that in the presence of land ownership inequality, malfunctioning rural factor markets result in increased land concentration, increased income inequality, and inefficient resource allocation. This work fills an important empirical gap within the development literature and establishes a positive association between asset inequality and factor market failure.

  • Working Paper No. 574.4 | August 2009
    Summary Tables

    This four-part study is a critical analysis of several reports dealing with the reform of the financial system in the United States. The study uses Minsky’s framework of analysis and focuses on the implications of Ponzi finance for regulatory and supervisory policies. The main conclusion of the study is that, while all reports make some valuable suggestions, they fail to deal with the socioeconomic dynamics that emerge during long periods of economic stability. As a consequence, it is highly doubtful that the principal suggestions contained in the reports will provide any applicable means to limit the worsening of financial fragility over periods of economic stability. The study also concludes that any meaningful systemic and prudential regulatory changes should focus on the analysis of expected and actual cash flows (sources and stability) rather than capital equity, and on preventing the emergence of Ponzi processes. The latter tend to emerge over long periods of economic stability and are not necessarily engineered by crooks. On the contrary, the pursuit of economic growth may involve the extensive use of Ponzi financial processes in legal economic activities. The study argues that some Ponzi processes—more precisely, pyramid Ponzi processes—should not be allowed to proceed, no matter how severe the immediate impact on economic growth, standards of living, or competitiveness. This is so because pyramid Ponzi processes always collapse, regardless how efficient financial markets are, how well informed and well behaved individuals are, or whether there is a “bubble” or not. The longer the process is allowed to proceed, the more destructive it becomes. Pyramid Ponzi processes cannot be risk-managed or buffered against; if economic growth is to be based on a solid financial foundation, these processes cannot be allowed to continue. Finally, a supervisory and regulatory process focused on detecting Ponzi processes would be much more flexible and adaptive, since it would not be preoccupied with either functional or product limits, or with arbitrary ratios of “prudence.” Rather, it would oversee all financial institutions and all products, no matter how new or marginal they might be.

    See also, Working Paper Nos. 574.1, 574.2, and 574.3.

  • Working Paper No. 574.3 | August 2009
    G30, OECD, GAO, ICMBS Reports

    This four-part study is a critical analysis of several reports dealing with the reform of the financial system in the United States. The study uses Minsky’s framework of analysis and focuses on the implications of Ponzi finance for regulatory and supervisory policies. The main conclusion of the study is that, while all reports make some valuable suggestions, they fail to deal with the socioeconomic dynamics that emerge during long periods of economic stability. As a consequence, it is highly doubtful that the principal suggestions contained in the reports will provide any applicable means to limit the worsening of financial fragility over periods of economic stability. The study also concludes that any meaningful systemic and prudential regulatory changes should focus on the analysis of expected and actual cash flows (sources and stability) rather than capital equity, and on preventing the emergence of Ponzi processes. The latter tend to emerge over long periods of economic stability and are not necessarily engineered by crooks. On the contrary, the pursuit of economic growth may involve the extensive use of Ponzi financial processes in legal economic activities. The study argues that some Ponzi processes—more precisely, pyramid Ponzi processes—should not be allowed to proceed, no matter how severe the immediate impact on economic growth, standards of living, or competitiveness. This is so because pyramid Ponzi processes always collapse, regardless how efficient financial markets are, how well informed and well behaved individuals are, or whether there is a “bubble” or not. The longer the process is allowed to proceed, the more destructive it becomes. Pyramid Ponzi processes cannot be risk-managed or buffered against; if economic growth is to be based on a solid financial foundation, these processes cannot be allowed to continue. Finally, a supervisory and regulatory process focused on detecting Ponzi processes would be much more flexible and adaptive, since it would not be preoccupied with either functional or product limits, or with arbitrary ratios of “prudence.” Rather, it would oversee all financial institutions and all products, no matter how new or marginal they might be.

    See also, Working Paper Nos. 574.1, 574.2, and 574.4.

  • Working Paper No. 574.2 | August 2009
    Treasury, CRMPG Reports, Financial Stability Forum

    This four-part study is a critical analysis of several reports dealing with the reform of the financial system in the United States. The study uses Minsky’s framework of analysis and focuses on the implications of Ponzi finance for regulatory and supervisory policies. The main conclusion of the study is that, while all reports make some valuable suggestions, they fail to deal with the socioeconomic dynamics that emerge during long periods of economic stability. As a consequence, it is highly doubtful that the principal suggestions contained in the reports will provide any applicable means to limit the worsening of financial fragility over periods of economic stability. The study also concludes that any meaningful systemic and prudential regulatory changes should focus on the analysis of expected and actual cash flows (sources and stability) rather than capital equity, and on preventing the emergence of Ponzi processes. The latter tend to emerge over long periods of economic stability and are not necessarily engineered by crooks. On the contrary, the pursuit of economic growth may involve the extensive use of Ponzi financial processes in legal economic activities. The study argues that some Ponzi processes—more precisely, pyramid Ponzi processes—should not be allowed to proceed, no matter how severe the immediate impact on economic growth, standards of living, or competitiveness. This is so because pyramid Ponzi processes always collapse, regardless how efficient financial markets are, how well informed and well behaved individuals are, or whether there is a “bubble” or not. The longer the process is allowed to proceed, the more destructive it becomes. Pyramid Ponzi processes cannot be risk-managed or buffered against; if economic growth is to be based on a solid financial foundation, these processes cannot be allowed to continue. Finally, a supervisory and regulatory process focused on detecting Ponzi processes would be much more flexible and adaptive, since it would not be preoccupied with either functional or product limits, or with arbitrary ratios of “prudence.” Rather, it would oversee all financial institutions and all products, no matter how new or marginal they might be.

    See also, Working Paper Nos. 574.1, 574.3, and 574.4.

  • Working Paper No. 574.1 | August 2009
    Key Concepts and Main Points

    This four-part study is a cr