Working Paper No. 960 | July 2020View More View LessFiscal policy is useful as a government instrument for supporting the economy, contributing to an increase in employment, and reducing inequality through more egalitarian income distribution. Over the past 30 years, developing countries have failed to increase their real wages due to the lack of domestic value-added in the era of globalization, where global supply chains are the driving factor for attracting foreign direct investment. Under such circumstances, the role of fiscal policy has become an important factor in creating the necessary conditions for boosting the economy. With the end of commodity-export-led growth, Mexico experienced a moderate reduction of 5 percent in poverty between 2014 and 2018 due to the structural adjustment of social policies and its economic and trade relationship with the United States; during the same period there has been no change in poverty in Argentina, and Brazil has suffered a rise in poverty. Following the global financial crisis, greater attention has been paid to fiscal policy in developed and developing countries—specifically Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico (ABM)—in order to attain macroeconomic stability. One of the consequences of the financial crisis is rising income inequality and its negative effects on economic growth. Over the past decade, fiscal policy has been adopted for the economic recovery. However, the recovery has been accompanied by a decrease in real wages of the middle class. The purpose of the present research is to critically examine the results of fiscal policy in ABM and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Bendreff DesilusRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 959 | June 2020
Comparative Evidence for Developed, Semi-Industrialized, and Low-Income Agricultural EconomiesThis paper applies a robust empirical methodology, which considers issues relating to cross-country heterogeneity and cross-sectional dependence, to inspect the contributions of gender equality and factor income distribution to an economy’s growth path. A dynamic model of aggregate demand is estimated on a unique panel dataset from 46 countries that are further grouped into developed (DC), semi-industrialized (SIEs), and low-income agricultural economies (LIAEs).
The empirical findings suggest that, overall, growth is driven by investment in the short run and domestic demand in the long run. In the short run, the results suggest that low female wages act as a stimulus to growth in SIEs but may promote contractionary pressures on demand in the long run. For LIAEs and DCs, the effect of improved labor market conditions for women—leaving men’s constant—on demand-led growth conditions are positive in the short run but may harm long-term growth prospects.
In all, the empirical evidence, combined with the stylized facts about institutional and economic inequality, suggests that the impact of gender and income inequality on macroeconomic outcomes will differ depending on the economic structure and level of economic development.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ruth BadruRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 958 | June 2020Macroeconomists and political officers need rigorous, albeit realistic, quantitative models to forecast the future paths and dynamics of some variables of interest while being able to evaluate the effects of alternative scenarios. At the heart of all these models lies a standard macroeconomic module that, depending on the degree of sophistication and the research questions to be answered, represents how the economy works. However, the complete absence of a realistic monetary framework, along with the abstraction of banks and more generally of real–financial interactions—not only in dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models but also in central banks’ structural econometric models—made it impossible to detect the rising financial fragility that led to the Great Recession.
In this paper, we show how to address the missing links between the real and financial sectors within a post-Keynesian framework, presenting a quarterly stock-flow consistent (SFC) structural model of the Italian economy. We set up the accounting structure of the sectoral transactions, describing our “transaction matrix” and “balance sheet matrix,” starting from the appropriate sectoral data sources. We then “close” all sectoral financial accounts, describe portfolio choices, and define the buffer stocks for each class of assets and sector in the model. We describe our estimation strategy, present the main stochastic equations, and, finally, discuss the main channels of transmissions in our model.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 957 | June 2020
The Long Period Method, Technical Change, and GenderThis paper presents a critique of Karl Marx’s labor theory of value and his theory of falling profit rates from an intersectional political economy perspective. Specifically, I rely on social reproduction theory to propose that Marx-biased technical change disrupts the social order and leads to competition between workers. The bargaining power of workers cannot be dissociated from class struggle within the working class. I argue that technical change increases social conflict, which can counterbalance the long-run tendency of the profit rate to fall. The conclusion is that class struggle is multilayered and endogenous to the process of accumulation.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 956 | May 2020This paper empirically models the dynamics of Brazilian government bond (BGB) yields based on monthly macroeconomic data in the context of the evolution of Brazil’s key macroeconomic variables. The results show that the current short-term interest rate has a decisive influence on BGBs’ long-term interest rates after controlling for various key macroeconomic variables, such as inflation and industrial production or economic activity. These findings support John Maynard Keynes’s claim that the central bank’s actions influence the long-term interest rate on government bonds mainly through the short-term interest rate. These findings have important policy implications for Brazil. This paper relates the findings of the estimated models to ongoing debates in fiscal and monetary policies.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer Akram Syed Al-Helal UddinRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 955 | May 2020
Evidence from West Bank SchoolsThis study uses rich administrative and survey data to investigate the effects of class size on students’ cognitive tests as well as bullying and violent behavior. I use the maximum class size rule to create a regression discontinuity (RD) relation between cohort enrollment size and class size in the public and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school system in the West Bank. In addition, I provide evidence that there is no violation of the RD assumptions resulting from discontinuities in the relationship between enrollment and students’ household background at cutoff points induced by a maximum class size rule. The main findings suggest that class size has no direct impact on students’ cognitive skills except for those in grade six. However, class size reduction improves the quality of life for children by mitigating the bullying and violent behavior among pupils that may negatively affect their achievements. Finally, I point to peer relations and mental health problems as a potential mechanism through which class size affects children’s self-reported bullying–victim instances and violent behavior.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 954 | April 2020
A Microeconometric AnalysisThis paper examines whether relative income and income inequality within reference groups affect household consumption. Using the explanations of consumption behavior based on Dusenberry’s relative income hypothesis, we test if household consumption levels in Turkey are affected by the household’s relative position and inequality in the reference group between 2005–12 by employing cross-sectional household-level data. We find that household consumption is negatively related to the relative income indicator after controlling for absolute income, and positively related to the income inequality of the reference group, as the literature suggests. The paper also shows that household indebtedness has a positive impact on household consumption when inequality in the reference group and the relative position of households are controlled for. We confirm that the results are not sensitive to chosen relative income indicators and income inequality.
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Working Paper No. 953 | April 2020
Some Empirical IssuesThe paper makes three contributions. First, following up on Nikiforos (2016), it provides an in-depth examination of the Federal Reserve measure of capacity utilization and shows that it is closer to a cyclical indicator than a measure of long run variations of normal utilization. Other measures, such as the average workweek of capital or the national emergency utilization rate are more appropriate for examining long-run changes in utilization. Second, and related to that, it argues that a relatively stationary measure of utilization is not consistent with any theory of the determination of utilization. Third, based on data on the lifetime of fixed assets it shows that for the issues around the “utilization controversy” the long run is a period after thirty years or more. This makes it a Platonic Idea for some economic problems.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 952 | April 2020
Some Theoretical IssuesThis paper discusses some issues related to the triangle between capital accumulation, distribution, and capacity utilization. First, it explains why utilization is a crucial variable for the various theories of growth and distribution—more precisely, with regards to their ability to combine an autonomous role for demand (along Keynesian lines) and an institutionally determined distribution (along classical lines). Second, it responds to some recent criticism by Girardi and Pariboni (2019). I explain that their interpretation of the model in Nikiforos (2013) is misguided, and that the results of the model can be extended to the case of a monopolist. Third, it provides some concrete examples of why demand is a determinant for the long-run rate of utilization of capital. Finally, it argues that when it comes to the normal rate of utilization, it is the expected growth rate of demand that matters, not the level of demand.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 951 | April 2020This paper presents a simple model of the long-term interest rate. The model represents John Maynard Keynes’s conjecture that the central bank’s actions influence the long-term interest rate primarily through the short-term interest rate, while allowing for other important factors. It relies on the geometric Brownian motion to formally model Keynes’s conjecture. Geometric Brownian motion has been widely used in modeling interest rate dynamics in quantitative finance. However, it has not been used to represent Keynes’s conjecture. Empirical studies in support of the Keynesian perspective and the stylized facts on the dynamics of the long-term interest rate on government bonds suggest that interest rate models based on Keynes’s conjecture can be advantageous.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer AkramRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 950 | April 2020The United States government recently passed legislation and stabilization packages to respond to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak by providing paid sick leave, tax credits, and free virus testing; expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits; and increasing Medicaid funding. However, the response to the global pandemic might be hindered by the lassitude of the state and the administration’s conception of social policy that leaves the most vulnerable unprotected. The administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration campaign poses public health challenges, especially in the prevention of communicable diseases. In addition to the systemic obstacles noncitizens face in their access to healthcare, recent changes to immigration law that penalize recipients of some social services on grounds that they are a public charge will further restrict their access to treatment and hinder the fight against the pandemic.Download:Associated Program(s):Gender Equality and the Economy Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Structure Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 949 | February 2020View More View LessThis paper extends the empirical stock-flow consistent (SFC) literature through the introduction of distributional features and labor market institutions in a Godley-type empirical SFC model. In particular, labor market institutions, such as the minimum wage and the collective bargaining coverage rate, are considered as determinants of the wage share and, in turn, of the distribution of national income. Thereby, the model is able to examine both the medium-term stability conditions of the economy via the evolution of the sectoral financial balances and the implications of functional income distribution on the growth prospects of the economy at hand. The model is then applied to the Greek economy. The empirical results indicate that the Greek economy has a significant structural competitiveness deficit, while the institutional regime is likely debt-led. The policies implemented in the context of the economic adjustment programs were highly inappropriate, triggering private sector insolvency. A minimum wage increase is projected to have a positive impact on output growth and employment. However, policies that would enhance the productive sector’s structural competitiveness are required in order to ensure the growth prospects of the Greek economy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Christos PierrosRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 948 | February 2020This paper analyzes recent macroeconomic developments in the eurozone, particularly in Germany. Several economic indicators are sending signals of a looming German recession. Geopolitical tensions caused by trade disputes between the United States and China, plus the risk of a disorderly Brexit, began disrupting the global supply chain in manufacturing. German output contraction has been centered on manufacturing, particularly the automobile sector. Despite circumstances that call for fiscal intervention to rescue the economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was overdue with corrective measures. This paper explains Germany’s hesitancy to protect its economy, which has been based on a political and historical ideology that that rejects issuing new public debt to increase public spending, thus leaving the economy exposed to the doldrums. The paper also considers serious shortcomings in the European Union’s (EU) foreign and defense policies that recently surfaced during the Syrian refugee crisis. The eurocrisis revealed near-fatal weaknesses of the European Monetary Union (EMU), which is still incomplete without a common fiscal policy, a common budget, and a banking union. Unless corrected, such deficiencies will cause both the EU and the EMU to dissolve if another asymmetric shock occurs. This paper also analyzes recent geopolitical developments that are crucial to the EU/eurozone’s existential crisis.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):George Zestos Rachel N. CookeRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 947 | February 2020Starting from the mid-nineteenth century, this paper analyzes two periods of financial instability connected with financial globalization. The first culminates with the 1929 crisis, while the second characterizes the more recent experience starting from the 1970s. The period in between is divided into two subperiods. The first goes up to World War II and sees a retrenchment from globalization and the affirmation of a statist approach to national policy autonomy in pursuing domestic goals, for which we take as examples the New Deal, financial regulation, and the new international cooperative approach finally leading to Bretton Woods. The second subperiod, marked by the new international monetary order and limited globalization, although appearing as a relatively calm interlude, conceals the seeds of a renewed push toward financial fragility. The above periods are synthetically analyzed in terms of the development and mutual fertilization of theories, institutions, and vested public and private interests. The narrative is based on two interpretative keys: the Minskyan theory of financial fragility and changes in the public-private partnership, mainly with reference to the financial sector for which the role of the state as guarantor of last resort necessarily ensues. The lesson that can be derived is that a laissez-faire approach to globalization strengthens asymmetric powers and necessarily leads to overglobalization, as well as to financial and economic instability, rendering it extremely difficult and socially costly for the state to comply with its role as financial guarantor.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Mario TonveronachiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 946 | February 2020
A Comment on Autor and SalomonsWe show that Autor and Salomons’ (2017, 2018) analysis of the impact of technical progress on employment growth is problematic. When they use labor productivity growth as a proxy for technical progress, their regressions are quasi-accounting identities that omit one variable of the identity. Consequently, the coefficient of labor productivity growth suffers from omitted-variable bias, where the omitted variable is known. The use of total factor productivity (TFP) growth as a proxy for technical progress does not solve the problem. Contrary to what the profession has argued for decades, we show that this variable is not a measure of technical progress. This is because TFP growth derived residually from a production function, together with the conditions for producer equilibrium, can also be derived from an accounting identity without any assumption. We interpret TFP growth as a measure of distributional changes. This identity also indicates that Autor and Salomons’ estimates of TFP growth’s impact on employment growth are biased due to the omission of the other variables in the identity. Overall, we conclude that their work does not shed light on the question they address.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Jesus Felipe Donna Faye Bajaro Gemma Estrada John McCombieRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 945 | January 2020View More View LessThe present paper emphasizes the role of demand, income distribution, endogenous productivity reactions, and other structural changes in the slowdown of the growth rate of output and productivity that has been observed in the United States over the last four decades. In particular, it is explained that weak net export demand, fiscal conservatism, and the increase in income inequality have put downward pressure on demand. Up until the crisis, this pressure was partially compensated for through debt-financed expenditure on behalf of the private sector, especially middle- and lower-income households. This debt overhang is now another obstacle in the way of demand recovery. In turn, as emphasized by the Kaldor-Verdoorn law and the induced technical change approach, the decrease in demand and the stagnation of wages can lead to an endogenous slowdown in productivity growth. Moreover, it is argued that the increasingly oligopolistic and financialized structure of the US economy also contributes to the slowdown. Finally, the paper argues that there is nothing secular about the current stagnation; addressing the aforementioned factors can allow for growth to resume, as has happened in the past.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 944 | January 2020Keynes argued that the short-term interest rate is the main driver of the long-term interest rate. This paper empirically models the relationship between short-term interest rates and long-term government securities yields in Canada, after controlling for other important financial variables. The statistical analysis uses high-frequency daily data from 1990 to 2018. It applies both the cointegration technique and Granger causality within the vector error correction (VEC) framework. The empirical results suggest that the action of the monetary authority is an important determinant of Canadian government securities yields, which supports the Keynesian perspective. These findings have important implications for investors, financial analysts, and policymakers.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 943 | January 2020Whether China’s low fertility rate is the consequence of the country’s strict population control policy is a puzzling question. This paper attempts to disentangle the Chinese population control policy’s impacts on the fertility rate from socioeconomic factors using the synthetic control method proposed by Abadie and Gardeazabal (2003). The results indicate that the population control policy significantly decreased China’s birth rate after the “Later, Longer, and Fewer” policy came into force, but had little effect on the birth rate in the long run. We estimate that between 164.2 million and 268.3 million prevented births from 1971 to 2016 can be attributed to the Chinese population control policy. In addition, we implement a placebo study to check the validity of the method and confirm the robustness of the paper’s conclusions.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Liu Qiang Fernando Rios-Avila Han JiqinRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 942 | January 2020This paper emphasizes the need for understanding the interdependencies between the real and financial sides of the economy in macroeconomic models. While the real side of the economy is generally well explained in macroeconomic models, the financial side and its interaction with the real economy remains poorly understood. This paper makes an attempt to model the interdependencies between the real and financial sides of the economy in Denmark while adopting a stock-flow consistent approach. The model is estimated using Danish data for the period 1995–2016. The model is simulated to create a baseline scenario for the period 2017–30, against which the effects of two standard shocks (fiscal shocks and interest rate shocks) are analyzed. Overall, our model is able to replicate the stylized facts, as will be discussed. While the model structure is fairly simple due to different constraints, the use of the stock-flow approach makes it possible to explain several transmission mechanisms through which real economic behavior can affect the balance sheets, and at the same time capture the feedback effects from the balance sheets to the real economy. Finally, we discuss certain limitations of our model.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mikael Randrup Byrialsen Hamid RazaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 941 | December 2019
Wage Differential between Palestinian Non-refugees and Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank and GazaView More View LessThis paper measures the wage differential between Palestinian non-refugees and Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza over the years 1999–2012. First, the main individual and occupational differences between the two groups in the two regions are presented. Then, the wage differential is decomposed into two components: a “human capital effect, explained part” and a “coefficient effect, unexplained part.” Second, findings suggest that though the wage gap has always existed and favored non-refugees in the West Bank, it has a more substantial impact among low-skilled workers and those in the private sector. Furthermore, most of this gap is attributed to the unexplained part of the wage decomposition model. In Gaza, the wage gap favored refugee workers. Most of this wage gap among unskilled workers is attributed to the endowment/human capital effect, while for skilled workers most of the wage gap is due to the unexplained part—the “coefficient effect”—after 2006.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 940 | November 2019
A Rejoinder and Some CommentsThe critique by Gahn and González (2019) of the conclusions in Nikiforos (2016) regarding what data should be used to evaluate whether capacity utilization is endogenous to demand is weak for the following reasons: (i) The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) measure of utilization is not appropriate for measuring long-run variations of utilization because of the method and purpose of its construction. Even if its difference from the measures of the average workweek of capital(AWW) were trivial, this would still be the case; if anything, it would show that the AWW is also an inappropriate measure. (ii) Gahn and González choose to ignore the longest available estimate of the AWW produced by Foss, which has a clear long-run trend. (iii) Their econometric results are not robust to more suitable specifications of the unit root tests. Under these specifications, the tests overwhelmingly fail to reject the unit root hypothesis. (iv) Other estimates of the AWW, which were not included in Nikiforos (2016) confirm these conclusions. v) For the comparison between the AWW series and the FRB series, they construct variables that are not meaningful because they subtract series in different units. When the comparison is done correctly, the results confirm that the difference between the AWW series and the FRB series has a unit root. (vi) A stationary utilization rate is not consistent with any theory of the determination of capacity utilization. Even if demand did not play a role, there is no reason to expect that all the other factors that determine utilization would change in a fashion that would keep utilization constant.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 939 | October 2019
The Case of GhanaViolence against women and girls (VAWG) is a widely recognized human rights violation with serious consequences for the health and well-being of women and their families. However, the wider ramifications of VAWG for businesses, communities, economies, and societies are only recently being recognized. Despite this recognition, there are few studies exploring how the economic and social impacts of VAWG affect economic growth, development, and social stability. In this paper, applying the social accounting approach, we outline the ripple effects of VAWG from the individual micro-level impacts to the macroeconomy. Our analysis shows the loss due to VAWG amounts to about 0.94 percent of Ghanaian GDP and is a permanent invisible leakage from the circular flow of the economy. The analysis also shows that the loss due to violence is not just a one-off leakage from the macroeconomic circular flow and explores the potential consequences of the multiplier loss due to VAWG over a period of time. The cumulative loss is sizeable and inflicts a premium on GDP growth over time—in simple terms, inaction today in addressing VAWG for cost considerations will impose a larger cost premium on economic growth, which will constrain tomorrow’s resources.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Srinivas Raghavendra Kijong Kim Sinead Ashe Mrinal Chadha Felix Asante Petri T. Piiroinen Nata DuvvuryRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 938 | October 2019View More View LessNominal yields for Japanese government bonds (JGBs) have been remarkably low for several decades. Japanese government debt ratios have continued to increase amid a protracted period of stagnant nominal GDP, low inflation, and deflationary pressures. Many analysts are puzzled by the phenomenon of JGBs’ low nominal yields because Japanese government debt ratios are elevated. However, this paper shows that the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) highly accommodative monetary policy is primarily responsible for keeping JGB yields low for a protracted period. This is consistent with Keynes’s view that the short-term interest rate is the key driver of the long-term interest rate. This paper also relates the BoJ’s monetary policy and economic developments in Japan to the evolution of JGBs’ long-term interest rates.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 937 | October 2019
Some ReflectionsThere is a growing recognition that fundamental changes are happening in Indian fiscal federalism ex post the abolition of the Planning Commission, the creation of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, the constitutional amendment to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the establishment of the GST Council, and the historically high tax devolution to the states based on the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations. Recently, policymakers and experts have raised a few issues, including: whether or not to make Finance Commissions “permanent” or to abolish them by making the tax devolution share constant through a constitutional amendment; the need for an institution to redress spatial inequalities in order to fill the vacuum created by abolishing the Planning Commission; and making the case for Article 282 of the constitution to be circumscribed. The debates are also focused on whether there is a need to establish a link between the GST Council and Finance Commissions, and if India should devise a mechanism of transfer that is predominantly based on sharing of grants for equalization of services rather than tax sharing. Creating a plausible framework for debt-deficit dynamics while keeping the fiscal autonomy of states intact and ensuring output gap reduction and public investment at the subnational level without creating disequilibrium were also other matters of concern. These debates are significant, especially when a group of states came together for the first time ever to question the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission amid growing tensions in federal-state relations in India.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 936 | September 2019
The Modern Money Theory ApproachThis paper will present the Modern Money Theory approach to government finance. In short, a national government that chooses its own money of account, imposes a tax in that money of account, and issues currency in that money of account cannot face a financial constraint. It can make all payments as they come due. It cannot be forced into insolvency. While this was well understood in the early postwar period, it was gradually “forgotten” as the neoclassical theory of the household budget constraint was applied to government finance. Matters were made worse by the development of “generational accounting” that calculated hundreds of trillions of dollars of government red ink through eternity due to “entitlements.” As austerity measures were increasingly adopted at the national level, fiscal responsibility was shifted to state and local governments through “devolution.” A “stakeholder” approach to government finance helped fuel white flight to suburbs and produced “doughnut holes” in the cities. To reverse these trends, we need to redevelop our understanding of the fiscal space open to the currency issuer—expanding its responsibility not only for national social spending but also for helping to fund state and local government spending. This is no longer just an academic debate, given the challenges posed by climate change, growing inequality, secular stagnation, and the rise of Trumpism.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 935 | August 2019View More View Less
A Liquidity Preference Theoretical PerspectiveThis paper investigates the peculiar macroeconomic policy challenges faced by emerging economies in today’s monetary (non)order and globalized finance. It reviews the evolution of the international monetary and financial architecture against the background of Keynes’s original Bretton Woods vision, highlighting the US dollar’s hegemonic status. Keynes’s liquidity preference theory informs the analysis of the loss of policy space and widespread instabilities in emerging economies that are the consequence of financial hyperglobalization. While any benefits promised by mainstream promoters remain elusive, heightened vulnerabilities have emerged in the aftermath of the global crisis.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 934 | August 2019This paper analyzes the dynamics of long-term US Treasury security yields from a Keynesian perspective using daily data. Keynes held that the short-term interest rate is the main driver of the long-term interest rate. In this paper, the daily changes in long-term Treasury security yields are empirically modeled as a function of the daily changes in the short-term interest rate and other important financial variables to test Keynes’s hypothesis. The use of daily data provides a long time series. It enables the extension of earlier Keynesian models of Treasury security yields that relied on quarterly and monthly data. Models based on higher-frequency daily data from financial markets—such as the ones presented in this paper—can be valuable to investors, financial analysts, and policymakers because they make it possible for a real-time fundamental assessment of the daily changes in long-term Treasury security yields based on a wide range of financial variables from a Keynesian perspective. The empirical findings of this paper support Keynes’s view by showing that the daily changes in the short-term interest rate are the main driver of the daily changes in the long-term interest rate on Treasury securities. Other financial variables, such as the daily changes in implied volatility of equity prices and the daily changes in the exchange rate, are found to have some influence on Treasury yields.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 933 | July 2019
Making Sense of the Barro-Ricardo Equivalence in a Financialized WorldThe 2008 crisis created a need to rethink many aspects of economic theory, including the role of public intervention in the economy. On this issue, we explore the Barro-Ricardo equivalence, which has played a decisive role in molding the economic policies that fostered the crisis. We analyze the equivalence and its theoretical underpinnings, concluding that: (1) it declares, but then forgets, that it does not matter whether the nature of debt and investment is public or private; (2) its most problematic assumption is the representative agent hypothesis, which does not allow for an explanation of financialization and cannot assess dangers coming from high levels of financial leverage; (3) social wealth cannot be based on any micro-foundation and is linked to the role of the state as provider of financial stability; and (4) default is always the optimal policy for the government, and this remains true even when relaxing many equivalence assumptions. We go on to discuss possible solutions to high levels of public debt in the real world, inferring that no general conclusions are possible and every solution or mix of solutions must be tailored to each specific case. We conclude by connecting different solutions to the political balance of forces in the current era of financialization, using Italy (and, by extension, the eurozone) as a concrete example to better illustrate the discussion.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Lorenzo Esposito Giuseppe MastromatteoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 932 | June 2019Local government debt in China is increasing and presents a great threat to China’s financial stability. In China’s fiscal system, the central government often prioritizes reducing its fiscal deficit and can determine to a great extent the distribution of revenue and expenditure between itself and local governments. There is therefore a tendency for the fiscal burden to be shifted from the central government to the local governments. Resolving China’s local government debt problem requires not only strengthening regulation, but also abandoning the central government’s fiscal balance target, because this target may make regulation hard to sustain in times of economic downturn. This paper discusses central-local fiscal relations in the framework of Modern Money Theory, suggesting that, because a government with currency sovereignty can always afford any spending denominated in its own currency, China’s central government should bear a greater fiscal burden.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Zengping He Genliang JiaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 931 | May 2019This paper follows the methodology developed by J. M. Keynes in his How to Pay for the War pamphlet to estimate the “costs” of the Green New Deal (GND) in terms of resource requirements. Instead of simply adding up estimates of the government spending that would be required, we assess resource availability that can be devoted to implementing GND projects. This includes mobilizing unutilized and underutilized resources, as well as shifting resources from current destructive and inefficient uses to GND projects. We argue that financial affordability cannot be an issue for the sovereign US government. Rather, the problem will be inflation if sufficient resources cannot be diverted to the GND. And if inflation is likely, we need to put in place anti-inflationary measures, such as well-targeted taxes, wage and price controls, rationing, and voluntary saving. Following Keynes, we recommend deferred consumption as our first choice should inflation pressures arise. We conclude that it is likely that the GND can be phased in without inflation, but if price pressures do appear, deferring a small amount of consumption will be sufficient to attenuate them.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Yeva Nersisyan L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 930 | May 2019
A Semi-Parametric Approach to the Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition with Continuous Group Variable and Self-SelectionView More View LessThis paper describes the application of a semiparametric approach, known as a varying coefficients model (Hastie and Tibshirani 1993), to implement a Oaxaca-Blinder type of decomposition in the presence of self-selection into treatment groups for a continuum of comparison groups. The flexibility of this methodology may allow for detecting heterogeneity of the role of endowment and coefficient effects when analyzing endogenous dose treatments. The methodology is then used to revisit the impact of obesity on wages (Cawley 2004), using body mass index (BMI) as the continuous group variable. The results suggest that body weight does have a negative impact on wages for white women, but the impact decreases for higher BMI levels. For white men, the impact is also negative and significant, but positive for low levels of BMI, which explains why they are not significant in the linear instrumental variables approach.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 929 | May 2019Increases in the federal funds rate aimed at stabilizing the economy have inevitably been followed by recessions. Recently, peaks in the federal funds rate have occurred 6–16 months before the start of recessions; reductions in interest rates apparently occurred too late to prevent those recessions. Potential leading indicators include measures of labor productivity, labor utilization, and demand, all of which influence stock market conditions, the return to capital, and changes in the federal funds rate, among many others. We investigate the dynamics of the spread between the 10-year Treasury rate and the federal funds rate in order to better understand “when to ease off the (federal funds) brakes.”Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Harold M. Hastings Tai Young-Taft Thomas WangRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 928 | May 2019In the Western interpretation of democracy, governments exist in order to manage relations of property, with absence of property ownership leading to exclusion from participation in governance and, in many cases, absence of equal treatment before the law. Democratizing money will therefore ensure equal opportunity to the ownership of property, and thus full participation in the democratic governance of society, as well as equal access to the banking system, which finances the creation of capital via the creation of money. If the divergence between capital and labor—between rich and poor—is explained by the monopoly access of capitalists to finance, then reducing this divergence is crucially dependent on the democratization of money. Though the role of money and finance in determining inequality between capital and labor transcends any particular understanding of the process by which the creation of money leads to inequity, specific proposals for the democratization of money will depend on the explanation of how money comes into existence and how it supports capital accumulation.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 927 | April 2019
Methods for Analyzing the Determinants of Poverty and InequalityRecentered influence functions (RIFs) are statistical tools popularized by Firpo, Fortin, and Lemieux (2009) for analyzing unconditional partial effects on quantiles in a regression analysis framework (unconditional quantile regressions). The flexibility and simplicity of these tools has opened the possibility of extending the analysis to other distributional statistics using linear regressions or decomposition approaches. In this paper, I introduce three Stata commands to facilitate the use of RIFs in the analysis of outcome distributions: rifvar() is an egen extension used to create RIFs for a large set of distributional statistics; rifhdreg facilitates the estimation of RIF regressions, enabling the use of high-dimensional fixed effects; and oaxaca_rif to implement Oaxaca-Blinder type decomposition analysis (RIF decompositions).Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 926 | April 2019
Lessons for Monetary UnionsThe debate about the use of fiscal instruments for macroeconomic stabilization has regained prominence in the aftermath of the Great Recession, and the experience of a monetary union equipped with fiscal shock absorbers, such as the United States, has often been a reference. This paper enhances our knowledge about the degree of macroeconomic stabilization achieved in the United States through the federal budget, providing a detailed breakdown of the different channels. In particular, we investigate the relative importance and stabilization impact of the federal system of unemployment benefits and of its extension as a response to the Great Recession. The analysis shows that in the United States, corporate income taxes collected at the federal level are the single most efficient instrument for providing stabilization, given that even with a smaller size than other instruments they can provide important effects, mainly against common shocks. On the other hand, Social Security benefits and personal income taxes have a greater role in stabilizing asymmetric shocks. A federal system of unemployment insurance, then, can play an important stabilization role, in particular when enhanced by a discretionary program of extended benefits in the event of a large shock, like the Great Recession.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Plamen Nikolov Paolo PasimeniRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 925 | April 2019This paper traces the history of China’s reform of its monetary policy framework and analyzes its success and problems. In the context of financial marketization and the failure of the quantity-targeting framework, the People’s Bank of China transformed its monetary policy framework toward one that targets interest rates. The reform includes two important institutional changes: establishing an interest rate corridor and decreasing the difficulty the Open Market Operations room faces in estimating the market demand for reserves. The new monetary policy framework successfully stabilizes the interbank offered rate. However, this does not mean that the new framework is sufficient. One important problem remaining to be solved is how to manage the effects of fiscal activities on monetary policy operations. This paper analyzes the fiscal effects on reserves in China’s Treasury Single Account system. The missing role of the Treasury in monetary policy operations increases the difficulty for the central bank to achieve its interest rate target. A further reform is therefore needed to provide a coordination mechanism between the Treasury and the People’s Bank of China.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Zengping He Genliang JiaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 924 | February 2019The paper builds on the concept of (shifting) involvements, originally proposed by Albert
Hirschman (2002 ). However, unlike Hirschman, the concept is framed in class terms. A model is presented where income distribution is determined by the involvement of the two classes, capitalists and workers. Higher involvement by capitalists and lower involvement by workers tends to increase the profit share and vice versa. In turn, shifts in involvements are induced by the potential effect of a change in distribution on economic activity and past levels of distribution. On the other hand, as the profit share increases, the economy tends to become more wage led. The dynamics of the resulting model are interesting. The more the two classes prioritize the increase of their income share over economic activity, the more possible it is that the economy is unstable. Under the stable configuration, the most likely outcome is Polanyian predator-prey cycles, which can explain some interesting historical episodes during the 20th century. Finally, the paper discusses the possibility of conflict and cooperation within each of the distribution-led regimes.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 923 | February 2019
The New Deal and Postwar France ExperimentsBy the beginning of the 20th century, the possibility and efficacy of economic planning was believed to have been proven by totalitarian experiments in Germany, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser degree, Fascist Italy; however, the possibilities and limitations of planning in capitalist democracies was unclear. The challenge in the United States in the 1930s and in postwar France was to find ways to make planning work under capitalism and democratic conditions, where private agents were free to not accept its directives.
This paper begins by examining the experience with planning during the first years of the New Deal in the United States, centered on the creation and operation of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), and continues with a discussion of the French experience with indicative planning in the aftermath of World War II. A digression follows, touching on the proximity between the matters treated in this paper and Keynes’s view that macroeconomic stabilization could require a measure of socialization of investments, following James Tobin’s hunch that French indicative planning, as well as some social democrat experiences in Northern Europe, could be playing precisely that role. The paper concludes by identifying the lessons one can draw from the two experiences.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 922 | February 2019
Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Education-Occupation Job MismatchWith the rapid increase in educational attainment, technological change, and greater job specialization, decisions regarding human capital investment are no longer exclusively about the quantity of education, but rather the type of education to obtain. The skills and knowledge acquired in specific fields of study are more valuable for some jobs compared to others, which suggests the existence of differences in the quality of the education-occupation match in the labor market. With this premise in mind, this paper aims to estimate the effect of the quality of this education-occupation job match on workers’ wages and to explore the factors that contribute to the existence of such mismatch among workers with higher education (college or more). Using data from the American Community Survey 2010–16, we construct two indices that measure the quality of the education-occupation match: based on the predicted and observed distribution of workers using their fields of education and their jobs’ occupation classification. Results suggest there is a wage gap of around 3–4 percent when comparing workers that have good job matches to those who have bad matches. Given the importance of the penalty for mismatched jobs, we find that structural characteristics such as unemployment, and individual characteristics such as gender, race, immigration status, and even homeownership affect the quality of horizontal mismatch as well.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Fernando Rios-Avila Fabiola Saavedra CaballeroRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 921 | January 2019This paper is a comparison between two programs implemented to combat poverty in Latin America: Prospera (Prosper) in Mexico and Asignación Universal por Hijo (Universal Assignment for Child) in Argentina.
The first section offers a review of the emergence of the welfare state, examining economic and urban development in both countries and the underlying trends of social policy instruments.
The analysis is based on the political nature of social problems and the actions undertaken to confront them. The paper offers a theoretical perspective, often questioning the very foundation of the social policy that serves as the main framework for the social programs, in order to present the policies’ scope, successes, and disadvantages with reference to social equity and the well-being of their participants.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 920 | January 2019
Efficacy of Gender Budgeting in Asia PacificGender budgeting is a fiscal approach that seeks to use a country’s national and/or local budget(s) to reduce inequality and promote economic growth and equitable development. While the literature has explored the connection between reducing gender inequality and achieving growth and equitable development, more empirical analysis is needed on whether gender budgeting reduces gender inequality. Our study follows the methodology of Stotsky and Zaman (2016) to investigate the impact of gender budgeting on promoting gender equality across Asia Pacific countries. The study classifies Asia Pacific countries as gender budgeting or non-gender budgeting according to whether they have formalized gender budgeting initiatives in laws and/or budget call circulars. To measure the effect of gender budgeting on reducing inequality, we measure the correlation between gender budgeting and the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII) scores in each country. The data for our gender inequality variables are mainly drawn from the IMF database on gender indicators and the World Development Indicators database over the 1990–2013 period. Our results show that gender budgeting has a significant effect on increasing the GDI and a small but significant potential to reduce the GII, strengthening the rationale for employing gender budgeting to promote inclusive development. However, our empirical results show no prioritization of gender budgeting in the fiscal space of health and education sectors in the region.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Lekha S. Chakraborty Marian Ingrams Yadawendra SinghRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 919 | January 2019While the literature on theoretical macroeconomic models adopting the stock-flow-consistent (SFC) approach is flourishing, few contributions cover the methodology for building a SFC empirical model for a whole country. Most contributions simply try to feed national accounting data into a theoretical model inspired by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie (2007), albeit with different degrees of complexity.
In this paper we argue instead that the structure of an empirical SFC model should start from a careful analysis of the specificities of a country’s sectoral balance sheets and flow of funds data, given the relevant research question to be addressed. We illustrate our arguments with examples for Greece, Italy, and Ecuador.
We also provide some suggestions on how to consistently use the financial and nonfinancial accounts of institutional sectors, showing the link between SFC accounting structures and national accounting rules.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 918 | December 2018Divergent trends, as observed, between growth in the financial and real sectors of the global economy entail the need for further research, especially on the motivations behind investment decisions. Investments in market economies are generally guided by call-put option pricing models—which rely on an ergodic notion of probability that conforms to a normal distribution function. This paper considers critiques of the above models, which include Keynes’s Treatise on Probability (1921) and the General Theory (1936), as well as follow-ups in the post-Keynesian approaches and others dealing with “fundamental uncertainty.” The methodological issues, as can be pointed out, are relevant in the context of policy issues and social institutions, including those subscribed to by the ruling state. As it has been held in variants of institutional economics subscribed to by John Commons, Thorstein Veblen, Geoffrey Hodgeson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, social institutions remain important in their capacity as agencies that influence individual behavior with their “informational-cognitive” functions in society. By shaping business concerns and strategies, social institutions have a major impact on investment decisions in a capitalist system. The role of such institutions in investment decisions via policy making is generally neglected in strategies based on mainstream economics, which continue to rely on optimization of stock market returns based on imprecise estimations of probability.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 917 | October 2018
Lauchlin Currie and Hyman Minsky on Financial Systems and CrisesIn November 1987, Hyman Minsky visited Bogotá, Colombia, after being invited by a group of professors who at that time were interested in post-Keynesian economics. There, Minsky delivered some lectures, and Lauchlin Currie attended two of those lectures at the National University of Colombia. Although Currie is not as well-known as Minsky in the American academy, both are outstanding figures in the development of non-orthodox approaches to monetary economics. Both alumni of the economics Ph.D. program at Harvard had a debate in Bogotá. Unfortunately, there are no formal records of this, so here a question arises: What could have been their respective positions? The aim of this paper is to discuss Currie’s and Minsky’s perspectives on monetary economics and to speculate on what might have been said during their debate.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Iván D. VelasquezRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 916 | October 2018
Seigniorage as Fiscal Revenue in the Aftermath of the Global Financial CrisisThis study investigates the evolution of central bank profits as fiscal revenue (or: seigniorage) before and in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008–9, focusing on a select group of central banks—namely the Bank of England, the United States Federal Reserve System, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank, the European Central Bank, and the Eurosystem (specifically Deutsche Bundesbank, Banca d’Italia, and Banco de España)—and the impact of experimental monetary policies on central bank profits, profit distributions, and financial buffers, and the outlook for these measures going forward as monetary policies are seeing their gradual “normalization.”
Seigniorage exposes the connections between currency issuance and public finances, and between monetary and fiscal policies. Central banks’ financial independence rests on seigniorage, and in normal times seigniorage largely derives from the note issue supplemented by “own” resources. Essentially, the central bank’s income-earning assets represent fiscal wealth, a national treasure hoard that supports its central banking functionality. This analysis sheds new light on the interdependencies between monetary and fiscal policies.
Just as the size and composition of central bank balance sheets experienced huge changes in the context of experimental monetary policies, this study’s findings also indicate significant changes regarding central banks’ profits, profit distributions, and financial buffers in the aftermath of the crisis, with considerable cross-country variation.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 915 | September 2018The Great Recession had a devastating impact on labor force participation and employment. This impact was not unlike other recessions, except in size. The recovery, however, has been unusual not so much for its sluggishness but for the unusual pattern of recovery in employment by race. The black employment–population ratio has increased since bottoming out in 2010, while the white employment–population ratio has remained flat. This paper examines trends in labor force participation and employment by race, sex, and age and determines that the explanation is a combination of an aging white population and an increase in labor force participation among younger black people. It estimates the likelihood of labor force participation and employment among young men and women to control for confounding factors (such as changes in educational characteristics) and decomposes the gaps among groups and the changes over time in labor force participation using a Oaxaca-Blinder-like technique for nonlinear estimations. Findings indicate that much smaller negative impacts of characteristics and greater returns to characteristics among young black men and women than among young white men and women explain the observed trends.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 914 | September 2018
Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Using the American Time Use Survey 2013, the Survey of Consumer Finances 2013, and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement 2014View More View LessThis paper describes the quality of the statistical matching between the March 2014 supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the 2013 American Time Use Survey (ATUS) and Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which are used as the basis for the 2013 Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 913 | August 2018
German Economic Dominance within the Eurozone and Minsky’s Proposal for a Shared Burden between the Hegemon and Core Economic PowersView More View LessThere is no disputing Germany’s dominant economic role within the eurozone (EZ) and the broader European Union. Economic leadership, however, entails responsibilities, especially in a world system of monetary production economies that compete with each other according to political and economic interests. In the first section of this paper, historical context is given to the United States’ undisputed leadership of monetary production economies following the end of World War II to help frame the broader discussion developed in the second section on the requirements of the leading nation-state in the new system of states after the war. The second section goes on further to discuss how certain constraints regarding the external balance do not apply to the leader of the monetary production economies. The third section looks at Hyman P. Minsky’s proposal for a shared burden between the hegemon and other core industrial economies in maintaining the stability of the international financial system. Section four looks at Germany’s leadership role within the EZ and how it must emulate some of the United States’ trade policies in order to make the EZ a viable economic bloc. The break up scenario is considered in the fifth section. The last section summarizes and concludes.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Ignacio Ramirez CisnerosRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 912 | August 2018
The Sources and Methods Used in the Creation of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being for the United States, 1959–2013View More View LessThis paper documents the sources of data used in the construction of the estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Wellbeing (LIMEW) for the years 1959, 1972, 1982, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013. It also documents the methods used to combine the various sources of data into the synthetic dataset used to produce each year’s LIMEW estimates.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 911 | August 2018This paper reviews the performance of the euro area since the euro’s launch 20 years ago. It argues that the euro crisis has exposed existential flaws in the euro regime. Intra-area divergences and the corresponding buildup of imbalances had remained unchecked prior to the crisis. As those imbalances eventually imploded, member states were found to be extremely vulnerable to systemic banking problems and abruptly deteriorating public finances. Debt legacies and high unemployment continue to plague euro crisis countries. Its huge current account surplus highlights that the euro currency union, toiling under the German euro and trying to emulate the German model, has become very vulnerable to global developments. The euro regime is flawed and dysfunctional. Europe has to overcome the German euro. Three reforms are essential to turn the euro into a viable European currency. First, divergences in competitiveness positions must be prevented in future. Second, market integration must go hand in hand with policy integration. Third, the euro is lacking a safe footing for as long as the ECB is missing a federal treasury partner. Therefore, establishing the vital treasury–central bank axis that stands at the center of power in sovereign states is essential.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 910 | August 2018
An Empirical AnalysisThe short-term interest rate is the main driver of the Commonwealth of Australia government bonds’ nominal yields. This paper empirically models the dynamics of government bonds’ nominal yields using the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) approach. Keynes held that the central bank exerts decisive influence on government bond yields because the central bank’s policy rate and other monetary policy actions determine the short-term interest rate, which in turn affects long-term government bonds’ nominal yields. The models estimated here show that Keynes’s conjecture applies in the case of Australian government bonds’ nominal yields. Furthermore, the effect of the budget balance ratio on government bond yields is small but statistically significant. However, there is no statistically discernable effect of the debt ratio on government bond yields.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 909 | July 2018
Applying Minsky’s Theory of Financial Fragility to International MarketsThis inquiry argues that the successful completion of the transition process in the post-Soviet economies is constrained by the prevailing social structure and low levels of technological progress, both of which require institutional reforms aimed at increasing growth in national income, productivity, and the degree of export competitiveness. Domestic policy implementation has not shown significant improvements on these fronts, given its short-term orientation, but instead resulted in stagnating growth rates, continuously accumulating levels of external debt, and decreasing living standards. The key to a successful completion of the transition process is therefore a combination of policies targeted at the dynamic transformation of production structures within an environment of financial stability and favorable macroeconomic conditions.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Liudmila MalyshavaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 908 | June 2018
Rethinking the Role of Money and Markets in the Global EconomyMany of the hopes arising from the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall were still unrealized in 2010 and remain so today, especially in monetary policy and financial supervision. The major players that helped bring on the 2008 financial crisis still exist, with rising levels of moral hazard, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the too-big-to-fail banks, and even AIG. In monetary policy, the Federal Reserve has only just begun to reduce its vastly increased balance sheet, while the European Central Bank has yet to begin. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 imposed new conditions on but did not contract the greatly expanded federal safety net and failed to reduce the substantial increase in moral hazard. The larger budget deficits since 2008 were simply decisions to spend at higher levels instead of rational responses to the crisis. Only an increased reliance on market discipline in financial services, avoidance of Federal Reserve market interventions to rescue financial players while doing little or nothing for households and firms, and elimination of the Treasury’s backdoor borrowings that conceal the real costs of increasing budget deficits can enable the American public to achieve the meaningful improvements in living standards that were reasonably expected when the Berlin Wall fell.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):W. Lee Hoskins Walker F. ToddRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 907 | May 2018View More View LessThe paper discusses the Sraffian supermultiplier (SSM) approach to growth and distribution. It makes five points. First, in the short run the role of autonomous expenditure can be appreciated within a standard post-Keynesian framework (Kaleckian, Kaldorian, Robinsonian, etc.). Second, and related to the first, the SSM model is a model of the long run and has to be evaluated as such. Third, in the long run, one way that capacity adjusts to demand is through an endogenous adjustment of the rate of utilization. Fourth, the SSM model is a peculiar way to reach what Garegnani called the “Second Keynesian Position.” Although it respects the letter of the “Keynesian hypothesis,” it makes investment quasi-endogenous and subjects it to the growth of autonomous expenditure. Fifth, in the long run it is unlikely that “autonomous expenditure” is really autonomous. From a stock-flow consistent point of view, this implies unrealistic adjustments after periods of changes in stock-flow ratios. Moreover, if we were to take this kind of adjustment at face value, there would be no space for Minskyan financial cycles. This also creates serious problems for the empirical validation of the model.Download:Associated Program(s):The State of the US and World Economies Monetary Policy and Financial Structure Explorations in Theory and Empirical AnalysisAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 906 | May 2018This paper employs a Keynesian perspective to explain why Japanese government bonds’ (JGBs) nominal yields have been low for more than two decades. It deploys several vector error correction (VEC) models to estimate long-term government bond yields. It shows that the low short-term interest rate, induced by the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) accommodative monetary policy, is mainly responsible for keeping long-term JGBs’ nominal yields exceptionally low for a protracted period. The results also demonstrate that higher government debt and deficit ratios do not exert upward pressure on JGBs’ nominal yields. These findings are relevant to ongoing policy debates in Japan and other advanced countries about government bond yields, fiscal sustainability, fiscal policy, functional finance, monetary policy, and financial stability.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 905 | May 2018
The Vested Interests, Limits to Reform, and the Meaning of Liberal DemocracyI subject some aspects of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to critical analysis, with particular attention to what is termed “liberal democracy.” This analysis demonstrates the limits to reform, given the power of “vested interests” as articulated by Thorstein Veblen.
While progressive economists and others are generally favorably disposed toward the New Deal, a critical perspective casts doubt on the progressive nature of the various programs instituted during the Roosevelt administrations. The main constraint that limited the framing and operation of these programs was that of maintaining liberal democracy. The New Deal was shaped by the institutional forces then dominant in the United States, including the segregationist system of the South. In the end, vested interests dictated what transpired, but what did transpire required a modification of the understanding of liberal democracy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 904 | May 2018This paper provides an empirical analysis of nonfinancial corporate debt in six large Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru), distinguishing between bond-issuing and non-bond-issuing firms, and assessing the debt’s macroeconomic implications. The paper uses a sample of 2,241 firms listed on the stock markets of their respective countries, comprising 34 sectors of economic activity for the period 2009–16. On the basis of liquidity, leverage, and profitability indicators, it shows that bond-issuing firms are in a worse financial position relative to non-bond-issuing firms. Using Minsky’s hedge/speculative/Ponzi taxonomy for financial fragility, we argue that there is a larger share of firms that are in a speculative or Ponzi position relative to the hedge category. Also, the share of hedge bond-issuing firms declines over time. Finally, the paper presents the results of estimating a nonlinear threshold econometric model, which demonstrates that beyond a leverage threshold, firms’ investment contracts while they increase their liquidity positions. This has important macroeconomic implications, since the listed and, in particular, bond-issuing firms (which tend to operate under high leverage levels) represent a significant share of assets and investment. This finding could account, in part, for the retrenchment in investment that the sample of countries included in the paper have experienced in the period under study and highlights the need to incorporate the international bond market in analyses of monetary transmission mechanisms.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Nicole Favreau-Negront Luis Méndez LobosRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 903 | April 2018
An Abstract of an ExcerptThe dominant postwar tradition in economics assumes the utility maximization of economic agents drives markets toward stable equilibrium positions. In such a world there should be no endogenous asset bubbles and untenable levels of private indebtedness. But there are.
There is a competing alternative view that assumes an endogenous behavioral propensity for markets to embark on disequilibrium paths. Sometimes these departures are dangerously far reaching. Three great interwar economists set out most of the economic theory that explains this natural tendency for markets to propagate financial fragility: Joseph Schumpeter, Irving Fisher, and John Maynard Keynes. In the postwar period, Hyman Minsky carried this tradition forward. Early on he set out a “financial instability hypothesis” based on the thinking of these three predecessors. Later on, he introduced two additional dynamic processes that intensify financial market disequilibria: principal–agent distortions and mounting moral hazard. The emergence of a behavioral finance literature has provided empirical support to the theory of endogenous financial instability. Work by Vernon Smith explains further how disequilibrium paths go to asset bubble extremes.
The following paper provides a compressed account of this tradition of endogenous financial market instability.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Frank VenerosoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 902 | April 2018
Design, Jobs, and ImplementationThe job guarantee (JG) is a public option for jobs. It is a permanent, federally funded, and locally administered program that supplies voluntary employment opportunities on demand for all who are ready and willing to work at a living wage. While it is first and foremost a jobs program, it has the potential to be transformative by advancing the public purpose and improving working conditions, people’s everyday lives, and the economy as a whole.
This working paper provides a blueprint for operationalizing the proposal. It addresses frequently asked questions and common concerns. It begins by outlining some of the core propositions in the existing literature that have motivated the JG proposal. These propositions suggest specific design and implementation features. (Some questions are answered in greater detail in appendix III). The paper presents the core objectives and expected benefits of the program, and suggests an institutional structure, funding mechanism, and project design and administration.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 901 | March 2018
A Critical AssessmentDuring the period leading up to the recession of 2007–08, there was a large increase in household debt relative to income, a large increase in measured consumption as a fraction of GDP, and a shift toward more unequal income distribution. It is sometimes claimed that these three developments were closely linked. In these stories, the rise in household debt is largely due to increased borrowing by lower-income households who sought to maintain rising consumption in the face of stagnant incomes; this increased consumption in turn played an important role in maintaining aggregate demand. In this paper, I ask if this story is consistent with the empirical evidence. In particular, I ask five questions: How much household borrowing finances consumption spending? How much has monetary consumption spending by households increased? How much of the rise in household debt-income ratios is attributable to increased borrowing? How is household debt distributed by income? And how has the distribution of consumption spending changed relative to the distribution of income? I conclude that the distribution-debt-demand story may have some validity if limited to the housing boom period of 2002–07, but does not fit the longer-term rise in household debt since 1980.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):J. W. MasonRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 900 | January 2018
A Comparison of the Evolution of the Positions of Hyman Minsky and Abba LernerThis paper examines the views of Hyman Minsky and Abba Lerner on the functional finance approach to fiscal policy. It argues that the main principles of functional finance were relatively widely held in the immediate postwar period. However, with the rise of the Phillips curve, the return of the Quantity Theory, the development of the notion of a government budget constraint, and accelerating inflation at the end of the 1960s, functional finance fell out of favor. The paper compares and contrasts the evolution of the views of Minsky and Lerner over the postwar period, arguing that Lerner’s transition went further, as he embraced a version of Monetarism that emphasized the use of monetary policy over fiscal policy. Minsky’s views of functional finance became more nuanced, in line with his Institutionalist approach to the economy. However, Minsky never rejected his early beliefs that countercyclical government budgets must play a significant role in stabilizing the economy. Thus, in spite of some claims that Minsky should not be counted as one of the “forefathers” of Modern Money Theory (MMT), this paper argues that it is Minsky, not Lerner, whose work remains essential for the further development of MMT.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 899 | January 2018The goal of this paper is to examine the patterns and movements of the gender pay gaps in the countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) and to place them in the context of advanced economies. We survey over 30 publications and conduct a meta-analysis of this literature. Gender pay gaps in the region are considerable and above the levels observed in advanced economies. Similar to advanced economies, industrial and occupational segregation widens the gaps in the FSU countries, whereas gender differences in educational attainment tend to shrink them. However, a much higher proportion of the gaps remain unexplained, pointing toward the role of unobserved gender differences related to actual and perceived productivity. Over the last 25 years, the gaps contracted in most FSU countries, primarily due to the reduction in the unexplained portion. Underlying the contraction at the mean are different movements in the gap across the pay distribution. Although the glass-ceiling effect has diminished in some FSU countries, it has persisted in others. We investigate the reasons underlying these findings and argue that the developments in the FSU region shed new light on our understanding of the gender pay gaps.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 898 | October 2017The paper attempts to measure the incidence of corporate income tax in India under a general equilibrium setting. Using seemingly uncorrelated regression coefficients and dynamic panel estimates, we tried to analyze both the relative burden of corporate tax borne by capital and labor and the efficiency effects of corporate income tax. The data for the study is compiled from corporate firms listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) for the period 2000–15. Our empirical estimates suggest that in India capital bears more of the burden of corporate taxes than labor. Though it is contrary to the Harberger (1962) hypothesis that the burden of corporate tax is shifted to labor rather than capital, it confirms the existing empirical results in the context of India.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Lekha S. Chakraborty Samiksha AgarwalRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 897 | September 2017Ever since the Great Recession, central banks have supplemented their traditional policy tool of setting the short-term interest rate with massive buyouts of assets to extend lines of credit and jolt flagging demand. As with many new policies, there have been a range of reactions from economists, with some extolling quantitative easing’s expansionary virtues and others fearing it might invariably lead to overvaluation of assets, instigating economic instability and bubble behavior. To investigate these theories, we combine elements of the models in chapters 5, 10, and 11 of Godley and Lavoie’s (2007) Monetary Economics with equations for quantitative easing and endogenous bubbles in a new model. By running the model under a variety of parameters, we study the causal links between quantitative easing, asset overvaluation, and macroeconomic performance. Preliminary results suggest that rather than being pro- or countercyclical, quantitative easing acts as a sort of phase shift with respect to time.
Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Cameron Haas Tai Young-TaftRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 896 | September 2017
An Empirical Analysis of Electricity Distribution Companies in Brazil (2007–15)The present paper applies Hyman P. Minsky’s insights on financial fragility in order to analyze the behavior of electricity distribution companies in Brazil from 2007 to 2015. More specifically, it builds an analytical framework to classify the firms operating in this sector into Minskyan risk categories and assess how financial fragility evolved over time, in each firm and in the sector as a whole. This work adapts Minsky’s financial fragility indicators and taxonomy to the conditions of the electricity distribution sector and applies them to regulatory accounting data for more than 60 firms. This empirical application of Minsky’s theory for analyzing firms engaged in the provision of public goods and services is a novelty. The results show an increase in the financial fragility of those firms (as well as the sector) throughout the period, especially between 2008 and 2013, even though the number of firms operating at the highest level of financial risk hardly changed.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ernani Teixeira Torres Filho Norberto Montani Martins Caroline Yukari MiagutiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 895 | August 2017This paper examines two key aspects of unemployment—its propagation mechanism and socioeconomic costs. It identifies a key feature of this macroeconomic phenomenon: it behaves like a disease. A detailed assessment of the transmission mechanism and the existing pecuniary and nonpecuniary costs of unemployment suggests a fundamental shift in the policy responses to tackling joblessness. To stem the contagion effect and its outsized social and economic impact, fiscal policy can be designed around two criteria for successful disease intervention—preparedness and prevention. The paper examines how a job guarantee proposal uniquely meets those two requirements. It is a policy response whose merits include much more than its macroeconomic stabilization features, as discussed in the literature. It is, in a sense, a method of inoculation against the vile effects of unemployment. The paper discusses several preventative features of the program.
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Working Paper No. 894 | August 2017This paper undertakes an empirical inquiry concerning the determinants of long-term interest rates on US Treasury securities. It applies the bounds testing procedure to cointegration and error correction models within the autoregressive distributive lag (ARDL) framework, using monthly data and estimating a wide range of Keynesian models of long-term interest rates. While previous studies have mainly relied on quarterly data, the use of monthly data substantially expands the number of observations. This in turn enables the calibration of a wide range of models to test various hypotheses. The short-term interest rate is the key determinant of the long-term interest rate, while the rate of core inflation and the pace of economic activity also influence the long-term interest rate. A rise in the ratio of the federal fiscal balance (government net lending/borrowing as a share of nominal GDP) lowers yields on long-term US Treasury securities. The short- and long-run effects of short-term interest rates, the rate of inflation, the pace of economic activity, and the fiscal balance ratio on long-term interest rates on US Treasury securities are estimated. The findings reinforce Keynes’s prescient insights on the determinants of government bond yields.
Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 893 | July 2017
If Adam Smith Is the Father of Economics, It Is a Bastard ChildNeoclassical economists of the current era frequently pay lip service to Adam Smith’s theories to certify the validity of natural-laws-based, laissez-faire policies. However, neoclassical theories are fundamentally disconnected from Adam Smith’s notion of value, his understanding of the economic individual and their interactions in society, his methodology, and the field of study he afforded to political economy. Instead, early neoclassical economists parted ways with the theories of Adam Smith in an effort to construct economic laws that would validate the existing capitalist order as universal, natural, and harmonious.
Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Oscar Valdes VieraRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 892 | June 2017
Standing on the Shoulders of Minsky
Since the death of Hyman Minsky in 1996, much has been written about financialization. This paper explores the issues that Minsky examined in the last decade of his life and considers their relationship to that financialization literature. Part I addresses Minsky’s penetrating observations regarding what he called money manager capitalism. Part II outlines the powerful analytical framework that Minsky used to organize his thinking and that we can use to extend his work. Part III shows how Minsky’s observations and framework represent a major contribution to the study of financialization. Part IV highlights two keys to Minsky’s success: his treatment of economics as a grand adventure and his willingness to step beyond the world of theory. Part V concludes by providing a short recap, acknowledging formidable challenges facing scholars with a Minsky perspective, and calling attention to the glimmer of hope that offers a way forward.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Charles J. WhalenRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 891 | May 2017
The stock-flow consistent (SFC) modeling approach, grounded in the pioneering work of Wynne Godley and James Tobin in the 1970s, has been adopted by a growing number of researchers in macroeconomics, especially after the publication of Godley and Lavoie (2007), which provided a general framework for the analysis of whole economic systems, and the recognition that macroeconomic models integrating real markets with flow-of-funds analysis had been particularly successful in predicting the Great Recession of 2007–9. We introduce the general features of the SFC approach for a closed economy, showing how the core model has been extended to address issues such as financialization and income distribution. We next discuss the implications of the approach for models of open economies and compare the methodologies adopted in developing SFC empirical models for whole countries. We review the contributions where the SFC approach is being adopted as the macroeconomic closure of microeconomic agent-based models, and how the SFC approach is at the core of new research in ecological macroeconomics. Finally, we discuss the appropriateness of the name “stock-flow consistent” for the class of models we survey.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 890 | May 2017
Linking the State and Credit Theories of Money through a Financial Approach to Money
The paper presents a financial approach to monetary analysis that links the credit and state theories of money. A premise of the functional approach to money is that “money is what money does.” In this approach, monetary and mercantile mechanics are conflated, which leads to the conclusion that unconvertible monetary instruments are worthless. The financial approach to money strictly separates the two mechanics and argues that major monetary disruptions occurred when the two were conflated. Monetary instruments have always been promissory notes. As such, their financial characteristics are central to their value and liquidity. One of the main financial requirements of any monetary instrument is that it be redeemable at any time. As long as this is the case, the fair value of an unconvertible monetary instrument is its face value. While the functional approach does not recognize the centrality of redemption, the paper shows that redemption plays a critical role in the state and credit views of money. Payments due to issuer and/or convertibility on demand are central to the possibility of par circulation. The paper shows that this has major implications for monetary analysis, both in terms of understanding monetary history and in terms of performing monetary analysis.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 889 | May 2017
This paper investigates the determinants of nominal yields of government bonds in the eurozone. The pooled mean group (PMG) technique of cointegration is applied on both monthly and quarterly datasets to examine the major drivers of nominal yields of long-term government bonds in a set of 11 eurozone countries. Furthermore, autoregressive distributive lag (ARDL) methods are used to address the same question for individual countries. The results show that short-term interest rates are the most important determinants of long-term government bonds’ nominal yields, which supports Keynes’s (1930) view that short-term interest rates and other monetary policy measures have a decisive influence on long-term interest rates on government bonds.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 888 | April 2017
Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Time Use of Married and Cohabiting Parents during the Great RecessionView More View Less
Using data from the 2003–14 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), this paper examines the relationship between the state unemployment rate and the time that opposite-sex couples with children spend on childcare activities, and how this varies by the socioeconomic status (SES), race, and ethnicity of the mothers and fathers. The time that mothers and fathers spend providing primary and secondary child caregiving, solo time with children, and any time spent as a family are considered. To explore the impact of macroeconomic conditions on the amount of time parents spend with children, the time-use data are combined with the state unemployment rate data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis finds that the time parents spend on child-caregiving activities or with their children varies with the unemployment rate in low-SES households, African-American households, and Hispanic households. Given that job losses were disproportionately high for workers with no college degree, African-Americans, and Hispanics during the Great Recession, the results suggest that the burden of household adjustment during the crisis fell disproportionately on the households most affected by the recession.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ebru Kongar Mark PriceRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 887 | March 2017
Job Creation in the Midst of Welfare State Sabotage
President Trump’s faux populism may deliver some immediate short-term benefits to the economy, masking the devastating long-term effects from his overall policy strategy. The latter can be termed “welfare state sabotage” and is a wholesale assault on essential public sector institutions and macroeconomic stabilization features that were built during the New Deal era and ushered in the “golden age” of the American economy. Starting in the late ’70s, many of these institutions were significantly eroded by Republicans and Democrats alike, paving the way for the rise of Trump but paling in comparison with what is to come.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 886 | March 2017
This paper investigates the (lack of any lasting) impact of John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory on economic policymaking in Germany. The analysis highlights the interplay between economic history and the history of ideas in shaping policymaking in postwar (West) Germany. The paper argues that Germany learned the wrong lessons from its own history and misread the true sources of its postwar success. Monetary mythology and the Bundesbank, with its distinctive anti-inflationary bias, feature prominently in this collective odyssey. The analysis shows that the crisis of the euro today is largely the consequence of Germany’s peculiar anti-Keynesianism.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 885 | February 2017
This paper presents the quality analysis of the statistical matching conducted for a research study on household consumption behavior, household indebtedness, and inequality for Turkey. The match has been done for four years (2005, 2008, 2009, and 2012) of Household Budget Surveys (HBS) and the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The aim of the statistical matching is to transfer household expenditure data from the HBS to the SILC to create synthetic data sets that have information on household consumption expenditures as well as household income and indebtedness. We are following the methodology of constrained statistical matching, using estimated propensity scores developed in Kum and Masterson (2010) to produce the synthetic data sets that we need. The analysis shows that the match is of high quality.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 884 | February 2017
Evidence from Turkey
Using data from the 2006 Turkish Time-Use Survey, we examine gender differences in time allocation among married heterosexual couples over the life cycle. While we find large discrepancies in the gender division of both paid and unpaid work at each life stage, the gender gap in paid and unpaid work is largest among parents of infants compared to parents of older children and couples without children. The gender gap narrows as children grow up and parents age. Married women’s housework time remains relatively unchanged across their life cycle, while older men spend more time doing housework than their younger counterparts. Over the course of the life cycle, women’s total work burden increases relative to men’s. Placing our findings within the gendered institutional context in Turkey, we argue that gender-inequitable work-family reconciliation policies that are based on gendered assumptions of women’s role as caregivers exacerbate gender disparities in time use.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 883 | February 2017
An Empirical Analysis of G20 Countries
This paper analyzes the effectiveness of public expenditures on economic growth within the analytical framework of comprehensive Neo-Schumpeterian economics. Using a fixed-effects model for G20 countries, the paper investigates the links between the specific categories of public expenditures and economic growth, captured in human capital formation, defense, infrastructure development, and technological innovation. The results reveal that the impact of innovation-related spending on economic growth is much higher than that of the other macro variables. Data for the study was drawn from the International Monetary Fund’s Government Finance Statistics database, infrastructure reports for the G20 countries, and the World Development Indicators issued by the World Bank.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Horst Hanusch Lekha S. Chakraborty Swati KhuranaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 882 | January 2017
A Distributional Analysis of the Care Economy in Turkey
This paper examines the aggregate and gender employment impact of expanding the early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE) sector in Turkey and compares it to the expansion of the construction sector. The authors’ methodology combines input-output analysis with a statistical microsimulation approach. Their findings suggest that the expansion of the ECCPE sector creates more jobs and does so in a more gender-equitable way than an expansion of the construction sector. In particular, it narrows the gender employment and earnings gaps, generates more decent jobs, and achieves greater short-run fiscal sustainability.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 881 | January 2017
This paper investigates the long-term determinants of Indian government bonds’ (IGB) nominal yields. It examines whether John Maynard Keynes’s supposition that short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields holds over the long-run horizon, after controlling for various key economic factors such as inflationary pressure and measures of economic activity. It also appraises whether the government finance variable—the ratio of government debt to nominal income—has an adverse effect on government bond yields over a long-run horizon. The models estimated here show that in India, short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields over the long run. However, the ratio of government debt and nominal income does not have any discernible adverse effect on yields over a long-run horizon. These findings will help policymakers in India (and elsewhere) to use information on the current trend in short-term interest rates, the federal fiscal balance, and other key macro variables to form their long-term outlook on IGB yields, and to understand the implications of the government’s fiscal stance on the government bond market.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 880 | January 2017
Evidence from Measures of Economic Well-Being
The Great Recession had a tremendous impact on low-income Americans, in particular black and Latino Americans. The losses in terms of employment and earnings are matched only by the losses in terms of real wealth. In many ways, however, these losses are merely a continuation of trends that have been unfolding for more than two decades. We examine the changes in overall economic well-being and inequality as well as changes in racial economic inequality over the Great Recession, using the period from 1989 to 2007 for historical context. We find that while racial inequality increased from 1989 to 2010, during the Great Recession racial inequality in terms of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) decreased. We find that changes in base income, taxes, and income from nonhome wealth during the Great Recession produced declines in overall inequality, while only taxes reduced between-group racial inequality.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the Economy The State of the US and World EconomiesAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 879 | December 2016
This paper presents a methodological discussion of two recent “endogeneity” critiques of the Kaleckian model and the concept of distribution-led growth. From a neo-Keynesian perspective, and following Kaldor (1955) and Robinson (1956), the model is criticized because it treats distribution as quasi-exogenous, while in Skott (2016) distribution is viewed as endogenously determined by a series of (exogenous) institutional factors and social norms, and therefore one should focus on these instead of the functional distribution of income per se. The paper discusses how abstraction is used in science and economics, and employs the criteria proposed by Lawson (1989) for what constitutes an appropriate abstraction. Based on this discussion, it concludes that the criticisms are not valid, although the issues raised by Skott provide some interesting directions for future work within the Kaleckian framework.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 878 | December 2016
A Post-Keynesian/Evolutionist Critique
This paper provides a critical analysis of expansionary austerity theory (EAT). The focus is on the theoretical weaknesses of EAT—the extreme circumstances and fragile assumptions under which expansionary consolidations might actually take place. The paper presents a simple theoretical model that takes inspiration from both the post-Keynesian and evolutionary/institutionalist traditions. First, it demonstrates that well-designed austerity measures hardly trigger short-run economic expansions in the context of expected long-lasting consolidation plans (i.e., when adjustment plans deal with remarkably high debt-to-GDP ratios), when the so-called “financial channel” is not operative (i.e., in the context of monetarily sovereign economies), or when the degree of export responsiveness to internal devaluation is low. Even in the context of non–monetarily sovereign countries (e.g., members of the eurozone), austerity’s effectiveness crucially depends on its highly disputable capacity to immediately stabilize fiscal variables.
The paper then analyzes some possible long-run economic dynamics, emphasizing the high degree of instability that characterizes austerity-based adjustments plans. Path-dependency and cumulativeness make the short-run impulse effects of fiscal consolidation of paramount importance to (hopefully) obtaining any appreciable medium-to-long-run benefit. Should these effects be contractionary at the onset, the short-run costs of austerity measures can breed an endless spiral of recession and ballooning debt in the long run. If so, in the case of non–monetarily sovereign countries debt forgiveness may emerge as the ultimate solution to restore economic soundness. Alternatively, institutional innovations like those adopted since mid-2012 by the European Central Bank are required to stabilize the economy, even though they are unlikely to restore rapid growth in the absence of more active fiscal stimuli.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alberto BottaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 877 | November 2016
Against the background of modern-day monetary proposals, ranging from a return to the gold standard to the wholesale abolition of currency, this paper seeks to draw implications from David Ricardo’s Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency for plans to reform the operation of central banks and extraordinary monetary policy. Although 200 years old, the “Ingot plan,” proposed during a period in which gold convertibility was suspended, appears to be applicable to modern monetary conditions and suggests possible avenues of reform.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 876 | October 2016
The Fed’s Unjustified Rationale
In December 2015, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) initiated the process of “normalization,” with the objective of gradually raising the federal funds rate back to “normal”—i.e., levels that are “neither expansionary nor contrary” and are consistent with the established 2 percent longer-run goal for the annual Personal Consumption Expenditures index and the estimated natural rate of unemployment. This paper argues that the urgency and rationale behind the rate hikes are not theoretically sound or empirically justified. Despite policymakers’ celebration of “substantial” labor market progress, we are still short some 20 million jobs. Further, there is no reason to believe that the current exceptionally low inflation rates are transitory. Quite the contrary: without significant fiscal efforts to restore the bargaining power of labor, inflation rates are expected to remain below the Federal Open Market Committee’s long-term goal for years to come. Also, there is little empirical evidence or theoretical support for the FRB’s suggestion that higher interest rates are necessary to counter “excessive” risk-taking or provide a more stable financial environment.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Flavia DantasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 875 | September 2016
A Global Cap to Build an Effective Postcrisis Banking Supervision Framework
The global financial crisis shattered the conventional wisdom about how financial markets work and how to regulate them. Authorities intervened to stop the panic—short-term pragmatism that spoke volumes about the robustness of mainstream economics. However, their very success in taming the collapse reduced efforts to radically change the “big bank” business model and lessened the possibility of serious banking reform—meaning that a strong and possibly even bigger financial crisis is inevitable in the future. We think an overall alternative is needed and at hand: Minsky’s theories on investment, financial stability, the growing weight of the financial sector, and the role of the state. Building on this legacy, it is possible to analyze which aspects of the post-2008 reforms actually work. In this respect, we argue that the only effective solution is to impose a global cap on the absolute size of banks.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Giuseppe Mastromatteo Lorenzo EspositoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 874 | September 2016
Is There a Case for Gender-sensitive Horizontal Fiscal Equalization?
This paper seeks to evaluate whether a gender-sensitive formula for the inter se devolution of union taxes to the states makes the process more progressive. We have used the state-specific child sex ratio (the number of females per thousand males in the age group 0–6 years) as one of the criteria for the tax devolution. The composite devolution formula as constructed provides maximum rewards to the state with the most favorable child-sex ratio, and the rewards progressively decline along with the declining sex ratio. In this formulation, the state with the most unfavorable child-sex ratio is penalized the most in terms of its share in the horizontal devolution. It is observed that the inclusion of gender criteria makes the intergovernmental fiscal transfers formula more equitable across states. This is not surprising given the monotonic decline in the sex ratio in some of the most high-income states in India.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Abhishek Anand Lekha S. ChakrabortyRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 873 | September 2016
Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Used in the Development of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP) for Ghana and TanzaniaView More View Less
This document presents a description of the quality of match of the statistical matches used in the LIMTCP estimates prepared for Ghana and Tanzania. For Ghana, the statistical match combines the Living Standards Survey Round 6 (GLSS6) with the Ghana Time Use Survey (GTUS) 2009, and for Tanzania it combines the Household Budget Survey (THBS) 2012 with the time-use data obtained from the Integrated Labor Survey Module (ILFS) 2006. In both cases, the alignment of the two datasets is examined, after which various aspects of the match quality are described. Despite the differences in the survey years, the quality of match is high and the synthetic dataset appropriate for the time poverty analysis.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 872 | August 2016
Do Fiscal Rules Impose Hard Budget Constraints?
The primary objective of rule-based fiscal legislation at the subnational level in India is to achieve debt sustainability by placing a ceiling on borrowing and the use of borrowed resources for public capital investment by phasing out deficits in the budget revenue account. This paper examines whether the application of fiscal rules has contributed to an increase in fiscal space for public capital investment spending in major Indian states. Our analysis shows that, controlling for other factors, there is a negative relationship between fiscal rules and public capital investment spending at the state level under the rule-based fiscal regime.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 871 | August 2016
Simulations of Employment for Individuals in LIMTCP Consumption-poor Households in Tanzania and Ghana, 2012View More View Less
New methodology for producing employment microsimulations is introduced, with a focus on farms and household nonfarm enterprises. Previous simulations have not dealt with the issue of reduced production in farm and nonfarm household enterprises when household members are placed in paid employment. In this paper, we present a method for addressing the tradeoff between paid employment and the farm and nonfarm business activities individuals may already be engaged in. The implementation of the simulations for Ghana and Tanzania is described and the quality of the simulation results is assessed.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 870 | August 2016
The Effect of Immigration on Unemployment Transitions of Native-born Workers in the United States
Although one would expect the unemployed to be the population most likely affected by immigration, most of the studies have concentrated on investigating the effects immigration has on the employed population. Little is known of the effects of immigration on labor market transitions out of unemployment. Using the basic monthly Current Population Survey from 2001–13 we match data for individuals who were interviewed in two consecutive months and identify workers who transition out of unemployment. We employ a multinomial model to examine the effects of immigration on the transition out of unemployment, using state-level immigration statistics. The results suggest that immigration does not affect the probabilities of native-born workers finding a job. Instead, we find that immigration is associated with smaller probabilities of remaining unemployed, but it is also associated with higher probabilities of workers leaving the labor force. This effect impacts mostly young and less educated people.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Fernando Rios-Avila Gustavo Canavire-BacarrezaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 869 | June 2016
Phases of Financialization within the 20th Century in the United States
This paper explores from a historical perspective the process of financialization over the course of the 20th century. We identify four phases of financialization: the first, from the 1900s to 1933 (early financialization); the second, from 1933 to 1940 (transitory phase); the third, between 1945 and 1973 (definancialization); and the fourth period begins in the early 1970s and leads to the Great Recession (complex financialization). Our findings indicate that the main features of the current phase of financialization were already in place in the first period. We closely examine institutions within these distinct financial regimes and focus on the relative size of the financial sector, the respective regulation regime of each period, and the intensity of the shareholder value orientation, as well as the level of financial innovations implemented. Although financialization is a recent term, the process is far from novel. We conclude that its effects can be studied better with reference to economic history.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Apostolos Fasianos Diego Guevara Christos PierrosRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 868 | June 2016
The ECB’s Belated Conversion?
This paper investigates the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policies. It identifies an antigrowth bias in the bank’s monetary policy approach: the ECB is quick to hike, but slow to ease. Similarly, while other players and institutional deficiencies share responsibility for the euro’s failure, the bank has generally done “too little, too late” with regard to managing the euro crisis, preventing protracted stagnation, and containing deflation threats. The bank remains attached to the euro area’s official competitive wage–repression strategy, which is in conflict with the ECB’s price stability mandate and undermines its more recent, unconventional monetary policy initiatives designed to restore price stability. The ECB needs a “Euro Treasury” partner to overcome the euro regime’s most serious flaw: the divorce between central bank and treasury institutions.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 867 | May 2016
This paper examines the issue of the Greek public debt from different perspectives. We provide a historical discussion of the accumulation of Greece’s public debt since the 1960s and the role of public debt in the recent crisis. We show that the austerity imposed since 2010 has been unsuccessful in stabilizing the debt while at the same time taking a heavy toll on the Greek economy and society. The experience of the last six years shows that the country’s public debt is clearly unsustainable, and therefore a bold restructuring is needed. An insistence on the current policies is not justifiable either on pragmatic or on moral or any other grounds. The experience of Germany in the early post–World War II period provides some useful hints for the way forward. A solution to the Greek public debt problem is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the solution of the Greek and wider European crisis. A broader agenda that deals with the malaises of the Greek economy and the structural imbalances of the eurozone is of vital importance.Download:Associated Program(s):The State of the US and World Economies Monetary Policy and Financial Structure Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 866 | May 2016
Proposals for the Eurozone Crisis
After reviewing the main determinants of the current eurozone crisis, this paper discusses the feasibility of introducing fiscal currencies as a way to restore fiscal space in peripheral countries, like Greece, that have so far adopted austerity measures in order to abide by their commitments to eurozone institutions and the International Monetary Fund. We show that the introduction of fiscal currencies would speed up the recovery, without violating the rules of eurozone treaties. At the same time, these processes could help transition the euro from its current status as the single currency to the status of “common clearing currency,” along the lines proposed by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods as a system of international monetary payments. Eurozone countries could therefore move from “Plan B,” aimed at addressing member-state domestic problems, to a “Plan A” for a better European monetary system.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 865 | May 2016
Why Time Deficits Matter
We describe the production of estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Buenos Aires, Argentina, and use it to analyze the incidence of time and income poverty. We find high numbers of hidden poor—those who are not poor according to the official measure but are found to be poor when using our time-adjusted poverty line. Large time deficits for those living just above the official poverty line are the reason for this hidden poverty. Time deficits are unevenly distributed by employment status, family type, and especially gender. Simulations of the impact of full-time employment on those households with nonworking (for pay) adults indicate that reductions in income poverty can be achieved, but at the cost of increased time poverty. Policy interventions that address the lack of both income and time are discussed.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the Economy The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income PovertyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 864 | April 2016
In this paper we analyze options for the European Central Bank (ECB) to achieve its single mandate of price stability. Viable options for price stability are described, analyzed, and tabulated with regard to both short- and long-term stability and volatility. We introduce an additional tool for promoting price stability and conclude that public purpose is best served by the selection of an alternative buffer stock policy that is directly managed by the ECB.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Warren Mosler Damiano B. SilipoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 863 | March 2016
US government indebtedness and fiscal deficits increased notably following the global financial crisis. Yet long-term interest rates and US Treasury yields have remained remarkably low. Why have long-term interest rates stayed low despite the elevated government indebtedness? What are the drivers of long-term interest rates in the United States? John Maynard Keynes holds that the central bank’s actions are the main determinants of long-term interest rates. A simple model is presented where the central bank’s actions are the key drivers of long-term interest rates through short-term interest rates and various monetary policy measures. The empirical findings reveal that short-term interest rates, after controlling for other crucial variables such as the rate of inflation, the rate of economic activity, fiscal deficits, government debts, and so forth, are the most important determinants of long-term interest rates in the United States. Public finance variables, such as government fiscal balances or government indebtedness, as a share of nominal GDP appear not to have any discernable effect on long-term interest rates.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 862 | March 2016
Japan has experienced stagnation, deflation, and low interest rates for decades. It is caught in a liquidity trap. This paper examines Japan’s liquidity trap in light of the structure and performance of the country’s economy since the onset of stagnation. It also analyzes the country’s liquidity trap in terms of the different strands in the theoretical literature. It is argued that insights from a Keynesian perspective are still quite relevant. The Keynesian perspective is useful not just for understanding Japan’s liquidity trap but also for formulating and implementing policies that can overcome the liquidity trap and foster renewed economic growth and prosperity. Paul Krugman (1998a, b) and Ben Bernanke (2000; 2002) identify low inflation and deflation risks as the cause of a liquidity trap. Hence, they advocate a credible commitment by the central bank to sustained monetary easing as the key to reigniting inflation, creating an exit from a liquidity trap through low interest rates and quantitative easing. In contrast, for John Maynard Keynes (2007 ) the possibility of a liquidity trap arises from a sharp rise in investors’ liquidity preference and the fear of capital losses due to uncertainty about the direction of interest rates. His analysis calls for an integrated strategy for overcoming a liquidity trap. This strategy consists of vigorous fiscal policy and employment creation to induce a higher expected marginal efficiency of capital, while the central bank stabilizes the yield curve and reduces interest rate volatility to mitigate investors’ expectations of capital loss. In light of Japan’s experience, Keynes’s analysis and proposal for generating effective demand might well be a more appropriate remedy for the country’s liquidity trap.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer AkramRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 861 | March 2016
Money, in this paper, is defined as a power relationship of a specific kind, a stratified social debt relationship, measured in a unit of account determined by some authority. A brief historical examination reveals its evolving nature in the process of social provisioning. Money not only predates markets and real exchange as understood in mainstream economics but also emerges as a social mechanism of distribution, usually by some authority of power (be it an ancient religious authority, a king, a colonial power, a modern nation state, or a monetary union). Money, it can be said, is a “creature of the state” that has played a key role in the transfer of real resources between parties and the distribution of economic surplus.
In modern capitalist economies, the currency is also a simple public monopoly. As long as money has existed, someone has tried to tamper with its value. A history of counterfeiting, as well as that of independence from colonial and economic rule, is another way of telling the history of “money as a creature of the state.” This historical understanding of the origins and nature of money illuminates the economic possibilities under different institutional monetary arrangements in the modern world. We consider the so-called modern “sovereign” and “nonsovereign” monetary regimes (including freely floating currencies, currency pegs, currency boards, dollarized nations, and monetary unions) to examine the available policy space in each case for pursuing domestic policy objectives.
This working paper is also available in Spanish and Catalan.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 860 | February 2016
Brazil at the Mid-2010s
The Brazilian economy in 2015 was afflicted by a lethal combination of decelerating activity and accelerating inflation. Expectations for 2016 are equally or even more adverse, since the effects of rising unemployment emerge only after a lag. The domestic debate has pitted analysts who believe the crisis is due exclusively to past policy mistakes against those who believe that all was well until the government decided to implement austerity policies in 2015. A closer examination of the evidence shows that, in fact, both causes contributed to the crisis. But it also suggests that its depth has a more proximate cause in the political collapse of the federal government in 2015, which led Brazilian society to an impasse for which one cannot yet visualize the solution.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 859 | February 2016
A Technical Articulation for Asia-Pacific
Against the backdrop of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, this paper analyzes the measurement issues in gender-based indices constructed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and suggests alternatives for choice of variables, functional form, and weights. While the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (GII) conceptually reflects the loss in achievement due to inequality between men and women in three dimensions—health, empowerment, and labor force participation—we argue that the assumptions and the choice of variables to capture these dimensions remain inadequate and erroneous, resulting in only the partial capture of gender inequalities. Since the dimensions used for the GII are different from those in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), we cannot say that a higher value in the GII represents a loss in the HDI due to gender inequalities. The technical obscurity remains how to interpret GII by combining women-specific indicators with indicators that are disaggregated for both men and women. The GII is a partial construct, as it does not capture many significant dimensions of gender inequality. Though this requires a data revolution, we tried to reconstruct the GII in the context of Asia-Pacific using three scenarios: (1) improving the set of variables incorporating unpaid care work, pay gaps, intrahousehold decision making, exposure to knowledge networks, and feminization of governance at local levels; (2) constructing a decomposed index to specify the direction of gender gaps; and (3) compiling an alternative index using Principal Components Index for assigning weights. The choice of countries under the three scenarios is constrained by data paucity. The results reveal that the UNDP GII overestimates the gap between the two genders, and that using women-specific indicators leads to a fallacious estimation of gender inequality. The estimates are illustrative. The implication of the results broadly suggests a return to the UNDP Gender Development Index for capturing gender development, with an improvised set of choices and variables.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Bhavya Aggarwal Lekha S. ChakrabortyRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 858 | January 2016View More View Less
The collapse of the Soviet Union initiated an unprecedented social and economic transformation of the successor countries and altered the gender balance in a region that counted gender equality as one of the key legacies of its socialist past. The transition experience of the region has amply demonstrated that the changes in the gender balance triggered by economic shifts are far from obvious, and that economic expansion and women’s economic empowerment do not always go hand in hand. Therefore, active measures to enhance women’s economic empowerment should be of central concern to the policy dialogue aimed at poverty and inequality reduction and inclusive growth. In this paper, we establish the current state of various dimensions of gender inequalities and their past dynamics in the countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and Western CIS (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine), and propose steps aimed at reducing those inequalities in the context of inclusive growth, decent job creation, and economic empowerment.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 857 | December 2015
This paper describes the transformations in federal classification of ethno-racial information since the civil rights era of the 1960s. These changes were introduced in the censuses of 1980 and 2000, and we anticipate another major change in the 2020 Census. The most important changes in 1980 introduced the Hispanic Origin and Ancestry questions and the elimination of two questions on parental birthplace. The latter decision has made it impossible to adequately track the progress of the new second generation. The change in 2000 allowed respondents to declare origins in more than one race; the anticipated change for 2020 will create a single question covering race and Hispanic Origin—or, stated more broadly, race and ethnic origin. We show that the 1980 changes created problems in race and ethnic classification that required a “fix,” and the transformation anticipated for 2020 will be that fix. Creating the unified question in the manner the Census Bureau is testing will accomplish by far the hardest part of what we believe should be done. However, we suggest two additional changes of a much simpler nature: restoring the parental birthplace questions (to the annual American Community Survey) and possibly eliminating the Ancestry question (the information it gathered will apparently now be obtained in the single race-and-ethnicity question). The paper is historical in focus. It surveys how the classification system prior to 1980 dealt with the tension between ethno-racial continuity and assimilation (differently for each major type of group); how the political pressures producing the changes of 1980 and 2000 changed the treatment of that tension; and, finally, the building pressure for a further change.Download:Associated Program(s):Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Structure Economic Policy for the 21st Century Explorations in Theory and Empirical AnalysisAuthor(s):Joel Perlmann Patrick NevadaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 856 | December 2015
Evidence from Europe, 2006–13
We examine the relationship between changes in a country’s public sector fiscal position and inequality at the top and bottom of the income distribution during the age of austerity (2006–13). We use a parametric Lorenz curve model and Gini-like indices of inequality as our measures to assess distributional changes. Based on the EU’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions SLIC and International Monetary Fund data for 12 European countries, we find that more severe adjustments to the cyclically adjusted primary balance (i.e., more austerity) are associated with a more unequal distribution of income driven by rising inequality at the top. The data also weakly suggest a decrease in inequality at the bottom. The distributional impact of austerity measures reflects the reliance on regressive policies, and likely produces increased incentives for rent seeking while reducing incentives for workers to increase productivity.Download:Associated Program(s):The State of the US and World Economies The Distribution of Income and Wealth Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyAuthor(s):Markus P.A. Schneider Stephen Kinsella Antoine GodinRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 855 | November 2015
Debt, Central Banks, and Functional Finance
The scientific reassessment of the economic role of the state after the crisis has renewed interest in Abba Lerner’s theory of functional finance (FF). A thorough discussion of this concept is helpful in reconsidering the debate on the nature of money and the origin of the business cycle and crises. It also allows a reevaluation of many policy issues, such as the Barro–Ricardo equivalence, the cause of inflation, and the role of monetary policy.
FF, throwing a different light on these issues, can provide a sound foundation for discussing income, fiscal, and monetary policy rules in the right context of flexibility in the management of national budgets, assessing what kind of policies should be awarded priority, and the effectiveness of tackling the crisis with the different part of public budget. It also allows us to understand ways of increasing efficiency through public investment while reducing the total operational costs of firms. In the specific context of the eurozone, FF is useful for assessing the institutional framework of the euro and how to improve it in the face of protracted low growth, deflation, and weak public finances.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Giuseppe Mastromatteo Lorenzo EspositoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 854 | November 2015
Graph Theory and Macroeconomic Regimes in Stock-flow Consistent Modeling
Standard presentations of stock-flow consistent modeling use specific Post Keynesian closures, even though a given stock-flow accounting structure supports various different economic dynamics. In this paper we separate the dynamic closure from the accounting constraints and cast the latter in the language of graph theory. The graph formulation provides (1) a representation of an economy as a collection of cash flows on a network and (2) a collection of algebraic techniques to identify independent versus dependent cash-flow variables and solve the accounting constraints. The separation into independent and dependent variables is not unique, and we argue that each such separation can be interpreted as an institutional structure or policy regime. Questions about macroeconomic regime change can thus be addressed within this framework.
We illustrate the graph tools through application of the simple stock-flow consistent model, or “SIM model,” found in Godley and Lavoie (2007). In this model there are eight different possible dynamic closures of the same underlying accounting structure. We classify the possible closures and discuss three of them in detail: the “standard” Godley–Lavoie closure, where government spending is the key policy lever; an “austerity” regime, where government spending adjusts to taxes that depend on private sector decisions; and a “colonial” regime, which is driven by taxation.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Miguel Carrión Álvarez Dirk EhntsRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 853 | November 2015
The Case of Colombia
In recent years, Colombia has grown relatively rapidly, but it has been a biased growth. The energy sector (the “locomotora minero-energetica,” to use the rhetorical expression of President Juan Manuel Santos) grew much faster than the rest of the economy, while the manufacturing sector registered a negative rate of growth. These are classic symptoms of the well-known “Dutch disease,” but our purpose here is not to establish whether or not the Dutch disease exists, but rather to shed some light on the financial viability of several, simultaneous dynamics: (1) the existence of a traditional Dutch disease being due to a large increase in mining exports and a significant exchange rate appreciation; (2) a massive increase in foreign direct investment, particularly in the mining sector; (3) a rather passive monetary policy, aimed at increasing purchasing power via exchange rate appreciation; (4) and more recently, a large distribution of dividends from Colombia to the rest of the world and the accumulation of mounting financial liabilities. The paper shows that these dynamics constitute a potential danger for the stability of the Colombian economy. Some policy recommendations are also discussed.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alberto Botta Antoine Godin Marco MissagliaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 852 | October 2015
Long-term interest rates in advanced economies have been low since the global financial crisis. However, in the United States the Federal Reserve could begin to hike its policy rate, the federal funds target rate, before the end of the year. In the United Kingdom, the Bank of England could follow suit. What is the outlook for global long-term interest rates? What are the risks around interest rates? What can policymakers do to cure the malady of low interest rates? It is argued that global interest rates are likely to stay low in the remainder of this year and the first half of next year due to a combination of domestic and international factors, even if a few central banks gradually begin to tighten monetary policy. The cure for this malady lies in proactive fiscal policy and measures to support job growth. Boosting effective demand and promoting higher wages and real disposable income would help lift inflation rates close to their targets and raise long-term interest rates.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer AkramRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 851 | October 2015
A Stock-flow Consistent Model
This paper presents a stock-flow consistent model+ of full-reserve banking. It is found that in a steady state, full-reserve banking can accommodate a zero-growth economy and provide both full employment and zero inflation. Furthermore, a money creation experiment is conducted with the model. An increase in central bank reserves translates into a two-thirds increase in demand deposits. Money creation through government spending leads to a temporary increase in real GDP and inflation. Surprisingly, it also leads to a permanent reduction in consolidated government debt. The claims that full-reserve banking would precipitate a credit crunch or excessively volatile interest rates are found to be baseless.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Patrizio LainàRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 850 | October 2015
We describe the medium-run macroeconomic effects and long-run development consequences of a financial Dutch disease that may take place in a small developing country with abundant natural resources. The first move is in financial markets. An initial surge in foreign direct investment targeting natural resources sets in motion a perverse cycle between exchange rate appreciation and mounting short- and medium-term capital flows. Such a spiral easily leads to exchange rate volatility, capital reversals, and sharp macroeconomic instability. In the long run, macroeconomic instability and overdependence on natural resource exports dampen the development of nontraditional tradable goods sectors and curtail labor productivity dynamics. We advise the introduction of constraints to short- and medium-term capital flows to tame exchange rate/capital flows boom-and-bust cycles. We support the implementation of a developmentalist monetary policy targeting competitive nominal and real exchange rates in order to encourage product and export diversification.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alberto BottaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 849 | October 2015
A Micro- and Macroprudential Perspective
Bank leverage ratios have made an impressive and largely unopposed return; they are mostly used alongside risk-weighted capital requirements. The reasons for this return are manifold, and they are not limited to the fact that bank equity levels in the wake of the global financial crisis (GFC) were exceptionally thin, necessitating a string of costly bailouts. A number of other factors have been equally important; these include, among others, the world’s revulsion with debt following the GFC and the eurozone crisis, and the universal acceptance of Hyman Minsky’s insights into the nature of the financial system and its role in the real economy. The best examples of the causal link between excessive debt, asset bubbles, and financial instability are the Spanish and Irish banking crises, which resulted from nothing more sophisticated than straightforward real estate loans. Bank leverage ratios are primarily seen as a microprudential measure that intends to increase bank resilience. Yet in today’s environment of excessive liquidity due to very low interest rates and quantitative easing, bank leverage ratios should also be viewed as a key part of the macroprudential framework. In this context, this paper discusses the role of leverage ratios as both microprudential and macroprudential measures. As such, it explains the role of the leverage cycle in causing financial instability and sheds light on the impact of leverage restraints on good bank governance and allocative efficiency.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 848 | October 2015
A Case Study of the Canadian Economy, 1935–75
Historically high levels of private and public debt coupled with already very low short-term interest rates appear to limit the options for stimulative monetary policy in many advanced economies today. One option that has not yet been considered is monetary financing by central banks to boost demand and/or relieve debt burdens. We find little empirical evidence to support the standard objection to such policies: that they will lead to uncontrollable inflation. Theoretical models of inflationary monetary financing rest upon inaccurate conceptions of the modern endogenous money creation process. This paper presents a counter-example in the activities of the Bank of Canada during the period 1935–75, when, working with the government, it engaged in significant direct or indirect monetary financing to support fiscal expansion, economic growth, and industrialization. An institutional case study of the period, complemented by a general-to-specific econometric analysis, finds no support for a relationship between monetary financing and inflation. The findings lend support to recent calls for explicit monetary financing to boost highly indebted economies and a more general rethink of the dominant New Macroeconomic Consensus policy framework that prohibits monetary financing.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Josh Ryan-CollinsRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 847 | October 2015
A Post-Keynesian Interpretation of the Spanish Crisis
The Spanish crisis is generally portrayed as resulting from excessive spending by households, associated with a housing bubble and/or excessive welfare spending beyond the economic possibilities of the country. We put forward a different hypothesis. We argue that the Spanish crisis resulted, in the main, from a widening deficit position in the nonfinancial corporate sector—the most important explanatory factor behind the country’s rising external imbalance—and a declining trend in profitability under a regime of financial liberalization and loose and unregulated lending practices. This paper argues that the central cause of the crisis is related to the nonfinancial corporate sector’s increasingly fragile financial position, which originated from the financial convergence that followed adoption of the euro.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías VernengoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 846 | October 2015
Steindl after Summers
The current debate on secular stagnation is suffering from some vagueness and several shortcomings. The same is true for the economic policy implications. Therefore, we provide an alternative view on stagnation tendencies based on Josef Steindl’s contributions. In particular, Steindl (1952) can be viewed as a pioneering work in the area of stagnation in modern capitalism. We hold that this work is not prone to the problems detected in the current debate on secular stagnation: It does not rely on the dubious notion of an equilibrium real interest rate as the equilibrating force of saving and investment at full employment levels, in principle, with the adjustment process currently blocked by the unfeasibility of a very low or even negative equilibrium rate. It is based on the notion that modern capitalist economies are facing aggregate demand constraints, and that saving adjusts to investment through income growth and changes in capacity utilization in the long run. It allows for potential growth to become endogenous to actual demand-driven growth. And it seriously considers the role of institutions and power relationships for long-run growth—and for stagnation.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 845 | September 2015
Assessing the ECB’s Crisis Management Performance and Potential for Crisis ResolutionThis study assesses the European Central Bank’s (ECB) crisis management performance and potential for crisis resolution. The study investigates the institutional and functional constraints that delineate the ECB’s scope for policy action under crisis conditions, and how the bank has actually used its leeway since 2007—or might do so in the future. The study finds that the ECB may well stand out positively when compared to other important euro-area or national authorities involved in managing the euro crisis, but that in general the bank did “too little, too late” to prevent the euro area from slipping into recession and protracted stagnation. The study also finds that expectations regarding the ECB’s latest policy initiatives may be excessively optimistic, and that proposals featuring the central bank as the euro’s savior through even more radical employment of its balance sheet are misplaced hopes. Ultimately, the euro’s travails can only be ended and the euro crisis resolved by shifting the emphasis toward fiscal policy; specifically, by partnering the ECB with a “Euro Treasury” that would serve as a vehicle for the central funding of public investment through the issuance of common Euro Treasury debt securities.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 844 | July 2015
We present a model where the saving rate of the household sector, especially households at the bottom of the income distribution, becomes the endogenous variable that adjusts in order for full employment to be maintained over time. An increase in income inequality and the current account deficit and a consolidation of the government budget lead to a decrease in the saving rate of the household sector. Such a process is unsustainable because it leads to an increase in the household debt-to-income ratio, and maintaining it depends on some sort of asset bubble. This framework allows us to better understand the factors that led to the Great Recession and the dilemma of a repeat of this kind of unsustainable process or secular stagnation. Sustainable growth requires a decrease in income inequality, an improvement in the external position, and a relaxation of the fiscal stance of the government.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 843 | July 2015
This paper has two main objectives. The first is to propose a policy architecture that can prevent a very high public debt from resulting in a high tax burden, a government default, or inflation. The second objective is to show that government deficits do not face a financing problem. After these deficits are initially financed through the net creation of base money, the private sector necessarily realizes savings, in the form of either government bond purchases or, if a default is feared, “acquisitions” of new money.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Pedro LeaoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 842 | July 2015
The Euro Treasury Plan
The euro crisis remains unresolved and the euro currency union incomplete and extraordinarily vulnerable. The euro regime’s essential flaw and ultimate source of vulnerability is the decoupling of central bank and treasury institutions in the euro currency union. We propose a “Euro Treasury” scheme to properly fix the regime and resolve the euro crisis. This scheme would establish a rudimentary fiscal union that is not a transfer union. The core idea is to create a Euro Treasury as a vehicle to pool future eurozone public investment spending and to have it funded by proper eurozone treasury securities. The Euro Treasury could fulfill a number of additional purposes while operating mainly on the basis of a strict rule. The plan would also provide a much-needed fiscal boost to recovery and foster a more benign intra-area rebalancing.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 841 | July 2015
Marx’s theory of money is critiqued relative to the advent of fiat and electronic currencies and the development of financial markets. Specific topics of concern include (1) today’s identity of the money commodity, (2) possible heterogeneity of the money commodity, (3) the categories of land and rent as they pertain to the financial economy, (4) valuation of derivative securities, and (5) strategies for modeling, predicting, and controlling production and exchange of the money commodity and their interface with the real economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 840 | July 2015
A technical analysis shows that the doomsayers who support the euro at all costs and those who naively theorize that a single currency is the root of all evil are both wrong. A euro exit could be a way of getting back to growth, but at the same time it would entail serious risks, especially for wage earners. The most important lesson we can learn from the experience of the past is that the outcome, in terms of growth, distribution, and employment, depends on how a country remains in the euro; or, in the case of a euro exit, on the quality of the economic policies that are put in place once the country regains control of monetary and fiscal matters, rather than on abandoning the old exchange system as such. It all depends on how a country stays in the eurozone, or on how it leaves if need be.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Riccardo Realfonzo Angelantonio ViscioneRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 839 | June 2015
The Unit of Account, Inflation, Leverage, and Financial Fragility
We hope to model financial fragility and money in a way that captures much of what is crucial in Hyman Minsky’s financial fragility hypothesis. This approach to modeling Minsky may be unique in the formal Minskyan literature. Namely, we adopt a model in which a psychological variable we call financial prudence (P) declines over time following a financial crash, driving a cyclical buildup of leverage in household balance sheets. High leverage or a low safe-asset ratio in turn induces high financial fragility (FF). In turn, the pathways of FF and capacity utilization (u) determine the probabilistic risk of a crash in any time interval. When they occur, these crashes entail discrete downward jumps in stock prices and financial sector assets and liabilities. To the endogenous government liabilities in Hannsgen (2014), we add common stock and bank loans and deposits. In two alternative versions of the wage-price module in the model (wage–Phillips curve and chartalist, respectively), the rate of wage inflation depends on either unemployment or the wage-setting policies of the government sector. At any given time t, goods prices also depend on endogenous markup and labor productivity variables. Goods inflation affects aggregate demand through its impact on the value of assets and debts. Bank rates depend on an endogenous markup of their own. Furthermore, in light of the limited carbon budget of humankind over a 50-year horizon, goods production in this model consumes fossil fuels and generates greenhouse gases.
The government produces at a rate given by a reaction function that pulls government activity toward levels prescribed by a fiscal policy rule. Subcategories of government spending affect the pace of technical progress and prudence in lending practices. The intended ultimate purpose of the model is to examine the effects of fiscal policy reaction functions, including one with dual unemployment rate and public production targets, testing their effects on numerically computed solution pathways. Analytical results in the penultimate section show that (1) the model has no equilibrium (steady state) for reasons related to Minsky’s argument that modern capitalist economies possess a property that he called “the instability of stability,” and (2) solution pathways exist and are unique, given vectors of initial conditions and parameter values and realizations of the Poisson model of financial crises.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Chartalism Climate change Consumer debt Debt deflation Demand-led growth Financial instability hypothesis (FIH) Fiscal policy Margin loans Modern Money Theory (MMT) Money Neo-Kaleckian growth models Nonequilibrium economics Nonlinear dynamics Stagnation Stock-flow consistent (SFC) modeling Wage contour
Working Paper No. 838 | May 2015
Linkages and Their Implications
Unpaid work, which falls outside of the national income accounts but within the general production boundary, is viewed as either “care” or as “work” by experts. This work is almost always unequally distributed between men and women, and if one includes both paid and unpaid work, women carry much more of the burden of work than men. This unequal distribution of work is unjust, and it implies a violation of the basic human rights of women. The grounds on which it is excluded from the boundary of national income accounts do not seem to be logical or valid. This paper argues that the exclusion reflects the dominance of patriarchal values and brings male bias into macroeconomics.
This paper shows that there are multiple linkages between unpaid work and the conventional macroeconomy, and this makes it necessary to expand the boundary of conventional macroeconomics so as to incorporate unpaid work. The paper presents the two approaches: the valuation of unpaid work into satellite accounts, and the adoption of the triple “R” approach of recognition, reduction, and reorganization of unpaid work, recommended by experts. However, there is a need to go beyond these approaches to integrate unpaid work into macroeconomics and macroeconomic policies. Though some empirical work has been done in terms of integrating unpaid work into macro policies (for example, understanding the impacts of macroeconomic policy on paid and unpaid work), some sound theoretical work is needed on the dynamics of the linkages between paid and unpaid work, and how these dynamics change over time and space. The paper concludes that the time has come to recognize that unless unpaid work is included in macroeconomic analyses, they will remain partial and wrong. The time has also come to incorporate unpaid work into labor market analyses, and in the design of realistic labor and employment policies.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 837 | May 2015
A Keynes-Schumpeter-Minsky Synthesis
This paper discusses the role that finance plays in promoting the capital development of the economy, with particular emphasis on the current situation of the United States and the United Kingdom. We define both “finance” and “capital development” very broadly. We begin with the observation that the financial system evolved over the postwar period, from one in which closely regulated and chartered commercial banks were dominant to one in which financial markets dominate the system. Over this period, the financial system grew rapidly relative to the nonfinancial sector, rising from about 10 percent of value added and a 10 percent share of corporate profits to 20 percent of value added and 40 percent of corporate profits in the United States. To a large degree, this was because finance, instead of financing the capital development of the economy, was financing itself. At the same time, the capital development of the economy suffered perceptibly. If we apply a broad definition—to include technological advances, rising labor productivity, public and private infrastructure, innovations, and the advance of human knowledge—the rate of growth of capacity has slowed.
The past quarter century witnessed the greatest explosion of financial innovation the world had ever seen. Financial fragility grew until the economy collapsed into the global financial crisis. At the same time, we saw that much (or even most) of the financial innovation was directed outside the sphere of production—to complex financial instruments related to securitized mortgages, to commodities futures, and to a range of other financial derivatives. Unlike J. A. Schumpeter, Hyman Minsky did not see the banker merely as the ephor of capitalism, but as its key source of instability. Furthermore, due to “financialisation of the real economy,” the picture is not simply one of runaway finance and an investment-starved real economy, but one where the real economy itself has retreated from funding investment opportunities and is instead either hoarding cash or using corporate profits for speculative investments such as share buybacks. As we will argue, financialization is rooted in predation; in Matt Taibbi’s famous phrase, Wall Street behaves like a giant, blood-sucking “vampire squid.”
In this paper we will investigate financial reforms as well as other government policy that is necessary to promote the capital development of the economy, paying particular attention to increasing funding of the innovation process. For that reason, we will look not only to Minsky’s ideas on the financial system, but also to Schumpeter’s views on financing innovation.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Mariana Mazzucato L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 836 | April 2015
Direct Estimates of Food and Eating Production Function Parameters for 2004–12 Using an ATUS/CE Synthetic DatasetView More View Less
This paper evaluates the presence of heterogeneity, by household type, in the elasticity of substitution between food expenditures and time and in the goods intensity parameter in the household food and eating production functions. We use a synthetic dataset constructed by statistically matching the American Time Use Survey and the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We establish the presence of heterogeneity in the elasticity of substitution and in the intensity parameter. We find that the elasticity of substitution is low for all household types.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 835 | March 2015
In recent years, Bolivia has experienced a series of economic and political transformations that have directly affected the labor markets, particularly the salaried urban sector. Real wages have shown strong increases across the distribution, while also presenting a decrease in inequality. Using an intertemporal decomposition approach, we find evidence that changes in demographic and labor market characteristics can explain only a small portion of the observed inequality decline. Instead, the results indicate that the decline in wage inequality was driven by the faster wage growth of usually low-paid jobs, and wage stagnation of jobs that require higher education or are in traditionally highly paid fields. While the evidence shows that the reduction in inequality is significant, we suggest that such an improvement might not be sustainable in the long run, since structural factors associated with productivity, such as workers’ level of education, explain only a small portion of these wage changes.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Gustavo Canavire-Bacarreza Fernando Rios-AvilaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 834 | March 2015
John Maynard Keynes held that the central bank’s actions determine long-term interest rates through short-term interest rates and various monetary policy measures. His conjectures about the determinants of long-term interest rates were made in the context of advanced capitalist economies, and were based on his views on ontological uncertainty and the formation of investors’ expectations. Are these conjectures valid in emerging markets, such as India? This paper empirically investigates the determinants of changes in Indian government bonds’ nominal yields. Changes in short-term interest rates, after controlling for other crucial variables such as changes in the rates of inflation and economic activity, take a lead role in driving changes in the nominal yields of Indian government bonds. This vindicates Keynes’s theories, and suggests that his views on long-term interest rates are also applicable to emerging markets. Higher fiscal deficits do not appear to raise government bond yields in India. It is further argued that Keynes’s conjectures about investors’ outlooks, views, and expectations are fairly robust in a world of ontological uncertainty.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 833 | February 2015
A Blueprint for ReformIf emerging markets are to achieve their objective of joining the ranks of industrialized, developed countries, they must use their economic and political influence to support radical change in the international financial system. This working paper recommends John Maynard Keynes’s “clearing union” as a blueprint for reform of the international financial architecture that could address emerging market grievances more effectively than current approaches.Keynes’s proposal for the postwar international system sought to remedy some of the same problems currently facing emerging market economies. It was based on the idea that financial stability was predicated on a balance between imports and exports over time, with any divergence from balance providing automatic financing of the debit countries by the creditor countries via a global clearinghouse or settlement system for trade and payments on current account. This eliminated national currency payments for imports and exports; countries received credits or debits in a notional unit of account fixed to national currency. Since the unit of account could not be traded, bought, or sold, it would not be an international reserve currency. The credits with the clearinghouse could only be used to offset debits by buying imports, and if not used for this purpose they would eventually be extinguished; hence the burden of adjustment would be shared equally—credit generated by surpluses would have to be used to buy imports from the countries with debit balances. Emerging market economies could improve upon current schemes for regionally governed financial institutions by using this proposal as a template for the creation of regional clearing unions using a notional unit of account.
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Working Paper No. 832 | February 2015
The Contributions of John F. HenryThis paper explores the rise of money and class society in ancient Greece, drawing historical and theoretical parallels to the case of ancient Egypt. In doing so, the paper examines the historical applicability of the chartalist and metallist theories of money. It will be shown that the origins and the evolution of money were closely intertwined with the rise and consolidation of class society and inequality. Money, class society, and inequality came into being simultaneously, so it seems, mutually reinforcing the development of one another. Rather than a medium of exchange in commerce, money emerged as an “egalitarian token” at the time when the substance of social relations was undergoing a fundamental transformation from egalitarian to class societies. In this context, money served to preserve the façade of social and economic harmony and equality, while inequality was growing and solidifying. Rather than “invented” by private traders, money was first issued by ancient Greek states and proto-states as they aimed to establish and consolidate their political and economic power. Rather than a medium of exchange in commerce, money first served as a “means of recompense” administered by the Greek city-states as they strived to implement the civic conception of social justice. While the origins of money are to be found in the origins of inequality, a well-functioning democratic society has the power to subvert the inequality-inducing characteristic of money via the use of money for public purpose, following the principles of Modern Money Theory (MMT). When used according to the principles of MMT, the inequality-inducing characteristic of money could be undermined, while the current trends in rising income and wealth disparities could be contained and reversed.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Alla Semenova L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 831 | January 2015
The Market Creating and Shaping Roles of State Investment Banks
Recent decades witnessed a trend whereby private markets retreated from financing the real economy, while, simultaneously, the real economy itself became increasingly financialized. This trend resulted in public finance becoming more important for investments in capital development, technical change, and innovation. Within this context, this paper focuses on the roles played by a particular source of public finance: state investment banks (SIBs). It develops a conceptual typology of the different roles that SIBs play in the economy, which together show the market creation/shaping process of SIBs rather than their mere “market fixing” roles. This paper discusses four types of investments, both theoretically and empirically: countercyclical, developmental, venture capitalist, and challenge led. To develop the typology, we first discuss how standard market failure theory justifies the roles of SIBs, the diagnostics and evaluation toolbox associated with it, and resulting criticisms centered on notions of “government failures.” We then show the limitations of this approach based on insights from Keynes, Schumpeter, Minsky, and Polanyi, as well as other authors from the evolutionary economics tradition, which help us move toward a framework for public investments that is more about market creating/shaping than market fixing. As frameworks lead to evaluation tools, we use this new lens to discuss the increasingly targeted investments that SIBs are making, and to shed new light on the usual criticisms that are made about such directed activity (e.g., crowding out and picking winners). The paper ends with a proposal of directions for future research.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Mariana Mazzucato Caetano C.R. PennaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 830 | January 2015
Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Using the Consumer Expenditure Survey 2011 and Annual Social Economic Supplement 2011View More View Less
This paper describes the quality of the statistical match between the Current Population Survey (CPS) March 2011 supplement and the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) 2011, which are used for the integrated inequality assessment model for the United States. In the first part of this paper, the alignment of the datasets is examined. In the second, various aspects of the match quality are described. The results show appropriate balance across different characteristics, with some imbalances within narrow characteristics.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 829 | January 2015
The Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the Federal Reserve’s Extraordinary Intervention during the Global Financial CrisisView More View Less
Before the global financial crisis, the assistance of a lender of last resort was traditionally thought to be limited to commercial banks. During the crisis, however, the Federal Reserve created a number of facilities to support brokers and dealers, money market mutual funds, the commercial paper market, the mortgage-backed securities market, the triparty repo market, et cetera. In this paper, we argue that the elimination of specialized banking through the eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA) has played an important role in the leakage of the public subsidy intended for commercial banks to nonbank financial institutions. In a specialized financial system, which the GSA had helped create, the use of the lender-of-last-resort safety net could be more comfortably limited to commercial banks.
However, the elimination of GSA restrictions on bank-permissible activities has contributed to the rise of a financial system where the lines between regulated and protected banks and the so-called shadow banking system have become blurred. The existence of the shadow banking universe, which is directly or indirectly guaranteed by banks, has made it practically impossible to confine the safety to the regulated banking system. In this context, reforming the lender-of-last-resort institution requires fundamental changes within the financial system itself.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Yeva NersisyanRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 828 | January 2015
The Indian Case
Financialization creates space for the financial sector in economies, and in doing so helps to raise the share of financial assets in the portfolios held by market participants. Largely driven by deregulation, the process works to make financial assets relatively attractive as compared to other assets, by offering both better returns and potential capital gains. Both the trend toward a more financialized economy and the expected returns on financial investments have provided incentives to corporate managers to invest larger sums in financial assets, resulting in growth of the share of financial assets relative to other assets held in portfolios. Assets held in the financial sector, however, failed to generate asset growth for the corporates. The need to obtain resources by borrowing in order to meet current liabilities reflects a pattern of Ponzi finance on their part. This paper traces the above pattern in corporate holdings of assets and its implications, with emphasis on the Indian economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Sunanda Sen Zico DasGuptaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 827 | January 2015
Early Work on Endogenous Money and the Prudent Banker
In this paper, I examine whether Hyman P. Minsky adopted an endogenous money approach in his early work—at the time that he was first developing his financial instability approach. In an earlier piece (Wray 1992), I closely examined Minsky’s published writings to support the argument that, from his earliest articles in 1957 to his 1986 book (as well as a handout he wrote in 1987 on “securitization”), he consistently held an endogenous money view. I’ll refer briefly to that published work. However, I will devote most of the discussion here to unpublished early manuscripts in the Minsky archive (Minsky 1959, 1960, 1970). These manuscripts demonstrate that in his early career Minsky had already developed a deep understanding of the nature of banking. In some respects, these unpublished pieces are better than his published work from that period (or even later periods) because he had stripped away some institutional details to focus more directly on the fundamentals. It will be clear from what follows that Minsky’s approach deviated substantially from the postwar “Keynesian” and “monetarist” viewpoints that started from a “deposit multiplier.” The 1970 paper, in particular, delineates how Minsky’s approach differs from the “Keynesian” view as presented in mainstream textbooks. Further, Minsky’s understanding of banking in those years appears to be much deeper than that displayed three or four decades later by much of the post-Keynesian endogenous-money literature.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 826 | January 2015
Following a methodology proposed by Jantzen and Volpert (2012), we use IRS Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) data for the United States (1921–2012) to estimate two Gini-like indices representing inequality at the bottom and the top of the income distribution. We also calculate the overall Gini index as a function of the parameters underlying the two indices. Our findings can be summarized as follows. First, we find that the increase in the Gini index from the mid 1940s to the late 1970s seems to be mostly explained by an increase in inequality at the bottom of the income distribution, which more than offsets the decrease in inequality at the top. The implication is that middle incomes gained relative to high incomes, but especially relative to low incomes. Conversely, it is rising inequality at the top that appears to drive the rise in the Gini index since 1981. Second, inequality at the top of the income distribution follows a U-shaped trajectory over time, similar to the pattern of the share of top incomes documented by Piketty and Saez (2003, 2006) and Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez (2011). Third, the welfare effects of the different forces behind an increasing Gini index can be evaluated in light of the Lorenz-dominance criterion proposed by Atkinson (1970): both top-driven and bottom-driven increases in the index appear not to imply strict Lorenz dominance by previous income distributions, and therefore are not associated with lower welfare in an absolute sense. In a relative sense, however, once average growth rates over the two periods are taken into account, the top-driven increase in inequality since 1981 appears to have been welfare reducing.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Markus P.A. Schneider Daniele TavaniRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 825 | January 2015
What Should BNDES Do?
The 2007–8 global financial crisis has shown the failure of private finance to efficiently allocate capital to finance real capital development. The resilience and stability of Brazil’s financial system has received attention, since it navigated relatively smoothly through the Great Recession and the collapse of the shadow banking system. This raises the question of whether it is possible that the alternative approaches followed by some developing countries might provide an indication of more stable regulatory approaches generally. There has been much discussion about how to support private long-term finance in order to meet Brazil’s growing infrastructure and investment needs. One of the essential functions of the financial system is to provide the long-term funding needed for long-lived and expensive capital assets. However, one of the main difficulties of the current private financial system is its failure to provide long-term financing, as the short-termism in Brazil’s financial market is a major obstacle to financing long-term assets. In its current form, the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) is the main source of long-term funding in the country. However, BNDES has been subject to a range of criticisms, such as crowding out private sector bank lending, and it is said to be hampering the development of the local capital market. This paper argues that, rather than following the traditional approach to justify the existence of public banks—and BNDES in particular, based on market failures—finding an effective answer to this question requires a theory of financial instability.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 824 | January 2015
A New Framework for Envisioning and Evaluating a Mission-oriented Public Sector
Today, countries around the world are seeking “smart” innovation-led growth, and hoping that this growth is also more “inclusive” and “sustainable” than in the past. This paper argues that such a feat requires rethinking the role of government and public policy in the economy—not only funding the “rate” of innovation, but also envisioning its “direction.” It requires a new justification of government intervention that goes beyond the usual one of “fixing market failures.” It also requires the shaping and creating of markets. And to render such growth more “inclusive,” it requires attention to the ensuing distribution of “risks and rewards.”
To approach the innovation challenge of the future, we must redirect the discussion, away from the worry about “picking winners” and “crowding out” toward four key questions for the future:
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- Directions: how can public policy be understood in terms of setting the direction and route of change; that is, shaping and creating markets rather than just fixing them? What can be learned from the ways in which directions were set in the past, and how can we stimulate more democratic debate about such directionality?
- Evaluation: how can an alternative conceptualization of the role of the public sector in the economy (alternative to MFT) translate into new indicators and assessment tools for evaluating public policies beyond the microeconomic cost/benefit analysis? How does this alter the crowding in/out narrative?
- Organizational change: how should public organizations be structured so they accommodate the risk-taking and explorative capacity, and the capabilities needed to envision and manage contemporary challenges?
- Risks and Rewards: how can this alternative conceptualization be implemented so that it frames investment tools so that they not only socialize risk, but also have the potential to socialize the rewards that enable “smart growth” to also be “inclusive growth”?
Working Paper No. 823 | December 2014
A Sympathetic Critique
This paper starts with a review of the literature about National Systems of Innovation (NSI), by linking the origin of the concept to the evolutionary theory of the firm and innovation. The first point reviews the flaws of the NSI concept by looking at the pioneering works of Chris Freeman, Bent-Åke Lundvall, and Richard Nelson. These authors’ definitions of NSI contain some striking aspects: (1) the definitions are so broad that they can encompass almost everything; (2) although all definitions share the central role played by institutions, the state and its policy are not explicitly mentioned; and (3) it is not clear if the NSI concept is a descriptive or a normative tool. The second point we would like to make is that, when the role of the financial system was finally recognized by evolutionary traditions, it was just added as a “new” element within the NSI. The main aim became one of including the financial system within the NSI and looking for the “right” financial system for the “right” type of innovation. After addressing the weaknesses of the conceptualization of the state within the NSI and the difficulty of the evolutionary theory in understanding the financialization of the economy, our third and last point refers to a new way to view innovations. As Mariana Mazzuccato shows, the state has always been a fundamental, though indirect, actor for the development of certain innovations in certain sectors. Yet this is not enough, especially in a period of crisis. The state should direct innovative activities toward more basic and social needs, thus becoming an “innovator of first resort.”Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Giovanna VertovaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 822 | December 2014
An understanding of, and an intervention into, the present capitalist reality requires that we put together the insights of Karl Marx on labor, as well as those of Hyman Minsky on finance. The best way to do this is within a longer-term perspective, looking at the different stages through which capitalism evolves. In other words, what is needed is a Schumpeterian-like, nonmechanical view about long waves, where Minsky’s financial Keynesianism is integrated with Marx’s focus on capitalist relations of production. Both are essential elements in understanding neoliberalism’s ascent and collapse. Minsky provided crucial elements in understanding the capitalist “new economy.” This refers to his perceptive diagnosis of “money manager capitalism,” the new form of capitalism that came from the womb of the Keynesian era itself. It collapsed a first time with the dot-com crisis, and a second time, and more seriously, with the subprime crisis. The focus is on the long-term changes in capitalism, and especially on what L. Randall Wray appropriately calls Minsky’s “stages approach.” Our aim is to show that this theme has a deep connection with the topic of the socialization of investment, central in the conclusions of the latter’s 1975 book on Keynes.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Riccardo BellofioreRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 821 | December 2014
The Advantages of Owning the Magic Porridge Pot
Over the past two decades there has been a revival of Georg Friedrich Knapp’s “state money” approach, also known as chartalism. The modern version has come to be called Modern Money Theory. Much of the recent research has delved into three main areas: mining previous work, applying the theory to analysis of current sovereign monetary operations, and exploring the policy space open to sovereign currency issuers. This paper focuses on “outside” money—the currency issued by the sovereign—and the advantages that accrue to nations that make full use of the policy space provided by outside money.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 820 | November 2014
Challenges for the Art of Monetary Policymaking in Emerging Economies
This paper examines the emerging challenges to the art of monetary policymaking using the case study of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in light of developments in the Indian economy during the last decade (2003–04 to 2013–14). The paper uses Hyman P. Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis as the conceptual framework for evaluating the endogenous nature of financial instability and its potential impact on monetary policymaking, and addresses the need to pursue regulatory policy as a tool that is complementary to monetary policy in light of the agenda of reforms put forward by Minsky. It further reviews the extensions to the Minskyan hypothesis in the areas of setting fiscal policy, managing cross-border capital flows, and developing financial institutional infrastructure. The lessons learned from the interplay of policy choices in these areas and their impact on monetary policymaking at the RBI are presented.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Srinivas YanamandraRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 819 | November 2014
How a Five-year Suspension of the Debt Burden Could Overthrow Austerity
The present study puts forward a plan for solving the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area (EA) in line with the interests of the working classes and the social majority. Our main strategy is for the European Central Bank (ECB) to acquire a significant part of the outstanding sovereign debt (at market prices) of the countries in the EA and convert it to zero-coupon bonds. No transfers will take place between individual states; taxpayers in any EA country will not be involved in the debt restructuring of any foreign eurozone country. Debt will not be forgiven: individual states will agree to buy it back from the ECB in the future when the ratio of sovereign debt to GDP has fallen to 20 percent. The sterilization costs for the ECB are manageable. This model of an unconventional monetary intervention would give progressive governments in the EA the necessary basis for developing social and welfare policies to the benefit of the working classes. It would reverse present-day policy priorities and replace the neoliberal agenda with a program of social and economic reconstruction, with the elites paying for the crisis. The perspective taken here favors social justice and coherence, having as its priority the social needs and the interests of the working majority.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos John Milios Spyros LapatsiorasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 818 | October 2014
During the past two decades of economic stagnation and persistent deflation in Japan, chronic fiscal deficits have led to elevated and rising ratios of government debt to nominal GDP. Nevertheless, long-term Japanese government bonds’ (JGBs) nominal yields initially declined and have stayed remarkably low and stable since then. This is contrary to the received wisdom of the existing literature, which holds that higher government deficits and indebtedness shall exert upward pressures on government bonds’ nominal yields. This paper seeks to understand the determinants of JGBs’ nominal yields. It examines the relationship between JGBs’ nominal yields and short-term interest rates and other relevant factors, such as low inflation and persistent deflationary pressures and tepid growth. Low short-term interest rates, induced by monetary policy, have been the main reason for JGBs’ low nominal yields. It is also argued that Japan has monetary sovereignty, which gives the government of Japan the ability to meet its debt obligations. It enables the Bank of Japan to exert downward pressure on JGBs’ nominal yields by allowing it to keep short-term interest rates low and to use other tools of monetary policy. The argument that current short-term interest rates and monetary policy are the primary drivers of long-term interest rates follows Keynes’s (1930) insights.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 817 | September 2014
The Reemergence of Liquidity Preference and Animal Spirits in the Post-Keynesian Theory of Capital Markets
Since the beginning of the fall of monetarism in the mid-1980s, mainstream macroeconomics has incorporated many of the principles of post-Keynesian endogenous money theory. This paper argues that the most important critical component of post-Keynesian monetary theory today is its rejection of the “natural rate of interest.” By examining the hidden assumptions of the loanable funds doctrine as it was modified in light of the idea of a natural rate of interest—specifically, its implicit reliance on an “efficient markets hypothesis” view of capital markets—this paper seeks to show that the mainstream view of capital markets is completely at odds with the world of fundamental uncertainty addressed by post-Keynesian economists, a world in which Keynesian liquidity preference and animal spirits rule the roost. This perspective also allows us to shed new light on the debate that has sprung up around the work of Hyman Minsky, calling into question to what extent he rejected the loanable funds view of financial markets. When Minsky’s theories are examined against the backdrop of the natural rate of interest version of the loanable funds theory, it quickly becomes clear that Minsky does not fall into the loanable funds camp.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Philip PilkingtonRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 816 | September 2014
Policy Alternatives Addressing Divergences and Disparities between Member Countries
In this paper we outline alternative policy recommendations addressing the problems of differential inflation, divergence in competitiveness, and associated current account imbalances within the euro area. The major purpose of these alternative policy proposals is to generate sustainably high demand and output growth in the euro area as a whole, providing high levels of noninflationary employment, as well as preventing “export-led mercantilist” and “debt-led consumption boom” types of development, both within the euro area and with respect to the role of the euro area in the world economy. We provide a basic framework in order to systematically address the related issues, making use of Anthony Thirlwall’s model of a “balance-of-payments-constrained growth rate.” Based on this framework, we outline the required stance for alternative economic policies and then discuss the implications for alternative monetary, wage/incomes, and fiscal policies in the euro area as a whole, as well as the consequences for structural and regional policies in the euro-area periphery in particular.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Eckhard Hein Daniel DetzerRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 815 | September 2014
This paper contributes to the literature on inequality and welfare policy by studying public support for redistributive policies in Israel, a society with an extreme level of socioeconomic inequality. Drawing on the relevant literature and taking into consideration the distinct demographic makeup of contemporary Israeli society, the study aims to describe public support for opportunity-enhancing and outcome-based redistributive policies and to explore the extent to which individual economic and demographic characteristics are associated with policy preferences. Analysis of data from a unique topical module of the 2008 Israel Social Survey reveals that support for opportunity-based programs is strong overall, but that the Israeli public is deeply divided along ethnic lines, religious affiliation, and immigration status. While results from multinomial regression analyses provide support for the self-interest theory, the findings also underscore the significance of various demographic and social indicators as determinants of policy preferences. These findings are discussed in light of the current debates on the sources of, and possible remedies for, the growing social and economic polarization within Israeli society.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 814 | September 2014
The paper examines the long-run fluctuations in growth and distribution through the prism of wage-and profit-led growth. We argue that the relation between distribution of income and growth changes over time. We propose an endogenous mechanism that leads to fluctuations between wage- and profit-led periods. Our model is a linear version of Goodwin’s predator–prey model, but with a reversal of the roles for predator and prey: the growth rate acts as the predator and the distribution of income as the prey. These fluctuations need to be taken into account when someone estimates empirically the effect of a change in distribution on utilization and growth. We also examine our argument in relation to the double movement of Karl Polanyi, the Kuznets curve, and the theories of long swings proposed by Albert Hirschman and Michal Kalecki.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Sunanda Sen Zico DasGuptaRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ebru Kongar Günseli BerikRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Hrishikesh Vinod Lekha S. Chakraborty Honey KarunRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 809 | June 2014
Causal Linkages between Work and Life Satisfaction and Their Determinants in a Structural VAR ApproachView More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Alex Coad Martin BinderRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 808 | June 2014View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Martin Binder Alex CoadRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 804 | May 2014
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 803 | May 2014
This series of working papers explores a theme enjoying a tremendous resurgence: the functional distribution of income—the division of aggregate income by factor share. This first installment surveys some landmark theories of income distribution. Some provide a technology-based account of the relative shares while others provide a demand-driven explanation (Keynes, Kalecki, Kaldor, Goodwin). Two questions lead to a better understanding of the literature: is income distribution assumed constant?, and is income distribution endogenous or exogenous? However, and despite their insights, these theories alone fail to fully explain the current deterioration of income distribution.
Subsequent installments are dedicated to analyzing the empirical literature (part II), to the measurement and composition of the relative shares (part III), and to a study of the role of economic policy (part IV).Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Eloy Fisher Javier López BernardoRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Martin Binder Leonhard K. LadesRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 798 | May 2014
Quality of Match for Statistical Matches Using the American Time Use Survey 2010, the Survey of Consumer Finances 2010, and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement 2011View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Eugenio CaverzasiRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Fabrizio Patriarca Claudio SardoniRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Alberto BottaRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 793 | March 2014
Quality of Statistical Match and Employment Simulations Used in the Estimation of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for South Korea, 2009View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the Economy The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income PovertyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Burca Kizilirmak Emel Memiş Şirin Saraçoğlu Ebru VoyvodaRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 788 | March 2014View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Iván H. Ayala Alfonso Palacio-VeraRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Bernard ShullRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 783 | January 2014
A Sovereign Currency ApproachThis 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Philip PilkingtonRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Aurélie CharlesRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 777 | October 2013View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Giovanni Bernardo Emanuele CampiglioRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Eckhard Hein Achim TrugerRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías VernengoRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program: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.Download:Associated Program: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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 771 | August 2013
In Search of CausalityThis 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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Michalis Nikiforos Laura Carvalho Christian Schoder
Working Paper No. 770 | July 2013
An Essay on the Business CycleThis 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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 769 | July 2013
Quality of Statistical Match and Simulations Used in the Estimation of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP) for Turkey in 2006View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 765 | May 2013Following 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.
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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.Download:Associated Program: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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Walker F. ToddRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.”Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 760 | March 2013View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Gerardo Fujii-Gambero Rosario Cervantes-MartínezRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Nathan Perry Nathaniel ClineRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Nicola MatthewsRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Michael A. Valenti Olivier GiovannoniRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 754 | February 2013View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Eugenio CaverzasiRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Barry Z. Cynamon Steven M. FazzariRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Thomas M. HumphreyRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Philip Arestis Ana Rosa GonzálezRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Daniel Titelman Pablo CarvalloRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Lekha S. Chakraborty Yadawendra Singh Jannet Farida JacobRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Eugenio Caverzasi Antoine GodinRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Philip Arestis Ana Rosa González Óscar DejuánRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Robert J. Barbera Gerald HolthamRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Egmont Kakarot-HandtkeRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Alberto BottaRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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).Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Bernard ShullRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 734 | October 2012
The Crisis of Finance-dominated Capitalism in the Euro Area, Deficiencies in the Economic Policy Architecture, and Deflationary Stagnation PoliciesView More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Alessandro Caiani Antoine Godin Stefano LucarelliRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Egmont Kakarot-HandtkeRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 730 | August 2012View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías VernengoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 727 | July 2012
Simulations of Full-Time Employment and Household Work in the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Argentina, Chile, and MexicoView More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program(s):The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the EconomyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Günseli Berik Ebru KongarRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 725 | May 2012View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe John McCombieRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Charles J. WhalenRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 723 | May 2012View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Antoine GodinRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 720 | May 2012View More View Less
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Nicholas Apergis Emmanuel MamatzakisRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe John McCombieRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe Arnelyn Abdon Utsav KumarRelated Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
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.