Economic Policy for the 21st Century
Nearly all Levy Institute research focuses not only on economic analysis, but also on the creation of possible strategies through which policymakers may solve the issue at hand. This program includes research on those macroeconomic policy areas most closely associated with public sector activities: monetary policy and financial institutions, federal budget policy, and the labor market. Examples of studies on monetary policy and financial institutions include explorations of the repercussions the euro’s introduction has had on monetary and fiscal policies and monetary institutions within the European Community; the effectiveness of monetary policy; and Minskyan analyses of the current economic problems in the United States, Japan, and Brazil. Examinations of federal budget policies cover such topics as the effects of budget surpluses on the economy, the need for fiscal expansion to combat economic torpor, and analyses of the Social Security and health care systems.
Policy Note 2020/3 | April 2020Research Scholar Martha Tepepa explains how the US response to the COVID-19 crisis will be hindered by its approach to immigration policy. The administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration campaign creates a public health risk in the context of this pandemic, and the recent implementation of the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” final rule penalizing noncitizen recipients of some social services will further restrict access to treatment and encumber the fight against the coronavirus.Download:Associated Program(s):Gender Equality and the Economy Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Structure Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 63 | April 2020As governments around the world explore ambitious approaches to fiscal and monetary policy in their responses to the COVID-19 crisis, Modern Money Theory (MMT) has been thrust into the spotlight once again. Unfortunately, many of those invoking the theory have misrepresented its central tenets, according Yeva Nersisyan and L. Randall Wray.
MMT provides an analysis of fiscal and monetary policy applicable to national governments with sovereign, nonconvertible currencies. In the context of articulating the elements of that analysis, Nersisyan and Wray draw out one of the lessons to be learned from the pandemic and its policy responses: that the government’s ability to run deficits is not limited to times of crisis; that we must build up our supplies, infrastructure, and institutions in normal times, and not wait for the next crisis to live up to our means.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related 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. 945 | January 2020The 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):Region(s):United States
Public Policy Brief No. 148 | January 2020In this policy brief, Yeva Nersisyan and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray argue that assessing the “affordability” of the Green New Deal is a question of whether there are suitable and sufficient real resources than can be mobilized to implement this ambitious approach to climate policy. Only after a careful resource accounting can we address the question of whether taxes and other means might be needed to reduce private spending to avoid inflation as the Green New Deal is phased in.
Nersisyan and Wray provide a first attempt at resource budgeting for the Green New Deal, weighing available resources—including potential excess capacity and resources that can be shifted away from existing production—against what will be needed to implement the major elements of this plan to fight climate change and ensure a just transition to a more sustainable economic model.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United States
Book Series | January 2020
Heterodox Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyA Great Leap Forward: Heterodox Economic Policy for the 21st Century investigates economic policy from a heterodox and progressive perspective. Author Randall Wray uses relatively short chapters arranged around several macroeconomic policy themes to present an integrated survey of progressive policy on topics of interest today that are likely to remain topics of interest for many years.
Published by: Elsevier Press
Testimony | November 2019
Reexamining the Economic Costs of DebtOn November 20, 2019, Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray testified before the House Committee on the Budget on the topic of reexamining the economic costs of debt:
"In recent months a new approach to national government budgets, deficits, and debts—Modern Money Theory (MMT)—has been the subject of discussion and controversy. [. . .]
In this testimony I do not want to rehash the theoretical foundations of MMT. Instead I will highlight empirical facts with the goal of explaining the causes and consequences of the intransigent federal budget deficits and the growing national government debt. I hope that developing an understanding of the dynamics involved will make the topic of deficits and debt less daunting. I will conclude by summarizing the MMT views on this topic, hoping to set the record straight."
Update 1/7/2020: In an appendix, L. Randall Wray responds to a Question for the Record submitted by Rep. Ilhan OmarDownload:Associated Program(s):Author(s):L. Randall Wray Yeva NersisyanRelated Topic(s):
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 2019
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. 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):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United States