Research Programs

Economic Policy for the 21st Century

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.

Associated Programs

Federal Budget Policy
Explorations in Theory and Empirical Analysis
INET–Levy Institute Project



Program Publications

  • Working Paper No. 891 | May 2017
    A Survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Giuseppe Mastromatteo Lorenzo Esposito
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  • Working Paper No. 874 | September 2016
    Is There a Case for Gender-sensitive Horizontal Fiscal Equalization?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Working Paper No. 867 | May 2016

    This paper examines the issue of the Greek public debt from different perspectives. We provide a historical discussion of the accumulation of Greece’s public debt since the 1960s and the role of public debt in the recent crisis. We show that the austerity imposed since 2010 has been unsuccessful in stabilizing the debt while at the same time taking a heavy toll on the Greek economy and society. The experience of the last six years shows that the country’s public debt is clearly unsustainable, and therefore a bold restructuring is needed. An insistence on the current policies is not justifiable either on pragmatic or on moral or any other grounds. The experience of Germany in the early post–World War II period provides some useful hints for the way forward. A solution to the Greek public debt problem is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the solution of the Greek and wider European crisis. A broader agenda that deals with the malaises of the Greek economy and the structural imbalances of the eurozone is of vital importance.

  • Working Paper No. 866 | May 2016
    Proposals for the Eurozone Crisis

    After reviewing the main determinants of the current eurozone crisis, this paper discusses the feasibility of introducing fiscal currencies as a way to restore fiscal space in peripheral countries, like Greece, that have so far adopted austerity measures in order to abide by their commitments to eurozone institutions and the International Monetary Fund. We show that the introduction of fiscal currencies would speed up the recovery, without violating the rules of eurozone treaties. At the same time, these processes could help transition the euro from its current status as the single currency to the status of “common clearing currency,” along the lines proposed by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods as a system of international monetary payments. Eurozone countries could therefore move from “Plan B,” aimed at addressing member-state domestic problems, to a “Plan A” for a better European monetary system.

  • Working Paper No. 864 | April 2016

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

  • Working Paper No. 861 | March 2016

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

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

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

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

  • Working Paper No. 857 | December 2015

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

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

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

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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Markus P.A. Schneider Stephen Kinsella Antoine Godin
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    Region(s):
    Europe

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

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

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

  • Working Paper No. 850 | October 2015

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

  • Working Paper No. 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.

  • In the Media | March 2015
    El Salmon Contracorriente, 5 Marzo 2015. Reservados todos los derechos. 

    Randall Wray abrió el acto explicando al público una de las bases de su enfoque teórico: la apertura del discurso económico hacia una perspectiva distinta a la que se imparte en la universidad. El profesor estadounidense planteó que para criticar el actual modelo económico es necesario conocer la teoría y se desmarcó de la idea predominante al afirmar que “existen cosas primordiales que son más importantes que el déficit público”, antes de profundizar en la propuesta de Trabajo Garantizado, que calificó de “sentido común”....

    Leer más:
     http://www.elsalmoncontracorriente.es/?Teoria-monetaria-moderna-y-trabajo
  • In the Media | March 2015
    El Correro, 4 Marzo 2015. Reservados todos los derechos.

    Izquierda Unida quiere que el trabajo esté "garantizado" en Espaã como elemento de inserción social imprescindible y, para ello, propone implantarlo de forma gradual y por etapas con la creación de un millón de empleos el primer aõ con menos del 1% del PIB....

    Leer más:
     http://www.elcorreo.com/bizkaia/politica/201503/04/alberto-garzon-plantea-plan-20150304155358-rc.html
  • In the Media | March 2015
    Público, 04 de marzo 2015. Reservados todos los derechos.

    MADRID — El portavoz económico de la Izquierda Plural (IU-ICV-CHA) y próximo candidato de Izquierda Unida a la Presidencia del Gobierno, Alberto Garzón, ha presentado este miércoles una propuesta para crear un millón de empleos por una inversión neta de 9.600 millones de euros en su primer año de aplicación.   Este programa de trabajo garantizado, que será una de las piezas angulares de su programa electoral en el ámbito laboral, se inspira en la teoría monetaria moderna y en el libro del profesor L. Randall Wray sobre este asunto, que aporta un discurso alternativo a las teorías convencionales sobre cómo debe gastar e invertir el Estado para mejorar el bienestar social y garantizar el derecho al trabajo que tienen los ciudadanos.

    Leer más:
     http://m.publico.es/Pol%C3%ADtica/1903984/iu-plantea-un-plan-de-9-600-millones-para-crear-un-millon-de-empleos-en-un-ano
  • In the Media | March 2015
    By Campbell R. Harvey and Éric Tymoigne
    The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

    Despite the mystery, the whiff of scandal, and general public unfamiliarity with the concept, somebody out there is buying, and selling, not just bitcoin but dozens of other cryptocurrencies as well. The total market capitalization for these unregulated electronic forms of payment was roughly $4.04 billion as of mid-February, according to coinmarketcap.com, a website that tracks trading in alternative currencies. More than 500 altcoins, as they are also known, were represented on the site recently.

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     http://www.wsj.com/articles/do-cryptocurrencies-such-as-bitcoin-have-a-future-1425269375
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  • In the Media | April 2013
    El Financiero, April 18, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

    Nueva York. – Las políticas ultraexpansivas de la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos inevitablemente resultarán en la inestabilidad de los mercados financieros por años pero tales riesgos son necesarios para impulsar el empleo y la inflación, dijo el jueves un banquero central estadounidense.

    Relacionando a la Fed con una excursión en el estado de Minnesota en medio del invierno, el presidente de la Fed de Minneapolis Narayana Kocherlakota dijo que las tasas de interés reales bajas son tan necesarias como vestir una cálida parka, y probablemente sean necesarias "por varios años más".

    Reforzando su argumento expansionista, de que hay que aliviar aún más el crédito, el funcionario dijo que el débil panorama económico sugiere que las tasas deberían ser todavía más bajas pese a la resultante inflación de los precios de los activos, los retornos volátiles y la mayor actividad de fusiones corporativas.

    "Por muchos años más", dijo, el comité monetario de la Fed "solo podrá lograr sus objetivos establecidos por el Congreso si sigue políticas que resulten en señales de inestabilidad de los mercados financieros", dijo Kocherlakota en comentarios preparados para una conferencia Hyman P. Minsky.
  • Working Paper No. 687 | September 2011
    A Study of Rice Farms in the Bicol Region, Philippines

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

  • Working Paper No. 627 | October 2010

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

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

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

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

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

  • Public Policy Brief No. 110 | March 2010

    The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, yet its system produces inferior outcomes relative to those in other countries. This brief examines the health care reform debate and argues that the basic structure of the health care system is unlikely to change, because “reform” measures actually promote the status quo. The authors believe that the fundamental problem facing the US health care system is the unhealthy lifestyle of many Americans. They prefer to see a reduced role for private insurers and an increased role for government funding, along with greater public discussion of environmental and lifestyle factors. A Medicare buy-in (“public option”) for people under 65 would provide more cost control (by competing with private insurance), help to solve the problem of treatment denial based on preexisting conditions, expand the risk pool of patients, and enhance the global competitiveness of US corporations—thus bringing the US health care system closer to the “ideal” low-cost, universal (single-payer) insurance plan.

  • Working Paper No. 575 | August 2009

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

  • Working Paper No. 571 | August 2009

     

    Self-reported home values are widely used as a measure of housing wealth by researchers; the accuracy of this measure, however, is an open empirical question, and requires some type of market assessment of the values reported. In this study, the authors examine the predictive power of self-reported housing wealth when estimating housing prices, utilizing the portion of the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study covering 1992–2006. They find that homeowners, on average, overestimate the value of their properties by 5–10 percent. More importantly, the authors establish a strong correlation between accuracy and the economic conditions at the time of the property’s purchase. While most individuals overestimate the value of their property, those who buy during more difficult economic times tend to be more accurate; in some cases, they even underestimate the property's value. The authors find a surprisingly strong, likely permanent, and in many cases long-lived effect of the initial conditions surrounding the purchase of properties, and on how individuals value them. This cyclicality of the overestimation of house prices provides some explanation for the difficulties currently faced by many homeowners, who were expecting large appreciations in home value to rescue them in case of interest rate increases—which could jeopardize their ability to live up to their financial commitments.

     

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    Author(s):
    Hugo Benítez-Silva Selçuk Eren Frank Heiland Sergi Jiménez-Martín
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  • Working Paper No. 564 | May 2009

    This paper is concerned with the New Consensus Macroeconomics (NCM) in the case of an open economy. It outlines and explains briefly the main elements of and way of thinking about the macroeconomy from the standpoint of both its theoretical and its policy dimensions. There are a few problems with this particular theoretical framework. We focus here on two important aspects closely related to NCM: the absence of banks and monetary aggregates from this theoretical framework, and the way the notion of the “equilibrium real rate of interest” is utilized by the same framework. The analysis is critical of NCM from a Keynesian perspective.

  • Working Paper No. 563 | May 2009
    The Role of Government and Fiscal Policy in Modern Macroeconomics

    In the face of the dramatic economic events of recent months and the inability of academics and policymakers to prevent them, the New Consensus Macroeconomics (NCM) model has been the subject of several criticisms. This paper considers one of the main criticisms lodged against the NCM model, namely, the absence of any essential role for the government and fiscal policy. Given the size of the public sector and the increasing role of fiscal policy in modern economies, this simplifying assumption of the NCM model is difficult to defend. This paper maintains that conventional arguments used to support this controversial assumption—including historical reasons, theoretical propositions, and practical issues—do not have solid foundations. There is, in fact, nothing inherently monetary in the stabilization policies found in the model. Thus, fiscal policy could play a role at least as important as monetary policy in the NCM model.

  • Policy Note 2009/6 | May 2009

    A simple consideration of history tells us that each new piece of legislation contains loopholes that benefit a new class of entrepreneurs; some of these loopholes are small, but others are such that one could drive a bullion-laden truck through them. In this new Policy Note, Martin Shubik suggests creating a “war gaming group” to stress-test all major new legislation, with a first prize of $1 million to be awarded to the competing lawyer or team of lawyers who finds the most egregious loophole—a small amount relative to the potential savings.

  • Working Paper No. 551 | December 2008
    Evidence of an Inverse Relationship between Farm Size and Yield in Turkey

    This paper examines the relationship between farm size and yield per acre in Turkey using heretofore untapped data from a 2002 farm-level survey of 5,003 rural households. After controlling for village, household, and agroclimatic heterogeneity, a strong inverse relationship between farm size and yield is found to be prevalent in all regions of Turkey. The paper also investigates the impact of land fragmentation on productivity and labor input per acre, and finds a positive relationship. These results favor labor-centered theories that point to higher labor input per decare as the source of the inverse size-yield relationship.

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    Author(s):
    Fatma Gül Unal
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  • Working Paper No. 529 | March 2008
    Two Dreadful Models of Money Demand with an Endogenous Probability of Crime

    This paper attempts to explain one version of an empirical puzzle noted by Mankiw (2003): a Baumol-Tobin inventory-theoretic money demand equation predicts that the average adult American should have held approximately $551.05 in currency and coin in 1995, while data show an average of $100. The models in this paper help explain this discrepancy using two assumptions: (1) the probabilities of being robbed or pick-pocketed, or having a purse snatched, depend on the amount of cash held; and (2) there are costs of being robbed other than loss of cash, such as injury, medical bills, lost time at work, and trauma. Two models are presented: a dynamic, stochastic model with both instantaneous and decaying noncash costs of robbery, and a revised version of the inventory-theoretic model that includes one-period noncash costs. The former model yields an easily interpreted first-order condition for money demand involving various marginal costs and benefits of holding cash. The latter model gives quantitative solutions for money demand that come much closer to matching the 1995 data—$75.98 for one plausible set of parameters. This figure implies that consumers held approximately $96 billion less cash in May 1995 than they would have in a world without crime. The modified Baumol-Tobin model predicts a large increase in household money demand in 2005, mostly due to reduced crime rates.

  • Working Paper No. 524 | December 2007
    Forty-Five Years of Experience of Public Works in Morocco

    Created in 1961, Promotion Nationale (PN) is an autonomous public entity in charge of mobilizing an underemployed or unemployed workforce for the implementation of labor-intensive projects, calling upon a simple technology likely to provide employment to unskilled workers. It is one of the major programs of social protection in Morocco—the oldest, most important, and best-targeted social program in the country.

    Vis-à-vis the importance of rural underemployment, especially during dry years, estimated per million working days, PN aims to improve employment opportunities by developing collective working methods, and by generating large-scale investment for the realization of public infrastructure projects and rural equipment. This institution aims at limiting rural migration through the permanent improvement of local incomes and living conditions. It thus constitutes a safety net for a large part of the population, especially in rural areas. Forty-five years after its creation, PN has at its credit an important and single assessment regarding the fight against unemployment with minimal management costs, in spite of certain difficulties and limitations that hinder the organization, particularly in terms of the geographical targeting of rural poverty zones.

  • Working Paper No. 518 | October 2007
    Evidence from an Asymmetric VAR Model

    This paper analyzes the real (direct) and financial crowding out in India between 1970–71 and 2002–03. Using an asymmetric vector autoregressive (VAR) model, the paper finds no real crowding out between public and private investment; rather, complementarity is observed between the two. The dynamics of financial crowding out is captured through the dual transmission mechanism via the real rate of interest—that is, whether private capital formation is interest-rate sensitive and, in turn, whether the rise in the real rate of interest is induced by a fiscal deficit. The study found empirical evidence for the former but not the latter, supporting the conclusion that there is no financial crowding out in India. The differential impacts of public infrastructure and noninfrastruture innovations on the private corporate sector are carried out separately to analyze the nonhomogeneity aspects of public investment. The results of the Impulse Response Function reinforced that no other macrovariables, including cost and quantity of credit and the output gap, have been as significant as public investment—in particular, public infrastructure investment—in determining private corporate investment in the medium and long terms, which has crucial policy implications.

  • Working Paper No. 517 | October 2007

    There is a body of literature that favors universal and unconditional public assurance policies over those that are targeted and means-tested. Two such proposals—the basic income proposal and job guarantees—are discussed here. The paper evaluates the impact of each program on macroeconomic stability, arguing that direct job creation has inherent stabilization features that are lacking in the basic income proposal. A discussion of modern finance and labor market dynamics renders the latter proposal inherently inflationary, and potentially stagflationary. After studying the macroeconomic viability of each program, the paper elaborates on their environmental merits. It is argued that the “green” consequences of the basic income proposal are likely to emerge, not from its modus operandi, but from the tax schemes that have been advanced for its financing. By contrast, the job guarantee proposal can serve as an institutional vehicle for achieving various environmental goals by explicitly targeting environmental rehabilitation, conservation, and sustainability. Finally, in the hope of consensus building, the paper advances a joint policy proposal that is economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially just.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 91 | October 2007
    Suggestions for a New Agenda

    The failure of the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in July 2006 was the first major collapse of a multilateral trade round since World War II. Research Associate Thomas Palley sees the failure as an event that could mark the close of a 60-year era of trade policy largely centered on increasing market access and reducing tariffs, quotas, and subsidies. Doha’s demise represents an opportunity to challenge the intellectual dominance of the current WTO paradigm, to expose the failings of the neoliberal model of economic development, and to reposition the global trade debate.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 91A | October 2007
    Suggestions for a New Agenda
    The failure of the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in July 2006 was the first major collapse of a multilateral trade round since World War II. Research Associate Thomas Palley sees the failure as an event that could mark the close of a 60-year era of trade policy largely centered on increasing market access and reducing tariffs, quotas, and subsidies. Doha’s demise represents an opportunity to challenge the intellectual dominance of the current WTO paradigm, to expose the failings of the neoliberal model of economic development, and to reposition the global trade debate.

  • Working Paper No. 516 | September 2007
    Employment Guarantee Policies from a Gender Perspective

    There is now widespread recognition that in most countries, private-sector investment has not been able to absorb surplus labor. This is all the more the case for poor unskilled people. Public works programs and employment guarantee schemes in South Africa, India, and other countries provide jobs while creating public assets. In addition to physical infrastructure, an area that has immense potential to create much-needed jobs is that of social service delivery and social infrastructure. While unemployment and enforced “idleness” persist, existing time-use survey data reveal that people around the world—especially women and children—spend long hours performing unpaid work. This work includes not only household maintenance and care provisioning for family members and communities, but also time spent that helps fill public infrastructural gaps—for example, in the energy, health, and education sectors. This paper suggests that, by bringing together public job creation, on the one hand, and unpaid work, on the other, well-designed employment guarantee policies can promote job creation, gender equality, and pro-poor development.

  • Working Paper No. 491 | February 2007

    This paper examines the claim that the land rental market can be an effective means of redistributing access to, if not ownership of, land to the rural poor, using Paraguay as our model. The land sales market is also examined. The land rental market in Paraguay’s rural areas is found to be very thin, due at least in part to a lack of available credit for inputs. Renting-in substantial amounts of land is found to contribute significantly to household per-capita income.

  • Working Paper No. 490 | February 2007

    This essay assesses the relationship between farm size and productivity. Both parametric and nonparametric methods are used to derive efficiency measures. Smaller farms are found to have higher net farm income per hectare, and to be more technically efficient, than larger farms.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 83A | January 2006
    The Case to Replace FDIC Protection with Self-Insurance
    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) currently insures bank deposit balances up to $100,000. According to some observers, statutory protection creates moral hazard problems for insurers because it allows banks to engage in risky activities. As an example, moral hazard was a key contributor to huge losses suffered when thrift institutions failed during the 1980s. Author Panos Konstas outlines a plan to reduce the risk of government losses by replacing insured deposits with uninsured deposits and eliminating some of the costs of deposit insurance. His plan proposes a self-insured (SI) depositor system that places an intermediary between the lender (saver) and borrower (bank) in the credit-flow chain. The FDIC would guarantee saver loans and allow the intermediary to borrow at the risk-free interest rate if the intermediary’s bank deposit is statutorily defined outside the realm of FDIC insurance. The risk is therefore transferred to depositors (intermediaries); thus creating incentives for depositors to earn a rate of return at least equal to the cost of borrowing plus a risk premium based on the risk profile of banks.
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    Author(s):
    Panos Konstas

  • Policy Note 2005/3 | April 2005
    A massive fiscal stimulus and, until recently, aggressive monetary easing have been successful in raising bond and real estate prices to unprecedented levels, inducing a credit boom that has prevented private consumption from falling. While it might still be too early to say that it worked, the strategy has indeed, for the time being, prevented the United States economy from slipping into a severe depression after the collapse of the stock market at the turn of the millennium.
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    Author(s):
    Korkut A. Ertürk

  • Public Policy Brief No. 77 | June 2004
    The Risks to Consumption and Investment

    A rebound of consumption, investment, and consumer confidence in the second half of 2003 has raised hopes that the United States' recovery from the 2001 recession is on a sustainable course. According to this brief by Philip Arestis and Elias Karakitsos, however, the trend in the short-term factors affecting the economy has changed for the better, but long-term factors remain at risk. Slow, rather than rapid, economic growth is better in 2004, the authors say, as rapid growth would result in higher long-term interest rates, which would threaten the property market boom and weaken investment in 2005 and beyond. The authors are sure, however, that the current administration will find it difficult to refrain from additional procyclical fiscal stimulus in light of the upcoming presidential election. The result could lead to a rapidly declining US economic growth rate following the election in November.

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    Author(s):
    Philip Arestis Elias Karakitsos

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 77A | June 2004
    The Risks to Consumption and Investment
    A rebound of consumption, investment, and consumer confidence in the second half of 2003 has raised hopes that the United States' recovery from the 2001 recession is on a sustainable course. According to this brief by Philip Arestis and Elias Karakitsos, however, the trend in the short-term factors affecting the economy has changed for the better, but long-term factors remain at risk. Slow, rather than rapid, economic growth is better in 2004, the authors say, as rapid growth would result in higher long-term interest rates, which would threaten the property market boom and weaken investment in 2005 and beyond. The authors are sure, however, that the current administration will find it difficult to refrain from additional procyclical fiscal stimulus in light of the upcoming presidential election. The result could lead to a rapidly declining US economic growth rate following the election in November.
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    Author(s):
    Elias Karakitsos

  • Book Series | April 2004
    Family Background, Public Policy, and Educational Success. Edited by Dalton Conley and Karen M. Albright

    Since the publication of the Coleman report in the United States many decades ago, it has been widely accepted that the evidence that schools are marginal in the grand scheme of academic achievement is conclusive. Despite this, educational policy across the world remains focused almost exclusively on schools. This volume focuses its searchlight on family background and its impact on educational success. That schools have an important role in education is beyond question, but this book demonstrates some of the crucial ways that nonschool factors matter covering such themes as: the impact of fathers on educational success, socioeconomic background and young children''s education, and school-community relationships. With contributions from such figures as Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Doris Entwistle, and Richard Arum, this book is an important contribution to a debate that has implications across the board in social sciences and policymaking. It will be required reading for students and academics within sociology, economics and education and should also find a place on the bookshelves of education policymakers.

    Published By: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Ltd.

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    Author(s):
    Dalton Conley Karen M Albright
  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 72A | August 2003
    Soft Budgets and the Keynesian Devolution
    The "American Model" serves as a point of reference in discussions of economic policy around the world, especially in Europe. Many claim that the American version of the free market represents an ideal type—it is the highest form of capitalism. Senior Scholar James K. Galbraith argues, however, that the United States has relied heavily on government intervention in housing, health care, pensions, and education. Not only have these programs been largely successful and popular, but they also provide a Keynesian stimulus to spending that helps account for the strength of the US economy. Now that the United States is in a weak, jobless recovery, the key to restoring growth may lie in the kinds of governmental programs that have helped to sustain and stabilize the US economy in the past.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 72 | August 2003
    Soft Budgets and the Keynesian Devolution

    The “American Model” serves as a point of reference in discussions of economic policy around the world, especially in Europe. Many claim that the American version of the free market represents an ideal type—it is the highest form of capitalism. Senior Scholar James K. Galbraith argues, however, that the United States has relied heavily on government intervention in housing, health care, pensions, and education. Not only have these programs been largely successful and popular, but they also provide a Keynesian stimulus to spending that helps account for the strength of the US economy. Now that the United States is in a weak, jobless recovery, the key to restoring growth may lie in the kinds of governmental programs that have helped to sustain and stabilize the US economy in the past.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 70A | November 2002
    Medical Practice Norms and the Quality of Care
    This brief considers the interaction between physician incentive systems and product market competition in the delivery of medical services via managed care organizations. At the center of the analysis is the process by which health maintenance organizations (HMOs) assemble physician networks and the role these networks play in the competition for customers. The authors find that although physician practice styles respond to financial incentives, there is little evidence that HMO cost-containment incentives cause a discernable reduction in care quality. They propose a model of the managed care marketplace that solves for both physician incentive contracts and HMO product market strategies in an environment of extreme information asymmetry: physicians perceive the quality of care they offer perfectly and their patients do not perceive it at all.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 70 | November 2002
    Medical Practice Norms and the Quality of Care

    This brief considers the interaction between physician incentive systems and product market competition in the delivery of medical services via managed care organizations. At the center of the analysis is the process by which health maintenance organizations (HMOs) assemble physician networks and the role these networks play in the competition for customers. The authors find that although physician practice styles respond to financial incentives, there is little evidence that HMO cost-containment incentives cause a discernable reduction in care quality. They propose a model of the managed care marketplace that solves for both physician incentive contracts and HMO product market strategies in an environment of extreme information asymmetry: physicians perceive the quality of care they offer perfectly and their patients do not perceive it at all.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 41A | July 1998
    How Technological Change Increases the Duration of Unemployment
    Why does a dynamic growing economy have a persistent long-term unemployment problem? Research Associates Baumol and Wolff have isolated one cause. Although technological change, the engine of growth and economic progress, may not affect or may even increase the total number of jobs available, the fact that it creates a demand for new skills and makes other skills obsolete can cause an increase in the overall rate of unemployment and the length of time during which an unemployed worker is between jobs. It goes without saying that society will not choose to slow technical innovation, but the task for policy is to find ways to offset the problems caused by this rising level and duration of unemployment.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 41 | July 1998
    How Technological Change Increases the Duration of Unemployment

    Why does a dynamic growing economy have a persistent long-term unemployment problem? Research Associates Baumol and Wolff have isolated one cause. Although technological change, the engine of growth and economic progress, may not affect or may even increase the total number of jobs available, the fact that it creates a demand for new skills and makes other skills obsolete can cause an increase in the overall rate of unemployment and the length of time during which an unemployed worker is between jobs. It goes without saying that society will not choose to slow technical innovation, but the task for policy is to find ways to offset the problems caused by this rising level and duration of unemployment.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 37 | December 1997
    Corporate Governance and Employment: Is Prosperity Sustainable in the United States?

    Since the 1970s corporate America has become obsessed with shedding employees to cut costs and with distributing revenue to stockholders. However, the way for it to regain its competitive edge and thus to restore the promise of secure and remunerative employment for its workers is to reform its system of governance. It must reject organizational segmentation and extraction of short-term returns and instead emphasize organizational integration and long-term value creation through financial commitment to investment in the collective and cumulative learning that is the foundation of industrial innovation.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 37A | December 1997
    Corporate Governance and Employment: Is Prosperity Sustainable in the United States?
    Since the 1970s corporate America has become obsessed with shedding employees to cut costs and with distributing revenue to stockholders. However, the way for it to regain its competitive edge and thus to restore the promise of secure and remunerative employment for its workers is to reform its system of governance. It must reject organizational segmentation and extraction of short-term returns and instead emphasize organizational integration and long-term value creation through financial commitment to investment in the collective and cumulative learning that is the foundation of industrial innovation.

  • Working Paper No. 207 | August 1997

    In this paper, Philip Arestis, of the University of East London, and Visiting Scholar Malcolm Sawyer, of the University of Leeds, assert the need for revived and revised Keynesian policies to secure full employment. They do not support "fine tuning," but argue for a medium-term approach that includes both demand-side and supply-side strategies. Their approach is Keynesian in two ways. First, they contend that a laissez-faire market economy does not ensure full employment. Second, they believe that a more equal distribution of market power, income, and wealth is both a desirable goal in itself and a vehicle for increasing prosperity. They discuss the constraints that prevent full employment and policies to deal with them.

  • Working Paper No. 157 | May 1996

    In this working paper, John Williamson, senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics, evaluates proposals to create a short-term financing facility within the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The emphasis in this facility would be on the period within which the IMF would respond to a request for assistance, rather than on the duration of the loan. According to Williamson, there are two situations in which existing arrangements within the IMF do not allow for a response quick enough to be effective: when a country is attempting to defend a pegged exchange rate and when default is imminent. Some have suggested that any new facility be able to lend to alleviate these circumstances. Those who support freely floating exchange rates, however, are opposed to supporting a pegged rate regime and favor restricting such activity by any new facility. Others would support this activity by a new facility only in cases that pose a systemic threat.

    Williamson focuses on the broadest of the purposes that could be fulfilled by a new facility: assisting countries to finance capital flows judged to be unjustified by the fundamentals and therefore destabilizing. Proposals directed at fulfilling this purpose (which date back some years and have been enjoying a recent resurgence) stipulate the countries that should have access to such a facility, the terms and level of access, the maturity of loans, and the source of the facility's financing.

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    Author(s):
    John Williamson