Monetary Policy and Financial StructureThis program explores the structure of markets and institutions operating in the financial sector. Research builds on the work of the late Distinguished Scholar Hyman P. Minsky—notably, his financial instability hypothesis—and explores the institutional, regulatory, and market arrangements that contribute to financial instability. Research also examines policies—such as changes to the regulatory structure and the development of new types of institutions—necessary to contain instability.
Recent research has concentrated on the structure of financial markets and institutions, with the aim of determining whether financial systems are still subject to the risk of failing. Issues explored include the extent to which domestic and global economic events (such as the crises in Asia and Latin America) coincide with the types of instabilities Minsky describes, and involve analyses of his policy recommendations for alleviating instability and other economic problems.
Other subjects covered include the distributional effects of monetary policy, central banking and structural issues related to the European Monetary Union, and the role of finance in small business investment.
Policy Note 2016/1 | January 2016A complementary currency circulates within an economy alongside the primary currency without attempting to replace it. The Swiss WIR, implemented in 1934 as a response to the discouraging liquidity and growth prospects of the Great Depression, is the oldest and most significant complementary financial system now in circulation. The evidence provided by the long, successful operation of the WIR offers an opportunity to reconsider the creation of a similar system in Greece.
The complementary currency is a proven macroeconomic stabilizer—a spontaneous money creator with the capacity to sustain and increase an economy’s aggregate demand during downturns. A complementary financial system that supports regional development and employment-targeted programs would be a U-turn toward restoring people’s purchasing power and rebuilding Greece’s desperate economy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Complementary currency Economic stability Greece Greek economic crisis Parallel financial system Switzerland WIR currencyRegion(s):Europe
In the Media | January 2016
By Sheyna SteinerFederal Reserve Blog, January 27, 2016. All Rights Reserved.
After raising interest rates in December for the first time since the financial crisis and Great Recession, the Federal Reserve has gone into a January freeze. The central bank on Wednesday announced no change in interest rates, meaning the target for the Fed's benchmark federal funds rate will remain between 0.25% and 0.50%, the range set last month.
For consumers, the outcome of this week's meeting means more of the same. Savers will continue to suffer low interest rates on savings while debtors continue to enjoy extremely low borrowing costs....
Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/financing/federal-reserve/the-fed-puts-rates-on-ice/
In the Media | January 2016
By William J. BernsteinCFA Institute, January 20, 2016. All Rights Reserved.
A few decades ago, Paul Samuelson wrote a letter to Robert Shiller and John Campbell in which he discussed the notion that while the stock market was “micro efficient,” it was also “macro inefficient,” by which he meant that although profitable security choices were swiftly arbitraged away, the stock market as a whole irrationally swung between extremes of valuation.
Hyman Minsky would have made a similar point about the economy: While it is highly efficient, it is also unstable....
Read more: http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/full/10.2469/br.v11.n1.2
In the Media | December 2015
By Joseph P. JoyceEconoMonitor, December 14, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
The seventh edition of Manias, Panics, and Crashes has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Charles Kindleberger of MIT wrote the first edition, which appeared in 1978, and followed it with three more editions. Robert Aliber of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago took over the editing and rewriting of the fifth edition, which came out in 2005. (Aliber is also the author of another well-known book on international finance, The New International Money Game.) The continuing popularity of Manias, Panics and Crashes shows that financial crises continue to be a matter of widespread concern.
Kindleberger built upon the work of Hyman Minsky, a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis. Minsky was a proponent of what he called the “financial instability hypothesis,” which posited that financial markets are inherently unstable. Periods of financial booms are followed by busts, and governmental intervention can delay but not eliminate crises. Minsky’s work received a great deal of attention during the global financial crisis (see here and here; for a summary of Minsky’s work, see Why Minsky Matters by L. Randall Wray of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Levy Economics Institute)….
Read more: http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2015/12/the-enduring-relevance-of-manias-panics-and-crashes/
One-Pager No. 51 | December 2015Until market participants across the euro area face a single risk-free yield curve rather than a diverse collection of quasi-risk-free sovereign rates, financial market integration will not be complete. Unfortunately, the institution that would normally provide the requisite benchmark asset—a federal treasury issuing risk-free debt—does not exist in the euro area, and there are daunting political obstacles to creating such an institution.
There is, however, another way forward. The financial instrument that could provide the foundation for a single market already exists on the balance sheet of the European Central Bank (ECB): legally, the ECB could issue “debt certificates” (DCs) across the maturity spectrum and in sufficient amounts to create a yield curve. Moreover, reforming ECB operations along these lines may hold the key to addressing another of the euro area’s critical dysfunctions. Under current conditions, the Maastricht Treaty’s fiscal rules create a vicious cycle by contributing to a deflationary economic environment, which slows the process of debt adjustment, requiring further deflationary budget tightening. By changing national debt dynamics and thereby enabling a revision of the fiscal rules, the DC proposal could short-circuit this cycle of futility.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mario TonveronachiRelated Topic(s):Debt certificates Debt sustainability Europe European Central Bank (ECB) Eurozone Financial market integration Fiscal policy Single marketRegion(s):Europe
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):Central bank independence Debt Eurozone debt crisis Functional finance Growth Sustainability of public financeRegion(s):Europe
In the Media | November 2015
By Edward ChancellorReuters, November 27, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Forget the living canon of great economists – Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers and the rest. Hyman Minsky was the only contemporary thinker to have predicted with uncanny precision the global financial crisis. This is no small achievement since Minsky died more than a decade before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Minsky’s unorthodox vision of capitalism, with its emphasis on the central role of finance and the system’s inherent tendency to crash, was vindicated by the subprime crisis.
In a new book, “Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist,” L. Randall Wray suggests that he would have approved of policymakers’ initial response to the crisis precipitated by Lehman’s collapse in the fall of 2008. However, by now, Minsky would be fretting that another “Minsky moment” is not far away and pondering what lies ahead....
Read more: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/11/27/review-another-minsky-moment-may-be-on-the-way/
Public Policy Brief No. 140 | November 2015
Mario Tonveronachi, University of Siena, builds on his earlier proposal (The ECB and the Single European Financial Market) to advance financial market integration in Europe through the creation of a single benchmark yield curve based on debt certificates (DCs) issued by the European Central Bank (ECB). In this policy brief, Tonveronachi discusses potential changes to the ECB’s operations and their implications for member-state fiscal rules. He argues that his DC proposal would maintain debt discipline while mitigating the restrictive, counterproductive fiscal stance required today, simultaneously expanding national fiscal space while ensuring debt sustainability under the Maastricht limits, and offering a path out of the self-defeating policy regime currently in place.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mario TonveronachiRelated Topic(s):Debt certificates Debt sustainability Europe European Central Bank (ECB) Eurozone Financial market integration Fiscal policy Single marketRegion(s):Europe
Press Releases | November 2015
Conference Proceedings | November 2015
A conference organized by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College with support from the Ford Foundation
The 2015 Minsky Conference addressed, among other issues, the design, flaws, and current status of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, including implementation of the operating procedures necessary to curtail systemic risk and prevent future crises; the insistence on fiscal austerity exemplified by the recent pronouncements of the new Congress; the sustainability of the US economic recovery; monetary policy revisions and central bank independence; the deflationary pressures associated with the ongoing eurozone debt crisis and their implications for the global economy; strategies for promoting an inclusive economy and a more equitable income distribution; and regulatory challenges for emerging market economies. The proceedings include the conference program, transcripts of keynote speakers’ remarks, synopses of the panel sessions, and biographies of the participants.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Barbara Ross Michael StephensRegion(s):United States, Europe