Research Programs

Monetary Policy and Financial Structure

Monetary Policy and Financial Structure

This 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.

 



Program Publications

  • Working Paper No. 992 | August 2021
    Government as the Source of the Price Level and Unemployment
    Many of the claims put forth by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) center around the state’s monopoly over its own currency. In this paper I interrogate the plausibility of two claims: 1) MMT’s theory of the price level—that the price level is a function of prices paid by government when it spends—and 2) the claim that the cause of deficient effective demand is the state’s failure to supply government liabilities so as to meet the demand for net financial assets. I do so by building a model of “monopoly money” capable of producing these two outcomes.

  • e-pamphlets | August 2021
    Modern Money Theory (MMT) has been frequently mentioned in recent media—first as “crazy talk” that if followed would bankrupt the nation and then, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as a way to finance an emergency response. In recent months, however, Washington seems to have returned to the old view that government spending must be “paid for” with new taxes. This raises the question: Has MMT really made headway with policymakers? This e-pamphlet examines the extraordinary interview given recently by Representative John Yarmuth’s (D, KY-03), Chair of the House Budget Committee, in which he explicitly adopts an MMT approach to budgeting. Chairman Yarmuth also lays out a path for realizing the major elements of President Biden’s proposals. Finally, Wray summarizes a recent presentation he gave to the Congressional Budget Office’s Macroeconomic Analysis section that urged reconsideration of the way that fiscal policy impacts are assessed.

  • Working Paper No. 991 | July 2021
    This paper presents multifactor Keynesian models of the long-term interest rate. In recent years there have been a proliferation of empirical studies based on the Keynesian approach to interest rate modeling. However, standard multifactor models of the long-term interest rate in quantitative finance have not been yet incorporated Keynes’s insights about interest rate dynamics. Keynes’s insights about the influence of the current short-term interest rate are introduced in two different multifactor models of the long-term interest rate to illustrate how the long-term interest rate relates to the short-term interest rate, the central bank’s policy rate, inflation expectations, the central bank’s inflation target, volatility in financial markets, and Wiener processes.

  • Working Paper No. 988 | June 2021
    There are several widely used benchmark models of the long-term interest rate in quantitative finance. However, these models have yet to incorporate Keynes’s valuable insights about interest rate dynamics. The Keynesian approach to interest rate dynamics can be readily incorporated in the benchmark models of the long-term interest rate. This paper modifies several benchmark interest rate models. In these modified models the long-term interest rate is related to the short-term interest rate and a Wiener process. The Keynesian approach to interest rate dynamics can be useful in addressing theoretical and policy issues.

  • One-Pager No. 66 | April 2021
    According to Frank Veneroso, a broad subset of today’s US stock market has become what he calls a “pure price-chasing bubble.” Examination of the history of comparable pure price-chasing bubbles shows there has been a set of key causal factors that contributed to these rare market events. The most extreme such case was an over-the-counter market in Kuwait called the “Souk al-Manakh.” This exemplar of a pure price-chasing phenomenon may shed light—albeit unflattering—on the current US equity market, Veneroso contends.
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    Author(s):
    Frank Veneroso
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  • Working Paper No. 987 | March 2021
    The Anatomy of a Pure Price-Chasing Bubble
    It is widely agreed that the Nasdaq during the dot-com era 20 years ago was a full-fledged stock market bubble. Recently, the US stock market according to many metrics has become significantly more speculative and overvalued than it was at the dot-com peak 20 years ago. In both instances, a very broad subset of stocks became so highly valued that speculation in them had to be untethered from all fundamentals: the essence of what we call a “pure price-chasing bubble.”
     
    This paper, drawn from a book in progress, examines the history of stock markets for comparable pure price-chasing bubbles, finding nine or so which have ever reached such a speculative extreme, with an over-the-counter market in Kuwait in the early 1980s called the “Souk al-Manakh” representing the most extreme example. Based on personal exposure to this Souk al-Manakh almost 40 years ago, we describe this anatomy and thereby make transparent the recurrent dynamics—on the way up and on the way down—of these greatest asset bubbles in human history. When one applies this framework to the current US stock market, one sees that the stock market in the US today will likely follow the disastrous path of the dot-com market.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Frank Veneroso Mark Pasquali
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  • Working Paper No. 986 | March 2021
    Evolution and Contemporary Relevance
    This paper traces the evolution of John Maynard Keynes’s theory of the business cycle from his early writings in 1913 to his policy prescriptions for the control of fluctuations in the early 1940s. The paper identifies six different “theories” of business fluctuations. With different theoretical frameworks in a 30-year span, the driver of fluctuations—namely cyclical changes in expectations about future returns—remained substantially the same. The banking system also played a pivotal role throughout the different versions, by financing and influencing the behavior of return expectations. There are four major changes in the evolution of Keynes’s business cycle theories: a) the saving–investment framework to understand changes in economic fluctuations; b) the capabilities of the banking system to moderate the business cycle; c) the effectiveness of monetary policy to fine tune the business cycle through the control of the short-term interest rate or credit conditions; and d) the role of a comprehensive fiscal policy and investment policy to attenuate fluctuations. Finally, some conclusions are drawn about the present relevance of the policy mix Keynes promoted for ensuring macroeconomic stability.

  • Working Paper No. 985 | February 2021
    No! And Yes.
    Modern Money Theory (MMT) economists have used Japan as an example of a country that demonstrates that high deficits and debt do not lead to insolvency, high interest rates, or inflation. MMT insists that governments that issue their own sovereign currency cannot be forced into insolvency, that they can make all payments as they come due, and that they do not really spend tax revenue or borrow in their own currency—with Japan serving as an example of a country that does not face financial budget constraints as normally defined. In this paper we evaluate whether Japan is the poster child of MMT and argue that policy-wise Japan is not following MMT recommendations; in fact, it is generally adopting policies that are precisely the opposite of those proposed by MMT, consistently adopting the path of stop-go fiscal measures and engaging in inadequate and temporary fiscal stimuli in the face of recessions, followed by austerity whenever the economy has seemed to recover.

  • Working Paper No. 984 | February 2021
    This paper presents empirical models of Mexican government bond (MGB) yields based on monthly macroeconomic data. The current short-term interest rate has a decisive influence on MGB yields, after controlling for inflation and growth in industrial production. John Maynard Keynes claimed that government bond yields move in lockstep with the short-term interest rate. The models presented in the paper show that Keynes’s claim holds for MGB yields. This has important policy implications for Mexico. The empirical findings of the paper are also relevant for ongoing debates in macroeconomics.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 154 | February 2021
    Let Us Look Seriously at the Clearing Union
    This policy brief explores a route to remaking the international financial system that would avoid the contradictions inherent in some of the prevailing reform proposals currently under discussion. Senior Scholar Jan Kregel argues that the willingness of central banks to consider electronic currency provides an opening to reconsider a truly innovative reform of the international financial system, and one that is more appropriate to a digital monetary world: John Maynard Keynes’s original clearing union proposal.
     
    Kregel investigates whether such a clearing system could be built up from an already-existing initiative that has emerged in the private sector. He analyzes the operations of a private, cross-border payment system that could serve as a real-world blueprint for a more politically palatable equivalent of Keynes’s international clearing union.