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. 916 | October 2018
    Seigniorage as Fiscal Revenue in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis
    This study investigates the evolution of central bank profits as fiscal revenue (or: seigniorage) before and in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008–9, focusing on a select group of central banks—namely the Bank of England, the United States Federal Reserve System, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank, the European Central Bank, and the Eurosystem (specifically Deutsche Bundesbank, Banca d’Italia, and Banco de España)—and the impact of experimental monetary policies on central bank profits, profit distributions, and financial buffers, and the outlook for these measures going forward as monetary policies are seeing their gradual “normalization.”
    Seigniorage exposes the connections between currency issuance and public finances, and between monetary and fiscal policies. Central banks’ financial independence rests on seigniorage, and in normal times seigniorage largely derives from the note issue supplemented by “own” resources. Essentially, the central bank’s income-earning assets represent fiscal wealth, a national treasure hoard that supports its central banking functionality. This analysis sheds new light on the interdependencies between monetary and fiscal policies.
    Just as the size and composition of central bank balance sheets experienced huge changes in the context of experimental monetary policies, this study’s findings also indicate significant changes regarding central banks’ profits, profit distributions, and financial buffers in the aftermath of the crisis, with considerable cross-country variation.

  • Working Paper No. 913 | August 2018
    There is no disputing Germany’s dominant economic role within the eurozone (EZ) and the broader European Union. Economic leadership, however, entails responsibilities, especially in a world system of monetary production economies that compete with each other according to political and economic interests. In the first section of this paper, historical context is given to the United States’ undisputed leadership of monetary production economies following the end of World War II to help frame the broader discussion developed in the second section on the requirements of the leading nation-state in the new system of states after the war. The second section goes on further to discuss how certain constraints regarding the external balance do not apply to the leader of the monetary production economies. The third section looks at Hyman P. Minsky’s proposal for a shared burden between the hegemon and other core industrial economies in maintaining the stability of the international financial system. Section four looks at Germany’s leadership role within the EZ and how it must emulate some of the United States’ trade policies in order to make the EZ a viable economic bloc. The break up scenario is considered in the fifth section. The last section summarizes and concludes.
    Associated Program(s):
    Ignacio Ramirez Cisneros
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 911 | August 2018
    This paper reviews the performance of the euro area since the euro’s launch 20 years ago. It argues that the euro crisis has exposed existential flaws in the euro regime. Intra-area divergences and the corresponding buildup of imbalances had remained unchecked prior to the crisis. As those imbalances eventually imploded, member states were found to be extremely vulnerable to systemic banking problems and abruptly deteriorating public finances. Debt legacies and high unemployment continue to plague euro crisis countries. Its huge current account surplus highlights that the euro currency union, toiling under the German euro and trying to emulate the German model, has become very vulnerable to global developments. The euro regime is flawed and dysfunctional. Europe has to overcome the German euro. Three reforms are essential to turn the euro into a viable European currency. First, divergences in competitiveness positions must be prevented in future. Second, market integration must go hand in hand with policy integration. Third, the euro is lacking a safe footing for as long as the ECB is missing a federal treasury partner. Therefore, establishing the vital treasury–central bank axis that stands at the center of power in sovereign states is essential.

  • Working Paper No. 910 | August 2018
    An Empirical Analysis
    The short-term interest rate is the main driver of the Commonwealth of Australia government bonds’ nominal yields. This paper empirically models the dynamics of government bonds’ nominal yields using the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) approach. Keynes held that the central bank exerts decisive influence on government bond yields because the central bank’s policy rate and other monetary policy actions determine the short-term interest rate, which in turn affects long-term government bonds’ nominal yields. The models estimated here show that Keynes’s conjecture applies in the case of Australian government bonds’ nominal yields. Furthermore, the effect of the budget balance ratio on government bond yields is small but statistically significant. However, there is no statistically discernable effect of the debt ratio on government bond yields.
    Associated Program(s):
    Tanweer Akram Anupam Das
    Related Topic(s):
    Pacific Rim

  • One-Pager No. 56 | June 2018
    The European Commission's proposal for the regulation of sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBSs) follows the release of a high-level taskforce report, sponsored by the European Systemic Risk Board, on the feasibility of an SBBS framework. The proposal and the SBBS scheme, Mario Tonveronachi argues, would fail to yield the intended results while undermining financial stability.

    Tonveronachi articulates his alternative, centered on the European Central Bank's issuance of debt certificates along the maturity spectrum to create a common yield curve and corresponding absorption of a share of each eurozone country’s national debts. Alongside these financial operations, new reflationary but debt-reducing fiscal rules would be imposed.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 145 | June 2018
    An Assessment and an Alternative Proposal
    In response to a proposal put forward by the European Commission for the regulation of sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBSs), Mario Tonveronachi provides his analysis of the SBBS scheme and attendant regulatory proposal, and elaborates on an alternative approach to addressing the problems that have motivated this high-level consideration of an SBBS framework.

    As this policy brief explains, it is doubtful the SBBS proposal would produce its intended results. Tonveronachi’s alternative, discussed in Levy Institute Public Policy Briefs Nos. 137 and 140, not only better addresses the two problems targeted by the SBBS scheme, but also a third, critical defect of the current euro system: national sovereign debt sustainability.

  • Working Paper No. 908 | June 2018
    Rethinking the Role of Money and Markets in the Global Economy
    Many of the hopes arising from the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall were still unrealized in 2010 and remain so today, especially in monetary policy and financial supervision. The major players that helped bring on the 2008 financial crisis still exist, with rising levels of moral hazard, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the too-big-to-fail banks, and even AIG. In monetary policy, the Federal Reserve has only just begun to reduce its vastly increased balance sheet, while the European Central Bank has yet to begin. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 imposed new conditions on but did not contract the greatly expanded federal safety net and failed to reduce the substantial increase in moral hazard. The larger budget deficits since 2008 were simply decisions to spend at higher levels instead of rational responses to the crisis. Only an increased reliance on market discipline in financial services, avoidance of Federal Reserve market interventions to rescue financial players while doing little or nothing for households and firms, and elimination of the Treasury’s backdoor borrowings that conceal the real costs of increasing budget deficits can enable the American public to achieve the meaningful improvements in living standards that were reasonably expected when the Berlin Wall fell.
    Associated Program:
    W. Lee Hoskins Walker F. Todd
    Related Topic(s):

  • Working Paper No. 907 | May 2018
    The paper discusses the Sraffian supermultiplier (SSM) approach to growth and distribution. It makes five points. First, in the short run the role of autonomous expenditure can be appreciated within a standard post-Keynesian framework (Kaleckian, Kaldorian, Robinsonian, etc.). Second, and related to the first, the SSM model is a model of the long run and has to be evaluated as such. Third, in the long run, one way that capacity adjusts to demand is through an endogenous adjustment of the rate of utilization. Fourth, the SSM model is a peculiar way to reach what Garegnani called the “Second Keynesian Position.” Although it respects the letter of the “Keynesian hypothesis,” it makes investment quasi-endogenous and subjects it to the growth of autonomous expenditure. Fifth, in the long run it is unlikely that “autonomous expenditure” is really autonomous. From a stock-flow consistent point of view, this implies unrealistic adjustments after periods of changes in stock-flow ratios. Moreover, if we were to take this kind of adjustment at face value, there would be no space for Minskyan financial cycles. This also creates serious problems for the empirical validation of the model.

  • Working Paper No. 906 | May 2018
    This paper employs a Keynesian perspective to explain why Japanese government bonds’ (JGBs) nominal yields have been low for more than two decades. It deploys several vector error correction (VEC) models to estimate long-term government bond yields. It shows that the low short-term interest rate, induced by the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) accommodative monetary policy, is mainly responsible for keeping long-term JGBs’ nominal yields exceptionally low for a protracted period. The results also demonstrate that higher government debt and deficit ratios do not exert upward pressure on JGBs’ nominal yields. These findings are relevant to ongoing policy debates in Japan and other advanced countries about government bond yields, fiscal sustainability, fiscal policy, functional finance, monetary policy, and financial stability.