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. 897 | September 2017
    Ever since the Great Recession, central banks have supplemented their traditional policy tool of setting the short-term interest rate with massive buyouts of assets to extend lines of credit and jolt flagging demand. As with many new policies, there have been a range of reactions from economists, with some extolling quantitative easing’s expansionary virtues and others fearing it might invariably lead to overvaluation of assets, instigating economic instability and bubble behavior. To investigate these theories, we combine elements of the models in chapters 5, 10, and 11 of Godley and Lavoie’s (2007) Monetary Economics with equations for quantitative easing and endogenous bubbles in a new model. By running the model under a variety of parameters, we study the causal links between quantitative easing, asset overvaluation, and macroeconomic performance. Preliminary results suggest that rather than being pro- or countercyclical, quantitative easing acts as a sort of phase shift with respect to time.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 144 | September 2017
    A Radical Proposal Based on Keynes’s Clearing Union
    In light of the problems besetting the eurozone, this policy brief examines the contributions of John Maynard Keynes and Richard Kahn to early debates over the design of the postwar international financial system. Their critical engagement with the early policy challenges associated with managing international settlements offers a perspective from which to analyze the flaws in the current euro-based financial system, and Keynes’s clearing union proposal offers a template for a better approach. A system of regional federations employing a clearing system in which members either retained their own currency or used a common currency as a unit of account in registering debits and credits for settlement purposes would preserve domestic policy independence and retain regional diversity.

  • Working Paper No. 896 | September 2017
    An Empirical Analysis of Electricity Distribution Companies in Brazil (2007–15)
    The present paper applies Hyman P. Minsky’s insights on financial fragility in order to analyze the behavior of electricity distribution companies in Brazil from 2007 to 2015. More specifically, it builds an analytical framework to classify the firms operating in this sector into Minskyan risk categories and assess how financial fragility evolved over time, in each firm and in the sector as a whole. This work adapts Minsky’s financial fragility indicators and taxonomy to the conditions of the electricity distribution sector and applies them to regulatory accounting data for more than 60 firms. This empirical application of Minsky’s theory for analyzing firms engaged in the provision of public goods and services is a novelty. The results show an increase in the financial fragility of those firms (as well as the sector) throughout the period, especially between 2008 and 2013, even though the number of firms operating at the highest level of financial risk hardly changed.
    Associated Program:
    Ernani Teixeira Torres Filho Norberto Montani Martins Caroline Yukari Miaguti
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  • Working Paper No. 894 | August 2017
    This paper undertakes an empirical inquiry concerning the determinants of long-term interest rates on US Treasury securities. It applies the bounds testing procedure to cointegration and error correction models within the autoregressive distributive lag (ARDL) framework, using monthly data and estimating a wide range of Keynesian models of long-term interest rates. While previous studies have mainly relied on quarterly data, the use of monthly data substantially expands the number of observations. This in turn enables the calibration of a wide range of models to test various hypotheses. The short-term interest rate is the key determinant of the long-term interest rate, while the rate of core inflation and the pace of economic activity also influence the long-term interest rate. A rise in the ratio of the federal fiscal balance (government net lending/borrowing as a share of nominal GDP) lowers yields on long-term US Treasury securities. The short- and long-run effects of short-term interest rates, the rate of inflation, the pace of economic activity, and the fiscal balance ratio on long-term interest rates on US Treasury securities are estimated. The findings reinforce Keynes’s prescient insights on the determinants of government bond yields.

  • Working Paper No. 893 | July 2017
    If Adam Smith Is the Father of Economics, It Is a Bastard Child
    Neoclassical economists of the current era frequently pay lip service to Adam Smith’s theories to certify the validity of natural-laws-based, laissez-faire policies. However, neoclassical theories are fundamentally disconnected from Adam Smith’s notion of value, his understanding of the economic individual and their interactions in society, his methodology, and the field of study he afforded to political economy. Instead, early neoclassical economists parted ways with the theories of Adam Smith in an effort to construct economic laws that would validate the existing capitalist order as universal, natural, and harmonious.

  • Policy Note 2017/2 | July 2017
    If the Trump administration is to fulfill its campaign promises to this age’s “forgotten” men and women, Director of Research Jan Kregel argues, it should embrace the broader lesson of the 1930s: that government regulation and fiscal policy are crucial in addressing changes in the economic and financial structure that have exacerbated the problems faced by struggling communities.

    In this policy note, Kregel explains how overcoming the economic and financial challenges we face today, just as in the 1930s, requires avoiding what Walter Lippmann identified as an “obvious error”: the blind belief that reducing regulation and the role of government will somehow restore a laissez-faire market liberalism that never existed and is inappropriate to the changing structure of production of both the US and the global economy.

  • Working Paper No. 892 | June 2017
    Standing on the Shoulders of Minsky

    Since the death of Hyman Minsky in 1996, much has been written about financialization. This paper explores the issues that Minsky examined in the last decade of his life and considers their relationship to that financialization literature. Part I addresses Minsky’s penetrating observations regarding what he called money manager capitalism. Part II outlines the powerful analytical framework that Minsky used to organize his thinking and that we can use to extend his work. Part III shows how Minsky’s observations and framework represent a major contribution to the study of financialization. Part IV highlights two keys to Minsky’s success: his treatment of economics as a grand adventure and his willingness to step beyond the world of theory. Part V concludes by providing a short recap, acknowledging formidable challenges facing scholars with a Minsky perspective, and calling attention to the glimmer of hope that offers a way forward.

    Associated Program:
    Charles J. Whalen
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  • Working Paper No. 890 | May 2017
    Linking the State and Credit Theories of Money through a Financial Approach to Money

    The paper presents a financial approach to monetary analysis that links the credit and state theories of money. A premise of the functional approach to money is that “money is what money does.” In this approach, monetary and mercantile mechanics are conflated, which leads to the conclusion that unconvertible monetary instruments are worthless. The financial approach to money strictly separates the two mechanics and argues that major monetary disruptions occurred when the two were conflated. Monetary instruments have always been promissory notes. As such, their financial characteristics are central to their value and liquidity. One of the main financial requirements of any monetary instrument is that it be redeemable at any time. As long as this is the case, the fair value of an unconvertible monetary instrument is its face value. While the functional approach does not recognize the centrality of redemption, the paper shows that redemption plays a critical role in the state and credit views of money. Payments due to issuer and/or convertibility on demand are central to the possibility of par circulation. The paper shows that this has major implications for monetary analysis, both in terms of understanding monetary history and in terms of performing monetary analysis.

  • Working Paper No. 889 | May 2017

    This paper investigates the determinants of nominal yields of government bonds in the eurozone. The pooled mean group (PMG) technique of cointegration is applied on both monthly and quarterly datasets to examine the major drivers of nominal yields of long-term government bonds in a set of 11 eurozone countries. Furthermore, autoregressive distributive lag (ARDL) methods are used to address the same question for individual countries. The results show that short-term interest rates are the most important determinants of long-term government bonds’ nominal yields, which supports Keynes’s (1930) view that short-term interest rates and other monetary policy measures have a decisive influence on long-term interest rates on government bonds.

    Associated Program(s):
    Tanweer Akram Anupam Das
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