Research Programs

The State of the US and World Economies

The State of the US and World Economies

This program's central focus is the use of Levy Institute macroeconomic models in generating strategic analyses of the US and world economies. The outcomes of alternative scenarios are projected and analyzed, with the results—published as Strategic Analysis reports—serving to help policymakers understand the implications of various policy options.

The Levy Institute macroeconomic models, created by Distinguished Scholar Wynne Godley, are accounting based. The US model employs a complete and consistent system (in that all sectors “sum up,” with no unaccounted leakages) of stocks and flows (such as income, production, and wealth). The world model is a “closed” system, in which 11 trading blocs—of which the United States, China, Japan, and Western Europe are four—are represented. This model is based on a matrix in which each bloc’s imports are described in terms of exports from the other 10 blocs. From this information, and using alternative assumptions (e.g., growth rates, trade shares, and energy demands and supplies), trends are identified and patterns of trade and production analyzed.

The projections derived from the models are not presented as short-term forecasts. The aim is to display, based on analysis of the recent past, what it seems reasonable to expect if current trends, policies, and relationships continue. To inform policy, it is not necessary to establish that a particular projection will come to pass, but only that it is something that must be given serious consideration as a possibility. The usefulness of such analyses is strategic: they can serve to warn policymakers of potential dangers and serve as a guide to policy instruments that are available, or should be made available, to deal with those dangers, should they arise.



United States

Europe

Asia

  • 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.

  • Working Paper No. 881 | January 2017

    This paper investigates the long-term determinants of Indian government bonds’ (IGB) nominal yields. It examines whether John Maynard Keynes’s supposition that short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields holds over the long-run horizon, after controlling for various key economic factors such as inflationary pressure and measures of economic activity. It also appraises whether the government finance variable—the ratio of government debt to nominal income—has an adverse effect on government bond yields over a long-run horizon. The models estimated here show that in India, short-term interest rates are the key driver of long-term government bond yields over the long run. However, the ratio of government debt and nominal income does not have any discernible adverse effect on yields over a long-run horizon. These findings will help policymakers in India (and elsewhere) to use information on the current trend in short-term interest rates, the federal fiscal balance, and other key macro variables to form their long-term outlook on IGB yields, and to understand the implications of the government’s fiscal stance on the government bond market.

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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Tanweer Akram Anupam Das
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    Region(s):
    Asia

  • 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. 862 | March 2016

    Japan has experienced stagnation, deflation, and low interest rates for decades. It is caught in a liquidity trap. This paper examines Japan’s liquidity trap in light of the structure and performance of the country’s economy since the onset of stagnation. It also analyzes the country’s liquidity trap in terms of the different strands in the theoretical literature. It is argued that insights from a Keynesian perspective are still quite relevant. The Keynesian perspective is useful not just for understanding Japan’s liquidity trap but also for formulating and implementing policies that can overcome the liquidity trap and foster renewed economic growth and prosperity. Paul Krugman (1998a, b) and Ben Bernanke (2000; 2002) identify low inflation and deflation risks as the cause of a liquidity trap. Hence, they advocate a credible commitment by the central bank to sustained monetary easing as the key to reigniting inflation, creating an exit from a liquidity trap through low interest rates and quantitative easing. In contrast, for John Maynard Keynes (2007 [1936]) the possibility of a liquidity trap arises from a sharp rise in investors’ liquidity preference and the fear of capital losses due to uncertainty about the direction of interest rates. His analysis calls for an integrated strategy for overcoming a liquidity trap. This strategy consists of vigorous fiscal policy and employment creation to induce a higher expected marginal efficiency of capital, while the central bank stabilizes the yield curve and reduces interest rate volatility to mitigate investors’ expectations of capital loss. In light of Japan’s experience, Keynes’s analysis and proposal for generating effective demand might well be a more appropriate remedy for the country’s liquidity trap.

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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Tanweer Akram
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    Region(s):
    Asia

  • In the Media | June 2015
    Economia, June 23, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

    All'interno del quadro economico internazionale, Jan Kregel, direttore del programma “Politica Monetaria” presso il Levy Economic Institute negli USA, analizza qual è stato il ruolo degli Stati Uniti all'interno della crisi economica. Uno degli elementi che viene messo maggiormente in evidenza, è l' importanza data al settore finanziario, rispetto all'economia reale: ciò ha portando ad una minore attenzione a problemi come la disoccupazione, che rappresenta ancora una delle questioni irrisolte dell'Europa, ma soprattutto dell'Italia. 

    Una volta che la crisi economica è scoppiata negli Usa, si è diffusa a macchia d'olio specie nel continente europeo, dove la forbice presente tra europa meridionale e settentrionale, si è notevolmente ampliata.   A tale ritratto, Kregel, aggiunge anche un'attenta le politiche economiche messe in atto da Cina e Giappone e dalle loro ripercussioni sul sistema economico mondiale.

    intervista videoregistrata:
    http://www.economia.rai.it/articoli/la-crisi-negli-usa-il-punto-di-vista-di-jan-kregel/30575/default.aspx
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Region(s):
    United States, Asia
  • Working Paper No. 834 | March 2015

    John Maynard Keynes held that the central bank’s actions determine long-term interest rates through short-term interest rates and various monetary policy measures. His conjectures about the determinants of long-term interest rates were made in the context of advanced capitalist economies, and were based on his views on ontological uncertainty and the formation of investors’ expectations. Are these conjectures valid in emerging markets, such as India? This paper empirically investigates the determinants of changes in Indian government bonds’ nominal yields. Changes in short-term interest rates, after controlling for other crucial variables such as changes in the rates of inflation and economic activity, take a lead role in driving changes in the nominal yields of Indian government bonds. This vindicates Keynes’s theories, and suggests that his views on long-term interest rates are also applicable to emerging markets. Higher fiscal deficits do not appear to raise government bond yields in India. It is further argued that Keynes’s conjectures about investors’ outlooks, views, and expectations are fairly robust in a world of ontological uncertainty.

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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Tanweer Akram Anupam Das
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    Region(s):
    Asia

  • Working Paper No. 813 | August 2014
    For Economic Stimulus, or for Austerity and Volatility?

    The implementation of economic reforms under new economic policies in India was associated with a paradigmatic shift in monetary and fiscal policy. While monetary policies were solely aimed at “price stability” in the neoliberal regime, fiscal policies were characterized by the objective of maintaining “sound finance” and “austerity.” Such monetarist principles and measures have also loomed over the global recession. This paper highlights the theoretical fallacies of monetarism and analyzes the consequences of such policy measures in India, particularly during the period of the global recession. Not only did such policies pose constraints on the recovery of output and employment, with adverse impacts on income distribution; but they also failed to achieve their stated goal in terms of price stability. By citing examples from southern Europe and India, this paper concludes that such monetarist policy measures have been responsible for stagnation, with a rise in price volatility and macroeconomic instability in the midst of the global recession.

  • In the Media | April 2014
    By Panos Mourdoukoutas

    Forbes, April 14, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

    For years, China has been enjoying robust economic growth that has turned it into the world’s second largest economy.

    The problem is, however, that China’s growth is in part driven by over investment in construction and manufacturing sectors, fueling asset bubbles that parallel those of Japan in the late 1980s. With one major difference: China’s overinvestment is directed by the systematic efforts of local governments to preserve the old system of central planning, through massive construction and manufacturing projects for the purpose of employment creation rather than for addressing genuine consumer needs.

    Major Chinese cities are filled with growing numbers of new vacant buildings. They were built under government mandates to provide jobs for the hundreds of thousands of people leaving the countryside for a better life in the cities, rather than to house genuine business tenants.

    China’s real estate bubble is proliferating like an infectious disease from the eastern cities to the inner country. It has spread beyond real estate to other sectors of the economy, from the steel industry to electronics and toys industries.  Local governments rush and race to replicate each other’s policies, especially local governments of the inner regions, where corporate managers have no direct access to overseas markets, and end up copying the policies of their peers in the coastal areas.

    We all know how the Japanese bubble ended. What should Chinese policy makers do? How can they burst their bubble?

    There is  a bad way and a good way, according to L. Randall Wray and Xinhua Liu, writing in "Options for China in a Dollar Standard World: A Sovereign Currency Approach.” (Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper No 783, January 2014).

    The bad way is to pursue European-style austerity, which reins in central government deficits.

    We all know what that means–the Chinese economy is almost certain to be placed in a downward spiral that will jeopardize employment growth. Besides, as the authors observe, China’s fiscal imbalances aren’t with central government, but with local governments. In fact, China’s main imbalance “appears to be a result of loose local government budgets and overly tight central government budgets.”

    That’s why the authors propose fiscal restructuring rather than austerity. Rein in local government spending, and expand central government spending.

    That’s the good way to burst the bubble. But is it politically feasible? Can Beijing reign over local governments?

    That remains to be seen. 

  • Working Paper No. 783 | January 2014
    A Sovereign Currency Approach
    This paper examines the fiscal and monetary policy options available to China as a sovereign currency-issuing nation operating in a dollar standard world. We first summarize a number of issues facing China, including the possibility of slower growth, global imbalances, and a number of domestic imbalances. We then analyze current monetary and fiscal policy formation and examine some policy recommendations that have been advanced to deal with current areas of concern. We next outline the sovereign currency approach and use it to analyze those concerns. We conclude with policy recommendations consistent with the policy space open to China.

  • One-Pager No. 44 | December 2013
    Reorienting Fiscal Policy to Reduce Financial Fragility
    Since adopting a policy of gradually opening its economy more than three decades ago, China has enjoyed rapid economic growth and rising living standards for much of its population. While some argue that China might fall into the middle-income “trap,” they are underestimating the country’s ability to continue to grow at a rapid pace. It is likely that China’s growth will eventually slow, but the nation will continue on its path to join the developed high-income group—so long as the central government recognizes and uses the policy space available to it. 

Latin America

Russia and Eastern Europe

  • Working Paper No. 909 | July 2018
    Applying Minsky’s Theory of Financial Fragility to International Markets
    This inquiry argues that the successful completion of the transition process in the post-Soviet economies is constrained by the prevailing social structure and low levels of technological progress, both of which require institutional reforms aimed at increasing growth in national income, productivity, and the degree of export competitiveness. Domestic policy implementation has not shown significant improvements on these fronts, given its short-term orientation, but instead resulted in stagnating growth rates, continuously accumulating levels of external debt, and decreasing living standards. The key to a successful completion of the transition process is therefore a combination of policies targeted at the dynamic transformation of production structures within an environment of financial stability and favorable macroeconomic conditions.
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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Liudmila Malyshava
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    Region(s):
    Russia and Eastern Europe

Pacific Rim

  • 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.
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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Tanweer Akram Anupam Das
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    Pacific Rim