The State of the US and World EconomiesThis 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.
Working Paper No. 934 | August 2019This paper analyzes the dynamics of long-term US Treasury security yields from a Keynesian perspective using daily data. Keynes held that the short-term interest rate is the main driver of the long-term interest rate. In this paper, the daily changes in long-term Treasury security yields are empirically modeled as a function of the daily changes in the short-term interest rate and other important financial variables to test Keynes’s hypothesis. The use of daily data provides a long time series. It enables the extension of earlier Keynesian models of Treasury security yields that relied on quarterly and monthly data. Models based on higher-frequency daily data from financial markets—such as the ones presented in this paper—can be valuable to investors, financial analysts, and policymakers because they make it possible for a real-time fundamental assessment of the daily changes in long-term Treasury security yields based on a wide range of financial variables from a Keynesian perspective. The empirical findings of this paper support Keynes’s view by showing that the daily changes in the short-term interest rate are the main driver of the daily changes in the long-term interest rate on Treasury securities. Other financial variables, such as the daily changes in implied volatility of equity prices and the daily changes in the exchange rate, are found to have some influence on Treasury yields.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):Government bond yields Long-term interest rates Monetary policy Securities markets Short-term interest ratesRegion(s):United StatesOne-Pager No. 60 | July 2019Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, along with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, recently proposed to increase the rate of taxation on very high incomes and net worth. One of the primary justifications for such policies is that reducing inequality would help safeguard political equality. However, Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, and Gennaro Zezza show how these tax policies, if matched by comparable increases in government spending, have the potential to boost aggregate demand while helping reform the unstable structure of the US economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United StatesWorking Paper No. 931 | May 2019This paper follows the methodology developed by J. M. Keynes in his How to Pay for the War pamphlet to estimate the “costs” of the Green New Deal (GND) in terms of resource requirements. Instead of simply adding up estimates of the government spending that would be required, we assess resource availability that can be devoted to implementing GND projects. This includes mobilizing unutilized and underutilized resources, as well as shifting resources from current destructive and inefficient uses to GND projects. We argue that financial affordability cannot be an issue for the sovereign US government. Rather, the problem will be inflation if sufficient resources cannot be diverted to the GND. And if inflation is likely, we need to put in place anti-inflationary measures, such as well-targeted taxes, wage and price controls, rationing, and voluntary saving. Following Keynes, we recommend deferred consumption as our first choice should inflation pressures arise. We conclude that it is likely that the GND can be phased in without inflation, but if price pressures do appear, deferring a small amount of consumption will be sufficient to attenuate them.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Yeva Nersisyan L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):Region(s):United StatesWorking Paper No. 929 | May 2019Increases in the federal funds rate aimed at stabilizing the economy have inevitably been followed by recessions. Recently, peaks in the federal funds rate have occurred 6–16 months before the start of recessions; reductions in interest rates apparently occurred too late to prevent those recessions. Potential leading indicators include measures of labor productivity, labor utilization, and demand, all of which influence stock market conditions, the return to capital, and changes in the federal funds rate, among many others. We investigate the dynamics of the spread between the 10-year Treasury rate and the federal funds rate in order to better understand “when to ease off the (federal funds) brakes.”Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Harold M. Hastings Tai Young-Taft Thomas WangRelated Topic(s):Region(s):United StatesPolicy Note 2019/2 | May 2019Against the background of an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, Senior Scholar Jan Kregel analyzes the potential for achieving international adjustment without producing a negative impact on national and global growth. Once the structure of trade in the current international system is understood (with its global production chains and large imbalances financed by international borrowing and lending), it is clear that national strategies focused on tariff adjustment to reduce bilateral imbalances will not succeed. This understanding of the evolution of the structure of trade and international finance should also inform our view of how to design a new international financial system capable of dealing with increasingly large international trade imbalances.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Capital flows Current account imbalances International finance International trade Tariffs Trade imbalancesRegion(s):United States, AsiaPress Releases | April 2019
Study Finds that Proposals to Increase Tax Rates of the Very Rich
Will Provide a Macroeconomic Boost if Matched by Increases in Public SpendingDownload:Associated Program:Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):United StatesStrategic Analysis | April 2019Although the ongoing recovery is about to become the longest in the history of the United States, it is also the weakest in postwar history, and as we enter the second quarter of 2019, many clouds have gathered.
This Strategic Analysis considers the recent trajectory, the present state, and the future prospects of the US economy. The authors identify four main structural problems that explain how we arrived at the crisis of 2007–09 and why the recovery that has followed has been so weak—as well as why the prospect of a recession is increasingly likely.
The US economy is in need of deep structural reforms that will deal with these problems. This report analyzes a pair of policies that begin to move in that direction, both involving an increase in the tax rate for high-income and high-net-worth households. Even if the primary justification for these policies is not economic, this report shows that if such an increase in taxes is accompanied by an equivalent increase in government outlays, the redistributive impact will have a positive macroeconomic effect while moving the US economy toward a more sustainable future.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United StatesDownload:Associated Program:Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):United States, Latin America, EuropeWorking Paper No. 924 | February 2019The paper builds on the concept of (shifting) involvements, originally proposed by Albert
Hirschman (2002 ). However, unlike Hirschman, the concept is framed in class terms. A model is presented where income distribution is determined by the involvement of the two classes, capitalists and workers. Higher involvement by capitalists and lower involvement by workers tends to increase the profit share and vice versa. In turn, shifts in involvements are induced by the potential effect of a change in distribution on economic activity and past levels of distribution. On the other hand, as the profit share increases, the economy tends to become more wage led. The dynamics of the resulting model are interesting. The more the two classes prioritize the increase of their income share over economic activity, the more possible it is that the economy is unstable. Under the stable configuration, the most likely outcome is Polanyian predator-prey cycles, which can explain some interesting historical episodes during the 20th century. Finally, the paper discusses the possibility of conflict and cooperation within each of the distribution-led regimes.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United StatesWorking Paper No. 907 | May 2018The 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.Download:Associated Program(s):The State of the US and World Economies Monetary Policy and Financial Structure Explorations in Theory and Empirical AnalysisAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):United States
Policy Note 2019/1 | April 2019While a consensus has formed that the eurozone’s economic governance mechanisms must be reformed, and some progress has been made on this front, what has been agreed to so far falls short of what is needed to address the central imbalances caused by the eurozone setup, according to Paolo Savona.
The key elements that are missing from the current package of reforms are interrelated: a common insurance scheme for bank deposits, the possible regulation of banks’ sovereign exposure, and the existence of a common safe asset. Savona outlines a proposal to increase the supply of safe assets provided by a common European issuer (the European Stability Mechanism) and explains how the plan could be made economically and politically satisfactory to all member states while facilitating progress on the deposit insurance and sovereign exposure issues.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Paolo SavonaRelated Topic(s):Region(s):EuropePublic Policy Brief No. 147 | March 2019As global market integration collides with growing demands for national political sovereignty, Senior Scholar Jan Kregel contrasts two diametrically opposed approaches to managing the tensions between international financial coordination and national autonomy. The first, a road not taken, is John Maynard Keynes’s proposal to reform the postwar international financial system. The second is the approach taken in the establishment of the eurozone and the development of its settlement and payment system. Analysis of Keynes’s clearing union proposal and its underlying theoretical approach highlights the flaws of the current eurozone setup.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Banking principle Clearing union Creditor countries Debtor countries Euro Eurozone Gold standard John Maynard Keynes Monetary theory TARGET2Region(s):EuropeDownload:Associated Program:Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):United States, Latin America, EuropeWorking Paper No. 919 | January 2019While the literature on theoretical macroeconomic models adopting the stock-flow-consistent (SFC) approach is flourishing, few contributions cover the methodology for building a SFC empirical model for a whole country. Most contributions simply try to feed national accounting data into a theoretical model inspired by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie (2007), albeit with different degrees of complexity.
In this paper we argue instead that the structure of an empirical SFC model should start from a careful analysis of the specificities of a country’s sectoral balance sheets and flow of funds data, given the relevant research question to be addressed. We illustrate our arguments with examples for Greece, Italy, and Ecuador.
We also provide some suggestions on how to consistently use the financial and nonfinancial accounts of institutional sectors, showing the link between SFC accounting structures and national accounting rules.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Gennaro Zezza Francesco ZezzaRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Latin America, EuropeStrategic Analysis | November 2018The Greek government has managed to exit the stability support program and achieve a higher-than-required primary surplus so as not to require further austerity measures to depress domestic demand. At the same time, the economy has started to recover, mainly due to the good performance of both exports of goods and tourism and modest increases in investment
In this report, we review recent developments in the determinants of aggregate demand and net exports, and provide estimates of two scenarios: one which assumes business as usual and the other an alternate scenario simulating the medium-term impact of an acceleration in investment.
We conclude with a discussion on the sustainability of Greek government debt, showing that it is crucial that the cost of borrowing remains below the nominal growth of national income.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):EuropeWorking Paper No. 913 | August 2018There 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Ignacio Ramirez CisnerosRelated Topic(s):Region(s):EuropeWorking Paper No. 911 | August 2018This 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):EuropePress Releases | June 2018Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):EuropeOne-Pager No. 56 | June 2018The 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.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):EuropePublic Policy Brief No. 145 | June 2018
An Assessment and an Alternative ProposalIn 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.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. 938 | October 2019Nominal yields for Japanese government bonds (JGBs) have been remarkably low for several decades. Japanese government debt ratios have continued to increase amid a protracted period of stagnant nominal GDP, low inflation, and deflationary pressures. Many analysts are puzzled by the phenomenon of JGBs’ low nominal yields because Japanese government debt ratios are elevated. However, this paper shows that the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) highly accommodative monetary policy is primarily responsible for keeping JGB yields low for a protracted period. This is consistent with Keynes’s view that the short-term interest rate is the key driver of the long-term interest rate. This paper also relates the BoJ’s monetary policy and economic developments in Japan to the evolution of JGBs’ long-term interest rates.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):Government bond yields Japan Japanese government bonds (JGBs) John Maynard Keynes Long-term interest rates Monetary policy Nominal bond yieldsRegion(s):AsiaPolicy Note 2019/2 | May 2019Against the background of an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, Senior Scholar Jan Kregel analyzes the potential for achieving international adjustment without producing a negative impact on national and global growth. Once the structure of trade in the current international system is understood (with its global production chains and large imbalances financed by international borrowing and lending), it is clear that national strategies focused on tariff adjustment to reduce bilateral imbalances will not succeed. This understanding of the evolution of the structure of trade and international finance should also inform our view of how to design a new international financial system capable of dealing with increasingly large international trade imbalances.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Capital flows Current account imbalances International finance International trade Tariffs Trade imbalancesRegion(s):United States, AsiaWorking Paper No. 906 | May 2018This 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Huiqing LiRelated Topic(s):Banking Japanese government bonds (JGBs) John Maynard Keynes Long-term interest rates Monetary policy Nominal bond yieldsRegion(s):AsiaWorking 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):Region(s):AsiaWorking 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):AsiaWorking 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 ) 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer AkramRelated Topic(s):Region(s):AsiaIn the Media | June 2015Economia, 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.aspxWorking 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):Region(s):AsiaWorking 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.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Sunanda Sen Zico DasGuptaRelated Topic(s):Austerity Development expenditures Exchange rate volatility Fiscal deficit Fiscal policy Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA), India Inflation Interest payments Interest rates Monetarism Monetary policy Sound financeRegion(s):AsiaIn 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.
Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):United States, Latin America, EuropeWorking Paper No. 919 | January 2019While the literature on theoretical macroeconomic models adopting the stock-flow-consistent (SFC) approach is flourishing, few contributions cover the methodology for building a SFC empirical model for a whole country. Most contributions simply try to feed national accounting data into a theoretical model inspired by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie (2007), albeit with different degrees of complexity.
In this paper we argue instead that the structure of an empirical SFC model should start from a careful analysis of the specificities of a country’s sectoral balance sheets and flow of funds data, given the relevant research question to be addressed. We illustrate our arguments with examples for Greece, Italy, and Ecuador.
We also provide some suggestions on how to consistently use the financial and nonfinancial accounts of institutional sectors, showing the link between SFC accounting structures and national accounting rules.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Gennaro Zezza Francesco ZezzaRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Latin America, EuropeWorking Paper No. 904 | May 2018This paper provides an empirical analysis of nonfinancial corporate debt in six large Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru), distinguishing between bond-issuing and non-bond-issuing firms, and assessing the debt’s macroeconomic implications. The paper uses a sample of 2,241 firms listed on the stock markets of their respective countries, comprising 34 sectors of economic activity for the period 2009–16. On the basis of liquidity, leverage, and profitability indicators, it shows that bond-issuing firms are in a worse financial position relative to non-bond-issuing firms. Using Minsky’s hedge/speculative/Ponzi taxonomy for financial fragility, we argue that there is a larger share of firms that are in a speculative or Ponzi position relative to the hedge category. Also, the share of hedge bond-issuing firms declines over time. Finally, the paper presents the results of estimating a nonlinear threshold econometric model, which demonstrates that beyond a leverage threshold, firms’ investment contracts while they increase their liquidity positions. This has important macroeconomic implications, since the listed and, in particular, bond-issuing firms (which tend to operate under high leverage levels) represent a significant share of assets and investment. This finding could account, in part, for the retrenchment in investment that the sample of countries included in the paper have experienced in the period under study and highlights the need to incorporate the international bond market in analyses of monetary transmission mechanisms.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Esteban Pérez Caldentey Nicole Favreau-Negront Luis Méndez LobosRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Latin AmericaConference Proceedings | April 2018A conference organized by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
The proceedings include the 2017 conference program, transcripts of keynote speakers’ remarks, synopses of the panel sessions, and biographies of the participants.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Michael StephensRelated Topic(s):Region(s):United States, Latin America, EuropePress Releases | March 2018Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Mark PrimoffRegion(s):United States, Latin America, EuropePublic Policy Brief No. 143 | February 2017
Since inheriting the Brazilian presidency five months ago, the new Temer administration has successfully ratified a constitutional amendment imposing a radical, two-decades-long public spending freeze, purportedly aimed at sparking an increase in business confidence and investment. In this policy brief, Fernando Cardim de Carvalho explains why this fiscal strategy is based not only on a flawed conception of the drivers of private-sector confidence and investment but also on a mistaken view of the roots of the current Brazilian economic crisis. The hoped-for “expansionary fiscal consolidation” is not likely to be achieved.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):Latin AmericaPolicy Note 2016/2 | April 2016
Brazil is mired in a joint economic and political crisis, and the way out is unclear. In 2015 the country experienced a steep contraction of output alongside elevated inflation, all while the fallout from a series of corruption scandals left the policymaking apparatus paralyzed. Looking ahead, implementing a policy strategy that has any hope of addressing the Brazilian economy’s multilayered problems would make serious demands on a political system that is most likely unable to bear it.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):Latin AmericaWorking Paper No. 860 | February 2016
Brazil at the Mid-2010s
The Brazilian economy in 2015 was afflicted by a lethal combination of decelerating activity and accelerating inflation. Expectations for 2016 are equally or even more adverse, since the effects of rising unemployment emerge only after a lag. The domestic debate has pitted analysts who believe the crisis is due exclusively to past policy mistakes against those who believe that all was well until the government decided to implement austerity policies in 2015. A closer examination of the evidence shows that, in fact, both causes contributed to the crisis. But it also suggests that its depth has a more proximate cause in the political collapse of the federal government in 2015, which led Brazilian society to an impasse for which one cannot yet visualize the solution.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):Region(s):Latin AmericaWorking Paper No. 853 | November 2015
The Case of Colombia
In recent years, Colombia has grown relatively rapidly, but it has been a biased growth. The energy sector (the “locomotora minero-energetica,” to use the rhetorical expression of President Juan Manuel Santos) grew much faster than the rest of the economy, while the manufacturing sector registered a negative rate of growth. These are classic symptoms of the well-known “Dutch disease,” but our purpose here is not to establish whether or not the Dutch disease exists, but rather to shed some light on the financial viability of several, simultaneous dynamics: (1) the existence of a traditional Dutch disease being due to a large increase in mining exports and a significant exchange rate appreciation; (2) a massive increase in foreign direct investment, particularly in the mining sector; (3) a rather passive monetary policy, aimed at increasing purchasing power via exchange rate appreciation; (4) and more recently, a large distribution of dividends from Colombia to the rest of the world and the accumulation of mounting financial liabilities. The paper shows that these dynamics constitute a potential danger for the stability of the Colombian economy. Some policy recommendations are also discussed.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alberto Botta Antoine Godin Marco MissagliaRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Latin AmericaIn the Media | September 2015
By Fermin KoopBuenos Aires Herald, September 27, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Jan Kregel, one of the world’s most eminent Post-Keynesian economists specialized in financial crises and structural problems of developing economies, has written several papers on Argentina’s economy after the 2001–2002 economic meltdown. The director of research at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College in upstate New York, Kregel served as rapporteur of the president of the UN General Assembly’s Commission on Reform of the International Financial System.
In Buenos Aires for a conference, Kregel met with the Herald and discussed the country’s economy, highlighting that the currency is in desperate need of a devaluation. At the same time, he said the country shouldn’t take action regarding the “vulture” funds, which he linked to late special AMIA prosecutor Alberto Nisman....
Read more: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/199670/kregel-‘do-nothing-about-vulture-funds-let-the-case-sit-there’Associated Program:Region(s):Latin America
Russia and Eastern Europe
Working Paper No. 909 | July 2018
Applying Minsky’s Theory of Financial Fragility to International MarketsThis 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Liudmila MalyshavaRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Russia and Eastern Europe
Working Paper No. 910 | August 2018
An Empirical AnalysisThe 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Tanweer Akram Anupam DasRelated Topic(s):Region(s):Pacific Rim