Levy Institute Publications
Strategic Analysis, October 2022 | October 2022 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Nikolaos Rodousakis, Gennaro ZezzaIn this strategic analysis, Institute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Senior Scholar Gennaro Zezza, and Research Associate Nikolaos Rodousakis discuss the medium-term prospects for the Greek economy in a time of increasing uncertainty—due to the geopolitical turbulence emanating from the Ukraine–Russian conflict, with its impact on the cost of energy, as well as the increase in international prices of some commodities.
Growth projections for the current year are lower than those recorded in 2021, indicating the economy needs to perform much better if it is to continue on the growth path that began in the pre-pandemic period. Similarly, growth projections for 2023 and 2024 appear much weaker, denoting serious consequences may be in store.
With increasing price levels and the euro depreciating, an economy like Greece’s that is highly dependent on increasingly costly imports will become more fragile as the current account deficit widens. In the authors’ view, the continuous recovery of the Greek economy rests with the government’s ability to utilize the NGEU funds swiftly and efficiently for projects that will increase the country’s productive capacity.
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Strategic Analysis, August 2022 | August 2022 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
The Fed ConundrumIn this report, Institute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Research Scholar Michalis Nikiforos, and Senior Scholar Gennaro Zezza analyze how and why the US economy has achieved a swift recovery in comparison with the last few economic cycles.
This recovery has nevertheless been accompanied by significant increases in the trade deficit and inflation. Papadimitriou, Nikiforos, and Zezza argue that the elevated rate of inflation has been largely unrelated to the level of demand or the pace of the recovery, and has more to do with pandemic-related disruptions, the war in Ukraine, and the beginning of a new commodity super cycle.
The authors also identify persistent Minskyan processes that mean the US economy remains fundamentally unstable, with a risk of financial crisis and potentially severe consequences in terms of output and employment—a risk heightened by the reversal of the loose monetary policy that has prevailed over the last decade and a half. In their first scenario, they simulate the macroeconomic impact of such a financial crisis and private sector deleveraging. In two additional scenarios, the authors analyze the likely effects of a new round of fiscal stimulus that would be necessary in case of a crisis: a deficit-financed expenditure boost with no offsetting revenue increases, and a deficit-neutral scenario in which taxation of high-income households increases by an amount equivalent to the expansion of public expenditure.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 157 | April 2022 | Yeva Nersisyan, L. Randall Wray
The Fed Cannot Engineer a Soft Landing but Risks Stagflation by TryingRoughly two years into the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the topic of elevated inflation dominates the economic policy discourse in the United States. And the aggressive use of fiscal policy to support demand and incomes has commonly been singled out as the culprit. Equally as prevalent is the clamor for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to relieve inflationary pressures. According to Research Scholar Yeva Nersisyan and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray, this narrative is flawed in a number of ways. The problem with the US economy is not one of excess of demand in their view, and the Federal Reserve will not be able to engineer a “soft landing” in the way many seem to be expecting. The authors also deliver a warning: excessive tightening, combined with headwinds in 2022, could lead to stagflation. Moreover, while this recovery looks robust in comparison to the jobless recoveries and secular stagnation that have typified the last few decades, in Nersisyan and Wray’s estimation there are few signs of an overheating economy to be found in the macro data. In their view, this inflation is not centrally demand driven; rather dynamics at the micro-level are playing a much more central role in driving the price increases in question, while significant supply chain problems have curtailed productive capacity by disrupting the availability of critical inputs.
The authors suggest there is a better way to conduct policy—one oriented around targeted investments that would increase our real resource space. This will serve not only to address inflationary pressures, according to Nersisyan and Wray, but also the far more pressing climate emergency.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 156 | December 2021 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, L. Randall Wray
The Federal Reserve’s Continuing Experiments with UnobservablesInstitute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray contend that the prevailing approach to monetary policy and inflation is influenced by a set of concepts that are a poor guide to action. In this policy brief, they examine two previous cases in which the Federal Reserve misread the data and raised rates too soon, as well as the evolution of the Fed’s thought and practice over the past three decades—a period in which the central bank has increasingly turned to unobservable indicators that are supposed to predict inflation. Noting that their criticisms have now been raised by the Fed’s own members and research staff, the authors highlight the ways in which we need to rethink our overall framework for monetary and fiscal policy. The Fed has far less control over inflation than is presumed, they argue, and, at worst, might have the whole inflation-fighting strategy backwards. Managing inflation, they conclude, should not be left entirely in the hands of central banks.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Policy Note 2022/3 | May 2022 | Giuliano Toshiro YajimaIn the second round of the Chilean presidential elections, the coalition led by Gabriel Boric secured a victory under the premise of delivering long-awaited reforms to a financially volatile, structurally fragile, and deeply unequal economic structure. In this policy note, Giuliano Toshiro Yajima sheds light on these three aspects of the Chilean economy, showing that its external and internal fragility feeds back on the excessive specialization and heterogeneity of the productive sectors, which in turn influence income and wealth distribution.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Giuliano Toshiro Yajima
Policy Note 2022/2 | April 2022 | Vlassis Missos, Nikolaos Rodousakis, George Soklis
Measuring Income Loss and Poverty in GreeceMore than a decade after the 2009 crisis, the standards of living of the Greek population are still contracting and the prospects are gloomy. In this policy note, Vlassis Missos, Research Associate Nikolaos Rodousakis, and George Soklis deal with how to approach the measurement of income loss and poverty in Greece and argue for the use of household disposable income (HDI) in estimating adjustments, which offers a more accurate appreciation of the burden falling on the Greek population. They underline the significance of replacing a “southern-European model” of social protection with a passive safety net model—and the centrality to the latter model of embracing ideas of internal devaluation and fiscal consolidation—and suggest a better measure of poverty, for the case of Greece specifically and in general for developed economies in which front-loaded neoliberal policies are imposed. Finally, they comment on the sacrifice that would be required if fiscal discipline were to return in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Vlassis Missos Nikolaos Rodousakis George SoklisRelated Topic(s):
e-pamphlet, August 2021 | August 2021 | L. Randall WrayModern 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Monetary Policy and Financial Structure Economic Policy for the 21st Century The State of the US and World EconomiesAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Statement of Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray to the House Budget Committee, US House of Representatives
Testimony, November 20, 2019 | November 2019 | L. Randall Wray, Yeva Nersisyan
Reexamining the Economic Costs of DebtOn November 20, 2019, Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray testified before the House Committee on the Budget on the topic of reexamining the economic costs of debt:
"In recent months a new approach to national government budgets, deficits, and debts—Modern Money Theory (MMT)—has been the subject of discussion and controversy. [. . .]
In this testimony I do not want to rehash the theoretical foundations of MMT. Instead I will highlight empirical facts with the goal of explaining the causes and consequences of the intransigent federal budget deficits and the growing national government debt. I hope that developing an understanding of the dynamics involved will make the topic of deficits and debt less daunting. I will conclude by summarizing the MMT views on this topic, hoping to set the record straight."
Update 1/7/2020: In an appendix, L. Randall Wray responds to a Question for the Record submitted by Rep. Ilhan OmarDownload:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Scope and Effects of Reducing Time Deficits via Intrahousehold Redistribution of Household Production
Research Project Report, July 2021 | July 2021 | Ajit Zacharias, Thomas Masterson, Fernando Rios-Avila, Abena D. Oduro
Evidence from sub-Saharan AfricaGender disparity in the division of responsibilities for unpaid care and domestic work (household production) is a central and pervasive component of inequalities between men and women and boys and girls. Reducing disparity in household production figures as one element of the goal of gender equality enshrined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feminist scholars and political activists have articulated that the redistribution of household production responsibilities from females to males is important for its own sake, as well as for achieving gender equality in labor market outcomes. A cursory examination of available cross-country data indicates that higher per capita GDP—the neoliberal panacea for most societal malaise—provides little bulwark against the gender inequality in household production.
Ajit Zacharias, Thomas Masterson, Fernando Rios-Avila, and Abena D. Oduro contribute to the literature on the intrahousehold distribution of household production by placing the question within a framework of analyzing deprivation, applying that framework to better understand the interactions between poverty and the gendered division of labor in four sub-Saharan African nations: Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania. Central to their framework is the notion that attaining a minimal standard of living requires command over an adequate basket of commodities and sufficient time to be spent on home production, where meeting those requirements produces benefits for all—including those beyond the household.
Their findings motivate questions regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of redistribution of household responsibilities to alleviate time deficits and their impoverishing effects. By developing a framework to assess the mechanics of redistribution among family members and applying it to gender-based redistribution, they derive the maximum extent to which redistribution—either among all family members, between sexes, or between husbands and wives—can lower the incidence of time deficits. The conclude with a discussion of alternative principles of distributing household production responsibilities among family members and examine their impact on the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTCP) and discuss some policy questions in light of their findings.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Report, April 2018 | April 2018 | L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Stephanie A. Kelton
A Path to Full EmploymentDespite reports of a healthy US labor market, millions of Americans remain unemployed and underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work. It is a problem that plagues our economy in good times and in bad—there are never enough jobs available for all who want to work. L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, and Stephanie A. Kelton examine the impact of a new “job guarantee” proposal that would seek to eliminate involuntary unemployment by directly creating jobs in the communities where they are needed.
The authors propose the creation of a Public Service Employment (PSE) program that would offer a job at a living wage to all who are ready and willing to work. Federally funded but with a decentralized administration, the PSE program would pay $15 per hour and offer a basic package of benefits. This report simulates the economic impact over a ten-year period of implementing the PSE program beginning in 2018Q1.
Unemployment, hidden and official, with all of its attendant social harms, is a policy choice. The results in this report lend more weight to the argument that it is a policy choice we need no longer tolerate. True full employment is both achievable and sustainable.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Report, February 2018 | February 2018 | Scott Fullwiler, Stephanie A. Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, Marshall SteinbaumAmong the more ambitious policies that have been proposed to address the problem of escalating student loan debt are various forms of debt cancellation. In this report, Scott Fullwiler, Research Associate Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, and Marshall Steinbaum examine the likely macroeconomic impacts of a one-time, federally funded cancellation of all outstanding student debt.
The report analyzes households’ mounting reliance on debt to finance higher education, including the distributive implications of student debt and debt cancellation; describes the financial mechanics required to carry out the cancellation of debt held by the Department of Education (which makes up the vast majority of student loans outstanding) as well as privately owned student debt; and uses two macroeconometric models to provide a plausible range for the likely impacts of student debt cancellation on key economic variables over a 10-year horizon.
The authors find that cancellation would have a meaningful stimulus effect, characterized by greater economic activity as measured by GDP and employment, with only moderate effects on the federal budget deficit, interest rates, and inflation (while state budgets improve). These results suggest that policies like student debt cancellation can be a viable part of a needed reorientation of US higher education policy.
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One-Pager No. 69 | February 2022 | Yeva Nersisyan, L. Randall WrayA recent article in the New York Times asks whether Modern Money Theory (MMT) can declare victory after its policies were (supposedly) implemented during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The article suggests yes, but for the high inflation it sparked. In the view of Yeva Nersisyan and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray, the federal government’s response largely validated MMT’s claims regarding public debt and deficits and questions of sovereign government solvency—it did not, however, represent MMT policy.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):
One-Pager No. 68 | November 2021 | L. Randall WrayWith the US Treasury cutting checks totaling approximately $5 trillion to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray argues that when it comes to the federal government, concerns about affordability and solvency can both be laid to rest. According to Wray, the question is never whether the federal government can spend more, but whether it should. And while there are still strongly held beliefs about the negative impacts of deficits and debt on inflation, interest rates, growth, and exchange rates, with two centuries of experience the evidence for these concerns is mixed at best.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 1011 | September 2022 | Tanweer Akram, Khawaja Mamun
A Keynesian PerspectiveJohn Maynard Keynes (1930) asserted that the central bank sways the long-term interest rate through the influence of its policy rate on the short-term interest rate. Recent empirical research shows that Keynes's conjecture holds for long-term Treasury yields in the United States. This paper investigates whether Keynes's conjecture also holds for the monthly changes in US long-term swap yields by econometrically modeling its dynamics using an autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) approach. The econometric modeling reveals that there is statistically significant effect on the monthly changes in the Treasury bill rate on the monthly changes in swap yields of different maturity tenors after controlling for a host of macroeconomic and financial control variables. The findings from the econometric models that are estimated render a perspicacious Keynesian perspective on key policy questions and contemporary debates in macroeconomics and finance.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Tanweer Akram Khawaja MamunRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 1010 | September 2022 | George Zestos, Harrison Whittleton, Alejandro Fernandez-RibasAngela Merkel is the second-longest-serving chancellor of modern Germany, with more than 16 years in office. During her tenure there were many years of economic stability, but there were also years of domestic, EU, and geopolitical tensions. Merkel inherited an economy that was recovering after the launching of probusiness policies known as the Hartz I IV Reforms, introduced by the government of the previous chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. Chancellor Merkel was criticized for mishandling the eurocrisis, as she failed to declare support for the financially distressed eurozone countries. Instead she convinced EU officials and country leaders to adopt a contractionary fiscal policy in the midst of a recession. As a result of the austerity measures, Merkel became popular among the German taxpayers and voters. This triggered credit rating agencies to downgrade the government bonds of the periphery eurozone countries and investors to sell these bonds, driving their prices to zero. Periphery eurozone countries came close to bankruptcy but were jointly bailed out by the EU and the IMF, though this prolonged the crisis. As a result of the imposed austerity, which was unnecessary and avoidable, millions of people became unemployed and experienced poverty, loss of dignity, and humiliation and Greece was the country hit hardest. For Merkel, placing national interests above EU interests was the most important mistake in her career; it took, however, a bigger crisis (i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic), to convince Merkel to place EU interests above national interests.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):George Zestos Harrison Whittleton Alejandro Fernandez-RibasRelated Topic(s):
Book Series, January 2020 | January 2020 | L. Randall Wray
Heterodox Economic Policy for the 21st CenturyA Great Leap Forward: Heterodox Economic Policy for the 21st Century investigates economic policy from a heterodox and progressive perspective. Author Randall Wray uses relatively short chapters arranged around several macroeconomic policy themes to present an integrated survey of progressive policy on topics of interest today that are likely to remain topics of interest for many years.
Published by: Elsevier Press