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. 1011 | September 2022
    A Keynesian Perspective
    John 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.

  • Working Paper No. 1008 | May 2022
    This paper econometrically models the dynamics of the Chilean interbank swap yields based on macroeconomic factors. It examines whether the month-over-month change in the short-term interest rate has a decisive influence on the long-term swap yield after controlling for other factors, such as the change in inflation, change in the growth of industrial production, change in the log of the equity price index, and change in the log of the exchange rate. It applies the generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity (GARCH) approach to model the dynamics of the long-term swap yield. The change in the short-term interest rate has an economically meaningful and statistically significant effect on the change of the interbank swap yield. This means that the Banco Central de Chile’s (BCCH) monetary policy exerts an important influence on interbank swap yields in Chile.

  • Working Paper No. 1002 | February 2022
    Empirical Evidence from India
    Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper analyzes the economic stimulus packages announced by the Indian national government and tries to identify some plausible fiscal and monetary policy coordination. The shrinking fiscal space due to revenue uncertainties has led to a theoretical plausibility of a reemergence of finite monetization of deficits in India. However, the empirical evidence confirms no direct monetization of the deficit.

  • Working Paper No. 996 | December 2021
    Modern Money Theory (MMT) has generated considerable scrutiny and discussions over the past decade. While it has gained some acceptance in the financial sector and among some politicians, it has come under strong criticisms from all sides of the academic spectrum and from conservative political circles. MMT has been argued to be both fascist and communist, orthodox and heterodox, dangerous and benign, unworkable and obvious, and unrealistic and clearly nothing new. The contradictory aspects of the range of criticisms suggest that there is at best a superficial understanding of the MMT framework. MMT relies on a well-established theoretical framework and is not inherently about changing the economic system; it is about changing the policymaking praxis to implement a given public purpose. That public purpose can be small or large and can be conservative or progressive; it ought not to be narrowly determined but rather should be set as democratically as possible. While MMT proponents tend to favor a public purpose that deals with what they see as major drawbacks of capitalist economies (persistent nonfrictional unemployment, unfair inequalities, and financial instability), their policy proposals do not lead to a major shift of domestic resources to the public purpose. If a major increase in government spending is implemented, MMT provides some guidance on how to do that in the least disruptive manner by drawing on past economic experiences. The point is to implement the public purpose at a pace that recognizes the potential constraint that comes from domestic resource availability and potential inflationary pressures from bottlenecks, rising import prices, and exchange rate depreciation, among others. In most cases, economies have more flexibility than what is admitted. In all cases, when monetary sovereignty prevails, the fiscal position and the public debt are poor metrics for judging the viability of a public purpose and its pace of implementation.

    As such, applying MMT to policymaking does not mean that a government ought to be encouraged to record fiscal deficits or that the relation between the central bank and the treasury ought to be radically changed to allow direct financing. The fiscal balance is not a proper policy goal because it leads to irrelevant or incorrect policymaking and because it is largely outside the control of policymakers. The financial praxis of monetarily sovereign governments already conforms to MMT. Central banks and treasuries routinely coordinate their financial operations. Some governments have allowed direct financing of the treasury by the central bank; others have not but have developed equivalent ways to coordinate their fiscal and monetary operations that work around existing political constraints. Such routine coordination ensures an elastic financing of government operations that at least deals with domestic resources and is not intrinsically inflationary.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 156 | December 2021
    The Federal Reserve’s Continuing Experiments with Unobservables
    Institute 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.

  • Working Paper No. 992 | August 2021
    Government as the Source of the Price Level and Unemployment
    Many of the claims put forth by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) center around the state’s monopoly over its own currency. In this paper I interrogate the plausibility of two claims: 1) MMT’s theory of the price level—that the price level is a function of prices paid by government when it spends—and 2) the claim that the cause of deficient effective demand is the state’s failure to supply government liabilities so as to meet the demand for net financial assets. I do so by building a model of “monopoly money” capable of producing these two outcomes.

  • e-pamphlets | August 2021
    Modern 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.

  • Working Paper No. 991 | July 2021
    This paper presents multifactor Keynesian models of the long-term interest rate. In recent years there have been a proliferation of empirical studies based on the Keynesian approach to interest rate modeling. However, standard multifactor models of the long-term interest rate in quantitative finance have not been yet incorporated Keynes’s insights about interest rate dynamics. Keynes’s insights about the influence of the current short-term interest rate are introduced in two different multifactor models of the long-term interest rate to illustrate how the long-term interest rate relates to the short-term interest rate, the central bank’s policy rate, inflation expectations, the central bank’s inflation target, volatility in financial markets, and Wiener processes.

  • Working Paper No. 988 | June 2021
    There are several widely used benchmark models of the long-term interest rate in quantitative finance. However, these models have yet to incorporate Keynes’s valuable insights about interest rate dynamics. The Keynesian approach to interest rate dynamics can be readily incorporated in the benchmark models of the long-term interest rate. This paper modifies several benchmark interest rate models. In these modified models the long-term interest rate is related to the short-term interest rate and a Wiener process. The Keynesian approach to interest rate dynamics can be useful in addressing theoretical and policy issues.

  • One-Pager No. 66 | April 2021
    According to Frank Veneroso, a broad subset of today’s US stock market has become what he calls a “pure price-chasing bubble.” Examination of the history of comparable pure price-chasing bubbles shows there has been a set of key causal factors that contributed to these rare market events. The most extreme such case was an over-the-counter market in Kuwait called the “Souk al-Manakh.” This exemplar of a pure price-chasing phenomenon may shed light—albeit unflattering—on the current US equity market, Veneroso contends.
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    Frank Veneroso
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