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

  • Strategic Analysis | August 2022
    The Fed Conundrum
    In 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.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 157 | April 2022
    The Fed Cannot Engineer a Soft Landing but Risks Stagflation by Trying
    Roughly 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.
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    United States

  • Working Paper No. 1003 | March 2022
    Pandemic or Policy Response?
    This paper examines the recent increase of the measured inflation rate to assess the degree to which the acceleration is due to problems created (largely on the supply side) by the pandemic versus pressures created on the demand side by pandemic relief. Some have attributed the inflation to excess demand, most notably Larry Summers, who had warned that the pandemic relief spending was too great. As evidence, one could point to the quick recovery of GDP and to reportedly tight labor markets. Others have variously blamed supply chain disruptions, shortages of certain inputs, OPEC’s oil price increases, labor market disruptions because of COVID, and rising profit margins obtained through exercise of pricing power. We conclude that there is little evidence that excess demand is the problem, although we agree that in the absence of the relief checks, recovery would have been sufficiently slow to minimize inflation pressure. We closely examine the main contributors to rising overall prices and conclude that tighter monetary policy would not be an effective way to reduce price pressures. We also cast doubt on the expectations theory of inflation control. We present evidence that suggests there is currently little danger that higher inflation will become entrenched. If anything, rate hikes now will make it harder for the economy to adjust to current realities. The potential for lots of pain with little gain is great. The best course of action is to tackle problems on the supply side.

  • One-Pager No. 69 | February 2022
    A 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.

  • Working Paper No. 1001 | February 2022
    This paper estimates the distribution-led regime of the US economy for the period 1947–2019. We use a time varying parameter model, which allows for changes in the regime over time. To the best of our knowledge this is the first paper that has attempted to do this. This innovation is important, because there is no reason to expect that the regime of the US economy (or any economy for that matter) remains constant over time. On the contrary, there are significant reasons that point to changes in the regime. We find that the US economy became more profit-led in the first postwar decades until the 1970s and has become less profit-led since; it is slightly wage-led over the last fifteen years.

  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
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    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
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    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia

  • One-Pager No. 68 | November 2021
    With 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.

  • Working Paper No. 993 | September 2021
    Theory and Empirics
    This paper provides a theoretical and empirical reassessment of supermultiplier theory. First, we show that, as a result of the passive role it assigns to investment, the Sraffian supermultiplier (SSM) predicts that the rate of utilization leads the investment share in a dampened cycle or, equivalently,  that a convergent cyclical motion in the utilization-investment share plane would be counterclockwise. Second, impulse response functions from standard recursive vector autoregressions (VAR) for postwar US samples strongly indicate that the investment share leads the rate of utilization, or that these cycles are clockwise. These results raise questions about the key mechanism underlying supermultiplier theory.

  • 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.

  • Public Policy Brief No. 155 | June 2021
    Yes, If He Abandons Fiscal “Pay Fors"
    President Biden’s proposals for investing in social and physical infrastructure signal a return to a budget-neutral policymaking framework that has largely been set aside since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. According Yeva Nersisyan and L. Randall Wray, this focus on ensuring revenues keep pace with spending increases can undermine the goals internal to both the public investment and tax components of the administration’s plans: the “pay for” approach limits our spending on progressive policy to what we can raise through taxes, and we will only tax the amount we need to spend.

    Nersisyan and Wray propose an alternative approach to budgeting for large-scale public expenditure programs. In their view, policymakers should evaluate spending and tax proposals on their own terms, according to the goals each is intended to meet. If the purpose of taxing corporations and wealthy individuals is to reduce inequality, then the tax changes should be formulated to accomplish that—not to “raise funds” to finance proposed spending. And while it is possible that general tax hikes might be needed to prevent public investment programs from fueling inflation, they argue that the kinds of taxes proposed by the administration would do little to relieve inflationary pressures should they arise. Under current economic circumstances, however, the president’s proposed infrastructure spending should not require budgetary offsets or other measures to control inflation in their estimation.

Europe

  • Strategic Analysis | October 2022
    In 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.
     

  • Working Paper No. 1010 | September 2022
    Angela 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.
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    Author(s):
    George Zestos Harrison Whittleton Alejandro Fernandez-Ribas
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    Europe

  • Policy Note 2022/2 | April 2022
    Measuring Income Loss and Poverty in Greece
    More 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.
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    Author(s):
    Vlassis Missos Nikolaos Rodousakis George Soklis
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    Europe

  • Working Paper No. 1005 | April 2022
    Starting from the seminal works of Wynne Godley (1999; Godley and Lavoie 2005, 2007a, 2007b), the literature adopting stock-flow consistent (SFC) models for two or more countries has been flourishing, showing that consistently taking into account real and financial markets of two open economies will generate different results with respect to more traditional open economy models. However, few contributions, if any, have modeled two regions in the same country, and our paper aims at filling this gap. When considering a regional context, most of the adjustment mechanisms at work in open economy models—such as exchange rate movements, or changes in interest on public debt—are simply not present, as they are controlled by "external” authorities. So, what are the adjustment mechanisms at work?
     
    To answer this question, we adapt the framework suggested in Godley and Lavoie (2007a) to consider two regions that share the same monetary, fiscal, and exchange rate policies. We loosely calibrate our model to Italian data, where the South (Mezzogiorno) has both a lower level of real income per capita and a lower growth rate than the North. We also introduce a fragmented labor market, as discouraged workers in the South will move North in hopes of finding commuting jobs.
     
    Our model replicates some key features of the Italian economy and sheds light on the interactions between financial and real markets in regional economies with “current account” imbalances.

  • Strategic Analysis | March 2022
    In this strategic analysis, Institute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Research Scholar Gennaro Zezza, and Research Associate Nikos Rodousakis analyze how the Greek economy started to recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospects of continuing and sustaining its recovery. A key contribution is linked to tourism, which increased significantly in 2021, notwithstanding the pandemic, but was still very much below its 2019 level; it is expected, however, to continue its recovery in the current year. In addition, a key role will be played by NGEU funds and the Greek government’s capacity to use such funds in an effective and timely manner when starting and completing the already approved capital projects. A potential threat is linked to the possibility that persistent inflation will drive up the cost of borrowing, reducing the government’s fiscal space. Another “known unknown” —not considered in this report—is the geopolitical turbulence emanating from the Ukraine–Russian conflict, adding an additional layer of uncertainty to the medium-term prospects for Europe and Greece.

  • Policy Note 2022/1 | February 2022
    In 2020, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ElStat) started a revision of the national accounts for Greece to bring them into line with the new European System of Accounts. Data from national accounts have gained more relevance as a crucial set of information for policy, especially in the eurozone, since many indicators—like the size of the public deficit relative to GDP—depend on them. It is therefore crucial that these data provide a realistic description of the actual state of the economy.
     
    Models that aim at understanding the medium-term trajectory of an economy usually need to abstract from short-term volatility due to the seasonal behavior of some variables, and it is therefore common practice to use seasonally adjusted data rather than the observed seasonal data. Research Scholar Gennaro Zezza, Institute President Dimitri Papadimitriou, and Research Associate Nikos Rodousakis recently noticed that the dynamics of relative prices, as measured by the ratios between the deflators of the different seasonally adjusted components of GDP, had an excess volatility, which made it more difficult to obtain meaningful econometric estimates of their determinants. They have therefore decided to investigate whether this excess volatility could be observed in the original seasonal data, and this note documents their results.
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  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia

  • Policy Note 2021/4 | November 2021
    The Case of the Greek Tourism Sector
    The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed multiple risks faced by economies whose production structures depend on the volatility of international conditions. In the case of Greece, this has manifested itself in the severe impact the pandemic has had on one of the linchpins of the Greek economy: the tourism sector. Vlassis Missos, Nikolaos Rodousakis, and George Soklis document the impact of the pandemic on tourism and the significance of tourism revenues for Greece’s 2021 GDP recovery. They argue that the distributional effect of the tourism sector plays a significant role in overall income inequality in Greece and develop a number of policy recommendations aiming to correct some of the problematic aspects of the country’s tourism sector.
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    Author(s):
    Vlassis Missos Nikolaos Rodousakis George Soklis
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  • Strategic Analysis | May 2021
    The Greek economy—still fragile due to the lingering effects of the 2009–10 crisis—was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Greece’s 2020 GDP decline was one of the worst among the group of EU and eurozone member states, along with the highest levels of unemployment and underemployment.

    Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Christos Pierros, Nikos Rodousakis, and Gennaro Zezza update their analysis of the state of the Greek economy on the basis of recently released provisional data for 2020Q4, and model three projections through 2023: (1) a baseline scenario in which no agreement is reached on the disbursement of EU funds (the Recovery and Resilience Facility); (2) a scenario in which EU grants and loans are distributed in a timely manner; and (3) an additional scenario that pairs EU funds with implementation of an employer-of-last resort program. The second scenario would see Greece’s GDP growth return to its pre-pandemic trend—albeit still leaving the economy below the level of real GDP it reached in 2008. The third scenario has the most favorable impact on growth and employment—raising real GDP above its pre-pandemic trend. Failure to achieve a proper recovery of GDP in Greece would be directly related to an absence of fiscal policy expansion.

    This Strategic Analysis is the joint product of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and INE-GSEE (Athens, Greece). It is simultaneously issued in both English and Greek.

Asia

  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
    Download:
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
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    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia

  • Working Paper No. 938 | October 2019
    Nominal 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.

  • Book Series | October 2019
    The principle of fiscal federalism enshrined in India's Constitution is under severe strain today. This book is a key addition to understanding the challenges involved. The authors capture the implications of the abolition of the Planning Commission, the introduction of the controversial Goods and Services Tax regime, and formulation of Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission. These include the increase in vertical fiscal inequity, distortion of fairness in inter-State distribution, and erosion of policy autonomy at the level of the States.

    Published by: Leftword Press
  • Policy Note 2019/2 | May 2019
    Against 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.

  • 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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    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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    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):
    Jan Kregel
    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

Latin America

  • Policy Note 2022/3 | May 2022
    In 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.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Giuliano Toshiro Yajima
    Region(s):
    Latin America

  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia

  • Policy Note 2021/2 | May 2021
    The Impact of the Emergency Benefit on Poverty and Extreme Poverty in Brazil
    Research Scholar Luiza Nassif-Pires, Luísa Cardoso, and Ana Luíza Matos de Oliveira analyze the importance of the “emergency benefit” (Auxílio Emergencial) in containing the increase in poverty and extreme poverty in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic. They find the emergency benefit mitigated the loss of income, brought the poverty rate to historically low levels, and reduced inequality: poverty gaps in terms of gender and (to a lesser degree) race narrowed in 2020. However, their simulations show that a planned reduction in transfer levels for 2021 will result in the emergency benefit providing substantially less social protection against loss of income than its more robust 2020 version.
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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Luiza Nassif Pires Luísa Cardoso Ana Luíza Matos de Oliveira
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    Latin America

  • Working Paper No. 980 | December 2020
    A Stock-Flow Consistent Framework for Mexico
    This working paper empirically and theoretically analyzes the exchange rate’s role in Mexico’s development for the period 2004–19. We test the hypothesis of the re(emergence) of the balance sheet effect due to an increase in external debt in the nonfinancial corporate sector; higher foreign debt would affect private investment after episodes of real currency depreciation, in the spirit of the literature put forward by Gertler, Gilchrist, and Natalucci (2007) and Céspedes, Chang, and Velasco (2004). We build a stock-flow consistent (SFC) model, following the OPENFLEX model proposed in Godley and Lavoie (2006), to explore the balance sheet implications from a theoretical perspective. We simulate the 2014 fall in the Mexican peso generated by the drop in oil prices to replicate stylized facts for Mexico for the period under investigation. The scenario analysis points to a hysteresis effect of the real exchange rate (RER) depreciation on investment flows. That is, firms’ investment ratio does not completely recover from negative shocks in the currency.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Lorenzo Nalin Giuliano Toshiro Yajima
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    Latin America

  • Working Paper No. 975 | November 2020
    Some Insights from an Empirical Stock-Flow Consistent Model
    The Argentinean economy has just ended another lost decade. After the peak registered in 2011, the per capita GDP has oscillated with a decreasing trend, leaving the economy poorer than it was ten years before. During these ten years, different governments with conflicting macroeconomic programs were in power, none of them able to save the economy from stagflation. The goal of this paper is to address to what extent the economic performance would have been better had other policy combinations been implemented. The analysis is made through an empirical quarterly stock-flow consistent (SFC) model for the period 2007–19 in order to ensure the coherence of the results and to give the outcomes of the simulations a holistic and dynamically consistent interpretation. From the results of the simulations it seems that the problem that is keeping Argentina in stagflation goes beyond the domain of macroeconomics. The fact that in practice two divergent macroeconomic programs were implemented—neither of them being able to produce good and sustainable macroeconomic performance—is a first symptom that favors the case for that hypothesis. When the model is used to counterfactually test the policy recommendations of these approaches with the external conditions that prevailed while the opposite program was implemented, none of them yield results that can be deemed sustainable. Yet, the model developed in this paper can be useful for studying the different policy combinations that, given a specific context, can bring about more stable and sustainable dynamics for the Argentinean economy.
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    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Sebastian Valdecantos
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    Latin America

  • Public Policy Brief No. 153 | September 2020
    After spending over 6 percent of GDP responding to the COVID-19 crisis, Brazil has suffered among the worst per capita numbers in the world in terms of cases and deaths. In this policy brief, Luiza Nassif-Pires, Laura Carvalho, and Eduardo Rawet explore how stark inequalities along racial, regional, and class lines can help account for why the pandemic has had such a damaging impact on Brazil. Although they find that fiscal policy measures have so far neutralized the impact of the crisis with respect to income inequality, the existence of structural inequalities along racial lines in particular have resulted in an unequally shared public health burden. Broader policy changes are necessary for addressing dimensions of inequality that are rooted in structural racism.
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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Luiza Nassif Pires Laura Carvalho Eduardo Rawet
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    Latin America

  • Working Paper No. 960 | July 2020
    Fiscal policy is useful as a government instrument for supporting the economy, contributing to an increase in employment, and reducing inequality through more egalitarian income distribution. Over the past 30 years, developing countries have failed to increase their real wages due to the lack of domestic value-added in the era of globalization, where global supply chains are the driving factor for attracting foreign direct investment. Under such circumstances, the role of fiscal policy has become an important factor in creating the necessary conditions for boosting the economy. With the end of commodity-export-led growth, Mexico experienced a moderate reduction of 5 percent in poverty between 2014 and 2018 due to the structural adjustment of social policies and its economic and trade relationship with the United States; during the same period there has been no change in poverty in Argentina, and Brazil has suffered a rise in poverty. Following the global financial crisis, greater attention has been paid to fiscal policy in developed and developing countries—specifically Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico (ABM)—in order to attain macroeconomic stability. One of the consequences of the financial crisis is rising income inequality and its negative effects on economic growth. Over the past decade, fiscal policy has been adopted for the economic recovery. However, the recovery has been accompanied by a decrease in real wages of the middle class. The purpose of the present research is to critically examine the results of fiscal policy in ABM and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Working Paper No. 919 | January 2019
    While 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.

  • Working Paper No. 904 | May 2018
    This 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.
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    Associated Program(s):
    Author(s):
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Nicole Favreau-Negront Luis Méndez Lobos
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    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
    Related Topic(s):
    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

Middle East

  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
    Download:
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia

Africa

  • Working Paper No. 999 | January 2022
    Does Financial “Bonanza” Cause Premature Deindustrialization?
    The outbreak of COVID-19 brought back to the forefront the crucial importance of structural change and productive development for economic resilience to economic shocks. Several recent contributions have already stressed the perverse relationship that may exist between productive backwardness and the intensity of the COVID-19 socioeconomic crisis. In this paper, we analyze the factors that may have hindered productive development for over four decades before the pandemic. We investigate the role of (non-FDI) net capital inflows as a potential source of premature deindustrialization. We consider a sample of 36 developed and developing countries from 1980 to 2017, with major emphasis on the case of emerging and developing economies (EDE) in the context of increasing financial integration. We show that periods of abundant capital inflows may have caused the significant contraction of manufacturing share to employment and GDP, as well as the decrease of the economic complexity index. We also show that phenomena of “perverse” structural change are significantly more relevant in EDE countries than advanced ones. Based on such evidence, we conclude with some policy suggestions highlighting capital controls and external macroprudential measures taming international capital mobility as useful tools for promoting long-run productive development on top of strengthening (short-term) financial and macroeconomic stability.
    Download:
    Associated Program:
    Author(s):
    Alberto Botta Giuliano Toshiro Yajima Gabriel Porcile
    Related Topic(s):
    Region(s):
    United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia