Publications on US economic policy
Working Paper No. 754 | February 2013
Do all types of demand have the same effect on output? To answer this question, I estimate a cointegrated vector autoregressive (VAR) model of consumption, investment, and government spending on US data, 1955–2007. I find that: (1) economic growth can be decomposed into a short-run (transitory) cycle gravitating around a long-run (permanent) trend made of consumption shocks and government spending; (2) the estimated fluctuations are investment dominated, they coincide remarkably with the business cycle, and they are highly correlated with capacity utilization in both labor and capital; and (3) the long-run multipliers point to a large induced-investment phenomenon and to a smaller, but still significantly positive, government spending multiplier, around 1.5. The results cover a lot of theoretical ground: Paul Samuelson’s accelerator principle, John Kenneth Galbraith’s stress on consumption and government spending, Jan Tinbergen's investment-driven business cycle, and Robert Eisner’s inquiries on the investment function. The results are particularly useful to distinguish between economic policies for the short and long runs, albeit no attempt is made at this point to inquire into the effectiveness of specific economic policies.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 127, 2012 | November 2012The United States must make a fundamental choice in its economic policy in the next few months, a choice that will shape the US economy for years to come. Pundits and policymakers are divided over how to address what is widely referred to as the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that will further weaken the domestic economy. Will the United States continue its current, misguided, policy of implementing European-style austerity measures, and the economic contraction that is the inevitable consequence of such policies? Or will it turn aside from the fiscal cliff, using a combination of its sovereign currency system and Keynesian fiscal policy to strengthen aggregate demand?
Our analysis presents a model of what we call the “fiscal trap”—a self-imposed spiral of economic contraction resulting from a fundamental misunderstanding of the role and function of fiscal policy in times of economic weakness. Within this framework, we begin our analysis with the disastrous results of austerity policies in the European Union (EU) and the UK. Our account of these policies and their results is meant as a cautionary tale for the United States, not as a model.
One-Pager No. 35 | October 2012Should we allow the fiscal cliff, with its across-the-board spending cuts and big tax increases that will affect almost every American, to take effect? Economists have been weighing in on such fiscal policy questions in what seems to be the most intense election-year debate in many years. To help our readers keep track of this debate, we offer a list of some of the specious arguments against fiscal stimulus and for austerity, together with our responses.
Policy Note 2012/6 | June 2012
What a Hedge Gone Awry at JPMorgan Chase Tells Us about What's Wrong with Dodd-Frank
What can we learn from JPMorgan Chase’s recent self-proclaimed “stupidity” in attempting to hedge the bank’s global risk position? Clearly, the description of the bank’s trading as “sloppy” and reflecting ”bad judgment” was designed to prevent the press reports of large losses from being used to justify the introduction of more stringent regulation of large, multifunction financial institutions. But the lessons to be drawn are not to be found in the specifics of the hedges that were put on to protect the bank from an anticipated decline in the value of its corporate bond holdings, or in any of its other global portfolio hedging activities. The first lesson is this: despite their acumen in avoiding the worst excesses of the subprime crisis, the bank’s top managers did not have a good idea of its exposure, which serves as evidence that the bank was “too big to manage.” And if it was too big to manage, it was clearly too big to regulate effectively.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jan Kregel
Policy Note 2012/2 | March 2012
The Nonprofit Model for Implementing a Job Guarantee
The conventional approach of fiscal policy is to create jobs by boosting private investment and growth. This approach is backward, says Research Associate Pavlina R. Tcherneva. Policy must begin by fixing the unemployment situation because growth is a byproduct of strong employment—not the other way around. Tcherneva proposes a bottom-up approach based on community programs that can be implemented at all phases of the business cycle; that is, a grass-roots job-guarantee program run by the nonprofit sector (with participation by the social entrepreneurial sector) but financed by the government. A job-guarantee program would lead to full employment over the long run and address an outstanding fault of modern market economies.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):