Levy Institute Publications
Strategic Analysis, May 2020 | May 2020 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro ZezzaGreece’s fragile economic recovery was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic: GDP, employment, exports, and investment are expected to record significantly negative trends. While some projections for GDP growth show a quick V-shaped recovery beginning in 2021, this is rather improbable given the Greek economy’s structural inefficiencies.
This strategic analysis explores the consequences of various assumptions about the fall in the different sources of aggregate demand in order to produce a baseline projection for the Greek economy. A more optimistic scenario is also analyzed, in which the European Commission’s recently announced Recovery Fund materializes, allowing the government to increase public consumption as well as investment through EU grants and loans. The authors recommend additional measures to alleviate the impact of the shock and help put Greece’s economy back on track when the epidemic has died out.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Strategic Analysis, January 2020 | January 2020 | Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
2020 and BeyondThis Strategic Analysis examines the US economy’s prospects for 2020–23 and the risks that lie ahead. The baseline projection generated by the Levy Institute’s stock-flow consistent macroeconomic model shows that, given current fiscal arrangements and the slowdown in the global economy, the pace of the US recovery will slacken somewhat, with a growth rate that will average 1.5 percent over the next several years.
The authors then point to three factors that can derail this already weak baseline trajectory: (1) an overvalued stock market; (2) evidence that the corporate sector’s balance sheets are more fragile than they have ever been in the postwar period; and (3) risks in the foreign sector stemming from the slowdown of the global economy, an overvalued dollar, and the current administration’s erratic trade policy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 153, 2020 | September 2020 | Luiza Nassif Pires, Laura Carvalho, Eduardo RawetAfter 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.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Luiza Nassif Pires Laura Carvalho Eduardo RawetRelated Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 152, 2020 | August 2020 | Alex WilliamsThe mainstream fiscal federalism literature has led to an instinctive belief that states receiving fiscal aid during a recession are taking advantage of the federal government in pursuit of localized benefits with dispersed costs. This policy brief by Alex Williams challenges this unreflective argument and, in response, offers a novel framework for understanding the relationship between the business cycle and fiscal federalism in the United States.
Utilizing the work of Michael Pettis, Williams demonstrates that a government unable to design its own capital structure is not meaningfully an agent with respect to the business cycle. As such, they cannot be considered agents in a moral hazard problem when receiving support from the federal government during a recession.
From the perspective of this policy brief, the operative moral hazard problem is one in which federal-level politicians reap a political benefit from a seemingly principled refusal to increase federal spending, while avoiding blame for crisis and austerity at the state and local government level. Williams’ proposed solution is to impose macroeconomic discipline on federal policymakers by creating automatic stabilizers that take decisions about the level of state fiscal aid in a recession out of their hands.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alex WilliamsRelated Topic(s):
Policy Note 2020/5 | July 2020 | Jan ToporowskiIn this policy note, Jan Toporowski provides an analysis of government debt management using fiscal principles derived from the work of Michał Kalecki. Dividing the government’s budget into a “functional” and “financial” budget, Toporowski demonstrates how a financial budget balance—servicing government debt from taxes on wealth and profits that do not affect incomes and expenditures in the economy—allows a government to manage its debts without compromising the macroeconomic goals set in the functional budget. By splitting the budget into a functional budget that affects the real economy and a financial budget that just maintains debt payments and the liquidity of the financial system, the government can have two independent instruments that can be used to target, respectively, the macroeconomy and government debt—overcoming a dilemma that makes fiscal policy ineffective. This analysis also explains how pursuit of supply-side policies that result in a financial budget deficit and functional budget surplus can lead to slow growth, rising government debt, and financial instability.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Jan ToporowskiRelated Topic(s):
Policy Note 2020/4 | May 2020 | Pavlina R. TchernevaThe ongoing job losses, already numbering in the tens of millions, and the mass unemployment that will remain once the COVID-19 crisis has passed are of our own making, argues Pavlina R. Tcherneva, created by our inability to conceive of policies that protect and create jobs on demand. There is another option: instead of capitulating to a world of guaranteed unemployment, we can demand policies that guarantee employment. During the pandemic, the government can protect jobs by acting as a kind of employer of last resort, while in the post-pandemic world it can create jobs directly via mass mobilization and a job guarantee. In this environment, backstopping payrolls, mass mobilization, and the job guarantee are three different but organically linked policies that aim to secure the right to decent, useful, and remunerative employment opportunities for all.Download:Associated Program:Author(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):L. Randall Wray Yeva NersisyanRelated 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, September 2019 | September 2019 | Ajit Zacharias, Thomas Masterson, Fernando Rios-Avila, Michalis Nikiforos, Kijong Kim, Tamar Khitarishvili
A Macro-Micro Policy Model for Ghana and TanzaniaFeminist economics has long emphasized the role of physical and social infrastructure as determinants of the time women spend on household production (the provision of unpaid domestic services and care). Surprisingly, there is a lack of studies that directly investigate how infrastructure improvements affect the time spent on household production and commuting to work, which is another important unpaid activity for most employed individuals. We attempt to fill the lacunae in the research by studying this issue in the context of Ghana and Tanzania utilizing the framework of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty. Separately, while there are several studies (including those done previously at the Levy Institute) on the macroeconomic impacts of government expenditures on care, these assessments tend to be based primarily on employment multipliers along with simple macroeconomic assumptions. We develop a disaggregated and fully articulated macroeconomic model based on the social accounting matrices for the two countries to take account of the intersectoral linkages and external constraints, such as balance of payments, that are particularly important for many developing nations, including Ghana and Tanzania. The macro- and microeconomic aspects are integrated in a unified analytical framework via a top-down disaggregated macroeconomic model with microsimulation that is novel in that it enables the investigation of the gendered economic processes and outcomes at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels.
Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Ajit Zacharias Thomas Masterson Fernando Rios-Avila Michalis Nikiforos Kijong Kim Tamar KhitarishviliRelated 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.
Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Scott Fullwiler Stephanie A. Kelton Catherine Ruetschlin Marshall SteinbaumRelated Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 64 | August 2020 | Alex WilliamsAs congressional negotiations stall and state governments are poised to enact significant austerity, Alex Williams argues that fiscal aid to state governments should be tied to economic indicators rather than the capriciousness of federal legislators. Building this case for reform requires confronting a common objection: that state fiscal aid creates situations of moral hazard. This objection misconstrues the agency of state governments and misunderstands the incentives of federal politicians, according to Williams. There is a serious moral hazard problem involved here—but it is not the one widely claimed.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Alex WilliamsRelated Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 63 | April 2020 | Yeva Nersisyan , L. Randall WrayAs governments around the world explore ambitious approaches to fiscal and monetary policy in their responses to the COVID-19 crisis, Modern Money Theory (MMT) has been thrust into the spotlight once again. Unfortunately, many of those invoking the theory have misrepresented its central tenets, according Yeva Nersisyan and L. Randall Wray.
MMT provides an analysis of fiscal and monetary policy applicable to national governments with sovereign, nonconvertible currencies. In the context of articulating the elements of that analysis, Nersisyan and Wray draw out one of the lessons to be learned from the pandemic and its policy responses: that the government’s ability to run deficits is not limited to times of crisis; that we must build up our supplies, infrastructure, and institutions in normal times, and not wait for the next crisis to live up to our means.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Yeva Nersisyan L. Randall WrayRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 972 | September 2020 | Lorenzo Esposito, Giuseppe Mastromatteo
On the Nature and Outcomes of the Beauty ContestSince the 2008 crisis, the economics literature has shown a renewed interest in Keynes’s “beauty contest” (BC) as a fundamental aspect of the functioning of financial markets. We argue that to understand the importance of the BC, psychological and informational factors are of small importance, and a dynamic-structural approach should be followed instead: the BC framework is paramount because it is rooted in the historical trajectory of capitalism and it is not simply a consequence of “irrational” (i.e., biased) agents. In this genuine form, the BC mechanism allows one to understand the main trends of a financialized world. Moreover, the conventional nature of financial markets provides a sound method for assessing different economic policies whose effectiveness depends on how much they can influence the convention itself. This alternative understanding of the BC can be used to start the needed rethinking of economics, urged by the crisis, that is for now reduced to studying the financial and psychological “imperfections” of the market.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Lorenzo Esposito Giuseppe MastromatteoRelated Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 971 | September 2020 | Harold M. Hastings, Tai Young-Taft, Chih-Jui TsenIn a seminal 1972 paper, Robert M. May asked: “Will a Large Complex System Be Stable?” and argued that stability (of a broad class of random linear systems) decreases with increasing complexity, sparking a revolution in our understanding of ecosystem dynamics. Twenty-five years later, May, Levin, and Sugihara translated our understanding of the dynamics of ecological networks to the financial world in a second seminal paper, “Complex Systems: Ecology for Bankers.” Just a year later, the US subprime crisis led to a near worldwide “great recession,” spread by the world financial network. In the present paper we describe highlights in the development of our present understanding of stability and complexity in network systems, in order to better understand the role of networks in both stabilizing and destabilizing economic systems. A brief version of this working paper, focused on the underlying theory, appeared as an invited feature article in the February 2020 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences newsletter (Hastings et al. 2020).Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Harold M. Hastings Tai Young-Taft Chih-Jui TsenRelated Topic(s):
Volume 29, No. 2 | June 2020This issue of the Summary features two Strategic Analyses. The first assesses the trends impacting the US economy’s sectoral balances in the context of overvalued asset markets and overleveraged corporate balance sheets; the second, for Greece, identifies the necessary conditions for achieving the government’s campaign promise of 4 percent GDP growth in 2020 and 2021, forecasting that even with an improvement in global conditions, Greece would still need private expenditure to surge to make more meaningful progress toward restoring household economic well-being to its precrisis levels. A policy brief presents an alternative approach to budgeting for the Green New Deal, much like the one outlined in John Maynard Keynes’s 1940 pamphlet, How to Pay for the War, that contrasts traditional questions about the program’s financial affordability with an approach that asks whether there are sufficient real resources that can be marshalled for its implementation.
Working papers included in this issue addresses how Germany’s social and cultural values have affected European integration, while leaving them better able to weather the asymmetric effects of the eurocrisis they played a part in creating; examine four decades of demand shocks and their effect on output and productivity growth to ascertain if the recovery fits Alvin Hansen’s definition of “secular stagnation”; respond to a critique of a 2016 Cambridge Journal of Economics article on utilization in Kaleckian models of growth and distribution; explore two periods of financial instability associated with financial globalization in the modern era and how institutions meant to control financial fragility instead contributed to its development; investigate the Keynesian nature of the relationship between short- and long-term interest rates using data on daily yields of Canadian government securities; present an empirical stock-flow model for Denmark using data for 1995–2016 to demonstrate the effects of real economic behavior on balance sheets and vice versa; extend the Levy Institute’s model for Greece (LIMG) to assess the effectiveness of Greece’s internal devaluation policy; empirically model the wage differential between Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on refugee status; consider previous investigations of the impact of technical progress on employment growth; and question the origin of China’s low fertility rate in an attempt to disentangle the impacts of population control policies from the socioeconomic changes that accompany economic development.
Program: The State of the US and World Economies
- DIMITRI B. PAPADIMITRIOU, MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, and GENNARO ZEZZA, Prospects and Challenges for the US Economy: 2020 and Beyond
- DIMITRI B. PAPADIMITRIOU, MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, and GENNARO ZEZZA, Greece: In Search of Investors
- YEVA NERSISYAN and L. RANDALL WRAY, Can We Afford the Green New Deal?
- GEORGE ZESTOS and RACHEL N. COOKE, Challenges for the EU as Germany Approaches Recession
- MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, Demand, Distribution, Productivity, Structural Change, and (Secular?) Stagnation
- MICHALIS NIKIFOROS, On the “Utilization Controversy”: A Rejoinder and Some Comments
Program: Monetary Policy and Financial Structure
- MARIO TONVERONACHI, Ages of Financial Instability
- TANWEER AKRAM and ANUPAM DAS, The Empirics of Canadian Government Securities Yields
- MIKAEL RANDRUP BYRIALSEN and HAMID RAZA, An Empirical Stock-Flow Consistent Macroeconomic Model for Denmark
Program: Employment Policy and Labor Markets
- CHRISTOS PIERROS, A Labor Market–Augmented Empirical Stock-Flow Consistent Model Applied to the Greek Economy
- JESUS FELIPE, DONNA FAYE BAJARO, GEMMA ESTRADA, and JOHN MCCOMBIE, The Relationship between Technical Progress and Employment: A Comment on Autor and Salomons
- SAMEH HALLAQ, Wage Differential between Palestinian Non-refugees and Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank and Gaza
Program: Explorations in Theory and Empirical Analysis
- LIU QIANG, FERNANDO RIOS-AVILA, and HAN JIQIN, Is China’s Low Fertility Rate Caused by the Population Control Policy?
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