Can Financial Regulatory Changes Help Jumpstart Long-Term Investment?

Michael Stephens | November 15, 2016

In a presentation here at the Levy Institute, Emilios Avgouleas argued that financial regulatory changes since the crisis have become so complex they represent a source of financial instability, and that new liquidity and capital requirements have contributed to the problem of “short-termism” in finance.

Avgouleas proposed regulatory simplification and a reorientation that would create greater relative incentives for funding long-term investment projects (e.g., infrastructure), including a lower regulatory and tax burden on long-term instruments. Empowering issuers of long-term instruments like project bonds with intellectual property rights could, he suggested, help control the quality of these financial products by preventing “slicing and dicing” in derivatives markets, on pain of losing prescribed privileges.

You can watch the presentation below: “The Financial Regulation Conundrum: Why We Should Discriminate in Favor of Long-Term Finance”


Apply Now for the 2017 Minsky Summer Seminar

Michael Stephens | October 24, 2016

If you’re a grad student or just starting out your career and want to learn more about the work of Hyman Minsky and Wynne Godley, and wouldn’t mind doing so in a turn-of-the-century manor on the banks of the Hudson, you’re in luck.

The Levy Institute’s annual Minsky Summer Seminar is now accepting applications for the June 2017 session:


The Levy Economics Institute is pleased to announce that it will hold the eighth Minsky Summer Seminar June 10–16, 2017. The Seminar will provide a rigorous discussion of both the theoretical and applied aspects of Minsky’s economics, with an examination of meaningful prescriptive policies relevant to the current economic and financial outlook. It will also provide an introduction to Wynne Godley’s stock-flow consistent modeling methods via hands-on workshops.

The Summer Seminar will be of particular interest to graduate students, recent graduates, and those at the beginning of their academic or professional careers. The teaching staff will include well-known economists working in the tradition of Minsky.

To apply, send a letter of application and current curriculum vitae to Kathleen Mullaly at the Levy Institute ( Admission to the Summer Seminar includes room and board on the Bard College campus. A registration fee of $250 is required upon acceptance.

Due to space constraints, the Seminar will be limited to 30 participants. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in January 2017.

The 2017 Summer Seminar program will be organized by Jan Kregel, Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, and L. Randall Wray.


Below the fold is a copy of the 2016 program, to give a sense of the sort of topics and speakers featured at the Seminar (note the guest speakers do change from one year to the next): continue reading…


New Book on Fiscal Policy and Macro in India

Michael Stephens |

*Post Updated Below*

Fiscal Consolidation, Budget Deficits and the Macro Economy, by Research Associate Lekha Chakraborty, deals with debates about the macroeconomic effects of budget deficits in the context of examining fiscal policy in India over the period 1980/81–2012/13.

From the Introduction:

In India, efforts were … made to contain the fiscal deficit by both the central and state governments. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act was enacted by the Government of India in 2000 with the aim to … reduce the fiscal deficit to three per cent of GDP by 2008-09. All the states in India also have introduced FRBM legislation. The rationale behind the reduction in fiscal deficits emanated from the theoretical paradigms of macroeconomics which argued that excessive fiscal deficits often trigger inflationary pressures in the economy, increase the rate of interest and crowd out private capital formation, create balance of payments crises and in turn debt spiraling. However, considerable ambiguity exists about the link between fiscal deficit and macroeconomic activity.

For more, visit Sage:




Reviews of the book by Pulapre BalakrishnanVito Tanzi, and Janet Stotsky may be of interest to potential readers.


The Problem with “Gender-Blind” Economics

Michael Stephens | October 7, 2016

Pavlina Tcherneva joins Laura Flanders to discuss the need for a more gender-aware economics:


Levy M.S. Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2017

Michael Stephens | October 5, 2016


Designed as a terminal degree with a professional focus, the Levy Economics Institute Master of Science in Economic Theory and Policy offers students an alternative to mainstream graduate programs in economics and finance. This innovative two-year program combines a rigorous course of study with exceptional opportunity to participate in advanced economics research, with direct access to the Institute’s global network of researchers.

Application deadlines are November 15 for Early Decision and January 15 for Regular Decision. Scholarships are available. Visit for more information. Click here to apply.

Learn about the Levy M.S. by joining one of our online information sessions hosted by Institute scholars:

Wednesday, October 5, 3:00 p.m. EDT, with Research Scholar Michalis Nikiforos
Tuesday, October 11, 11:00 a.m. EDT, with Ajit Zacharias, Senior Scholar and Distribution of Income and Wealth Program Director
Tuesday, October 18, 10:00 a.m. EDT, with Senior Scholar and Bard College Professor of Economics L. Randall Wray

The program application fee will be waived for all prospective students who attend. Click here for details.


Minsky Meets Brazil (Part IV)

Michael Stephens | September 20, 2016

by Felipe Rezende

Part IV

This last part of the series (see Part I, II, and III here, here, and here) will focus on the Brazilian response to the crisis.


1. What Should Brazil Do?

The current Brazilian crisis fits with Minsky’s theory of instability (see here, here, and here). The traditional response to a Minsky crisis involves government deficits to allow the non-government sector to net save. That is, if the private sector desire to net save increases, then fiscal deficits increase to allow it to accumulate net financial assets. The sharp increase in budget deficits in 2015 comes as no surprise. Rezende (2015a) simulated

a scenario in which we have rising government deficits to offset current account deficits, to allow the domestic private sector balance to generate financial surpluses. In this case, in the presence of current account deficits equal to 4% of GDP, to allow the private sector to net save 2% of GDP, it would require government deficits equal to 6% of GDP.  If the private sector is going to save 5% of GDP (equal to the 2002-2007 average pre-crisis) and a current account deficit equal to 4% of GDP then we must have an overall government budget in deficit equal to 9% of GDP. Given the current state of affairs, government deficits of this magnitude might be politically unfeasible right now. (Rezende 2015a)

In 2015, Brazil’s budget deficit increased from 2% of GDP in 2008 to 10.38% of GDP in 2015. Though government deficits support incomes (cash flow and portfolio effects) and stabilizes profits, the bad composition of the government budget, that is, virtually the entire deficit is due to interest payments, did little to sustain employment. Brazil’s primary budget balance swung from a surplus of 3% of GDP over a decade to a deficit. As this happened, credit rating agencies’ decision to downgrade Brazil’s sovereign debt to junk status put Ms. Rousseff under growing pressure to cut public spending. In this regard, with the implementation of austerity policies in 2015 automatic stabilizers were switched off, that is, the real growth (deflated by IPCA) of expenses by the central government sharply declined (figure 1) aggravating the recession. continue reading…


Minsky Meets Brazil (Part III)

Michael Stephens | September 6, 2016

by Felipe Rezende

Part III

This part of the series (see Parts I and II, here and here) will focus on macroeconomic and microeconomic aspects of financial fragility and the provision of liquidity. Minsky’s framework not only sheds light on how to detect unsustainable financial practices, but the position adopted in this paper is that the current Brazilian crisis does fit with Minsky’s instability theory. This is a Minsky crisis in which during economic expansions market participants show greater tolerance for risk and forget the lessons of past crises so economic units gradually move from safe financial positions to riskier positions and declining cushions of safety. continue reading…


L. Randall Wray on the Radical Imagination

Michael Stephens | September 1, 2016

Jim Vrettos, a sociologist at John Jay College and host of “The Radical Imagination”, interviewed the Levy Institute’s Randy Wray on how the discipline of economics has gone astray. Wray’s story begins in the late 1960s, with what he describes as a reaction against “New Deal economics.”

The interview ends with a discussion of the ongoing US presidential election.


Minsky Meets Brazil (Part II)

Michael Stephens | August 24, 2016

by Felipe Rezende

This series will discuss at length the underlying forces behind Brazil’s current crisis. (See Part I here)

Part II

Building on Keynes’s investment theory of the cycle, Minsky’s work suggests that the structure of the economy becomes more fragile over a period of tranquility and prosperity. That is, endogenous processes breed financial and economic instability. While Minsky adopted Keynes’s “investment theory of the cycle,” he added a financial theory of investment, with a detailed exposition of the theory in his book John Maynard Keynes (1975), which put at the forefront the interrelation between investment decisions and the financial structure designed to allow economic units to take positions in assets by issuing debt. In this regard, debt accumulation is at the core of Minsky’s instability theory. His financial theory of investment incorporated Kalecki’s approach in which aggregate profits are created, mostly, by the autonomous components of demand (Minsky 1986, 1989). One can add to this analysis Godley’s three balances approach, which explores the interlinkages between the government sector, the private sector, and the external sector. This means that a surplus must be matched by an equal deficit and flows accumulate to stocks.

In this regard, Godley’s framework sheds light on the identification of financial fragility at the macro level, in which, to accumulate financial wealth, the private sector (firms and households) needs to spend less than its income. This can be accomplished through a combination of government budget deficits and current account surpluses. This framework is then incorporated into Minsky’s theory of the business cycle to analyze Brazil’s current crisis. In particular, Minsky’s framework not only sheds light on how to detect unsustainable financial practices, but the position adopted in this paper is that the current Brazilian crisis does fit with Minsky’s instability theory.

This article attempts to demonstrate the existence of endogenously generated instability in the Brazilian economy, which has created frequent and systemic financial crises. Brazil’s current crisis is not due to unsustainable policies; the country’s problem is systemic. continue reading…


Tcherneva: Time for a US Job Guarantee (Part 2)

Michael Stephens | August 22, 2016