July 12th, 2016
In economic policy, timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. The euro zone crisis has been evolving for over seven years, making it difficult to time policy proposals. Now, the shock of Brexit has created a definitive political opportunity for reforming rather than patching the euro. With that in mind, I would like to revive an earlier mistimed proposal for a euro zone “financing union” (English version, German version). The proposal contrasts with others that emphasize “spending unions”. But first some preliminaries.
The euro zone’s original sin
The original sin within the euro zone is the separation of money from the state via the creation of the European Central Bank (ECB) which displaced national central banks. Under the euro, countries no longer have their own currency for which they can set their own exchange rate and interest rate, and nor can they call on a national central bank to buy government bonds and finance government spending.
July 5th, 2016
Voters of all stripes have recognized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as another betrayal of working people, and they have resoundingly rejected it. Despite that, President Obama continues to push it, to the extent of possibly seeking passage in a “lame duck” session of Congress.
President Obama’s pushing of the TPP is recklessly irresponsible politics that benefits Donald Trump who is the outsider candidate. Hillary Clinton is the insider who has touted her links to President Obama, and she still lacks credibility regarding her TPP opposition because of her past endorsement.
In the current dangerous political climate there is no room for error. Yet, that is what we have. Clinton has refused to condemn the TPP in the Democratic Party platform, setting herself up for Trump. Not only does she risk handing the issue to Trump, giving him the economic high-ground, she also sets herself up as “crooked Hillary”. She was for the TPP, then she was against it, and now she is for it again? That plays into voters’ worst assessment of her character.
As for President Obama, he must be made to realize that every time he pushes the TPP, he might as well be campaigning for Donald Trump. Read the rest of this entry »
June 29th, 2016
NIRP is quickly becoming a consensus policy within the economics establishment. This paper argues that consensus is dangerously wrong, resting on flawed theory and flawed policy assessment. Regarding theory, NIRP draws on fallacious pre-Keynesian economic logic that asserts interest rate adjustment can ensure full employment. That fallacious logic has been augmented by ZLB economics which claims times of severe demand shortage may require negative interest rates, which policy must deliver since the market cannot. Regarding policy assessment, NIRP turns a blind eye to the possibility that negative interest rates may reduce AD, cause financial fragility, create a macroeconomics of whiplash owing to contradictions between policy today and tomorrow, promote currency wars that undermine the international economy, and foster a political economy that spawns toxic politics. Worst of all, NIRP maintains and encourages the flawed model of growth, based on debt and asset price inflation, which has already done such harm. [READ MORE]
June 26th, 2016
In years to come, the Brexit referendum may come to be seen as the day we entered the eye of the maelstrom that now promises enormous destruction. The immediate consequence looks to be a possible financial crisis, but even if that is avoided the other costs of Brexit will not be.
The European economy was already on the outer circle of the maelstrom. Brexit has swept it into the eye, accelerating the process whereby social alienation and bad economic outcomes produce bad political outcomes, and bad political outcomes produce worsened economic outcomes and further social alienation. Read the rest of this entry »
May 16th, 2016
Terrible anti-democratic events are now unfolding in Brazil with the constitutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff, organized through a cooked-up impeachment trial.
The impeachment coup represents a naked attempt by corrupt neoliberal elements to seize power in Brazil. Make no mistake: it is a threat to democracy and social progress in Brazil, Latin America, and even the global community at large.
If Brazilian voices concur, the world should respond by boycotting the Rio Olympics scheduled for this August. Read the rest of this entry »
April 21st, 2016
This paper examines the relationship between inequality and growth in the neo-Kaleckian and Cambridge growth models. The paper explores the channels whereby functional and personal income distribution impact growth. The growth – inequality relationship can be negative or positive, depending on the economy’s characteristics. Contrary to widespread claims, inequality per se does not impact growth through macroeconomic channels. Instead, both growth and inequality are impacted by changes in the underlying forms and pattern of income payments. However, inequality is critical at the microeconomic level as it explains differences in household propensities to consume which are at the foundation of neo-Kaleckian and Cambridge growth theory. READ MORE.
April 5th, 2016
2016 was supposed to have been the year of Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton: the year when the established Bush dynasty confronted the upstart rival Clinton Dynasty. But the year of the insider has turned into the year of the outsider. On both sides, voters have unexpectedly given vent to thirty years of accumulated anger with neoliberalism which has downsized their incomes and hopes.
Though the Republican rebellion has been more clear-cut in its dismissal of insider candidates, it is Bernie Sanders’ Democratic rebellion that is of potentially far greater historic significance. Read the rest of this entry »
March 21st, 2016
The Democratic Party establishment has recently found itself discomforted by Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign to return the party to its modern roots of New Deal social democracy. The establishment’s response has included a complex coupling of elite media and elite economics opinion aimed at promoting an image of Sanders as an unelectable extremist with unrealistic economic policies.
The response provides a case study showing how the Party suffocates progressive change. Every progressive knows about the opposition and tactics of the Republican Party. Less understood are the opposition and tactics of the Democratic Party establishment. Speaking metaphorically, that establishment is a far lesser evil, but it may also be a far greater obstacle to progressive change. Read the rest of this entry »
March 10th, 2016
Paul Krugman has a new op-ed (“A Protectionist Moment?”) in which he tries to walk away from his own contribution as an elite trade economist to the damage done by globalization, while also continuing to lend his political support to Hillary Clinton and the neoliberal globalization wing of the Democratic Party.
His article inadvertently spotlights all that is wrong with the economics profession through the lens of the trade debate. Read the rest of this entry »
March 3rd, 2016
This paper explores zero lower bound (ZLB) economics. The ZLB is widely invoked to explain stagnation and it fits with the long tradition that argues Keynesian economics is a special case based on nominal rigidities. The ZLB represents the newest rigidity. Contrary to ZLB economics, not only does a laissez-faire monetary economy lack a mechanism for delivering the natural rate of interest, it may also lack such an interest rate. Moreover, the ZLB can be a stabilizing rigidity that prevents negative nominal interest rates exacerbating excess supply conditions. [READ MORE]