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  • Author: Trevon Logan, Peter Temin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper records the path by which African Americans were transformed from enslaved persons in the American economy to partial participants in the progress of the economy. The path was not monotonic, and we organize our tale by periods in which inclusiveness rose and fell. The history we recount demonstrates the staying power of the myth of black inferiority held by a changing white majority as the economy expanded dramatically. Slavery was outlawed after the Civil War, and blacks began to participate in American politics en masse for the first time during Reconstruction. This process met with white resistance, and black inclusion in the growing economy fell as the Gilded Age followed and white political will for black political participation faded. The Second World War also was followed by prosperity in which blacks were included more fully into the white economy, but still not completely. The Civil Rights Movement proved no more durable than Reconstruction, and blacks lost ground as the 20th century ended in the growth of a New Gilded Age. Resources that could be used to improve the welfare of whites and blacks continue to be spent on the continued repressions of blacks.
  • Topic: Economics, Race, History, Capitalism, Slavery
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: William Lazonick
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Edith Penrose’s 1959 book The Theory of the Growth of the Firm [TGF] provides intellectual foundations for a theory of innovative enterprise, which is essential to any attempt to explain productivity growth, employment opportunity, and income distribution. Properly understood, Penrose’s theory of the firm is also an antidote to the deception that is foundational to neoclassical economics: The theory, taught by PhD economists to millions upon millions of college students for over seven decades, that the most unproductive firm is the foundation of the most efficient economy. The dissemination of this “neoclassical fallacy” to a mass audience of college students began with Paul A. Samuelson’s textbook, Economics: An Introductory Analysis, first published in 1948. Over the decades, the neoclassical fallacy has persisted through 18 revisions of Samuelson, Economics and in its countless “economics principles” clones. This essay challenges the intellectual hegemony of neoclassical economics by exposing the illogic of its foundational assumptions about how a modern economy functions and performs. The neoclassical fallacy gained popularity in the 1950s, during which decade Samuelson revised Economics three times. Meanwhile, Penrose derived the logic of organizational learning that she lays out in TGF from the facts of firm growth, absorbing what was known in the 1950s about the large corporations that had come to dominate the U.S. economy. Also, during that decade, the knowledge base on the growth of firms on which economists could subsequently draw was undergoing an intellectual revolution, led by the business historian, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. He was engaged in the first stage of a career that would span more than a half century, during which Chandler documented and analyzed the centrality to U.S economic development of what he would come to call “the managerial revolution in American business.” In combination, the works of Penrose and Chandler form intellectual foundations for my own work on the Theory of Innovative Enterprise—an endeavor that has enabled me, as an economist, to recognize not only the profound importance of organizational learning for economic theory but also the illogic of the neoclassical theory of the firm for our understanding of the central institution of a modern economy, the business corporation. In this essay, I argue that the key characteristic of the innovative enterprise is fixed-cost investment in the productive capabilities of the company’s employees to engage in organizational learning. The purpose of this investment in organizational learning is to develop a higher-quality product than was previously available. When successful, the development of the higher-quality product enables the firm to capture a large extent of the market, transforming high fixed cost into low unit cost. The result is sustainable competitive advantage that enables the growth of the firm, contributing to the growth of the economy as a whole. I argue that to get beyond the neoclassical fallacy, economists have to stop relying on constrained-optimization methodology. Rather, they need to be trained in a “historical transformation” methodology that integrates history and theory. It is a methodology in which theory serves as both a distillation of what we have learned from the study of history and a guide to what we need to learn about reality as the “present as history” unfolds.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Macroeconomics, Neoclassical Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Perry Mehrling
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The analytical tension in post-Keynesian thought between the theory of endogenous (credit) money and the theory of liquidity preference, brought to our attention by Dow and Dow (1989), can be viewed through the lens of the money view (Mehrling 2013) as a particular case of the balance between the elasticity of payment and the discipline of funding. Further, updating Fullarton’s 1844 “law of reflux” for the modern condition of financial globalization and market- based credit, the same money view lens offers a critical entry point into Tobin’s fateful 1963 intervention “Commercial Banks as Creators of ‘Money’” which established post-war orthodoxy, and also to the challenge offered by so-called Modern Money Theory.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Monetary Policy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Keynes, Credit
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eileen Appelbaum, Rosemary Batt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Private equity firms have become major players in the healthcare industry. How has this happened and what are the results? What is private equity’s ‘value proposition’ to the industry and to the American people -- at a time when healthcare is under constant pressure to cut costs and prices? How can PE firms use their classic leveraged buyout model to ‘save healthcare’ while delivering ‘outsized returns’ to investors? In this paper, we bring together a wide range of sources and empirical evidence to answer these questions. Given the complexity of the sector, we focus on four segments where private equity firms have been particularly active: hospitals, outpatient care (urgent care and ambulatory surgery centers), physician staffing and emergency room services (surprise medical billing), and revenue cycle management (medical debt collecting). In each of these segments, private equity has taken the lead in consolidating small providers, loading them with debt, and rolling them up into large powerhouses with substantial market power before exiting with handsome returns.
  • Topic: Economics, Privatization, Health Care Policy, Health Insurance , Private Equity
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, Jie Chen
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The extent to which governments can resist pressures from organized interest groups, and especially from finance, is a perennial source of controversy. This paper tackles this classic question by analyzing votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on measures to weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in the years following its passage. To control as many factors as possible that could influence floor voting by individual legislators, the analysis focuses on representatives who originally cast votes in favor of the bill but then subsequently voted to dismantle key provisions of it. This design rules out from the start most factors normally advanced by skeptics to explain vote shifts, since these are the same representatives, belonging to the same political party, representing substantially the same districts. Our panel analysis, which also controls for spatial influences, highlights the importance of time-varying factors, especially political money, in moving representatives to shift their positions on amendments such as the “swaps push out” provision. Our results suggest that the links between campaign contributions from the financial sector and switches to a pro-bank vote were direct and substantial: For every $100,000 that Democratic representatives received from finance, the odds they would break with their party’s majority support for the Dodd-Frank legislation increased by 13.9 percent. Democratic representatives who voted in favor of finance often received $200,000–$300,000 from that sector, which raised the odds of switching by 25–40 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Elections, Democracy, Finance, Legislation, Money
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Rosie Collington
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The list prices of analogue insulin medicines in the United States have soared during the past decade. In the wake of high-profile cases of prescription medicine “price-gouging”, such as Mylan’s EpiPen and Turing-acquired Daraprim, actors across the insulin supply chain are today facing growing scrutiny from US lawmakers and the wider public. For the most part, however, the role of shareholders in the insulin supply chain has been overlooked. This paper considers the relationship between profits realized from higher insulin list prices, pharmaceutical innovation, and the financial structures of the three dominant insulin manufacturing companies, which set list prices. It shows that despite claims to the contrary, insulin manufacturers extracted vast profits from the sale of insulin products in the period 2009-2018, as insulin list prices rose. Distributions to the company shareholders in the form of cash dividends and share repurchases totaled $122 billion over this period. The paper also considers the role of other actors in the insulin supply chain, such as pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), in the determination of list prices. The data and analysis presented in the paper indicates that financialization could be considered in tension with not only the development of new drugs that will be available to patients in the future, but also the affordability of products that already exist today.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Health Care Policy, Finance, Price
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ivan Mendieta-Muñoz, Codrina Rada, Ansel Schiavone, Rudi von Arnim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes regional contributions to the US payroll share from 1977 to 2017 and the four major business cycles throughout this period. We implement two empirical exercises. First, we decompose the US payroll share across states. Utilizing a Divisia index decomposition technique yields exact contributions of real wages, employment structure, labor productivity and relative prices across the states to the aggregate change in the payroll share. Key findings are that the decline in the aggregate (i) is driven by decoupling between real wage and labor productivity; and (ii) is initially driven by the rust belt states, but subsequently dominated by relatively large states. Second, we employ mixture models on real wages and labor productivity across US states to discern whether distinct mechanisms appear to generate these distributions. Univariate models (iii) indicate the possibility that two distinct mechanisms generate state labor productivities, raising the question of whether regional dualism has taken hold. Lastly, we use bivariate mixture models to investigate whether such dualism and decoupling manifest in the joint distributions of payroll shares and labor productivity, too. Results (iv) are affirmative, and further suggest a tendency for high performing states to have relatively high payroll shares initially, and low payroll shares more recently.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Productivity, Workforce
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Roman Frydman, Nicholas Mangee, Josh Stillwagon
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We reveal a novel channel through which market participants’ sentiment influences how they forecast stock returns: their optimism (pessimism) affects the weights they assign to fundamentals. Our analysis yields four main findings. First, if good (bad) “news” about dividends and interest rates coincides with participants’ optimism (pessimism), the news about these fundamentals has a significant effect on participants’ forecasts of future returns and has the expected signs (positive for dividends and negative for interest rates). Second, in models without interactions, or when market sentiment is neutral or conflicts with news about dividends and/or interest rates, this news often does not have a significant effect on ex ante or ex post returns. Third, market sentiment is largely unrelated to the state of economic activity, indicating that it is driven by non-fundamental considerations. Moreover, market sentiment influences stock returns highly irregularly, in terms of both timing and magnitude. This finding supports recent theoretical approaches recognizing that economists and market participants alike face Knightian uncertainty about the correct model driving stock returns.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Stock Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alina K. Bartscher, Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, Ulrike I. Steins
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper studies the secular increase in U.S. household debt and its relation to growing income inequality and financial fragility. We exploit a new household-level dataset that covers the joint distributions of debt, income, and wealth in the United States over the past seven decades. The data show that increased borrowing by middle-class families with low income growth played a central role in rising indebtedness. Debt-to-income ratios have risen most dramatically for households between the 50th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution. While their income growth was low, middle-class families borrowed against the sizable housing wealth gains from rising home prices. Home equity borrowing accounts for about half of the increase in U.S. household debt between the 1970s and 2007. The resulting debt increase made balance sheets more sensitive to income and house price fluctuations and turned the American middle class into the epicenter of growing financial fragility.
  • Topic: Debt, Finance, Income Inequality, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William Lazonick, Philip Moss, Joshua Weitz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: During the 1960s and 1970s, blacks with no more than high-school educations gained significant access to well-paid unionized employment opportunities, epitomized by semi-skilled operative jobs in the automobile industry, to which they previously had limited access. Anti-discrimination laws under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with oversight by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supported this upward mobility for blacks in the context of a growing demand for blue-collar labor. From the late 1970s, however, the impact of global competition and the offshoring of manufacturing combined with the financialization of the corporation to decimate these stable and well-paid blue-collar jobs. Under the seniority provisions of the now beleaguered industrial unions, blacks tended to be last hired and first fired. As U.S.-based blue-collar jobs were permanently lost, U.S. business corporations and government agencies failed to make sufficient investments in the education and skills of the U.S. labor force to usher in a new era of upward socioeconomic mobility. This organizational failure left blacks most vulnerable to downward mobility. Instead of retaining corporate profits and reinvesting in the productive capabilities of employees, major business corporations became increasingly focused on downsizing their labor forces and distributing profits to shareholders in the form of cash dividends and stock buybacks. Legitimizing massive distributions to shareholders was the flawed and pernicious ideology that a company should be run to “maximize shareholder value.” As the U.S. economy transitioned from the Old Economy business model, characterized by a career with one company, to the New Economy business model, characterized by interfirm labor mobility, advanced education and social networks became increasingly important for building careers in well-paid white-collar occupations. Along with non-white Hispanics, blacks found themselves at a distinct disadvantage relative to whites and Asians in accessing these New Economy middle-class employment opportunities. Eventually, the downward socioeconomic mobility experienced by blacks would also extend to devastating loss of well-paid and stable employment for whites who lacked the higher education now needed to enter the American middle class. By the twenty-first century, general downward mobility had become a defining characteristic of American society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender. Since the 1980s, the enemy of equal employment opportunity through upward socioeconomic mobility has been the pervasive and entrenched corporate-governance ideology and practice of maximizing shareholder value (MSV). For most Americans, of whatever race, ethnicity, and gender, MSV is the not-so-invisible hand that has a chokehold on the emergence of the stable and well-paid employment opportunities that are essential for sustainable prosperity.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Civil Rights, Unions, Black Politics, African American Studies, Workforce
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Edward J. Kane
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Dodd-Frank is an example of counterfeit reform. It is designed principally to benefit very big banks and it has helped these banks to increase their market share greatly during the last 10 years. The Act provides lesser and contradictory forms of costs and comfort to smaller US bankers and taxpayers, foreign bankers (especially the managers of Deutsche Bank), and foreign governments. Small bankers and taxpayers are encouraged to believe that the 2007-2009 US rescue of the world’s biggest banks was a one-time maneuver. But an opposite message is sent through the press as (with great fanfare) the industry absolves and congratulates ex-officeholders: (1) for having transferred massive amounts of subsidized support not just to stakeholders in US megabanks, but also to European bankers and governments, and (2) for keeping the subsidies flowing long past the panic’s expiry date. Genuine reform will require changes in fraud laws and an effort to post on a continuing basis the value of the safety-net subsidies individual megabanks enjoy.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, Regulation, Finance, Global Financial Crisis, Banking
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tarek A. Hassan, Laurence van Lent, Stephan Hollander, Ahmed Tahoun
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Using tools from computational linguistics, we construct new measures of the impact of Brexit on listed firms in the United States and around the world: the share of discussions in quarterly earnings conference calls on costs, benefits, and risks associated with the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Using this approach, we identify which firms expect to gain or lose from Brexit and which are most affected by Brexit uncertainty. We then estimate the effects of these different kinds of Brexit exposure on firm-level outcomes. We find that concerns about Brexit-related uncertainty extend far beyond British or even European firms. US and international firms most exposed to Brexit uncertainty have lost a substantial fraction of their market value and have reduced hiring and investment. In addition to Brexit uncertainty (the second moment), we find that international firms overwhelmingly expect negative direct effects of Brexit (the first moment), should it come to pass. Most prominently, firms expect difficulties resulting from regulatory divergence, reduced labor mobility, trade access, and the costs of adjusting their operations post-Brexit. Consistent with the predictions of canonical theory, this negative sentiment is recognized and priced in stock markets but has not yet had significant effects on firm actions.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Brexit, Global Political Economy, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, European Union
  • Author: Joseph Halevi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the early stages of the formation of the Common Market. The period covered runs from the end of WW2 to 1959, which is the year in which the European Payments Union ceased to operate. The essay begins by highlighting the differences between the prewar political economy of Europe and the new dimensions and institutions brought in by the United States after 1945. It focuses on the marginalization of Britain and on the relaunching of French great power ambitions and how the latter determined, in a very problematical way, the European complexion of France. Because of France’s imperial aspirations, France, not West Germany, emerged as the politically crisis prone country of Europe acting as a factor of instability thereby jeopardizing the process of European integration, Among the large European nations, Germany and Italy appear, for opposite economic reasons, as the countries most focused on furthering integration. Germany expressed the strongest form of neomercantilism while Italy the weakest.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Global Political Economy, World War II, Common Market
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Lance Taylor
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Expansionary macroeconomic policy with a strong redistributive component is an attractive proposition, most recently launched on the basis of Modern Monetary Theory or MMT. The Theory is a synthesis of familiar ideas, newly relevant but scarcely path-breaking. Its basics – Chartalist or fiat money, functional finance, and models based on consistent national accounting – come straight from Maynard Keynes, Abba Lerner, and Wynne Godley. Functional finance is the heart of fiscalist Keynesianism built upon automatic stabilizers for the business cycle. MMT’s job guarantee proposal is one more stabilizer which could be a modest helpful supplement to the system which exists. National accounting comparisons of a possible MMT package with the 2008 crash and the Trump tax cut are presented with emphasis on autonomous shifts in demand. The package could have problems with debt sustainability and external balance. Inflation is unlikely if wage repression in the USA is not reversed. But strong wage increases are presumably a goal of MMT.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Finance, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Money
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Catherine Ruetschli, Mark Glick
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The Big Tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, have individually and collectively engaged in an unprecedented number of acquisitions.When a dominant firm purchases a start-up that could be a future entrant and thereby increase competitive rivalry, it raises a potential competition issue. Unfortunately, the antitrust law of potential competition mergers is ill-equipped to address tech mergers. We contend that the Chicago School’s assumptions and policy prescriptions hobbled antitrust law and policy on potential competition mergers. We illustrate this problem with the example of Facebook. Facebook has engaged in 90 completed acquisitions in its short history (documented in the Appendix to this paper). Many antitrust commentators have focused on the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions as cases of mergers that have reduced potential competition. We show the impotence of the potential competition doctrine applied to these two acquisitions. We suggest that the remedy for Chicago School damage to the potential competition doctrine is a return to an empirically tractable structural approach to potential competition mergers.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Communications, Law, Digital Economy, Macroeconomics, Monopoly, Antitrust Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark Glick
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Since the publication of Robert Bork’s The Antitrust Paradox, lawyers, judges, and many economists have defended “Consumer welfare” (CW) as a standard for decisions about antitrust goals and enforcement priorities. This paper argues that the CW is actually an empty concept and is an inappropriate goal for antitrust. Welfare economists concede that there is no credible measurable link between price and output and human well-being. This means that the concept of CW does not legitimate limited antitrust enforcement, nor does it justify the exclusion of other antitrust goals that require more active enforcement practices. This paper contends that antitrust policy is not welfare based at all, and that if it were, antitrust policy and enforcement would differ significantly from the Chicago School vision. Without the fiction that economists can establish that in the short run lower price and higher output measurably increases welfare more than other goals, recent defenses of the CW standard resolve down to arguments based on unsupported assumptions.
  • Topic: Economics, Law, Legal Theory , Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Antitrust Law, Microeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We validate our measure by showing it correctly identifies calls containing extensive conversations on risks that are political in nature, that it varies intuitively over time and across sectors, and that it correlates with the firm’s actions and stock market volatility in a manner that is highly indicative of political risk. Firms exposed to political risk retrench hiring and investment and actively lobby and donate to politicians. These results continue to hold after controlling for news about the mean (as opposed to the variance) of political shocks. Interestingly, the vast majority of the variation in our measure is at the firm level rather than at the aggregate or sector level, in the sense that it is neither captured by the interaction of sector and time fixed effects, nor by heterogeneous exposure of individual firms to aggregate political risk. The dispersion of this firm-level political risk increases significantly at times with high aggregate political risk. Decomposing our measure of political risk by topic, we find that firms that devote more time to discussing risks associated with a given political topic tend to increase lobbying on that topic, but not on other topics, in the following quarter.
  • Topic: Economics, Economy, Business , Risk
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Christian Breuer
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: In this paper we methodologically review and criticize a broad literature of empirical work on the effects of fiscal policy (the ‘conventional approach’). Beyond previous critiques of this approach, we show that the cyclical adjustment strategy as used in this literature entails erroneous assumptions that necessarily produce flawed results in support of expansionary austerity. Specifically, the cyclically-adjusted primary balance (CAPB) strategy this literature employs fails to correct for cyclical effects in the expenditure- GDP-ratio, so that the estimates of the results of expansionary fiscal consolidation are affected by reverse causality, i.e. increasing GDP causally decreases expenditure-GDP- ratios, rather than vice versa. We provide suggestions on how to fix this incomplete cyclical adjustment problem with a new approach. After replicating two famous articles of the conventional literature and controlling for this bias, the expansionary effects of fiscal adjustments disappear or turn into their opposite
  • Topic: Economics, Macroeconomics, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Finance and the macroeconomy, both policy and industry practices as well as academic research, have evolved substantially in recent years. While the old questions of business cycles, macroeconomic management, financial regulation, and social protection are still being debated, we are now confronted with new developments in the economy, characterized by digital technology, new modes of production and business models, and changing employment relations. Macroeconomics and finance need urgent rethinking as the global economy transforms. Our gathering on March 5, 2019 brought together economists, policymakers, financial regulators, and industry practitioners from around the world. We heard diverse perspectives on multilateralism, pension and labor market reform, international trade, and risks in the world economy, and we grappled with issues on stagnant wages, public debt, fiscal and monetary policy, and banking reforms. Our discussion was by no means exhaustive or conclusive, but we attempted to harness the group’s collective wisdom to address some of the most prominent questions of our day. This document is intended to inform our commissioners as they develop CGET’s final report and to share our timely conversation with policymakers and the general public. Fomenting multidisciplinary, critical discourse is one of the most important responsibilities of this initiative, and we sincerely thank the staff at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), our dedicated Commissioners, and our outside experts for helping us to promote this dialogue.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Regulation, Digital Economy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Fontanari, Antonella Palumbo, Chiara Salvatori
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper challenges the mainstream view of potential output, and enquires into the supposed effects of Great Recession on potential growth. We identify in the demand-led growth perspective a more promising theoretical framework both to define the notion and to gauge the long-term effects of a demand slow down. Based on the poor reliability of standard estimates of potential output, we also propose an alternative calculation. This is based on an update of Arthur M. Okun’s original method for estimating potential output, which, differently from the estimation methods currently in use, does not rely on the notion of NAIRU, thus being immune to its theoretical and empirical shortcomings. Our calculation, based on a re-estimation of Okun’s Law on US quarterly data, shows both how far an economy generally operates from its production possibilities, and how much potential growth is affected by the actual growth of demand over time. These wide margins for expansion of actual and potential output growth imply that a determined policy of demand expansion would create, given time, the very capacity that justifies it.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Economic Growth, Macroeconomics, Demand
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus