Wednesday , September 19 2018
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Matias Vernengo

Matias Vernengo

Econ Prof at @BucknellU Co-editor of ROKE & Co-Editor in Chief of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Articles by Matias Vernengo

Dollarization in Argentina?

4 days ago

So I have no insider knowledge on what the Argentinean government plans to do. And the White House is a mess; they don’t have any knowledge on what they plan to do. But Larry Kudlow, the Director of the National Economic Council, said that the Treasury is deeply involved in a plan to dollarize the Argentinean economy (Guillermo Calvo, an influential conservative economist, has also spoken in favor of dollarization; see here in Spanish).
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He supports a Currency Board to solve the run on the currency, and the long-term external problems. That worked well in the 1990s, he said, without a hint of irony. The notion is that the problem, again difficult to believe this type of stuff is still around, is a fiscal problem. So, no fiscal deficits, no printing of money, no

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The Godley-Tobin Lecture

5 days ago

Tobin and Godley
The Review of Keynesian Economics (ROKE) created of the Godley-Tobin Lectures, an annual lecture to be delivered at the Eastern Economic Association meetings. James Galbraith provided the first lecture, to be published in the first issue of 2019.Wynne Godley and James Tobin represent the best among Keynesian economists. Both scholars insisted they were non-hyphenated Keynesians, meaning Keynesianism transcends the political disputes that often accompany economics. There is a deeper scientific validity to Keynesianism, something we reaffirmed in our inaugural statement of purpose for ROKE [see Palley, Rochon, and Vernengo, 2012].Wynne Godley was an Oxford-trained economist, influenced by Philip Andrews and the views of the Oxford Economic Research Group on full-cost

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Job Guarantee Programs: Careful What You Wish For

5 days ago

Thomas Palley (guest blogger)Some progressive economists are now arguing for the idea of a Job Guarantee Program (JGP), and their advocacy has begun to gain political traction. For instance, in the US, Bernie Sanders and some other leading Democrats have recently signaled a willingness to embrace the idea. In a recent research paper I have examined the macroeconomics of such a program. Whereas a JGP would deliver real macroeconomic benefits, it also raises some significant troubling economic and political economy concerns. Those concerns should be fully digested before a JGP is politically embraced. The real benefits of a JGP
The starting point for discussion should be recognition that a JGP delivers multiple benefits. First, it ensures full employment by making available a job to all

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Prebisch manuscripts for his classes on economic dynamics

11 days ago

There is a trend in the history of economic thought field to depend more on archival research. It is certainly nothing new, since some of the best research in the history of ideas, e.g. Sraffa’s reconstruction of Ricardian theory, was essentially dependent on archives. The publication of Keynes collected papers have also sparked a wealth of interpretations about his theories, not all worth reading. I have done some research in Marriner Eccles archives at the University of Utah.In part, this trend results from the fact that there is increasingly more archival material for modern economists that are closer in time to us. Letters, unpublished papers, class notes and so on. That might be useful sometimes, but it can also lead to lamppost driven research or the streetlight effect, where

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Economic and technological determinism

22 days ago

Mind blowing stuff
A while ago now I discussed technological determinism, and the existence of economic laws, even if not in the same sense that in the so-called hard sciences. This semester I’m teaching a class for first year students (non Econ majors, to clarify for those outside the US) titled somewhat facetiously ‘From Fire to Uber.’ In fact, the first reading is Heilbroner’s 1967 paper discussed in the first link provided above, on whether machines make history.Bob was on the side of technological determinism. The epigraph was Marx’s famous dictum according to which: "the hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist." And he essentially argued that the computer (he also discussed atomic energy technology, but not

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Economic Development in the XXIst century Webinar Series

23 days ago

This seminar series focuses on the analysis of Economic Development in the XXIst century. The notions of distribution, industrial policy and balance of payments constraints will be profoundly analyzed during these four sessions. As there is much disagreement about what drives economic development – and at the same time it is a central objective for developing economies – this question merits deep reflection. Through these seminars there will be a particular focus on the external constraints that developing economies face that make economic development challenging. Although the seminars will deal with small open economies, given that the balance of payment constraint will be part of the discussion, scholars working on the Eurozone may also find the discussion on interesting for their

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International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE) Call for Papers

27 days ago

From Geoff Schneider ICAPE’s Executive Director:
Proposals
for papers, workshops and panels at ICAPE are due Tuesday, September
4th. I hope you can join us for this conference that brings together all
of the heterodox perspectives.Information below.

International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE)

Call for Papers, Panels and Workshops

Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, GA

January 3, 2019, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Gender, Race, Class and Crises:

Pluralistic Approaches to the Economic Issues of our Time

ICAPE
was founded 25 years ago (in 1993) by a group of heterodox economists
committed to the idea of pluralism in economics. ICAPE’s founding
occurred in the wake of a plea for a “pluralistic and rigorous
economics" which was published as a paid

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Income distribution and the balance of payments: a formal reconstruction of some Argentinian structuralist contributions

29 days ago

A two part paper by Ariel Dvoskin and Germán David Feldman. From the abstract:In this two-part paper, we explore the interaction between income distribution and the balance of payments, by assessing the contributions of three Argentinian exponents of the Latin American Structuralist School: Oscar Braun, Marcelo Diamand and Adolfo Canitrot. With this aim, we introduce a two-sector model inspired by the classical tradition. Part I of the article examines the implications for prices and quantities of the phenomenon of ‘technical dependency’. That is, the inelastic demand for imported inputs observed in peripheral economies, a true constraint to growth during the Bretton Woods era. We leave until Part II of the paper the assessment of the implications of ‘financial dependency’, namely the

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Distribution and Conflict Inflation in Brazil under Inflation Targeting

August 17, 2018

I can’t watch this either

For those interested in the Brazilian situation I highly recommend the recently published paper by Franklin Serrano and Ricardo Summa (Review of Radical Political Economics page here). From the abstract:
In this paper, we analyze Brazilian inflation under the inflation-targeting system from a conflict inflation perspective and show how the inflation target system only worked well when there was a trend of exchange rate appreciation. Later, the strengthening of the bargaining power of workers and rising real wages since 2006, combined with continuous nominal exchange rate depreciation after mid-2011, increased distributive conflicts and are ultimately behind the recent shift toward austerity.
 A preliminary version is available here.

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A Tale of Two Currency Crises: A Short Comment

August 17, 2018

So the Turkish foreign exchange crisis is all over the news. But the Argentine one is less conspicuous in the international media. Turkey’s economy has had many similarities with Latin American economies over the years, in terms of the incomplete process of industrialization, and the types of crises associated with neoliberal reforms over the last three decades. Note, however, that the Argentine nominal depreciation has been larger than the Turkish (the same is true if you go back to the previous big crisis in both countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s, respectively) and one should expect more coverage (perhaps Erdogan has worse press than Macri, but the authoritarian credentials of the latter should not be dismissed; neither the neoliberal ones of the former, I might add).

In all

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Nancy MacLean on constitutional economics and the conservative movement

August 5, 2018

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Author of a great book on James Buchanan, that is certainly worth reading. The whole thing is related to Buchanan’s constitutional economics and how it underpins the Koch’s strategy to take over the country (and Pence is their guy, btw). The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that has been so influential in the far- right conservative movement take over of US politics at the State and local level (see this old piece in The Atlantic, or this in The Nation) has a plan for a constitutional convention and for 10 Libertarian Amendments that she discusses in the video (towards the end, 3:30 minutes into it), that has for the most part gone unnoticed (NYTimes had a piece on it a couple of years ago here). In all fairness, I didn’t pay much attention until she said

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Institutions and Economic Development in Latin America

August 4, 2018

Almost a decade ago, The Economist had a cover story about the Brazilian economy taking off. Everything seemed fine, with the Brazilian economy on the verge of surpassing Britain and France, and on its way to economic development. Among the reasons given for the Brazilian success was the fact that the country had “established some strong political institutions.” But many other factors were cited, like fiscal restraint, an independent central bank, openness to foreign direct investment, and the rise of local transnational corporations. The Economist essentially reproduced a few of the policies of the so-called Washington Consensus as the main driver of the Brazilian success. And institutions played a central role, in particular the institutions that allowed for the market economy to

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Leo Panitch on Obama and Globalization

July 30, 2018

From the Real News Network:
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This Real News segment with Professor Leo Panitch is worth watching for those that miss Obama (perhaps should be seen together with the reading of this piece on Mike Pence, for those that think that he would be much better than the orange one). At any rate, besides the fact that Obama was not even for more than a very moderate reform of the system, and that he still justifies globalization in neoliberal terms, it seems to me that Panitch (and Paul Jay) miss the main reference for Obama’s speech (at least concerning the reduction in violence) which seems to be the work of Steven Pinker (his famous book on that was The Better Angels of Our Nature), and probably his new work, Enlightenment Now. And that says a lot about Obama intellectually.It

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Three Globalizations, Not Two: Rethinking the History and Economics of Trade and Globalization

July 26, 2018

By Thomas Palley (Guest blogger)The conventional wisdom is there have been two globalizations in the modern era. The first began around 1870 and ended in 1914. The second began in 1945 and is still underway. This paper challenges that view and argues there have been three globalizations, not two. The first half of the paper provides empirical evidence for the three globalizations hypothesis. The second half discusses its analytical implications. The Victorian first globalization and Keynesian era second globalization were driven by gains from trade, and those gains increased industrialized country real wages. The neoliberal third globalization has been driven by industrial reorganization motivated by distributional conflict. Trade theory does not explain the third globalization;

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Globalization Checkmated? Political and Geopolitical Contradictions Coming Home to Roost

July 25, 2018

By Thomas Palley (Guest blogger)The deepening of economic globalization appears to have ground to a halt and the process may even unravel a little. The sudden stop has surprised economists, whose belief in globalization has strong parallels with Fukuyama’s (1989) flawed end of history hypothesis. The paper presents a simple analytic model that shows how economic globalization has triggered political and geopolitical contradictions. For the system to work, politics within countries and geopolitics across blocs must be supportive of the system. That is missing. The model is applied to a global economic core consisting of the US, China, and the European Union. It is revealing of multiple tensions, fracture lines, and contradictions. Within the US, globalization has delivered economic

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What is the Central Bank of Argentina Actually Doing?

July 23, 2018

Brief note in Spanish (no translation, sorry) on the long history of central banks and the current policies of the Argentinean central bank (BCRA). The gist of the argument is that while central banks where created to finance developmental states in the nascent merchant capitalist societies, in the periphery they tended to follow the Victorian model (implemented later) emphasizing inflation control as the main official goal. However, often, as in the recent case of the BCRA, they are used to accelerate inflation and fuel speculation, if that allows for lower real wages, which was Macri’s administration not so hidden goal (from an old, but revealing interview).

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IMF Programs: Past and Present

July 10, 2018

A roundtable with Daniela Gabor, Roberto Lampa and Pablo Bortz, on the IMF and its Programs this Thursday in Buenos Aires, organized by the Masters in Economic Development at the Universidad de San Martín (UNSAM).

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A crisis gone to waste

July 7, 2018

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My interview with INET from January 2017 at the ASSA meetings in Chicago. From the INET link:After the Great Depression, global capitalism underwent serious reform. Why didn’t that happen after 2008?Matias Vernengo, Professor of Economics at Bucknell University, explains how a crisis can reveal that the dominant neoliberal orthodoxy is in fact based on a shaky theoretical foundation. But for new economic thinkers to capitalize on that requires a clearly articulated alternative—one that existed during the Cold War, but is just coming into public discourse now.

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Classical Political Economy and the Evolution of Central Banks

July 5, 2018

Casa di San Giorgio, an early central bank?

Paper presented twice is now published in the RRPE. It tries to bring the surplus approach tradition ideas to discuss the historical origins and the definition of what a central bank is and should do.From the abstract:
The paper analyzes briefly the changing ideas on the role of money and banks from William Petty to Thomas Tooke, including the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx. It analyzes the role of ideas in shaping the evolution of central bank regulation. Particular importance is given to the Bank of England’s inconvertibility period, from 1797 to 1821, and the ensuing debate in shaping Robert Peel’s Bank Act of 1844, which is often seen as the birth of modern central banking. The importance of the Say’s Law, and the

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Path Dependency and Football

June 29, 2018

So now that we are to the round of 16, I think my reply to Sanjay Reddy’s question can be evaluated. Note that from the 16, 5 are from Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay), one from Asia (Japan) and 10 from Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). Of those 6 have already won a World Cup (Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Spain and Uruguay) and 1 played at least a final (Sweden, lost against Brazil in 1958). Note that no countries from the Middle East or Africa passed the initial phase.There is a good chance that the winner will be a previous champion. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a new champion, but in that case the likelihood is that it would be another European team (my bets would

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Why Manufacturing Still Matters

June 19, 2018

I’ve been reading in the spare time (not as much as I would like, and worse with the World Cup) Louis Uchitelle’s Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. I tend to agree with the general idea of the book and with many of the policy conclusions, even though I have some problems with minor points (for another post). As a result of this I went to check manufacturing output. There are many different statistics to check in the FRED database. Below a measure of industrial output.

And yes, it is below the peak from the previous recession. We were talking about this with Tom Palley, and it is clear to me that this statistics played an important role in the rise of left (Bernie) and right-wing (Trump) populism in the US. The failure of the Obama recovery to lift manufacturing, not just jobs,

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Raúl Prebisch: Peripheral Development

June 12, 2018

Our book is out (in Spanish). You can buy it here. We have written a few papers in English if you are interested available here, and here, for example. my review of Dosman’s biography is available here.

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Football (soccer) and Capitalism

June 10, 2018

Not The Economist’s field of expertise

The World Cup is about to start. The Economist has run a piece suggesting that "the World Cup [is] the fulfillment of some of our most cherished values." And yes the cherished values are essentially free trade, the raison d’être for the creation of the magazine (that has a problem of self-image and refers to itself as a newspaper), and more generally laissez-faire capitalism, of which the publication is one of the most important cheerleaders.There are many of these, pardon the directness, garbage pieces that suggest that football (soccer for the gringos) explains the working of capitalism (see, for example, this popular book). And, yes, the most obvious explanation for the confusion is that football does not explain the market or globalization,

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Financialization in Latin America

June 6, 2018

New book edited by Martín Abeles, Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Sebastían Valdecantos. From the description:
The chapters in the book analyze the logic and effects of financialization in developing economies, peripheral financialization so to speak, in particular in Latin America. The first chapters look at the topic from a historical and conceptual angles, and then the latter chapters concentrate on specific manifestations like the influence of financialization on productive investment, spending on Research and Development (R&D), the characteristics of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), monetary policy management, and the composition of foreign debt. The variety of approaches utilized in this volume reflect ECLAC’s historical preoccupation of analyzing the condition that would make

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Venezuela is about to explode

May 25, 2018

A leftist candidate won a close election in a South American country, threatening US interests in the region. The US president asked the CIA to "make the economy scream" to undermine governance and bring regime change, even if by violent means.I am referring, of course, to Salvador Allende’s election in Chile, and Richard Nixon’s reaction, which eventually led to Augusto Pinochet’s coup, one of the most bloody in the troubled history of the region. The reelection of Nicolas Maduro last Sunday has led to the denunciation of the election in the US, with Vice President Mike Pence calling the elections "a sham", and suggesting the imposition of more economic sanctions.

Read rest here.

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Lula da Silva is a political prisoner. Free Lula!

May 25, 2018

Three hundred academics and public intellectuals joined to launch a manifesto denouncing the detention of the former Brazilian president and current Presidential candidate Lula da Silva. The petition discusses in detail the arbitrary nature of the trial conducted by Judge Sergio Moro against Lula da Silva, stating that he is nothing less than a political prisoner. The document asserts that the international community should treat him as such and demands his immediate release.

Read more here (your truly signed too).

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Integration, spurious convergence, and financial fragility: a post-Keynesian interpretation of the Spanish crisis

May 23, 2018

Here is to another crisis like this one!

Paper co-authored with Esteban Pérez that was a Levy Institute working paper is published. From the abstract: The Spanish crisis is generally portrayed as resulting from excessive spending by households associated to a housing bubble and/or an excessive welfare spending beyond the economic possibilities of the country. We put forward a different hypothesis. We argue that the Spanish crisis resulted, in the main, from a widening deficit position in the non-financial corporate sector and a declining trend in profitability under a regime of financial liberalization and loose and unregulated lending practices. Full paper available here.

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Fernando Cardim de Carvalho – RIP

May 16, 2018

Fernando, Cardim for most in Brazil, and Carvalho in the US and abroad, has sadly passed away. I took his macro class back in 1992 at the Federal University in Rio, before he actually moved there definitely as full professor two years later. We used his book Mr. Keynes and the Post Keynesians (still somewhere here in my bookshelf) as a textbook, even though most of the course was based on several papers.From that period I remember reading his papers on time and expectations, which were two of his main concerns within post-Keynesian economics. Although much of his course was theoretical, most of his later work seemed to be related to the workings of international financial institutions, and real world macro issues. He wrote extensively, and there are papers on the role of the IMF, and

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Top Blogs

May 15, 2018

No ‘On the Blogs’ section last Sunday (was traveling) and slow to react to events (at a pedagogy seminar for a couple of days, learning about teaching techniques). At any rate, the good news is that Naked Keynesianism has been featured in the Intelligent Economist’s Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2018. According to them they have "made an effort to create a well-balanced list which contains blogs of all kinds political affiliations, schools of economic thought, and beliefs, in particular by focusing on smaller blogs and female economists." Pluralism does work, after all.

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