Despite a few pockets of relatively fast expansion, overall deficiency of demand characterises the world economy. The external stimulus provided by the US is declining; Europe's net impact is negative because of the emphasis on generating current-account surpluses. While China is already a significant global economic player, it cannot adequately counter the effect of this reduced impetus from the major developed countries. Much of the developing world is relying on unsustainable debt-driven bubbles in the financially liberalised environment to generate economic recovery. Sustaining the development project will require countries to shift from export-oriented growth to more reliance on domestic demand through wage and employment increases.
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Economic theory that is relevant to the real world is always a product of its time, taking for granted the institutions and behaviours that characterise that time. Old books, like Keynes’s General Theory, present a conundrum: how much is still pertinent today and what revisions are necessary to bring the theory into line with changes in the economic system since the book was written. This chapter attempts an answer to that question. It is argued that the principle of effective demand and liquidity preference is almost unchanged, but that globalisation and changes to the banks’ behaviour pose serious questions for the theory, as does our new awareness of resource constraints and climate change. The underlying methodology remains the best on offer and should be retained in any revision.
It was some fifty years ago, when Harry Johnson came to the LSE and established his monetary seminar there, that Vicky Chick and I first met, and have remained friends and colleagues ever since. During these fifty years there have been several regime changes in monetary management. The Bretton Woods system of pegged exchange rates gave way in 1971–72 to a rather inchoate non-system of regional pegging (or fixing as in the euro-zone) combined with a – somewhat managed – float between major currencies. So, until the early 1970s, only the Fed in the USA had to concern itself with the principles, regime and rules for managing its domestic monetary system.
Edited by Sheila Dow, Jesper Jespersen and Geoff Tily
The chapters in this volume, and its companion volume, The General Theory and Keynes for the 21st Century, originated in a celebration marking the happy coincidence that 2016 saw the 80th birthdays both of the publication of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and of Victoria Chick, who has contributed so much to the development of Post-Keynesian theory and method. Her monograph Macroeconomics after Keynes: A Reconsideration of the General Theory has been one of the stepping stones for two generations of macroeconomists. As with Keynes, from the very beginning of her career monetary, banking and financial theory have been of special interest: how to analyse the development of money and finance, and the intertwined relationship between financial and real activities. The chapters in these volumes serve as a reminder to academic and professional economists of the narrowness, let alone the limited relevance, of the conventional account of Keynes. They are indicative of a more substantial and richer approach to economics, just as mainstream economics is being forced to confront its grave limitations in the wake of the global financial crisis and subsequent stagnation. Those from the mainstream who are approaching these limitations in a constructive manner are therefore found assessing the nature of money and deposit creation, the role of uncertainty and ideas around multiple equilibria – constant themes of Vicky’s research.
Open-economy considerations that create the possibility of ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ effects offer one explanation for why the relationship between distribution, demand, and growth may be complicated in the short run. Several authors have argued recently, however, that even if demand and growth are profit-led in many individual countries, the global economy is likely to be wage-led since the planet as a whole runs balanced trade. This paper shows that this argument, while intuitively appealing, does not hold up to careful examination. Although the world economy as a whole is a closed system, it is not isomorphic to a closed economy, thanks to repercussion effects, relative price movements, and cross-country heterogeneity. Using asymmetries in consumption as a simple illustrative device I show that, in a two-country world, the effects of global redistribution depend on the nature of the constituent economies. This conclusion holds in spite of balanced trade at a planetary level, and regardless of whether one or both economies have excess capacity or whether zero-sum effects are present or not.
Elissa Braunstein and Stephanie Seguino
Latin America experienced a decline in household income inequality in the 2000s, in sharp contrast to growing inequality in other regions of the world. This has been attributed to macroeconomic policy, social spending, and increased returns to education. This paper explores this issue from a gender perspective by econometrically evaluating how changes in economic structure and policy have impacted gendered employment and unemployment rates, as well as gender inequality in these variables, using country-level panel data for a set of 18 Latin American countries between 1990 and 2010. Three variables stand out as having consistent gender-equalizing effects in the labor market: social spending, minimum wages, and public investment. Less important or consistent were the effects of external factors (such as terms of trade), economic structure, and GDP growth.
Since the prolonged recession in 1980–1982 which laid the basis for the emergence of finance-led capitalism in the US there have been four phases of economic expansion. The first three ended with increasingly severe recessions in 1990–1991, 2001 and 2007–2009. The most recent expansion, which began in mid 2009, has been characterised by relatively low growth and investment has been weaker than in previous expansions. Unemployment has fallen sharply, but many of the new jobs have been in low-paid services. The Trump government's much-touted investment programme is dependent on mobilising private funding but this has not yet been very forthcoming. Moves to relax the tighter banking regulations introduced in 2010, while strongly welcomed by the big banks, have been widely criticised. Key indicators of financial tensions are unusually low, but profitability and investment, which usually serve as leading indicators of the business cycle, have begun to decline and this suggests that the current expansion could be approaching an end.