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What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality?

Roger A. McCain

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Introduction: plan and scope of the book

What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality?

Roger A. McCain

Sketches the plan of the book. Argues that wealth inequality is the basis of many other economic problems, noting that concentrations of wealth inevitably become concentrations of political power; this concentration of political power makes political democracy increasingly difficult to sustain; concentration of wealth inevitably creates instability and differences of social status, and inequality of wealth is the major cause of income inequality.

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Claude Gnos

The standard neoclassical method for building macroeconomics upon a microeconomic foundation has proven unable to anticipate and account for actual issues, especially the financial and economic crisis that burst in 2008. In this chapter we show that it would be appropriate to return to the method once used by classical writers, who considered the economy as a whole and referred to institutions and production conditions as the cornerstone of economic activity. This was also Keynes’s method, in developing the concept of a monetary economy of production. We show that a renewed analysis of the economy as a whole would open up a range of new perspectives on macroeconomics.

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James Crotty

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Louis- Philippe Rochon and Sergio Rossi

Rethinking economics is a dramatically urgent necessity in light of the damages caused by the 2008 global financial crisis, resulting from the dominance of mainstream economics. Economic policies implemented since the early 1980s in many countries have induced lower economic growth, higher rates of involuntary unemployment and more income and wealth inequalities than in the previous three decades. A decade after the beginning of this crisis, policy is still unable to provide all citizens with greater economic comforts. This volume contributes to rethinking economics by providing readers at all levels with thoughtful contributions on a range of topics.

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James Crotty

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Lance Taylor, Armon Rezai, Rishabh Kumar, Nelson Barbosa and Laura Carvalho

This paper is based on a social accounting matrix (SAM) which incorporates the size distribution of income based on data from the BEA national accounts, the widely discussed 2012 CBO distribution study, and BLS consumer surveys. Sources and uses of incomes are disaggregated by household groups including the top 1 percent. Their importance (including saving rates) differs markedly across households. The SAM reveals two transfer flows exceeding 10 percent of GDP via fiscal (broadly progressive) and financial (regressive) channels. A third major flow over time has been a ten percentage point increase in the GDP share of the top 1 percent. A simulation model is used to illustrate how ‘feasible’ modifications to tax/transfer programs and increasing low wages cannot offset the historical redistribution toward the well-to-do.

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Leila E. Davis, Charalampos Konstantinidis and Yorghos Tripodis

The ongoing crisis in the eurozone, together with growing evidence of structural imbalances, points to a role for new institutions to support a more stable European Monetary Union (EMU) structure. As is well established in the context of monetary union when business cycles are not synchronized, a system of fiscal transfers can support monetary union. Unemployment insurance (UI) is, in particular, a key component of fiscal crisis management. UI supports household incomes during downturns, and also acts as an automatic stabilizer, thereby helping individual countries respond to asymmetric shocks. This paper proposes a ‘federalized’ EMU-level UI mechanism as one program that can contribute to a system of fiscal transfers in the EMU, and estimates the cost of the proposed system under different financing and eligibility scenarios. We find that, under a variety of reasonable institutional parameters, such a system is fiscally feasible with limited reason to expect adverse employment effects in member countries. We conclude that fiscal transfers extended via automatic stabilizers are a productive avenue towards a more stable eurozone architecture.

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