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Trevor Evans

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.

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How we got here

An Institutional Critique

Frank H. Stephen

Chapter 1 sets the scene for the book. It discusses the reasons for the interest in the relationship between the law and economic development beginning with an outline of theories of development. The theory of development currently favoured by multilateral development agencies such as the World Bank is one of market-led development which emphasizes the role of the financial sector. Drawing on an analysis of the reasons why the Law and Development Movement of the 1960s and 1970s failed, criteria by which theories of law and the legal system’s role in development should be evaluated are identified. It is argued that a theory based on New Institutional Economics can satisfy these criteria.

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The history of social innovation

Building Resilience Through Transitions

Katharine McGowan, Frances Westley and Ola Tjörnbo

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Brett Fiebiger and Marc Lavoie

In late 2008 a consensus was reached amongst global policymakers that fiscal stimulus was required to counteract the effects of the Great Recession, a view dubbed as the New Fiscalism. Pragmatism triumphed over the stipulations of the New Consensus Macroeconomics, which viewed discretionary fiscal actions as an irrelevant tool of counter-cyclical macroeconomic policy (if not altogether detrimental). The partial re-embrace of Keynes was however relatively short-lived, lasting only until early 2010 when fiscal consolidation came to the forefront again, although the merits of fiscal austerity were questioned when economic recovery did not really materialize in 2012. This paper traces the ups and downs of the debate over the New Fiscalism, especially at the International Monetary Fund, by analysing IMF documents and G20 communiqués. Using fiscal policy as a means to exit the crisis remains contentious even amidst recognition of secular stagnation.

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Editorial to the special issue

The political economy of the New Fiscalism

Marc Lavoie and Mario Seccareccia

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Roger E.A. Farmer

This paper explains the connection between ideas developed in my recent books and papers and those of economists who self-identify as post-Keynesians. My own work is both neoclassical and ‘old Keynesian.’ Much of my published work assumes that people have rational expectations and that ‘animal spirits’ should be modeled as a new fundamental. I adopt a general equilibrium framework to model the macroeconomy. But although I write from a neoclassical tradition the themes I explore in my published writing have much in common with heterodox economics. This paper explains the common elements between these seemingly disparate traditions. I make the case for unity between post-Keynesian and general equilibrium theory under the banner of post-Keynesian dynamic stochastic general equilibrium theory.

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Sebastian Gechert, Torsten Niechoj, Engelbert Stockhammer, Achim Truger and Andrew Watt

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Georg Krücken, Renate E. Meyer and Peter Walgenbach

In the introduction to the volume, Georg Krücken, Renate Meyer and Peter Walgenbach sketch the origins and the development of the European network of scholars interested in new institutionalism. Further, they provide an overview of the content of the volume at hand.

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Åke E. Andersson and David Emanuel Andersson

The games of markets including entrepreneur-driven economic development have always taken place on an arena of the combined material and non-material infrastructure. The infrastructure thus constitutes the arena; it is public capital that facilitates and constrains the rapid “games” of buying and selling that economic agents play. Agents perceive the arena as stable because its evolution is so much slower than that of markets for goods and services. Synergetic theory is well equipped to handle such multiple timescales. Its application to economic phenomena enables us to show that competitive equilibrium theory requires prior specification of the infrastructural arena, which consists of public knowledge, space-bridging networks and institutions. Synergetic theory can also help us avoid the pitfalls of conventional macroeconomic theory. In this chapter, we demonstrate how macroeconomic equilibrium depends on the infrastructure. We claim that all goods are durable and are thus instances of capital. This means that historical trajectories, current outcomes, uncertain expectations and changes in spatial accessibility all influence the growth and fluctuations in the value of capital goods. Dynamic non-linear interactions between scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs affect investments. New technological or design ideas spread most easily among spatially proximate firms within communication and transport networks. Such network effects shape processes of spatial clustering, agglomeration and urbanization. Based on causal and various econometric considerations, it has been common for economists to resort to difference equation in their modeling strategies. But if we include dynamic interactions within a system of difference equations—so as to accommodate realistic causal assumptions—it will often result in complex models with chaotic outcomes. However, there are ways out of chaos in economic modeling. The first is to focus on continuous dynamic synergetic models, which implies a careful separation of variables and dynamic processes according to their relevant timescales as well as the collectiveness of their impacts.