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Bruno Jossa

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Bruno Jossa

According to many authors, one still unsolved query is why the broad consensus for the values and culture of the left has broken down. As far as I can see, the answer is that even after the collapse of the Soviet model of society the left held on to the idea of socialism as founded on centralised planning rather than on democratic firm management. The current crisis of the left is caused also by the globalisation of the economy, i.e. by the fact that the political and economic agendas are dictated by supranational oligarchies which are capable of controlling the media, influencing the opinions of electors and the general public and forcing the left into a corner. As a result, the left is seriously ill and must gain an awareness that idle protest leads nowhere. Moreover, statism is on the wane because of its inability to steer the economy and offer satisfactory welfare in a globalised world and because historical experience has taught us that it tends to generate inefficiency and corruption. This conclusion is effectively summed up in the concept of the death of the State and its organisational structure. One of the founding assumptions of this book, therefore, is that the establishment of a system of democratic firms is the precondition for reducing State intervention in the economy and enabling the State to perform its ultimate function, that is to say serving the public interest. Those who think of socialism as a system of self-managed firms are called upon to emphasise the view that, contrary to capitalism, a self-management system is not a system which prioritises the interests of one class over those of another. What is more important, however, is that a system of labour-managed firms has many other advantages (with respect to capitalism), which suggest that it is a very beautiful economic system. The book discusses such advantages.

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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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Óscar Dejuán and Daniel Dejuán-Bitriá

This paper develops a predator–prey model to explain cycles in credit-led economies. The predator is the part of the financial sector that issues credit money for non-output transactions. It increases the indebtedness ratio and inflates bubbles that eventually have a negative impact on the real rate of growth (the prey). From this basis, we build a couple of models that may lead to self-contained or explosive cycles. Even in the first case, there is a risk of a financial collapse when certain variables move far away from their long-term equilibrium positions. In order to tame the cycle and avoid extreme positions, governments should ban the expansion of credit money for the purchase of assets and introduce permanent checks to risky credit.

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Eladio Febrero, Jorge Uxó and Fernando Bermejo

In a pegged exchange-rate system, a balance-of-payments crisis happens when there is serious mistrust of whether a debtor country holds sufficient international reserves to monetise a capital withdrawal at the ongoing exchange-rate parity. In the eurozone (EZ), doubts that banks and governments of peripheral countries could settle debts when they matured led to a massive capital outflow after the fall of Lehman Brothers and, especially, the first Greek sovereign-debt crisis. This has led some authors to hold that the situation in the EZ is a balance-of-payments (BoP) crisis.

However, the European Central Bank (ECB) offset massive financial capital withdrawals with a huge inflow of reserves to the EZ periphery, making the international reserves constraint irrelevant. This invalidated the BoP view in other authors’ opinion, who pointed out bad bank behaviour and a poor initial institutional design as the alternative root cause for the current mess. This position is known as the monetary sovereign (MS) view.

In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the debate between both sides, with Cesaratto, as a representative for the BoP view, and Lavoie, De Grauwe and Wray, for the MS view, and discuss whether a reconciliation between these two positions can be possible. We step into the discussion to offer two additional arguments in favour of the second view: (i) A currency union requires a single monetary policy, as opposed to a fixed exchange-rate regime; TARGET2 balances combined with refinancing operations are an essential ingredient of monetary policy implementation. (ii) The current situation is more easily understood as another episode of financial instability after banks have granted huge amounts of credit (which they refinanced abroad). The situation got even worse because governments supporting troubled banks in their respective jurisdictions lacked a lender of last resort.

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Marc Lavoie

Misguided economics policies relying on an unrealistic macroeconomic theory that denied the possibility of a crisis are at the origins of the global financial crisis. The goal of the present paper is to recall how the end of the Great Moderation has been interpreted by the advocates of mainstream economics, and how they have questioned their own macroeconomic theories as a consequence of what happened during and after the financial crisis. There is thus a need to reconsider most aspects of mainstream theory. In particular, the crisis has once more demonstrated that potential output is influenced by aggregate demand – a phenomenon associated with hysteresis, which also questions concepts such as the natural rate of interest and crowding-out effects.

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Apostolos Fasianos, Diego Guevara and Christos Pierros

This paper explores the process of financialization from a historical perspective during the course of the twentieth century. We identify four phases of financialization: the first from the 1900s to 1933 (early financialization), the second from 1933 to 1940 (transitory phase), the third between 1945 and 1973 (de-financialization), and the fourth period picks up from the early 1970s and leads to the Great Recession (complex financialization). Our findings indicate that the main features of the current phase of financialization were already in place in the first period. We closely examine institutions within these distinct financial regimes and focus on the relative size of the financial sector, the respective regulation regime of each period, the intensity of the shareholder value orientation, as well as the level of financial innovations implemented. Although financialization is a recent term, the process is far from novel. We conclude that its effects can be studied better with reference to economic history.

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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