The paper offers a modernized Böhm-Bawerkian approach to capital theory. The Wicksell effect turns out to be a measure for the degree of vertical distribution of labor. I show that a marginal rise in the rate of interest reduces the (modernized) period of production. A ‘generalized golden rule of accumulation’ is one result of our approach. Based on these results I define a coefficient of intertemporal substitution (CIS). As opposed to the traditional elasticity of substitution between labor and capital, the CIS is also well defined for negative real rates of interest. This is important in the twenty-first century, since we observe a strong overhang of private savings over private investments (secular stagnation).
Carl Christian von Weizsäcker
The paper points out that capital theory has always been a hotly debated subject, partly because the theoretical issues involved are very complex, and partly because rival ideologies and value systems directly affect the issues discussed. The focus is on the history, the main protagonists, and the relevant problems examined and argued about during the two Cambridges controversy on the theory of capital which was at its peak 50 years ago. Whereas one clear result of these debates is that neither Samuelson's surrogate production function nor Solow's rate-of-return concept could resurrect aggregate neoclassical theory, many other questions, such as the treatment of capital in temporary or intertemporal general equilibrium models or the empirical relevance of the reswitching phenomenon, are still discussed controversially.
The paper discusses the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) under the presidency of Mario Draghi. It first shows the serious mistakes made under his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, during which period the ECB destabilized rather than stabilized. Draghi, on the other hand, embarked on a more expansive course immediately after taking office, thereby securing the existence of the euro in a very threatening situation. In 2014, he then identified the deflationary risks for the eurozone at an early stage and successfully countered them with massive bond purchases. The undesirable developments for the financial system and especially the banks predicted by his critics, who are to be found primarily among German economists, have not materialized.
Torsten Niechoj and Marc Lavoie
Jan Behringer, Sebastian Gechert, Jan Priewe, Torsten Niechoj and Andrew Watt
The euro is irreversible but it needs reform to address well-known design deficiencies and also new challenges. Although progress has been made, further steps are needed, the most important of which are: revision of the fiscal rules, establishing a central stabilisation capacity, and completing the banking union (especially a deposit insurance, a capital market union based around a common safe asset, and improved macroprudential policy). This article sets out the necessary reforms in these areas in detail.
We argue that the institutional framework of the eurozone was designed to deny a role for fiscal policy. However, the Great Recession of 2008–2009 forced governments to intervene, mainly to avoid the collapse of their financial systems. At the same time, the severe recession implied a decrease in tax revenues, and an increase in some components of public expenditure – such as unemployment benefits, which implied an increase in public deficits. When the crisis seemed to be over, the Maastricht rules gave priority to restoring fiscal targets, even at the cost of prolonged unemployment and stagnation in countries like Greece and Italy. Using the three-balances approach pioneered by Godley, we argue that such policies require the achievement of an external surplus, or else fiscal austerity will worsen the financial position of the private sector. We show that this is indeed how most eurozone countries moved, and argue that such policies are fragile, and possibly not sustainable in the medium term. We suggest the introduction of fiscal currencies as one way of introducing a degree of freedom in the sustainability of the eurozone.
Anwar Shaikh, José Alejandro Coronado and Luiza Nassif-Pires
This paper focuses on a key concern of the Cambridge capital controversies: Sraffa's theoretical demonstration that competitive relative prices, and hence the money value of aggregate capital, can vary in complex ways as the wage share (profit rate) changes. We find that, on the contrary, individual prices are usually linear or mildly curved. We develop a formal measure of curvature, and find that average price curvature does not fall with matrix size as proposed in Brody's random matrix hypothesis. Since the average curves are near-linear, it follows that aggregates such as capital, wages, and net output will exhibit the same behavior. We believe this explains the widely observed near-linearity of the wage–profit curve.
The euro area crisis was less a crisis of the euro than a crisis of the Maastricht doctrine. The latter was based on a triple ban: no monetization of fiscal deficits, no bail-out, no sovereign default. The euro architecture was also based on a strict division of tasks: the European Central Bank would stabilize prices in the euro area as a whole, whereas national governments would stabilize their own economies in case of idiosyncratic shocks. To make things even more dysfunctional, bank supervision remained under the competence of the member states. Although much has been done since the crisis to reform the Maastricht framework, there are still major flaws that weaken the single currency.
This contribution assesses the functioning of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) during the first 20 years of the euro's existence. It argues that two formative intellectual currents converged at Maastricht to shape the design and reception of the euro regime: ordoliberalism and neoliberalism. Germany's ordoliberalism inspired and shaped the euro regime design. Neoliberalism fashioned the reception of what was agreed at Maastricht under the influence of Bundesbank dogma and power. As a product of the zeitgeist, Europe got stuck with a deeply flawed euro regime. The Maastricht Treaty institutionalized an asymmetric (growth-unfriendly) policy regime. This suited the macroeconomic mainstream well, fighting the ‘1970s stagflation war’ for the past 40 years. Twenty years of euro disillusion have produced the exact opposite: ‘stagdeflation.’