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Matías Vernengo

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Matías Vernengo

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Edited by Matías Vernengo

This book deals with the economic consequences of monetary integration, which has long been dominated by the Optimal Currency Area (OCA) paradigm. In this model, money is perceived as having developed from a private sector cost minimization process to facilitate transactions. Not surprisingly, the book argues, the main advantage of monetary integration in the OCA context is the reduction of transaction costs, yet the validity of OCA to analyze processes of monetary integration seems to be limited at best.
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Matías Vernengo

This short paper introduces Lauchlin Currie's unpublished memorandum to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve discussing Keynes's General Theory. The memorandum falls short of a full review of Keynes's magnum opus, but together with other published material it provides a picture of Keynesian ideas within the Fed during the Great Depression. It is suggested that Currie's views on Keynes are relevant, in particular because, contrary to what would become the dominant view, he does not think that wage or interest-rate rigidity is at the heart of the Keynesian results.

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Matías Vernengo

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Thomas Palley and Matías Vernengo

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Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo

We argue that a fundamental difference between the various post-Keynesian approaches to economic growth lies in their treatment of investment. Neo-Kaleckian models, which are more appropriately Robinsonian models, postulate an investment function dependent on profitability, and that is partly autonomous from income. Some of these models rely on the importance of profitability, captured by the profit share, to make the case for profit-led growth. For their part, Kaldorian models, which are in our view compatible with Sraffian models, place the emphasis on the accelerator in the determination of investment. More importantly, since investment is a derived demand, that is, ruled by the adjustment of capacity to autonomous demand, there is a tendency to a normal level of capacity utilization. These are supermultiplier models. In our view the Kaldorian approach is better equipped to deal with some of the issues relating income distribution to accumulation with effective demand in an open economy in the long run. We develop an open economy model to examine the conditions under which an increase in real wages can produce wage-led growth, showing that the limit to wage-led expansion is a binding external constraint. The model is unique in emphasizing the role of income distribution in affecting real exchange rates, and it is through this channel that the ambiguous effects of income distribution on growth arise. We also provide some evidence indicating that real wages are positively related to growth, investment, and capacity utilization, and we highlight the role of finance in sustaining expansions suggesting that debt-led growth should not be identified with profit-led growth.

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Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo

The justification for inflation targeting rests on three core propositions. The first is called ‘lean against the wind,’ which refers to fact that the monetary authority contracts (expands) aggregate demand below capacity when the actual rate of inflation is above (below) target. The second is ‘the divine coincidence,’ which means that stabilizing the rate of inflation around its target is tantamount to stabilizing output around its full employment level. The third proposition is that of stability. This means that the inflation target is part of an equilibrium configuration which generates convergence following any small disturbance to its initial conditions. These propositions are derived from a closed economy setting which is not representative of the countries that have actually adopted inflation targeting frameworks. Currently there are 27 countries, 9 of which are classified as industrialized and 18 as developing countries that have explicitly implemented a fully fledged inflation targeting regime (FFIT). These countries are open economies and are concerned by the evolution of the external sector and the exchange rate as proven by their interventions in the foreign exchange markets. We show that these three core propositions and the practice of inflation targeting are inoperative in an open economy context.

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Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo

Conventional wisdom about the business cycle in Latin America assumes that monetary shocks cause deviations from the optimal path, and that the triggering factor in the cycle is excess credit and liquidity. Furthermore, in this view the origin of the contraction is ultimately related to the excesses during the expansion. For that reason it follows that avoiding the worst conditions during the bust entails applying restrictive economic policies during the expansion (that is, the boom) in the business cycle including reining in government expenditures and reducing liquidity to private agents. In this paper we develop an alternative approach that suggests that fiscal restraint may not have a significant impact in reducing the risks of a crisis, and that excessive fiscal conservatism might actually exacerbate problems. In the case of Central America, the efforts to reduce fiscal imbalances, in conjunction with the persistent current-account deficits, implied that financial inflows, with remittances being particularly important in some cases, allowed for an expansion of a private spending boom that proved unsustainable once the Great Recession led to a sharp fall in external funds. In the case of South America, the commodity boom created conditions for growth without hitting the external constraint. Fiscal restraint in the South American context has resulted, in some cases, in lower rates of growth than what otherwise would have been possible as a result of the absence of an external constraint. Yet the lower reliance on external funds has made South American countries less vulnerable to the external shock waves of the Great Recession than Central American economies.