Monthly Archives: October 2017

An Important Note By The United Nations On The IMF And The World Order

I recently came across a phrase, social silence, which Gillian Tett of FT describes:

As Pierre Bourdieu, the French anthropologist and intellectual, observed in his seminal work Outline of a theory of practice, the way that an elite typically stays in power in almost any society is not simply by controlling the means of production (i.e. wealth), but by shaping the discourse (or the cognitive map that a society uses to describe the world around it.) And what matters most in relation to that map is not just what is discussed in public, but what is not discussed because those topics are considered boring, irrelevant, taboo or just unthinkable. Or as Bourdieu wrote: “The most successful ideological effects are those which have no need of words, but ask no more than a complicitous silence.”

Very few talk of the world order and how it operates. The current world order can be described as a neoliberal. It is a system of free trade (or more generally globalization), tight fiscal policy, deregulation and privatization.

The IMF is one institutional which has been responsible for maintaining this world order. Since governments need exceptional financing, they are arm-twisted by the IMF.

A recent United Nations General Assemby notePromotion Of A Democratic And Equitable International Order, has recognized this and criticizes the IMF strongly. Many economists and pundits deny there’s something called neoliberalism but the note is open about the ideology and the word.

In fact, IMF advocacy of structural adjustment has privileged powerful corporate interests and created a vicious cycle of dependence for borrower countries. As noted by Peter Dolack:

Ideology plays a critical role here. International lending organizations … consistently impose austerity. The IMF’s loans, earmarked … to pay debts or stabilize currencies, always come with the same requirements to privatize public assets (which can be sold far below market value to multi-national corporations waiting to pounce); cut social safety nets; drastically reduce the scope of government services; eliminate regulations; and open economies wide to multi-national capital, even if that means the destruction of local industry and agriculture. This results in more debt, which then gives multi-national corporations and the IMF, which enforces those corporate interests, still more leverage to impose more control, including heightened ability to weaken environmental and labour laws.

and also:

IMF still appears more committed to the obsolete neoliberal economic

The report is 18 pages long and critical of the IMF from the start to the end. Please read. You won’t find any discussion of the report in the mainstream media.


Gennaro Zezza — Modeling The Macroeconomic Effects Of A Universal Basic Income

In August, Gennaro Zezza and his co-authors Michalis Nikiforos and Marshall Steinbaum had a paper for the Roosevelt Institute, studying the effects of a Universal Basic Income. The model uses the Levy Institute‘s model.

The idea is simple. If a basic income is provided for everyone, it raises domestic demand because of higher consumption and hence leads to higher output. This is easy to see if there’s no rise in tax rates. If tax rates are increased so that the income provided matches the taxes raised, it’s still a stimulus to the economy, since the propensity to consume for people with lower incomes (or no income otherwise) is higher.

From the introduction;

We examine three versions of unconditional cash transfers: $1,000 a month to all adults, $500 a month to all adults, and a $250 a month child allowance. For each of the three versions, we model the macroeconomic effects of these transfers using two different financing plans – increasing the federal debt, or fully funding the increased spending with increased taxes on households – and compare the effects to the Levy model’s baseline growth rate forecast. Our findings include the following:

  • For all three designs, enacting a UBI and paying for it by increasing the federal debt would grow the economy. Under the smallest spending scenario, $250 per month for each child, GDP is 0.79% larger than under the baseline forecast after eight years. According to the Levy Model, the largest cash program – $1,000 for all adults annually – expands the economy by 12.56% over the baseline after eight years. After eight years of enactment, the stimulative effects of the program dissipate and GDP growth returns to the baseline forecast, but the level of output remains permanently higher.
  • When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households, the Levy model forecasts no effect on the economy. In effect, it gives to households with one hand what it is takes away with the other.
  • However, when the model is adapted to include distributional effects, the economy grows, even in the tax-financed scenarios. This occurs because the distributional model incorporates the idea that an extra dollar in the hands of lower income households leads to higher spending. In other words, the households that pay more in taxes than they receive in cash assistance have a low propensity to consume, and those that receive more in assistance than they pay in taxes have a high propensity to consume. Thus, even when the policy is tax- rather than debt-financed, there is an increase in output, employment, prices, and wages.

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Marc Lavoie On New Behavioural Economics


The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2017 was awarded to Richard H. Thaler “for his contributions to behavioural economics”.

as per the Nobel Prize’s website.

In his book, Post-Keynesian Economics: New Foundations, (2014), Marc Lavoie has a nice discussion/critique on what’s called “New Behavioural Economics”:

click to view on Google Books

Anthony Thirlwall On How He Became A Kaldorian

There was a conference last year in honour of Nicholas Kaldor organized by Corvinus University of Budapest.

The papers by the speakers has now been published by Acta Oeconomica in their September issue.

Anthony Thirlwall’s paper Nicholas Kaldor’s Life And Insights Into The Applied Economics Of Growth (Or Why I Became A Kaldorian) is notable. You can access it here if you can’t access the journal.

photo via Alberto Bagnai


The second paper which struck an intellectual chord was Kaldor’s address to the Scottish Economic Society in 1970 entitled ‘The Case for Regional Policies’ (Kaldor, 1970). Here, at the regional level, he switches focus from the structure of production in a closed economy to the role of exports in an open regional context in which the growth of exports is considered the major component of autonomous demand (to which other components of demand adapt) which sets up a virtuous circle of growth working through the Verdoorn effect – similar in character to Gunnar Myrdal’s theory of circular and cumulative causation in which success breeds success and failure breeds failure (Myrdal, 1957). This is one of his challenges to equilibrium theory that free trade and the free mobility of factors of production will necessarily equalise economic performance across regions or countries.