nep-pke New Economics Papers
on Post Keynesian Economics
Issue of 2018‒12‒17
ten papers chosen by
Karl Petrick
Western New England University

  1. "Investment Decisions under Uncertainty" By Sunanda Sen
  2. The Financial Innovation Hypothesis: Schumpeter, Minsky and the sub-prime mortgage crisis By Eugenio Caverzasi; Daniele Tori
  3. Heterogeneity, distribution and financial fragility of non-financial firms: an agent-based stock-flow consistent (AB-SFC) model By Ítalo Pedrosa; Dany Lang
  4. Historical Legacies and African Development By Stelios Michalopoulos; Elias Papaioannou
  5. Overhead labour costs in a neo-Kaleckian growth model with autonomous expenditures By Won Jun Nah; Lavoie, Marc
  6. The limits to profit-wage redistribution: Endogenous regime shifts in Kaleckian models of growth and distribution By Köhler, Kasper
  7. Functional distribution and wage inequality in recent Kaleckian growth models By Hein, Eckhard; Prante, Franz
  8. On the “utilisation controversy”: a comment By Santiago J. Gahn; Alejandro González
  9. Antitrust Failures: The Internet Giants By Taschdjian, Martin; Alleman, James
  10. Spleen: the failures of the cliometric school By Stefano Fenoaltea

  1. By: Sunanda Sen
    Abstract: Divergent trends, as observed, between growth in the financial and real sectors of the global economy entail the need for further research, especially on the motivations behind investment decisions. Investments in market economies are generally guided by call-put option pricing models--which rely on an ergodic notion of probability that conforms to a normal distribution function. This paper considers critiques of the above models, which include Keynes's Treatise on Probability (1921) and the General Theory (1936), as well as follow-ups in the post-Keynesian approaches and others dealing with "fundamental uncertainty." The methodological issues, as can be pointed out, are relevant in the context of policy issues and social institutions, including those subscribed to by the ruling state. As it has been held in variants of institutional economics subscribed to by John Commons, Thorstein Veblen, Geoffrey Hodgeson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, social institutions remain important in their capacity as agencies that influence individual behavior with their "informational-cognitive" functions in society. By shaping business concerns and strategies, social institutions have a major impact on investment decisions in a capitalist system. The role of such institutions in investment decisions via policy making is generally neglected in strategies based on mainstream economics, which continue to rely on optimization of stock market returns based on imprecise estimations of probability.
    Keywords: Uncertainty; Probability; Weights; Investment; Keynes; Institutional Economics
    JEL: B25 E02 E12 E22 G01 G11
    Date: 2018–12
  2. By: Eugenio Caverzasi; Daniele Tori
    Abstract: Neo-Schumpeterian economics inspired by the work of Schumpeter and the financial Keynesianism of Minsky are often regarded as unrelated theoretical strands. In this paper, we try to combine these two literatures building on a parallelism between non-financial and financial firms. We focus on recent financial innovations, highlighting how the evolution experienced by US financial institutions led them to transcend their traditional role of credit providers, shaping as 'producers' of financial products, through securitization. This allows on the one hand to broaden the application of Neo-Schumpeterian insights to the financial sector and, on the other, to provide an original explanation of the so-called sub-prime crisis by applying the Financial Instability Hypothesis of Minsky to the alternative context of financial production. We maintain that the 2007-8 crisis was not the result of an innovation in the real sector, but came from an innovation (or a series of innovations) intrinsic to the financial system itself, which fostered credit creation. We argue that this 'cluster of innovations' can be placed under the label 'securitization', defined as the business of packaging and reselling loans, with repo agreements as the main source of funds.
    Keywords: Minsky, Schumpeter, securitization, financial firms, Great Financial Crisis
    JEL: B52 G21 O33
    Date: 2018–12
  3. By: Ítalo Pedrosa (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro - UFJR (.)); Dany Lang (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - UP13 - Université Paris 13 - USPC - Université Sorbonne Paris Cité - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: In Minsky's Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH), financial fragility of non-financial firms tends to increase endogenously over the cycle along with the macroeconomic leverage ratio. This analysis has been criticized for two main complementary reasons: firstly, it does not duly consider the aggregate pro-cyclicallity of profits; secondly, due to an overly aggregate analysis, some inferences about the relation between aggregate leverage and systemic fragility are potentially misleading. In this paper, we take these criticisms into account by building an agent-based stock-flow consistent model which integrates the real and financial sides of the economy in a fundamentally dynamic environment. We calibrate and simulate our model and show that the dynamics generated are in line with empirical evidence both at the micro and the macro levels. We create a financial fragility index and examine how systemic financial fragility relates to the aggregate leverage along the cycle. We show that our model yields both Min-skian regimes, in which the aggregate leverage increases along with investment, and Steindlian regimes, where investment brings leverage down. Our key findings are that the sensitivity of financial fragility to aggregate leverage is not as big as assumed in the literature; and that the distribution of profits amongst firms does matter for the stability of the system, both statically (immediately for financial fragility) and dynamically (because of the dynamics of leverage).
    Keywords: financial fragility,firms,leverage,cash flow,distribution
    Date: 2018–11–28
  4. By: Stelios Michalopoulos; Elias Papaioannou
    Abstract: As Africa's role on the global stage is rising, so does the need to understand the shadow of history on the continent's economy and polity. We discuss recent works that shed light on Africa's colonial and precolonial legacies. The emerging corpus is remarkably interdisciplinary. Archives, ethnographic materials, georeferenced censuses, surveys, and satellite imagery are some of the sources often combined to test influential conjectures put forward in African historiography. Exploiting within-country variation and employing credible, albeit mostly local, identification techniques, this recent literature has uncovered strong evidence of historical continuity as well as instances of rupture in the evolution of the African economy. The exposition proceeds in reverse chronological order. Starting from the colonial period, which has been linked to almost all of Africa's post-independence maladies, we first review works that uncover the lasting legacies of colonial investments in infrastructure and human capital and quantify the role of various extractive institutions, such as indirect rule and oppression associated with concessionary agreements. Second, we discuss the long-lasting impact of the "Scramble for Africa" which led to ethnic partitioning and the creation of artificial modern states. Third, we cover studies on the multi-faceted legacy of the slave trades. Fourth, we analyze the contemporary role of various precolonial, ethnic-specific, institutional and social traits, such as political centralization. We conclude by offering some thoughts on what we view as open questions.
    JEL: N00 N10 N77 N87 N97 O10 O43 O55
    Date: 2018–11
  5. By: Won Jun Nah; Lavoie, Marc
    Abstract: One of the most notable features of income distribution is the widening wage differential among workers: there is a redistribution in favor of top management at the detriment of ordinary workers. The paper incorporates this distinction between overhead managerial labour and direct labour into a neo-Kaleckian growth model with target-return pricing, where an autonomously growing demand component ultimately determines the long-run path of an economy. Our aim is to explore the role of overhead labour costs in the coevolution of income distribution and economic growth. When overhead labour is taken into account, the share of profits becomes an increasing function of the rate of utilization of capacity. This implies that empirical research based on the post-Kaleckian specification of the investment function may fail to isolate the pure profitability effects and is likely to be biased in finding a profit-led regime. Our model features convergence to a fully-adjusted position in the long run. This is achieved by simultaneous path-dependent adjustments, both in the normal rate of utilization of capacity and in the growth rate of sales expected by firms. We examine the parametric conditions under which the model achieves a wage-led growth regime, in the restricted sense that both the average rates of accumulation and utilization decrease during the transitional dynamics arising from an upward adjustment of the normal rate of profit. Moreover, it is shown that a more equitable wage distribution between the "working rich" and the "working poor" will strengthen the wage-led nature of the economy.
    Keywords: neo-Kaleckian,growth,overhead labour,autonomous expenditures,targetreturn pricing
    JEL: E11 E37 O41
    Date: 2018
  6. By: Köhler, Kasper
    Abstract: A feature of Kaleckian models of distribution and growth that is often overlooked is that they describe a nonlinear relation between functional income distribution and demand and growth, because the size of the multiplier is affected by redistribution from wages to profits and vice versa. This paper addresses the nonlinearity of the standard post-Kaleckian model by examining its so-called IS-curves. It is found that changes in functional income distribution affect the "distribution-ledness" of an economy: redistribution towards wages reinforces the wage-led or profit-led character of an economy, while redistribution towards profits does the opposite. In addition, redistribution towards wages can turn an intermediate regime wage-led. A standard post-Kaleckian model with nonlinear investment behaviour is then presented. This model yields substantially different IS curves, such that an optimal functional income distribution can be derived. However, it is found that unlike in the standard model, this optimum is not the same for the different classes, such that true opposing interests appear in the model.
    Keywords: distribution,growth,nonlinearity,demand and growth regimes,Kaleckian models
    JEL: B59 E11 E12 E25 O40
    Date: 2018
  7. By: Hein, Eckhard; Prante, Franz
    Abstract: This contribution provides a review of recent considerations of wage inequality in Kaleckian models of distribution and growth. On the one hand, we address modelling approaches in which a distinction is made between managers and workers, where the salaries of the former are treated as overhead costs in a target-return pricing framework. Distribution between profits and wages, and between managers and direct labour, will thus depend on the level of economic activity, in particular in a short-run cyclical perspective. On the other hand, we review more recent Kaleckian models, which explicitly introduce wage inequality, but maintain the simple mark-up pricing approach, thus abstracting from explicit consideration of overhead costs. Explicitly or implicitly, these models rather adhere to a medium-run perspective. Finally, we provide a simple neo-Kaleckian distribution and growth model with wage inequality, which allows for different medium-run demand regimes in a stylized way.
    Keywords: functional income distribution,wage inequality,distribution,growth,Kaleckian models
    JEL: E12 E25 D31
    Date: 2018
  8. By: Santiago J. Gahn (Univeristà degli Studi di Roma Tre (IT)); Alejandro González
    Abstract: In a recent contribution, Nikiforos (2016) has claimed that the FED data on capacity utilisation is stationary by construction, and thus, not suitable to test the Neo-Kaleckian model. He then proceeds to provide new series on capital utilisation, which he claims are non-stationary and provide, supposedly, support for the Neo-Kaleckian model. This comment presents two interrelated claims. First, the measurement error that Nikiforos claims to be I(1) in the FED series is I(0), and what is measured with error is only the level of the series. Thus, this series is suitable to test the Neo-Kaleckian model. Secondly, he does not provide unit root tests for the series he suggests as superior to the FED. When this exercise is carried out, almost all unit root tests decidedly reject the existence of a stochastic trend on his 3 proposed series, which, according to the author, do not lend support to the Neo-Kaleckian model. We conclude that measures of capacity utilisation based on FRB data are a reasonable source to test the implications of a wide variety of macroeconomic models.
    Keywords: Neo-Kaleckian model, Capacity Utilisation, Stationarity, Workweek of Capital
    JEL: C22 E11
    Date: 2018–12
  9. By: Taschdjian, Martin; Alleman, James
    Abstract: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, as well as Twitter – the FANG companies – have transformed society with both positive and negative effects. Soaring consumer access to information, news, social networks, and entertainment has been stimulated by the ever-more ubiquitous and falling prices of broadband services. E-government has transformed the delivery of public services. However, negative effects have likewise been stark. Certainly, there have been huge disruptions caused by e-commerce. State tax collectors are fighting the loss of sales tax collections. Because Facebook and Google can identify you, the ads can be targeted to your specific wants and needs, even creating "wants and needs" based on your profile. So, what the "customer" – you – perceived as free is not. Indeed, you are the commodity being sold to the advertisers. Because Facebook and Google are two-sided markets, their economic rents are "hidden" from the public (and, apparently, from the antitrust authorities) . On the user side of the market, prices are zero – "free." The other side, advertising rates are "hidden." Facebook's and Google's revenues are derived from advertising which appears when you go to their sites. They can extract exorbitant prices for ads, since they are virtually the only source that can target ads directly to potential clients. This paper examines the potential for antitrust cases against Facebook and Google as a response to their perceived threats to consumer privacy, political influences and advertising dominance. The argument for antitrust action against them is based on the following arguments. Formally, their Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) for search is 8,476. Combined they currently control over half of US digital advertising; these companies together have an HHI of 2,024. In terms of "social media" United States share of visits, Facebook and Google's HHI is "highly concentrated" at 2,471. Each has obtained de facto monopoly or oligopolistic power without any concern on the part of government. Their economic rents are "hidden" from the public because their revenues are derived from advertising which appear when you go to their sites. Thus, they can extract exorbitant prices for ads. Facebook and Google Herfindahl-Hirschman indices (HHI) are high, indicating a concentrated market or highly concentrated market by several different definitions of their markets. Nevertheless, no serious antitrust case or legislation has addressed this monopoly power.
    Keywords: Advertising,antitrust,competition,internet,media,regulation,pricing,two-sided market
    JEL: D4 K2 L1 L2 L5 L9
    Date: 2018
  10. By: Stefano Fenoaltea
    Abstract: This paper argues that we cliometricians have failed as economists, because we did not drag the profession out of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth; that we have failed as historians, because we do not take measurement seriously, and misapprehend “the data”; and that we failed signally as economic historians, because we backcast “GDP” as if it measured gross domestic product.
    Keywords: cliometrics, economic history, economics
    JEL: A10 B40 N01
    Date: 2018–12–11

This nep-pke issue is ©2018 by Karl Petrick. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.