Bard College Catalogue 2013-14
Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
In 1986, the Board of Trustees of Bard College established the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College as an autonomously governed part of the College. Housed at Blithewood, a 19th-century mansion on the Bard campus, the Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization that encourages a diversity of opinion in the examination of economic issues. It was founded by financier and Bard life trustee Leon Levy (1925–2003) as a tribute to his father, the economist and business executive Jerome Levy (1882–1967). Leon Levy was a leading donor to the College whose philanthropy provided the means to promote programs associated with the study of economics and the humanities.
The Levy Institute disseminates information; facilitates interactions among academics, business leaders, and policy makers; and does public outreach. Its scholars provide expert testimony to congressional committees on banking, finance, and employment structure, as well as media commentary based on policy options developed from Institute research. Policy briefings with members of Congress and their staffs also support the Institute’s efforts to inform policy makers about its research, and provide a forum for bipartisan discussion of significant issues.
The Institute generates viable, effective public policy responses to economic issues that are central to achieving the fundamental societal goals of equity, full employment, a high living standard, and low inflation. Research is organized into seven program areas: the state of the U.S. and world economies; monetary policy and financial structure; the distribution of income and wealth; gender equality and the economy; employment policy and labor markets; immigration, ethnicity, and social structure; and economic policy for the 21st century. An international group of resident scholars and outside research associates pursues these areas of study.
The Institute’s various programs give undergraduates the opportunity to meet the prominent figures who serve on its research staff and attend its conferences. Integrated activities of the Institute and Bard College include the Levy Economics Institute Prize, awarded annually to a graduating senior; annual scholarships for students majoring in economics; and an endowed professorship, the Jerome Levy Professor of Economics, currently held by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, president of the Levy Institute, executive vice president of Bard College, and managing director of Bard College Berlin: A Liberal Arts University.
In fall 2014, the Levy Institute will begin offering the Master of Science in Economic Theory and Policy, an innovative two-year degree program that draws on the extensive research and policy expertise of Institute scholars and select Bard College faculty. The program emphasizes empirical and policy analysis through specialization in one of four key research areas: macroeconomic theory, policy, and modeling; monetary policy and financial structure; distribution of income, wealth, and well-being, including gender equality and time poverty; and employment and labor markets. The close ties between the program curriculum and the Institute’s research agenda allow students to experience graduate education as a practicum, and all students participate in a research assistantship at the Levy Institute. There is also a 3+2 dual-degree option for undergraduates that leads to both a B.A. and the M.S. in five years.
Recent events sponsored by the Institute include three major conferences and the fourth annual Hyman P. Minsky Summer Seminar. In November 2012, the Institute partnered with Bard College Berlin to sponsor the Hyman P. Minsky Conference on Financial Instability, “Debt, Deficits, and Unstable Markets,” held at the Berlin headquarters of Deutsche Bank. This two-day conference focused on the causes of financial instability and its implications for the global economy, including the challenge to global growth resulting from the eurozone debt crisis and the impact of the credit crunch on economic and financial markets. Keynote speakers included Vítor Constâncio, vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB); Steffen Kampeter, parliamentary state secretary, German Federal Ministry of Finance; U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy; Peter Praet, ECB chief economist and executive board member; and U.S. Federal Reserve Bank Presidents Richard Fisher and Dennis Lockhart.
In March 2013, the Levy Institute and the Athens Development and Governance Institute cosponsored a two-day forum, “Exiting the Crisis: The Challenge of an Alternative Policy Road Map,” at the Athinais Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece. This event drew academics, journalists, and policy makers from throughout the United States and European Union (EU). Topics included postcrisis challenges and policy choices in the EU; national strategic and security challenges in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean; democratic governance and accountability; sustainable development; and prerequisites and priorities for social change.
In April 2013, the 22nd Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference, “Building a Financial Structure for a More Stable and Equitable Economy,” was held at the Ford Foundation’s New York City headquarters. The conference addressed both financial reform and poverty in the context of Minsky’s work on financial instability and his proposal for a public job guarantee. Principal speakers included Federal Reserve Board Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin; Mary John Miller, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Domestic Finance; Federal Reserve Bank Presidents James Bullard, Narayana Kocherlakota, and Eric Rosengren; Thomas M. Hoenig, vice chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Branko Milanovic, lead economist, the World Bank; and Alan S. Blinder, professor of economics and public affairs, Princeton University.
The Minsky Summer Seminar, held at Blithewood each June, provides a rigorous discussion of both theoretical and applied aspects of Minsky’s economics, with an examination of meaningful prescriptive policies relevant to the ongoing global financial crisis. The weeklong Seminar is geared toward graduate students, recent graduates, and those at the beginning of their professional or academic careers. To facilitate students’ and researchers’ access to the work of this influential economist, selected papers in the Minsky Archive, housed at Blithewood, were digitized and made available through the Bard Digital Commons in 2012.
The Levy Institute’s publications program forms the main pillar of its outreach activities. In an effort to raise the level of public debate on a broad spectrum of economic issues, the Institute publishes research findings, conference proceedings, policy analyses, and other materials, all of which are available at www.levyinstitute.org. In addition to a digital library, the newly expanded website features information on the Institute’s research initiatives, scholars, and upcoming events. A companion website, www.multiplier-effect.org, provides Levy Institute scholars the opportunity to comment on new developments in real time.
Policy coordination and information exchange are critical to resolving the current sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. As part of this effort, the Institute posts Greek translations of selected publications addressing aspects of the crisis. In a related initiative, a special section in the Sunday edition of the Athens-based financial daily Express is devoted to the Institute’s research and policy recommendations in this area, and includes interviews with its scholars and associates. The Levy Institute is also partnering with the Labour Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (INE-GSEE) to design and implement an emergency employment program for the social economy sector in Greece, along the lines of Hyman Minsky's employer-of-last-resort policy proposal. The Institute’s partnership with INE-GSEE includes the development and application of a stock-flow consistent model for simulating the Greek economy, similar to the Institute's proprietary U.S. macro model. And, in association with the Paris-based Veblen Institute for Economic Reforms, the Institute is copublishing a series of public policy briefs in French translation. The “Next Step” Papers are aimed at generating viable proposals for reforming the financial architecture—in Europe and elsewhere—and making these proposals accessible to a broader network of reform advocates and policy makers.