Bard College Catalogue 2016-17
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 and executive vice president of Bard College.
The Levy Economics Institute Master of Science in Economic Theory and Policy is 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 theoretical aspects of policy analysis through specialization in one of the Institute’s key research areas. 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 Levy Institute include two research workshops, the 25th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the State of the U.S. and World Economies, the 2016 Minsky Summer Seminar, and the Economics Seminar Series.
In September 2015, the Institute hosted a workshop on “Distributional Impacts of Climate Policy: A Comprehensive Approach,” part of a research project addressing the need for a new, more comprehensive methodology for estimating the impact on households—in terms of earnings, income, and wealth—of various policy alternatives for reducing carbon emissions in the United States.
In March 2016, the Institute organized a three-day workshop on “Gender and Macro–economics: Current State of Research and Future Directions” with the goal of advancing the existing framework for integrating gender and unpaid work into macroeconomic analysis—a prerequisite for developing more equitable economic policies. More than 40 economists and researchers attended, including UN Conference on Trade and Development Senior Economic Affairs Officer Elissa Braunstein; Valeria Esquivel, research coordinator on gender and development, UN Research Institute for Social Development; Levy Institute Senior Scholar Nancy Folbre, director, Program on Gender and Care Work, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Caren Grown, senior director, Gender Group, World Bank; Jan Kregel, Senior Scholar and director of research, Levy Institute; Ruth Levine, director, Global Development and Population Program, Hewlett Foundation; and Levy Institute Senior Scholar Ajit Zacharias, director of the Distribution of Income and Wealth program.
In April 2016, leading policy makers, economists, and analysts from the United States and Europe gathered at Blithewood for the Institute’s 25th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference. Titled “Will the Global Economic Environment Constrain U.S. Growth and Employment?” the conference addressed, among other issues, whether what appears to be a global economic slowdown will jeopardize the implementation and efficiency of Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms, the transition of monetary policy away from zero interest rates, and the “new” normal of fiscal policy, as well as the use of fiscal policies aimed at achieving sustainable growth and full employment. Speakers included European Central Bank Vice President Vítor Constâncio; Richard Berner, director, Office of Financial Research, U.S. Department of the Treasury; former U.S. Representative Barney Frank; Bruce C. N. Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Columbia University; Henry Kaufman, president, Henry Kaufman & Company, Inc.; Robert J. Barbera, codirector, Center for Financial Economics, The Johns Hopkins University; Morgan Stanley Managing Director Martin L. Leibowitz; reporter Peter Eavis and columnist Eduardo Porter of The New York Times; business and finance writer Theo Francis, The Wall Street Journal; and FT Alphaville blogger Izabella Kaminska.
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, are made available through the Bard Digital Commons (digitalcommons.bard.edu).
The Institute is a cosponsor, with the Bard Economics Program and Economics Club, of the Economics Seminar Series, which is dedicated to furthering the exchange of economic ideas in the greater Bard community. The series is broad in focus, with guest lectures that have included “The Many Faces of Poverty in the United States,” “What Economists Can Learn from Human Rights Law,” and “Re-embracing Keynes: Scholars, Admirers, and Skeptics in the Aftermath of the Crisis.”
The Levy Institute’s publications program forms the main pillar of its outreach activities, with more than 1,600 publications issued. 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 levyinstitute.org. In addition to a digital library, the website features information on the Institute’s research initiatives, scholars, and upcoming events, averaging 1.2 million hits and 830,000 page views per month. A companion website, multiplier-effect.org, provides scholars the opportunity to comment on new developments in real time.
Policy coordination and information exchange are critical to resolving the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. As part of this effort, the Levy Institute has posted Greek translations of selected publications addressing aspects of the crisis. The Institute has also designed an emergency employment program for Greece’s social economy sector and developed a stock-flow consistent model for simulating the Greek economy. The Levy Institute Model for Greece (LIMG) builds on the work of the late Distinguished Scholar Wynne Godley, and is a flexible tool for the analysis economic policy alternatives for the medium term. The LIMG is part of a broader effort to develop models for other eurozone countries that will, in addition, reveal the effects of intracountry trade and financial flows.
And as part of its work investigating public employment guarantees as a path toward inclusive development and pro-poor growth, the Levy Institute has developed estimates of time-adjusted income poverty for Argentina, Chile, Ghana, Mexico, South Korea, Tanzania, and Turkey to more accurately measure poverty in these countries and to formulate more effective policies for reducing poverty while promoting gender equity. The new, alternative Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty provides a true profile of poverty—its incidence, depth, and demographic characteristics—and highlights the connection between time constraints and poverty status.