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 historic 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 have provided expert testimony to congressional committees and foreign governments on banking, finance, and employment structure, as well as media commentary based on policy options developed from Institute research.
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.
The Levy Economics Institute graduate programs in economic theory and policy offer innovative one- and two-year degree programs that draw on the extensive research and policy expertise of Institute scholars and select Bard College faculty. The MA and MS programs emphasize empirical and theoretical aspects of policy analysis through specialization in one of the Institute’s research areas. The close ties between the curriculum and the Institute’s research agenda allow students to experience graduate education as an application of economic theory to policy formulation. A 3+2 dual-degree option allows undergraduates to earn both a BA and the MS in five years. A 4+1 option leads to BA and MA degrees.
Recent events sponsored by the Levy Institute include the 27th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the State of the U.S. and World Economies, the 2018 Minsky Summer Seminar, and the Economics Seminar Series.
In April 2018, leading policy makers, economists, and analysts gathered at Blithewood for the Institute’s annual Minsky Conference. Titled “Financial Stability in a World of Rising Rates and the Repeal of Dodd-Frank,” the conference addressed the implications of the Trump administration’s tax reform measures, executive orders rescinding postcrisis financial regulations, and experiments by the Federal Reserve to deleverage its balance sheet. Speakers included Lakshman Achuthan, cofounder and chief operations officer, Economic Cycle Research Institute; Emilios Avgouleas, research associate, Levy Institute, and professor, University of Edinburgh Law School; Robert J. Barbera, codirector, Center for Financial Economics, Johns Hopkins University; Joerg Bibow, professor of economics, Skidmore College; Robert A. Blecker, professor of economics, American University; Thomas Ferguson, director of research, Institute for New Economic Thinking, and professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts Boston; James K. Galbraith, senior scholar, Levy Institute, and professor, University of Texas at Austin; Robert N. McCauley, senior adviser, Bank for International Settlements; William Milberg, dean and professor of economics, New School for Social Research; Rogerio Studart, professor of economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Walker F. Todd, research fellow, American Institute for Economic Research (AIER); and Frank Veneroso, president, Veneroso Associates, LLC.
The Minsky Summer Seminar, held on the Bard College campus, provides a rigorous discussion of both theoretical and applied aspects of Hyman P. 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 “The Financial Regulation Conundrum: Why We Should Discriminate in Favor of Long-Term Finance.”
The Levy Institute’s outreach activities include its publications program, with more than 1,700 publications issued to date. 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 events, with an average of 1.3 million hits and 850,000 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 of 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 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.