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Bard College Catalogue 2020-21
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 the following 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 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.
The Institute also sponsors conferences and other events that bring leading policy makers, economists, and analysts to Bard, including the annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the State of U.S. and World Economies.
The April 2020 Minsky Conference was canceled due to concerns about COVID-19. In 2019, the 28th Minsky Conference, “Financial Stability, Economic Policy, and Economic Nationalism,” addressed, among other topics, economic conditions in the United States and Europe, the impact of the Trump administration’s economic policies with regard to a possible repeat of the 2008 economic crisis, and the increasing stock of private corporate debt and rising house prices, which in both the United States and Europe have reached levels similar to those seen before the Great Depression. Speakers included Lakshman Achuthan, cofounder and chief operations officer, Economic Cycle Research Institute; Daniel Alpert, managing partner, Westwood Capital, LLC; James Bullard, president and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Ron Feldman, first vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; Panicos Demetriades, professor of financial economics, University of Leicester, and former governor, Central Bank of Cyprus; Michael Greenberger, professor, School of Law, and director, Center for Health and Homeland Security, University of Maryland; Bruce C. N. Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Columbia University; Catherine L. Mann, global chief economist at Citibank; Paul McCulley, senior fellow, Cornell Law School, and former chief economist and managing director, PIMCO; Lex Hoogduin, chairman, LCH Ltd. and SA, and professor, University of Groningen; Seth B. Carpenter, managing director and chief U.S. economist, UBS; and Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, president of the Levy Institute.
In May 2020, the Institute teamed with Italy’s Universita’ degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale to present a virtual conference on the legacy of Wynne Godley, widely considered one of the most insightful macroeconomic forecasters of his generation and a distinguished scholar at the Levy Institute. Recordings of the event and individual videos are available at levyinstitute.org/news/godley-conference-2020.
Other events include the Minsky Summer Seminar and the Economics Seminar Series, a series of workshops and lectures on topics such as gender-sensitive macroeconomic modeling and time use and economic well-being. The annual Minsky Summer Seminar, held in June on the Bard College campus, provides a rigorous discussion of both the theoretical and applied aspects of Minsky’s economics, with an examination of meaningful prescriptive policies relevant to the current economic and financial outlook. The weeklong seminar, geared toward graduate students, recent graduates, and those at the beginning of their professional or academic careers, also features special sessions introducing the theory and applications of Wynne Godley’s stock-flow consistent modeling methods, supported by hands-on workshops. The 2020 Minsky Seminar was postponed to June 2021, due to uncertainty about the duration and extent of the coronavirus pandemic.
To facilitate students’ and researchers’ access to Hyman Minsky’s work, selected papers in the Minsky Archive, housed at Blithewood, are made available through the Bard Digital Commons (digitalcommons.bard.edu). The archive includes more than 500 digitized articles, speeches, class lectures, and notes by Minsky, along with a comprehensive guide to help researchers locate the material they would like to examine. As of May 2020, there have been more than 181,000 total downloads from the archive, with more than 21,000 in the past year. Also housed at Blithewood, as of 2020, is the John Kenneth and Catherine Atwater Galbraith Library Collection. Plans are to convert an existing space into the Galbraith Reading Room and make the collection available to students and scholars.
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 online 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 1 million page views per month. A companion website, multiplier-effect.org, provides scholars the opportunity to comment on new developments in real time.
In 2019–20, the Institute responded quickly to the COVID-19 crisis, issuing policy briefs and papers that addressed such concerns as widening economic inequality as a result of the pandemic, the impact on state and local budgets of the federal government’s failure to coordinate a national public health response, the vulnerability of U.S. corporations in the face of a global slowdown, and ongoing job losses and mass unemployment. All Levy reporting on the pandemic can be found at levyinstitute.org/pubs/LevyNews/2020/covid-19 .
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.
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.