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Bard College Catalogue 2021-22
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 both a graduating senior and a graduating MS student from the Levy Institute’s Graduate Programs; 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, held in honor of Distinguished Scholar Hyman Minsky.
In May 2021, the 29th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference was held as a virtual event and featured speakers from government, academia, financial institutions, and the media, as well as Levy Institute scholars. Presenters included Lakshman Achuthan, Economic Cycle Research Institute; Robert Barbera, Johns Hopkins University; Peter Coy, Bloomberg; Charles Evans, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Jason Furman, Harvard University; Charles Goodhart, London School of Economics; Michael Greenberger, University of Maryland School of Law; Bruce Greenwald, Columbia Business School; Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs; David Henry, Reuters; Lex Hoogduin, University of Groningen; Kathryn Judge, Columbia Law School; Robert Kaplan, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; Bruce Kasman, JP Morgan; Denis MacShane, Avisa Partners; Patricia McCoy, Boston College; James Paulsen, Leuthold Group; Paolo Savona, CONSOB; Frank Veneroso, Veneroso Associates; and Binyamin Appelbaum, Deborah Solomon, and Jeanna Smialek, New York Times. Recordings of the event and individual videos are available at levyinstitute.org/conferences/minsky2021.
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, 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 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 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, and averages 1.8 million hits and 1.5 million page views per month. A companion website, multiplier-effect.org, provides scholars the opportunity to comment on new developments in real time.
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 Wynne Godley’s work 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 reveal the effects of intracountry trade and financial flows. In addition to the U.S. and Greek stock-flow models, a new model was recently constructed for Italy that follows and projects economic growth and employment outcomes of Italy’s government policies.
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.