Stock-flow-consistent macroeconomic models: A survey

Levy Institute Working paper n.891, May 2017
Michalis Nikiforos and Gennaro Zezza

The stock-flow consistent (SFC) modeling approach, grounded in the pioneering work of Wynne Godley and James Tobin in the 1970s, has been adopted by a growing number of researchers in macroeconomics, especially after the publication of Godley and Lavoie (2007), which provided a general framework for the analysis of whole economic systems, and the recognition that macroeconomic models integrating real markets with flow-of-funds analysis had been particularly successful in predicting the Great Recession of 2007–9. We introduce the general features of the SFC approach for a closed economy, showing how the core model has been extended to address issues such as financialization and income distribution. We next discuss the implications of the approach for models of open economies and compare the methodologies adopted in developing SFC empirical models for whole countries. We review the contributions where the SFC approach is being adopted as the macroeconomic closure of microeconomic agent-based models, and how the SFC approach is at the core of new research in ecological macroeconomics. Finally, we discuss the appropriateness of the name “stock-flow consistent” for the class of models we survey.
Forthcoming in Journal of Economic Surveys

Stock-Flow Consistent Ecological Macroeconomics

Tim Jackson, Peter Victor and Ali Asjad Naqvi, ‘Towards a Stock-Flow Consistent Ecological Macroeconomics’, ESRC Passage Working paper Series 15-02, 2015
Abstract: Modern western economies (in the Eurozone and elsewhere) face a number of challenges over the coming decades. Achieving full employment, meeting climate change and other key environmental targets, and reducing inequality rank amongst the highest of these. The conventional route to achieving these goals has been to pursue economic growth. But this route has created two critical problems for modern economies. The first is that higher growth leads (ceteris parabis) to higher environmental impact. The second is that fragility in financial balances has accompanied relentless demand expansion.
The prevailing global response to the first problem has been to encourage a decoupling of output from impacts by investing in green technologies (green growth). But this response runs the risk of exacerbating problems associated with the over-leveraging of households, firms and governments and places undue confidence in unproven and imagined technologies. An alternative approach is to reduce the pace of growth and to restructure economies around green services (post-growth). But the potential dangers of declining growth rates lie in increased inequality and in rising unemployment. Some more fundamental arguments have also been made against the feasibility of interest-bearing debt within a post-growth economy.
The work described in this paper was motivated by the need to address these fundamental dilemmas and to inform the debate that has emerged in recent years about the relative merits of green growth and post-growth scenarios. In pursuit of this aim we have developed a suite of macroeconomic models based on the methodology of Post-Keynesian Stock Flow Consistent (SFC) system dynamics. Taken together these models represent the first steps in constructing a new macroeconomic synthesis capable of exploring the economic and financial dimensions of an economy confronting resource or environmental constraints. Such an ecological macroeconomics includes an account of basic macroeconomic variables such as the GDP, consumption, investment, saving, public spending, employment, and productivity. It also accounts for the performance of the economy in terms of financial balances, net lending positions, money supply, distributional equity and financial stability.
This report illustrates the utility of this new approach through a number of specific analyses and scenario explorations. These include an assessment of the Piketty hypothesis (that slow growth increases inequality), an analysis of the ‘growth imperative’ hypothesis (that interest bearing debt requires economic growth for stability), and an analysis of the financial and monetary implications of green investment policies. The work also assesses the scope for fiscal policy to improve social and environmental outcomes

Money Creation under Full-reserve Banking

Patrizio Lainà, ‘Money Creation under Full-reserve Banking: A Stock-Flow Consistent Model’, Levy Institute Working Paper n.851, 2015
Abstract: This paper presents a stock-flow consistent model+ of full-reserve banking. It is found that in a steady state, full-reserve banking can accommodate a zero-growth economy and provide both full employment and zero inflation. Furthermore, a money creation experiment is conducted with the model. An increase in central bank reserves translates into a two-thirds increase in demand deposits. Money creation through government spending leads to a temporary increase in real GDP and inflation. Surprisingly, it also leads to a permanent reduction in consolidated government debt. The claims that full-reserve banking would precipitate a credit crunch or excessively volatile interest rates are found to be baseless

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A Minskyan-Fisherian SFC model

A new working paper by Ítalo Pedrosa and Antonio Carlos Macedo e Silva, “A Minskyan-Fisherian SFC model for analyzing the linkages of private financial behavior and public debt” is available here
Abstract: This paper builds a stock-flow consistent (SFC) model to analyze how private financial behavior impacts fiscal variables, by exploring the linkages between the financial and productive sides of the economy with prices given by a Phillips curve. We study three different fiscal expenditure regimes: 1. Automatic stabilizer: government expenditures follow an exogenous long run trend; 2. Countercyclical fiscal expenditure; 3. Fiscal austerity: government reduces expenditures when it faces an increase in its debt to capital ratio. The model has three major implications, ratifying Keynesian intuitions. First, an increase in public debt is an unintended consequence of contractionary financial conditions. Second, in most cases countercyclical fiscal expenditures improve both the economic activity and the trajectory of public debt to GDP. Third, austerity policies postpone and magnify the after-shock adjustment, and may not be compatible with fiscal soundness.

Flow of funds at the ECB

This article, “Flow-of-funds analysis at the ECB”, provides an excellent technical description of the European system for flow-of-fund statistics, and some good examples of how they are used at the ECB.
I would recommend it for anyone interesed in anyone doing SFC empirical modeling. It is a pity that the authors have not discovered yet the work of Godley and the book Monetary economics, which is well known at the Bank of England.

An SFC model on Brazil

José Luis Oreiro gave me the link to this paper

Public Debt Management in a Dynamic Stock-Flow Consistent Model: Implications for the Brazilian case
Authors: Breno Santana Lobo – José Luis Oreiro

The existence of floating-rate bonds in the composition of public debt is associated with some factors that tend to negatively affect the trajectory of the economy over time. The main objective of this article is to analyze the changes caused by a change in the public debt composition over the dynamics of a given economy. In order to do that , we built a dynamic stock-flow consistent post-keynesian model, in which the government bond market is modeled to reflect the main features of the Brazilian case. The parameters and initial conditions of the model are calibrated in order to form a baseline scenario that reflects in a satisfactory way the main stylized facts of modern economies. The simulation results indicate that the extinction of floating-rate bonds does not have negative effects on the economy in the short run. In the long run, however, uncontrolled public spending due to an increase in the debt service takes the economy to a path of instability. To stabilize the economy, government should adjust its economic policy to its debt management policy. Fiscal policy, monetary policy and income policy may be used by the government. A restrictive fiscal policy can be useful to stabilize the economy. However, it is associated with smaller growth rates. An active fiscal policy, associated with some specific objective, can reverse this result, suggesting that the fiscal policy can contribute to control inflation. Restrictive monetary policy can also be used to stabilize the economy. However, it is not the best policy to control inflation. Income policy has the best results.

Reducing Economic Imbalances in the Euro Area

A new Levy Institute Working Paper analyzing sectoral financial balances in the Euro Area

Gregor Semieniuk, Till van Treeck, and Achim Truger, ‘Reducing Economic Imbalances in the Euro Area: Some Remarks on the Current Stability Programs, 2011–14’ Levy Institute Working paper #694, October, 2011.

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