Dear AFEE colleagues,

I am delighted to share this note with you. It's the first Newsletter from the Binzagr Institute, a brand-new heterodox public policy think tank. Please share the link with other colleagues and follow us on social media for more frequent updates:

Note some of the papers by John Henry, Scott Fullwiler, Jim Cypher, Oren Levin-Waldman and many more familiar names.

Best wishes,

Fadhel Kaboub
(apologies for cross-posting)

June 2015 Newsletter

Welcome from the President

Fadhel Kaboub
Dear Friends of the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to our first e-Newsletter. The Binzagr Institute is an independent public policy think tank dedicated to the promotion of interdisciplinary research in the service of an improved quality of life for all members of society. We believe that providing decent employment opportunities for everyone ready, willing and able to work at a socially established living wage is an institutional prerequisite for social justice and sustainable prosperity.
I would like to invite you to read more about the Institute's vision and to engage with the Institute's publications via our social media presence. Our goal is to engage both the academic and non-academic communities in meaningful conversations about alternative policy solutions to the major challenges facing society today. We believe that the path to sustainable prosperity is not only achievable and affordable, but also unavoidable. Our common destiny as a global community simply means that every decision we make as individuals, organizations, or governments must carefully consider not just its financial sustainability, but more importantly its impact on people and the environment; hence our slogan: People. Planet. Prosperity.

I am indebted to my teacher, mentor, and dear friend,
Dr. Mathew Forstater, for serving as the Research Director of the Institute. His expertise and leadership are tremendous assets for our mission. We are both very grateful to Mr. Saeid Binzagr and the Binzagr family for embracing our vision for the Institute and for their generous financial support. We are also excited to welcome a group of distinguished scholars and public policy experts who have kindly agreed to serve on the Institute's Advisory Board, namely Bradley W. Bateman (President, Randolph College), Charles Goodhart (Professor, London School of Economics), Rebeca Grynspan (Secretary General of SEGIB), Jan Kregel (Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute), Julianne Malveaux  (President Emertia, Bennett College for Women), and john a. powell (Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society).

The Binzagr Institute is also proud to partner with
Denison University and the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Both universities have offered us a fantastic group of Research Assistants and Research Fellows. We are excited about the opportunity to engage our team of Research Scholars through our annual conference, workshops, seminars, and other activities at Denison and UMKC.

Finally, I'd like to invite you all to forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends and, in turn, to invite them to subscribe and to follow us on social media. I am very excited about the Institute's agenda and I look forward to engaging with you in this important work.

Best wishes,

Fadhel Kaboub
President, Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity
Associate Professor, Denison University

Save the Date: Oct. 2-3, 2015

The Binzagr Institute will host its first annual conference on Sustainable Prosperity at Denison University in Granville, Ohio on October 2nd and 3rd, 2015. Mark your calender and stay tuned for more information about the conference program and registration as well accommodations and logistics. In case you are unable to join us in person, you can still watch the entire conference online via live stream and you can participate with questions and comments via our social media channels. >> Click here to add it to your calender.

Meet Our Team

We are delighted to work with a very talented and diverse group of Research Scholars, Research Fellows, and Research Assistants. Our team of Research Scholars includes: Ellen Brown, James Cypher, Lorenzo Esposito, Scott Fullwiler, John Henry, Michael Hoexter, Sara Hsu, Nikolaos Karagiannis, Michael Kelsay, Oren Levin-Waldman, Yan Liang, Giuseppe Mastromatteo, Mark Peacock, Timothy Sharpe, Pavlina Tcherneva, and David Zalewski.

The Institute's
Research Fellows are four young scholars who are in the process of completing their graduate studies: Shama Azad (UMKC), Raúl Carrillo (Columbia Law School), Olafur Margeirsson (Univesity of Exeter), and Brian Werner (UMKC).

Our partnership with UMKC and Denison offered us a terrific group of
Research Assistants consisting of six UMKC economics graduate students (Aqdas Afzal, Abdulelah Alrasheedy, Natalie Brown, Andrew Kujaribu, Brian Matlock, and Usha Pradhan) and five undergraduate students from Denison University (Alexandra Lloyd, Kristóf Oltvai, Frances Osei-Bonsu, Philip Papaioannou, and Brenda Seng).

Working Papers

John Henry

Thorstein Veblen, the Provisioning Process, and the Need for a Job Guarantee Program (John F. Henry)

Usinga Veblenian analysis, John Henry, Research Scholar, argues that in the absence of a Job Guarantee program, the normal functioning of a modern capitalist economy is unlikely to satisfy the requirements of the provisioning process necessary to allow a viable social organization. Beyond the issue of unemployment, a host of other concerns can at least partially be addressed with such a program. >> Read complete text (pdf)
Mark Peacock

Market Processes and the Ethics of Consumption (Mark Peacock)

Consumers are often implicated in upholding unjust economic practices that arise when they purchase commodities produced in ethically unacceptable ways. Consumers are, however, ignorant about the production of many of the commodities they buy, and so they often unwittingly consume such products. Mark Peacock, Research Scholar, asks whether consumers are culpable for their ignorance about the commodities they purchase. >> Read complete text (PDF)
James Cypher

The Double Economic Bubbles of the 21st Century: An End of the "American" Dream? (James Cypher)

From the stock market crash, to the housing market collapse, the burst of the financial bubble has had a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy. James Cypher, Research Scholar, argues that the "American" dream has become merely a mirage for tens of millions of U.S. households who once saw it as their legitimate destiny. >> Read complete text (pdf)
Olafur Margeirsson

Foreign Direct Investment: A Focused Literature Review (Olafur Margeirsson)

Foreign Direct Investment can be a tool for many developing countries to boost economic efficiency. However, Olafur Margeirsson, Research Fellow, argues that it can also have costly consequences detrimental to development.  He discusses the literature of the subject, as well as his own thoughts on the downfalls of Foreign Direct Investment.
>> Read complete text (pdf)

Oren Levin-Waldman

Taylorism, Efficiency, and the Minimum Wage: Implications for a High Road Economy (Oren M. Levin-Waldman)

Refocusing the argument of minimum wage back onto the essence of the existence of the minimum wage, Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Research Scholar, addresses the question of how we want our society to be. Through CPS data, he analyzes today's working class of unskilled workers and argues the efficiency wage theory proposed by Frederick Winslow Taylor could be applied to the unskilled workers of the modern day. >> Read complete text (pdf)
Scott T. Fullwiler

Sustainable Finance: Building a More General Theory of Finance (Scott T. Fullwiler)

Traditional financial theory is driven by a narrow set of values—namely that only financial risk and financial return matter. Scott Fullwiler, Research Scholar, argues that the emerging field of sustainable finance—largely practitioner-driven until recently—provides an opportunity to build a more general theory of finance that incorporates a broader set of concerns and realities, demonstrating at the same time that traditional financial theory is only a special case of the more general theory. >> Read complete text (pdf)

Policy Notes

Ellen Brown

The Public Bank Solution

In this Policy Note, Ellen Brown, Research Scholar, proposes an alternative banking solution in the form of public banks. She writes, “With the full faith and credit of the government and the people behind them, with transparent best practices enforced by democratic checks and balances, and with a complimentary relationship to sustainable community banks, public banks can serve all of the people, not merely a few shareholders."  >> Read complete text (pdf)
Sara Hsu

China's Shadow Banking Sector

Sara Hsu, Research Scholar, assesses the risks associated with the rapid growth in China's shadow banking sector, which grew to 46 trillion RMB ($7.5 trillion) in 2013. In this Policy Note, Hsu also delineates the new regulations imposed by China's Banking Regulatory Commission.  >> Read complete text (pdf)
Michael F. Hoexter

Governments Can and Must Lead Climate Action via Public Investment

In this Policy Note, Michael F. Hoexter, Research Scholar, shifts the debate away from the mainstream focus on disincentives and pollution payments as policies to address climate change. Instead, Hoexter proposes a comprehensive set of public investment strategies that can create jobs, spearhead more innovation in green technology, and address the root causes of global climate change. >> Read the complete text (pdf).
Raúl Carrillo

Postal Banking: Finance for Everyone

Raúl Carrillo, Research Fellow, reports that 28% of US households are either unbanked or underbanked. Carrillo argues that USPS can be institutionalized as a bank to provide all households with access to banking services as an alternative to predatory lending institutions. >> Read complete text (pdf)

An Employer of Last Resort for Italy: It's cheaper than you think!

Giuseppe Mastromatteo and Lorenzo Esposito
Building on Hyman Minsky's work, Giuseppe Mastromatteo and Lorenzo Esposito, Research Scholars, make the case for introducing an employer of last resort program in Italy and demonstrate that it would be a superior approach to macroeconomic stabilization than the lender of last resort policies used by the European Central Bank. They also estimate that the $14 trillion spent by the EU and US to bailout the banking system could have funded a true full employment program for 20 years. >> Read complete text (pdf)


Aqdas Afzal
The Binzagr Institute would like to congratulate Aqdas Afzal, Research Assistant, who recently won the “Student Scholars Competition” held under the auspices of the Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT). The prize was awarded at AFIT’s annual meeting held in Portland, Oregon that took place from April 8-11, 2015. Afzal is a Fulbright scholar from Pakistan and is currently pursuing his doctorate in economics at the University of Missouri- Kansas City.
The prize-winning paper titled “What Does the Glorious Revolution Really Tell Us About Economic Institutions?” evaluates how the Glorious Revolution, a seminal event in British economic and political history, has been analyzed within New Institutional Economics (NIE). Afzal argues that the NIE’s institutional analysis, in general, and that of the Glorious Revolution, in particular, shows significant theoretical weakness. Instead, Afzal uses the Critical-Institutionalist method to present a comprehensive institutional analysis of the Glorious Revolution. Bringing forth evidence from economic history, Afzal forwards the changing nature of resource distribution and technology in Britain as key variables. The paper also highlights the role of the “Whigs” as key agents in bringing about the economic and political changes that came to be known as the Glorious Revolution. Afzal's paper can be accessed here

Media Coverage

CCTV Interview
Fadhel Kaboub, President of the Binzagr institute, was interviewed by CCTV America about the state of the U.S. economy. He suggested that the U.S. should invest in people and in jobs rather than tax cuts and trickle down economic policies. Kaboub proposed a federally-funded community development jobs program to hire unemployed members of local communities in order to assess and serve the needs of their communities
. >> Watch the Video Here.

Documentary on the Job Guarantee

The Binzagr Institute was featured in a new documentary film entitled Transitions for Society: Job Guarantee and Basic Income. The film is produced by the Prosocial Progress Foundation. It provides a basic introduction to the benefits of a Job Guarantee program and how it can be implemented. >> Watch the Video Here

In Memoriam: Robert E. Prasch

Robert E. Prasch
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Robert E. Prasch, Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and Professor of Economics at Middlebury College. Bob passed away suddenly and peacefully at home in Amherst, MA on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at the age of 56. Bob was a brilliant teacher, insightful mentor, original scholar, prolific writer, and a wonderful person all around. He genuinely cared about his fellow heterodox economists and never failed to mentor young scholars with whom he crossed paths. We will always remember Bob’s intellect, generosity, humor, kindness, and passion for making the world a more just, peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous place for all.
Before joining Middlebury College in 2000, Bob taught at Vassar College, the University of Maine, and San Francisco State University. He was educated at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. Economics), the University of Denver (M.A. Economics), and the University of Colorado, Boulder (B.A. History and Economics). Bob served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic Issues and the Review of Political Economy. He also served on the Board of Directors of both the Association for Evolutionary Economics and the Association for Social Economics. Additionally, Bob was past President of the Association for Evolutionary Economics.

Bob published more than 120 academic articles, book chapters, and reviews. He also wrote How Markets Work: Supply, Demand and the ‘Real World’ (2008) and co-edited Thorstein Veblen and the Revival of Free Market Capitalism (2007) and Race, Liberalism, and Economics (2006). During the last few years, Bob was in the process of finishing two books that will be published posthumously: A Wage of Her Own: The Rise and Fall of Progressive Era Minimum Wage Legislation for Women: 1913-1923 and The Political Economy of Empire. Bob’s deep knowledge of history, politics, and economics made him an insightful public intellectual. He wrote frequently for a number of popular blogs including
New Economic Perspectives, Huffington Post, Salon, Common Dreams, and Translation Exercises.

Bob was one of the first political economists to join the Binzagr Institute. He accepted our invitation with enthusiasm and expressed great interest in contributing to our research agenda on financial sovereignty, job creation, and sustainability. We have lost a great friend, scholar, and public intellectual. Our hearts go out to his wife, Professor Falguni Sheth of Amherst College, and to his entire family. May he rest in peace.
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