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A conversation about MMT

Its Wednesday and my blog light day. The Australian Federal government unveiled their grand fiscal statement (aka Budget) last night. I am pretty tied up today and need some time to read the papers and data accompanying the release. As a result I will reserve my commentary until tomorrow. But if one word would suffice then my conclusion is – pathetic. More words would tell you that there is nothing visionary about this statement or strategy. There is lots of cash lollies for people – well not much for the lower-paid and plenty for the top-end-of-town but no longer term investment strategy which would address the other crisis humanity is facing other than the health, unemployment and poverty crises – and I refer to the climate crisis. I also do not support the tax cuts which hand over big increases in disposable income at the top end of the income distribution and very little at the other end. The longer term consequences of that strategy will be to limit the non-inflationary size of government, which, of course, is the conservative strategy. But what will be left of government when things stabilise will not be very progressive. Anyway, I will consider the documents later today and comment tomorrow. Probably.

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Tax cuts are unlikely to work at present and are less effective than government spending increases

As governments grapple with the dissonance that the pandemic is causing them – realising that their old mainstream economics narratives are not going to cut it any more but still reluctant to admit that and pass onto a new phase of creative policy making – we are observing these contradictions in both statements about fiscal policy and monetary policy. The Australian government, for example, is convinced tax cuts are required but have observed that recent tax cuts, before the pandemic hardly stimulated any spending. Further research from the US is demonstrating that payments to households under the – Coronavirus Aid and Economic Security (CARES) Act – may not have resulting in the spending boost that was modelled as part of the policy design. And then on the monetary policy front, central bankers like Madame Lagarde are strutting around making grand statements about becoming flexible with their definition of price stability (that is, saying they will allow for higher inflation before they increase rates) despite not being able to remotely meet their current stability levels with deflation looming. I covered a statement along similar lines from the US Federal Reserve Bank boss recently – US Federal Reserve statement signals a new phase in the paradigm shift in macroeconomics (August 31, 2020). It all adds up to what happens when a paradigm is shifting and the old school are caught out – no longer able to really offer anything of use but hanging on to their status nonetheless. Pragmatism usually passes them by as it will in this case.

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Podcast – Unemployment, Surpluses and Investment

Its Wednesday so a shorter blog post today with an interview I recently did with financial market educational professionals, the i3 (Investment Innovation Institute) where I cover a range of topics of current interest from an Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) perspective. Then we get down with some very cool music. And that is it. And I turned off the debate today in the US after 5 or so minutes and wondered what the hell that nation has become. None of the contenders is electable would be my conclusion.

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British-EU disputes suggest the Tories are set to break away from the sordid Thatcher legacy

Wednesday brings music and not much blog posting activity. But I have been following the debate in the UK and Europe about the likelihood of some sort trade deal or not with some interest and amusement. There are several facets to the discussion: (a) the on-going hypocrisy of the European Union elites; (b) the necessity for major state intervention in Britain (and everywhere) and the possibility that the Tories will abandon Margaret Thatcher’s EU single market legacy is another sign that the paradigm shift in macroeconomics is well under way. (c) the way in which the Labour party are being wedged on the issue and refusing to come out in support of further state aid. Instead, inasmuch as they are saying anything, they are just repeating the mindless, neoliberal dogma about ‘free trade’. They will lose on that one, one thinks. All round it is interesting to follow as an external observer.

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 10

Here is Episode 10 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. This is the last episode in Season 1. We are experimenting with new formats and will be back later in 2020 with some live shows (if the virus abates). In this episode, I continue my talks with special guest is Warren Mosler. We talked about the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) approach to trade, which confounds a lot of people but is really quite straightforward. And, as usual on a Wednesday, we have some great music.

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 9

Here is Episode 9 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. In this episode, my special guest is Warren Mosler. We talked about the idea that taxpayers fund government spending and the related nuances. And when your done with that we mourn the loss of the best electric guitarist in history according to my assessment.

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 8

Here is Episode 8 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. In this episode, my special guest was Warren Mosler. We talked about the difference between issuing bonds and overt monetary financing, and issues related to those concepts and practices. And when your done with that you can enjoy some great Latin Jazz from the Monterey Peninsular – from 1959 (a good vintage).

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 7

Here is Episode 7 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. This is the third- and final part of my discussion on the Job Guarantee with Dr Pavlina Tcherneva and in this episode we discuss the applicability of Job Guarantee to nations that have both fiscal and external deficits and are exposed to international currency markets. While such a nation faces somewhat different pressures from their external sector, the point remains that if they have their own currency, they can always ensure that all the available productive resources at their disposal can be fully employed. The catch is that that level of activity may not deliver a high standard of material prosperity. We discuss examples such as Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa and Argentina.

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 6

Here is Episode 6 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. This is the second-part of my discussion on the Job Guarantee with Dr Pavlina Tcherneva and in this episode we discuss the central role that employment buffer stocks play in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), a point that is often missed by those who think it is just a job creation program and of secondary (and dispensable) importance to the ‘banking’ aspects of MMT. As you will hear (and see), the Job Guarantee is an integral part of MMT and that status is derived from the elemental insights that MMT offers about the way a currency works. If a person thinks the Job Guarantee is an unnecessary add-on to MMT, then they haven’t understood the basics of MMT. It is as simple as that.

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MMTed Q&A – Episode 5

Here is Episode 5 in our weekly MMTed Q&A series. And when you are done with the answers you can Zoom some mates and have a dance party to the music that follows. This week we further reduced the length of the Episode and focused on one big issue with a special guest.

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