It’s Wednesday and I just finished a ‘Conversation’ with the Economics Society of Australia, where I talked about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to current policy issues. Some of the questions were excellent and challenging to answer, which is the best way. You can view an edited version of the discussion below and then enjoy The Meters.
Today’s blog post is a little different. Yesterday, the second running of our MMTed edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century – came to an end after running for the last 4-weeks. This is a free course developed by the University of Newcastle and – MMTed – which provides an introduction to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). The course is self-paced and contains a range of learning materials (videos, text, discussion forums, assignments, exercises, games, etc). After two years of offering, I thought you might like to see some statistics that relate to who participated in the course broken down by gender, educational background and geography. I have more data than I present today which I am examining as a way of understanding patterns of behaviour. We will use this data to improve our MMTed course offerings, as our funding base permits.
It is Wednesday and I have three live presentations to make throughout the day. So we will be brief today. The ABS released the latest Wage Price Index today which shows that annual wages growth in Australia was 2.3 per cent, compared to the official inflation rate of 3.5 per cent. I will analyse that data in detail tomorrow, given I am short of time today. But there was also disturbing data coming out of the UK last week on the wages front, which reflects a major imbalance in priorities and also tells me that there is no wage demands driving the current inflationary episode.
It’s Wednesday and I have a lot on today. I was scanning some transcripts from the European Parliament today as part of a project I am embarking on to update my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale (published May 2015). I have had lots of requests (including from publishers) to provide a revised version to take into account events since 2015, include Brexit and the pandemic. So my head is back in transcripts, hansard reports, and other official documents to create the trail of evidence I need to make the continued case against the monetary union and the EU, in general. I report today on a particularly interesting exchange that appeared in November 2020 in the European Parliament. And then we have some great harmonica playing.
It is hard to imagine that so little progress has been made in dismantling the mainstream macroeconomics paradigm over the last decade within the institutions of government. We have had the GFC, and now, the pandemic to disclose what does and does not happen when governments engage in relatively large fiscal shifts, yet the fictional world that is taught in mainstream university programs and echoed in policy making circles keeps being rehearsed. While researching the literature on rates of return on public infrastructure spending for a project (book chapter) I am working on at present, I came across the starkness of the mainstream deception. They are still claiming that public spending damages private spending.
There was an informative article in the UK Guardian over the week (January 13, 2022) – Australia’s supply chain issues likely to continue despite drop in Covid cases – which documented the many ways in which the pandemic has led to difficulties in getting goods supplied to retail outlets or their destination (in the case of overseas mail deliveries). The majority of recent articles about the economy and policy options have erred on the side of the need for interest rate hikes and fiscal policy cutbacks, which assume the rising inflation rates around the world are the demand-side events. But it is obvious to anyone other than private bank economists who are lobbying for interest rate rises to increase the profits for their banks, or, mainstream economists, who oppose central bank bond-buying and fiscal deficits, that the cause of the problems at present is not being driven by an explosion of nominal spending – neither from the non-government sector or through fiscal policy. Here is some more evidence to support that conclusion.
There has been some very interesting data and other research published recently that allow us to more fully understand what is driving the current inflationary pressures. There is a massive lobby now pushing the idea that the central bank bond-buying programs and the rising fiscal support during the pandemic are responsible. This sort of narrative is coming from the mainstream economists who are suffering attention-deficit disorders (even though they get the top platforms all the time to preach their views), and, who in the last few weeks have become increasingly vehement and personal in their attacks on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Their actions are a sign that the cognitive dissonance is getting to them and they realise they have been left behind. But the evidence that is continually coming out across a number of indicators continues to reaffirm my view that the current inflationary spikes are being driven by the total abnormal circumstances the world has found itself in as a result of the pandemic. The usual institutional and structural drivers of an inflation – which were certainly prominent in the 1970s – seem to be absent at present. I will present further research next week on this topic as I build further evidence.
It’s Wednesday and I am working on other things today, which need finishing. But today we saw once again why the Australian Labor Party is a disappointment. They regularly frame the economic debate in neoliberal terms, which make it harder to break out of the mainstream narratives. But, today, they even go social policy wrong and will support legislation that allows religious organisations (schools etc) to discriminate against gays and trans people under the platform of ‘religious freedom’. The legislation allegedly is designed to stop non-religious people saying bad things about Pentecostal extremists. But it just enshrines the rights of religious characters to inflict damage on others. And the Labor Party is supporting it. Spooky – which brings in my music feature today.
It’s Wednesday and a ‘blog lite’ day but there was an important speech delivered by the Governor of Australia’s central bank today that reveals the reasons that the RBA is once again refusing to be bullied into increasing interest rates rises by the ‘markets’. It is almost comical to observe the ludicrous self-importance that the ‘markets’ are exhibiting at the moment. Every day there is a new article or segment on the finance reports about how the ‘markets’ are going to win the battle against the RBA, who will buckle soon on interest rates. Well, yesterday the RBA didn’t buckle and they made fools of the ‘markets’. Remember the ‘markets’ is just a collection of economists who work for financial institutions that make more profits when interest rates are higher. It is no wonder they are always demanding higher rates. That is what vested interests are about. And for the media to just continually give them a platform, especially the national broadcaster, is a disgrace. Anyway, the ‘markets’ lost out yesterday and the RBA clearly doesn’t think that interest rate rises cure Covid and make trucks go faster.
It’s Wednesday and I am flat out finalising writing commitments and my teaching responsibilities at present. I have also been doing a lot of media interviews given the inflation release yesterday. People are believing the nonsense coming out in the financial press that inflation is ‘out-of-control’ and interest rates need to be hiked to stop it in its tracks. How will increasing interest rates allow a Covid sick truck driver to return to work any quicker? How will a rise in rates, increase the number of container ships in the right locations? Etc. It is tiresome to be sure. Today a video, some information about my university classes that we are making available to the general public (starting later today), and then some post minimalism.