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When ‘new’ is really old and doesn’t get us very far – latest BIS paper

It takes a while for the mainstream organisations in economics, banking and finance to start to realise that the framework they use cannot explain the actual events in the real world, without serious revision. The problem though, is that the overall framework is flawed and the typical ‘response to anomaly’ approach, which changes a few assumptions to get ‘novel results’ is inadequate because it leaves one blind to all the possible policy solutions. The latest example is the Bank of International Settlements paper – Indebted Demand (released October 19, 2021) – which was written by three economists from Princeton, Harvard and Chicago Booth, respectively. They now recognise that rising inequality and massive household debt is a major problem for economic growth and macroeconomic stability. But, in maintaining ‘conventional’ assumptions about the government sector, they miss the vital linkages in the story, that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economists have been providing for the last 25 or so years. Whether these responses to anomaly represent progress or different variations in a flawed ‘chess’ strategy is a matter of opinion. My thought is they are a largely a waste of time, although marginally, they demonstrate that elements of mainstream macro theory that were considered core elements a decade ago are no longer sustainable.

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