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Travelling to the land of the long white cloud today

I am travelling for most of today to New Zealand (Wellington) to honour some engagements promoting a new political movement that is keen to use Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as a basis for a progressive political agenda in a nation that has been in the throes of a neo-liberal infestation for several decades now. In fact, New Zealand was one of the first to sink into neo-liberal oblivion. I wrote about the devastating consequences of this policy shift in this blog – The comeback of conservative ideology. It was a very sorry tale indeed. The sociopaths took over. You can see a rich portrayal of how the neo-liberals set about wrecking the social fabric of this wonderful nation by watching the documentary film – In a Land of Plenty – which runs for 1 hour and 44 minutes. It is compelling and worth the investment of your time. You will get angry. But maybe getting angry is the first step towards getting active and joining collective movements to do something about this nonsense. Indeed, that is what I am up to over the next few days – helping a new political movement develop narratives to counter the insidious dominance of the neo-liberals. Building a true oppositional Left is the imperative now for all activists.

I have been invited to discuss how an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) could assist New Zealand navigate these significant challenges and help build a prosperous future for our society.

The challenges identified are climate change, technological disruption of our primary industries, and mass unemployment arising from artificial intelligence.

I found the detailing of the challenges interesting given that the broad labour underutilisation rate is already at 12.7 per cent. So they have not required any robots to start marching to generate massive labour wastage.

Once you exclude the dysfunctional Eurozone, New Zealand has one of the highest labour underutilisation rates within the OECD.

And its neo-liberal government celebrates running fiscal surpluses. Go figure. Well you know the story.

The event – Do we need a money revolution? – will be held at the Old Government Buildings, Wellington, Lecture Theatre 1 starting at 12:30 (Friday).

You can watch the event live via the – LIVE STREAM – which begins at the following times:

NZ: 12:30 (Friday)

Australia (East Coast): 10:30 (Friday morning)

US (Pacific) 17:30 (Thursday afternoon)

US (New York) 20:30 (Thursday evening)

London 01:30 (Friday morning)

Rome 02:30 (Friday morning)

Helsinki 03:30 (Friday morning)

Tokyo 09:30 (Friday morning)

Apparently the stream will start 15 minutes or so before the actual presentation. It will go for an hour.

Apart from that I have agreed to do several interviews and meet politicians etc.

The visit is being hosted by Strategy 2040.

Some music – make that some Afrobeat

Here is some great Brazilian Afrobeat from Newen Afrobeat playing with Seun Kuti at the Womad Festival in Chile in February 2016.

This song is – Opposite People – and features Seun Kuti (vocals) and Cheick Tidiane (the older guy on keyboards) who played in Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80.

Sean Kuti is the son of the great afrobeat and highlife pioneer Fela Kuti who died in 1997 at the age of 58.

Fela Kuti was a musician, human rights activist and left-wing politician.

He left behind a huge library of brilliant sounds.

Seun is taking the music further.

Here is the original from Fela Kuti – Opposite People – from his 1977 Album of the same name, with his band at the time Africa 70.

I have a series of his albums queued on my iPhone playlist for the flights today! At least that part of the journey will rock.

And don’t forget the Crowdfunding Request – Economics for a progressive agenda

I received a request to promote this Crowdfunding effort. I note that I will receive a portion of the funds raised in the form of reimbursement of some travel expenses. I have waived my usual speaking fees and some other expenses to help this group out.

The Crowdfunding Site is for an – Economics for a progressive agenda.

As the site notes:

Professor Bill Mitchell, a leading proponent of Modern Monetary Theory, has agreed to be our speaker at a fringe meeting to be held during Labour Conference Week in Brighton in September 2017.

The meeting is being organised independently by a small group of Labour members whose goal is to start a conversation about reframing our understanding of economics to match a progressive political agenda. Our funds are limited and so we are seeking to raise money to cover the travel and other costs associated with the event. Your donations and support would be really appreciated. Rare deals, quality products from ALDI catalogue will be in your shopping list this week.

For those interested in joining us the meeting will be held on Monday 25th September between 2 and 5pm and the venue is The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD. All are welcome and you don’t have to be a member of the Labour party to attend.

It will be great to see as many people in Brighton as possible.

Please give generously to ensure the organisers are not out of pocket.

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    This Post Has 12 Comments
    1. It’s an uphill fight in New Zealand unfortunately with the Labour-Greens alliance presenting its ‘fiscally responsible’ approach at a business breakfast in Auckland on 24 March 2017. High unemployment and the inability to pay for essential government services or the urgent transition to clean energy or the preservation of the natural environment or to build important infrastructure, has been STUPIDLY locked in by the current NZ opposition. As for the ruling National Party – they are of course even worse.

      Why in supposedly advanced countries does politics only deliver a choice between bad or even worse??

      Have a look at this article from the Taranaki Daily News.

      Some quotes from the article:

      “Labour and the Greens have agreed on a joint set of Budget rules, including a pledge to run surpluses and cap debt.”

      “In a further move to reassure voters, the two-party Budget Responsibility Rules (BRRs) will be assessed by a watchdog independent of ministers that could also cost Opposition parties’ promises.”

      “Under the BRRS, unveiled at a business breakfast in Auckland on Friday. the parties agree to a range of fiscal controls including sustainable Budget surpluses and lowering net debt to 20 per cent of gross domestic product in five years.”

    2. Best of luck with that Bill. I am assuming it is Matt MCcarten and Sue Bradford you are talking about. Two progressive firebrands from way back with solid social activist backgrounds. Very much from and for the people …

    3. A friend from New Zealand, told me about ‘Rogernomics’ a few years ago which reminded me that there is barely a nook or cranny on Earth not touched by this stuff.

      The Trade Union Economist sums up well what price stability was about:
      ‘…you can ascribe property rights but if the value of that property is unstable the rights are also unstable, so price stability has to be seen as part of an agenda that is directed at defining and entrenching property rights and an exchange mechanism of those rights…’

    4. Listening to the Reserve Bank of NZ guy speaking when farmers were on the edge of bankruptcy due to falling prices, the cheesy git states: ‘and if one’s talking about the farming sector…inflation is the major problem which has caused the farming sector’s present difficulties, much more so than exchange rates; than lower commodity prices; high interest rates etc….’

      Complete and utter disregard for the underlying human and social consequences.

    5. Interesting how the employment minister at that time (Phill Goff) patronised the unemployed marchers by talking about ‘real jobs’ rather than ‘artificial ones’ ( i.e those provided by Government), this sort of crap takes me back to the 80’s in the UK when the same thing was spouted, as if the ‘market’ expressed a metaphysical reality like the laws of physics!

      (Sorry for my third post on watching this film -but as Bill said, the anger starts to build up as your awareness of the scams, short-termism, graft and vacuous ideology of the last 35 years intensifies).

    6. When the so called progressive parties feel they need to be as fiscally conservative as the Conservatives or even more so when they accuse them of greatly increasing the ‘debt’, all they can then realistically offer in goverment is a fairer arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic. They have become sham parties. It appears the progressive parties feel the need to gain the permission from the ‘Deep State’ before they can be allowed to participate in forthcoming elections or otherwise they will be swatted like flies by the partisan mass media, hostile advertising campaigns and mega donations to the Conservatives.

      Simon, I always appreciate your insights and share your anger.

    7. I was looking forward to this lecture and was not disappointed. Its so helpful to understand MMT as a lens to see, understand and evaluate and I wrote a brief intro to the lecture here –

      Especially pleased to understand what neo-Keynesianism is all about. Also to see the graph linking with the inverse relationship between government surpluses & private debt. This seems intuitively right in relation to housing in NZ. This applies at a population level with little in the way of a public housing programme, and therefore a shortage of supply at the low end prices have risen out of control right throughout the country for renters and owner occupiers. With public austerity in public services (student loans & fees, low numbers going through surgery) then people at an individual level get indebted to become educated or to get well. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that NZ Government’s paucity of spending has deleterious impacts throughout the economy.

      NZ is currently embarked on a programme of so called “social investment” using intrusive collection of personal data and its sharing between agencies – big data – to reduce public services to those targetted at the most needy as well as to arrest ex students in default on student loans at the border. It is retreat from universal provision as extreme as any in the OECD and if the National Party are successful at the next election it will be rolled out through health, education,welfare and so so on. A kind of Rogernomics 2.0. One National MP said recently “You take a vulnerable child that we can identify. We can all but tell you his cell door number as an adult.” The approach is being proposed as the opportunity for a permanent reduction in public spending by viewing expensive citizens as actuarial costs to be lowered.

    8. just heard you speak this morning (Sunday) on RNZ National – thank you for giving voice to reason :)

    9. I felt nauseous watching this. Especially at 42:50 when the Trade and Industry Minister said “We don’t see the point in imposing high costs on everyone in order to advantage the few.” With “the few” being unemployed people in poverty. What he is saying is that it’s OK for people to live in inhumane conditions and for children to starve. If he and those others like him didn’t believe that, then they would be for full jobs guarantee, basic income, a living amount of welfare – all of which impose some “cost” (I like how the video right before discussed some downsides to tariffs). Disgusting!

      In the end, I am ambivalent about job guarantee. I think you said it very well in your NZ lecture: MMT is a lens. If you accept the truth that (for almost everyone) the government is responsible for the involuntary able body unemployed, then you can either provide jobs, cash, or something else. There are arguments for both job guarantee and basic income, but none for the inhumane policies of “welfare recipients or unemployed are to blame for their predicament therefore we must punish them”.

      Being from America, I panic every time I hear someone say the US Federal Reserve should abandon it’s dual mission of maximizing employment and stabilizing prices (it’s never price stability they talk about ditching). Though it’s a bit disheartening to see a desire for higher unemployment than we currently have (and to boot, they include a formula to describe the harm to the economy by being below the current arbitrary number of 4.6%).

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