The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 2

In The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 1, I noted introduced the idea that fictional literature plays a significant role in framing false economic concepts and, thus, can promotes neo-liberal biases among the readership, even when the plot of the narrative is ostensibly about something other than economics. In other words, what parades as fiction becomes a powerful tool for spreading ideological propaganda, often in a very subliminal or subtle way. In Part 2, I demonstrate that further and provide correct Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) interpretations of popularised economic statements that the characters in the book in focus (The Mandibles) weave into their conversation as if they are accepted facts. The lesson is clear. To further advance Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ideas, novelists who are sympathetic to the cause should construct their narratives consistent with the MMT principles, where economic matters are touched upon in their work. This will help to counter the misconceptions that arise in literary fiction when authors engage with flawed neo-liberal arguments about the monetary system. It might also help educate book reviewers who often, knowingly or unknowingly, reinforce the myths in the main text.
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    Posted in Fiscal Statements, Framing and Language, US economy | 13 Comments

    The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 1

    A few weeks ago I wrote a blog – Reflections on a visit to New Zealand – which began by summarising some research I am working on which will be presented (with Dr Louisa Connors) at the upcoming MMT conference in Kansas City. This specific paper will be examining the role that fictional literature plays in framing false economic concepts and, thus, promoting neo-liberal biases among the readership, even when the plot of the narrative is ostensibly about something other than economics. We show that fiction is a powerful tool for spreading ideological propaganda, often in a very subliminal or subtle way. The lesson we draw from this work is that to further advance Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ideas, authors, who introduce economic concepts into their writing, should construct their narratives consistent with the MMT principles. This will help to counter the misconceptions that arise in literary fiction when authors engage with flawed neo-liberal arguments about the monetary system. This blog is in two parts and today is Part 1. Part 2 will come another day (soon).
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      Posted in Demise of the Left, Fiscal Statements, Framing and Language, US economy | 62 Comments

      The Weekend Quiz – September 9-10, 2017 – answers and discussion

      Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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        Posted in Saturday quiz | 6 Comments

        The Weekend Quiz – September 9-10, 2017

        Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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          Posted in Saturday quiz | 5 Comments

          ECB is running out of debt to buy – more smoke and mirrors needed

          There was a Bloomberg report yesterday (September 6, 2017) – Draghi’s Claim of QE Flexibility Is Attracting Doubters – that made me laugh. The sort of laugh that comes when you just realise there is parallel language spoken out there that makes no sense and reinforces stupidity with stupidity. Much like most of mainstream economics commentary. The journalist was trying to argue that times is up for the ECB’s Quantitative Easing strategy because they are running out of debt to buy. Whew! That sounds like a catastrophe. The point is that the elephant in the room is ignored. The ECB is already massively violating the Treaty of Lisbon constraints on funding government deficits. It is time they realised that without that ‘quasi fiscal support’ (given the ECB is effectively the only functioning federal fiscal authority by default in the Eurozone), the system will collapse under the weight of austerity. Leadership demands they take the next step and allow the ECB to openly fund deficits using Overt Monetary Financing (OMF). But the lack of leadership tells us they will not take this obvious step. The grinding nature of Eurozone economic history will continue as a result – and then the next crisis will hit.
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            Posted in Central banking, Eurozone | 17 Comments

            Australian national accounts – government spending drives growth

            The ABS released the – June-quarter 2017 National Accounts data – today (September 6, 2017), which showed that real GDP had risen by 0.8 per cent in the June-quarter 2017. Annual growth (last four quarters) was just 1.8 per cent around half the trend rate before the GFC. The striking result was that public spending (consumption and investment) contributed 0.8 percentage points to the growth rate – which means that without that contribution, real GDP growth would have been zero in the June-quarter 2017. Private consumption expenditure contributed 0.4 points, although the household saving ratio fell again indicating the tenuous nature of relying on this growth with flat wages. Private investment spending was negative. Net exports were stronger with export volumes strong in the face of the falling terms of trade. Overall, the growth is unbalanced – relying on lumpy public investment spending and credit-driven private consumption growth. The outlook is thus uncertain.
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              Posted in National Accounts | 4 Comments

              US labour market weakens as unemployment spikes up

              On September 1, 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – August 2017 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by 156,000 in August, a smaller increase than in July, more like the weak result for May. So the July figure now seems to have been a blip in the data. The Labour Force Survey data showed that employment actually fell by 74 thousand in August and with the rise in the labour force (77 thousand), official unemployment rose by 151 thousand. The official unemployment rate also rose to 4.44 per cent. There are now 7.1 million unemployed persons in the US. There is still a large jobs deficit remaining and other indicators suggest the labour market is still below where it was prior to the crisis. Further, the bias towards low-pay and below-average pay jobs continues.
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                Posted in Labour Force, US economy | 2 Comments

                Progressives should move on from a reliance on ‘Robin Hood’ taxes

                There was an article in the International Politics and Society journal (August 27, 2017) – Robin Hood had the right idea – which continues to demonstrate, how in my view, the Left has gone down a deadend path with respect to financial market reform and re-establishing a credible progressive agenda. The sub-title of the article ‘Why the left needs to deliver on the financial transaction tax’ indicates that the author, Stephany Griffith-Jones, who has long advocated positions I am sympathetic to (particularly with respect to development economics), thinks a financial tax is a viable strategy for the Left to push. The problem is that none of these ‘Robin Hood solutions’ are viable and are based on faulty understandings of the way monetary systems operate.
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                  Posted in Climate change, Demise of the Left, Economics, Framing and Language | 32 Comments

                  The Weekend Quiz – September 2-3, 2017 – answers and discussion

                  Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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                    The Weekend Quiz – September 2-3, 2017

                    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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                      Posted in Saturday quiz | 12 Comments