MMT is not conservative thought

Last night I sent the final manuscript of my Euro book to the publisher and felt somewhat downcast – that always happens after an intensive piece of work is finished. But this morning, I woke up free of that and focusing on the next task in the list. The list is always bubbling away and one juggles multiple projects at the same time, with more or less intensity. Curiosity demands that. But at some point more effort goes into one to complete it and the others wait in the queue for their turn. My next major deadline is an Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) compilation commissioned by my publisher Edward Elgar. The compilation will be my version of the roots of MMT and the development of its major ideas and influences. I have to write an overview piece explaining why I selected the literature and how it fits into the intellectual MMT tradition. It will obviously be an eclectic exercise and there is no certainty that my other original developers of what is now more broadly known as MMT will agree with my compilation or emphasis. I plan to start with Theories of Surplus Value – for reasons I explained in this blog – We need to read Karl Marx. I also do not plan to eulogise John Maynard Keynes, even though many of my colleagues think he is the most important link in the chain. It is here that I have to walk the fine line between technical detail and a broader reflection on how values intersect with what we might call the facts.
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    Posted in Economics | 45 Comments

    A rogue nation is needed to exit the Eurozone

    I plan to send my final manuscript for my Eurozone book to the publishers tonight. I have some final checks to make on the 390 pages. I hope it will be published in both English and Italian later in the year. Obviously I will promote it here once it is ready. The book contends that the Eurozone is structurally biased towards stagnation because of the neo-liberal rules that constrain national governments from dealing with large spending collapses with appropriately scaled fiscal responses. The crisis in now into its 6th year and there is little sign that the stagnation is over. Indeed, the latest data would suggest that some of its largest economies are going backwards still. Italy has just announced it is back in recession and factory orders to Germany have plunged. I have been saying it for years but repetition is no sin – they should dismantle the currency union in an orderly manner and allow the national governments to return to growth in their own way. The nations are incapable of doing that collectively given the neo-liberal Groupthink that has them in a vice. So, a rogue nation is needed to break out of the straitjacket and provide a blueprint for the others. Italy should be that nation. In many ways it has panache and flair – it is time to show it in this specific way.
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      Posted in Eurozone | 28 Comments

      Saturday Quiz – August 9, 2014 – answers and discussion

      Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’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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        Saturday Quiz – August 9, 2014

        Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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          Friday lay day blog

          Its Friday blog lay day – which might mean anything. But today I provide some commentary on the scientific acumen of our federal government and a recipe to soothe souls torn by neo-liberal economic policies.
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            Australian labour force data – policy failure now stark

            Today’s release of the – Labour Force data – for July 2014 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a deteriorating situation. The Australian labour market is weakening. While the participation rate rose by 0.1 points, which pushed extra workers into the labour force,the negative employment growth was well below the underlying population growth and so unemployment would have risen without the participation rate rise. In fact, unemployment rose sharply in July to 6.4 per cent. This is a terrible outcome. There are now 789 thousand officially counted as unemployed. Overall, the labour market is scudding along a very flat path and unemployment continues to eke its way up. The teenage labour market also weakened and in my view represents a national emergency. Overall, the policy failure at the federal level is now stark.
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              Posted in Labour Force | 10 Comments

              Intergenerational fairness improved by fiscal deficits

              There was an interesting article in the UK Guardian today (August 6, 2014) – Debt and housing costs make young worse off than past generations – which reported on the so-called ‘intergenerational fairness index’ published by the – Intergenerational Foundation, which is a UK-based organisation which “researches fairness between generations” and believes that “government policy must be fair to all”. The – 2013 Edition – is the most most recent published version of the index. The UK Guardian journalist has the most recent index, which has not yet been publicly released (probably in London later today). The points I wish to make are not dependent on knowing the detail of the 2014 result. My concern is about principles and basic neo-liberal macroeconomic myths that are embedded in an otherwise reasonable exercise. A case of progressives shooting themselves in the foot again!
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                Posted in Economics, UK Economy | 15 Comments

                When the left became lost – Part 1

                I read a book a long time ago (1994) called “The Principle of Duty: An Essay on the Foundations of Civic Order”. I note it was republished in 2009. The book by David Selbourne – who is a British philosopher and these days writes regularly for the British magazine New Statesman. His latest article (July 24, 2014) – How the left was lost: the need to relearn what true progress means – reprises the argument made in his book. He has been making the argument for a long time, which, in itself is not a bad thing if it a reflection of a good idea being ignored. At the time I read the book the Dark Age of neo-liberalism that we are within was forming but its internal contradictions had not yet manifested fully. But the left had certainly lost direction by then, getting caught up in a Post Modernist haze with career politicians and their union buddies abandoning progressive principles and, instead, adopting neo-liberal economic stances to prove that they were ‘responsible’. The aim – to get power. That was the end game. Selbourne’s book and current article captures a lot of that but, I think, also misses some vital parts of the story.
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                  Posted in Economics, Politics | 38 Comments

                  Information is dangerous for neo-liberals

                  On Friday, I reported that a senior psychologist working in the off-shore detention centres was alarmed at the growing mental health problems of children of refugee-seeking parents who are detained with their families in these hell-hole prisons that Federal Government has set up in PNG and elsewhere. I noted the doctor had admitted to a National Inquiry that he was told by the Department of Immigration to take out some of the damaging research evidence covering the incidence of mental illness in the off-shore refugee prisons. Here is a followup of how systematic the government is in using its power to repress the release of information that might alter the public perception of its competence and desirability.
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                    Posted in Freedom, Labour Force | 16 Comments

                    Saturday Quiz – August 2, 2014 – answers and discussion

                    Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’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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