Helicopter money is a fiscal operation and is not inherently inflationary

There was a Project Syndicate article (September 2, 2016) – The Unavoidable Costs of Helicopter Money – claiming that “In fact, there are major downsides to helicopter money”. Hmm. Should I read this article was my thought at the the time. Waste a few minutes of my life. I wondered if I could pen the article in advance and then check to see how close I was. The theme would be inflation. In that I was correct. But the author really innovated a bit and, in doing so, undermined his own argument. What we learn is fairly straightforward. If a government continues to increase nominal spending growth ahead of the growth in productive capacity then there will be inflation. The argument presented is, in fact, nothing to do with the monetary operations that accompany government spending – helicopter or otherwise. The inflation risk is in the spending. If private investment expenditure outstripped the capacity of the supply-side to produce the capital equipment demanded then the same outcome. Should we caution against such expenditure? Should be make it taboo? Obviously not.
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    Posted in Central banking, US economy | 29 Comments

    The neo-liberal race to the bottom is destroying communities and killing workers

    I have been reading an interesting book – The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America – by US journalist – George Packer – which traces the evolution of America over the period from 1978 to 2012. It is about how Americans have been dudded by the system they economic and political system that they hold dear to their hearts and how the core institutions that condition those beliefs have declined (changed) in the face of the rising dominance of the investment banksters. I am not so much interested in American history as I am the metamorphosis of Capitalism and the impact it has had on the working class. The book created a number of thought strands, which ultimately, led me to an interesting article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (published December 8, 2015) – Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century – by Princeton University academics Anne Case and Angus Deaton. What we learn is that the neo-liberal race to the bottom in advanced nations is destroying communities and killing workers.
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      Posted in Economics, US economy | 30 Comments

      The Weekend Quiz – September 3-4, 2016 – 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 3-4, 2016

        Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday 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 | 4 Comments

          Monetary policy has to work hand-in-glove with fiscal policy to be effective

          In a paper – Fiscal Policy, Monetary Policy and Central Bank Independence – delivered to the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, last week (August 25-27, 2016), Princeton University academic Christopher Sims suggested that monetary policy effectiveness cannot be judged independent of the fiscal position taken by the government. He argued that the current reality has demonstrated that when central banks shift to very loose monetary policy settings these policy changes will be ineffective if the fiscal authorities are simultaneously pursuing austerity. Even conservatives like Christopher Sims are starting to understand that the dominant mantra that places all policy responsibility on central banks and, meanwhile, pursues fiscal austerity, represents a failed and deeply flawed overall strategy. That is, the core neo-liberal macroeconomics strategy is now being shown by conservatives to be ridiculous. Modern Monetary Theory has long argued that monetary policy has to work hand-in-glove with fiscal policy and if the central bank is cutting interest rates then the fiscal authority has to be increasing its fiscal deficit to make the policy changes stick. Some of the more enlightened conservative economists are now seeing this reality.
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            Posted in Central banking, Economics, Fiscal Statements | 7 Comments

            Indexed bank reserve support schemes will not expand credit

            On the Wikipedia page for economist Ricardo Reis we learn he was “Influenced by: Greg Mankiw”, which basically should tell you everything. Everything that is that would lead to the conclusion that his macroeconomics is plain wrong. Yet his connections in the profession are strong and has prestigious academic appointments, is ensconced in senior editorial positions on influential economics journals, advises central banks in the US and has regular Op Ed space in a leading Portuguese newspaper (his home nation). These facts tell you what is wrong with my profession. That someone can write articles that are just so off the mark yet have significant influence in the profession and be held out in the public debate as to be someone who is worth listening to and being reported on. I have received many E-mails in the last few days about the proposal offered by Reis at Jackson Hole last week. Many readers are still confused and actually thought the proposal had credibility. Let me be clear – bank lending is not influenced by the reserve positions of the banks. Without credit-worthy borrowers lining up to access loans, the banks could have all the reserves in the world and the central bank could invoke any number of nifty ‘indexing’ or other support payment schemes on those reserves, and the banks would still not lend. And with those credit-worthy borrowers lining up to access loans, the banks will always lend irrespective of their current reserve position or the nifty support schemes the central bank might dream up. Core Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) 101!
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              Posted in Central banking, Debriefing 101 | 24 Comments

              Australia’s race to the bottom to part-time jobs with low-pay

              To coincide with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics release of the May 2016 Employment Situation I updated my analysis on the pay characteristics of the net job creation in the US labour market – see Bias toward low-wage job creation in the US continues. The overwhelming finding was that the jobs lost in low-pay sectors in the downturn have more than been offset by jobs added in these sectors in the upturn. However, the massive number of jobs lost in above-average paying sectors have not yet been recovered in the upturn and do not look like being so, given the labour market is slowing again. In other words there is a bias in employment generation towards sectors that on average pay below average weekly earnings. In the last 12 months, 86 per cent of the net jobs added in the Australian labour market have been part-time and underemployment has risen, suggesting a rise in casual work as well. Further analysis in this blog reveals that this accelerated trend towards part-time employment creation has been accompanied by a disproportionate shift towards low-pay employment (and below-average employment in general). The shifts over the last 6 months, in particular, towards below-average employment has been alarming. So come on down to Australia as our politicians take us on a race to the bottom in the part-time nation with low-pay, that barely grows at all. We are a very stupid nation supporting the policy structures that deliver this poverty of outcomes.
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                Posted in Labour Force, US economy | 8 Comments

                Australian Treasurer embarrasses himself

                The Australian Treasurer gave his first major statement in Sydney last week (August 25, 2016) since being barely re-elected in July. The speech – Staying the course – strengthening our resilience in uncertain economic times – was before an invited gathering of the business world who sat their listening to total nonsense from a man who disgraces the role he holds. Australians have always lagged behind developments in the rest of the world in many ways. It used to be blamed on the ‘tyranny of the distance’ (geography) but that excuse can no longer be used in this digital age. You realise how far behind the times our Treasurer is when you read articles such as this one in Foreign Policy (August 26, 2016) – The Stimulus Our Economy Needs. In that article, we read that “Now, the idea that governments, with or without the help of central banks, should spend substantial resources on creating jobs, both directly and through private sector incentives, is widely accepted among economists across the political spectrum”. Sound advice but lost on the Australian Treasurer. Bad luck for us. He is an embarrassment.
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                  Posted in Economics | 25 Comments

                  The Weekend Quiz – August 27-28, 2016 – 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 | 4 Comments

                    The Weekend Quiz – August 27-28, 2016

                    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday 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.
                    Read the rest of this entry »

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                      Posted in Saturday quiz | 3 Comments