Neoliberalism corrupts the core of societal values

It is Wednesday and just a brief comment on current affairs today. Tomorrow I will have Part 2 of my response to the German attack on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Nations more often and not claim to identify with a value system that is intended to bind the citizens together. It is a fine line between this and nationalism. The US for example, claims to be the land of the free, although that is a patently ridiculous thing to hold out given the nature of its society. Australia has long traded on the claim that it elevates sportspersonship, fairness, honesty above all else. In a sports’ obsessed nation, we hold ourselves out to be ‘fair but tough’. We play very hard – competitively – but honour sporting traditions. At times, this claim is at the sanctimonious extremes and we regularly criticise other sporting nations for what we perceive to be rule breaking – even rule stretching doesn’t escape our ‘holier than thou’ media and commentators. That myth has now been exposed. In fact, our most elevated national team – the Australian cricket team – has demonstrated that it stoops to deliberately conceived cheating (not spur of the moment) in order to win. And now these revelations are obvious, the national scandal that has followed, reveals how out of touch we have become with what has happened to our Society in this neoliberal era.
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    Posted in Music, Reclaim the State, Sport | 11 Comments

    Corporate Australia – the mendicants who want more!

    Over the last few months, we have had the Australian Treasurer clogging up the media with his relentless claims that Australia has no choice but to cut corporate tax rates to keep up with the rest of the world (this is after Donald Trump started the ball rolling). The Federal government is trying to eliminate the resistance in the Senate (Upper House) to their proposal to cut corporate rates from 30 to 25 per cent. The Treasurer is a really pathetic figure – a non-economist, mouthing platitudes over and over about matters that he has little understanding and which the research evidence doesn’t support anyway. Then, last week, the ultimate public purse dependents, big business sent the members of the Senate a letter (a sort of blackmail letter) claiming if the Senators stopped blocking the legislation, then their corporations would go on an investment, wage increasing, employment creating binge. It was sickening to read and listen to. These mendicants are trying to convince us that the only thing stopping an investment boom or wage increases is a 5 cents in the dollar tax impost that tax data reveals many of them don’t pay anyway. It was hypocrisy parading as blatant self-interest. These characters have no shame.
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      Posted in Economics | 20 Comments

      My response to a German critic of MMT – Part 1

      Makroskop is a relatively new media publication in Germany edited by Heiner Flassbeck and Paul Steinhardt. It brings some of the ideas from Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and other analysis to German-language readers. It is not entirely sympathetic to MMT, differing on the importance of exchange rates. But it is mostly sympathetic. I declined to be a regular contributor when invited at the time they were starting the publication not because I objected to their mission (which I laud) but because their ‘business model’ was a subscription-based service and I consider my work to be open source and available to all, irrespective of whether one has the capacity or the willingness to pay. But I have agreed to contribute occasionally if the material is made open source, an exception to their usual material. Recently, the editors approached me to respond to an article they published from a German political scientist – Modern Monetary Theory: Einwände eines wohlwollenden Zweiflers or in English: Modern Monetary Theory – Questions from a Friendly Critic. The article constitutes the first serious engagement with MMT by German academics and thus warrants attention. Even if you cannot read German you will still be able to glean what the main issues raised in the German article were by the way I have written the English response. The issues raised are of general interest and allow some key principles of MMT to be explicated, which explains why I have taken the time to write a three-part response. Today is Part 1.
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        Posted in Capital controls, Debriefing 101 | 54 Comments

        The Weekend Quiz – March 24-25, 2018 – 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 | 1 Comment

          The Weekend Quiz – March 24-25, 2018

          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

            Australian labour market – subdued and weaker in 2018

            The latest labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – Labour Force data – for February 2018 shows that the Australian labour market labour market has weakened at the start of 2018. Employment growth was again very modest in February 2018 and participation only marginally rose. The rise in unemployment was due to employment growth failed to keep up with the underlying population growth although the slight uptick in participation exacerbated this a bit. The teenage labour market stood still although this cohort did participate in the overall full-time employment growth. Further, underemployment rose marginally as did the broad labour underutilisation rate in the three months to February 2018. Overall, my assessment is that the Australian labour market has a lot of slack remaining. It is not close to full employment yet.
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              Posted in Labour Force | Leave a comment

              Neoliberal economic Groupthink alive and well in Europe

              It is Wednesday so only a couple of snippets today. I was going to write about the BBC’s ridiculous attempt to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a sort of Russian-spy-type-dude in its Newsnight segment last Thursday (March 15, 2018). They manipulated his peaked hat (via Photoshop or through lighting) to make it look like a typical Lenin-type “Soviet stooge” hat and presented him against a red Kremlin skyline of Red Square (Source). The BBC denied they had altered the hat but then admitted the BBCs “excellent,hardworking) graphics team … had the contrast increased & … colour treated) but it was only accidental (not!) that he was made to look as Leninesque as possible. Amazing how deep the anti-neoliberal Groupthink has penetrated. This is the public broadcaster! But Groupthink is alive and well in Europe and doing its best to pervert, distort, stifle and suppress debate on important matters relating to democratic freedoms and the failure of the EU.
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                Posted in Eurozone, Framing and Language, Reclaim the State, UK Economy | 9 Comments

                Donald Trump’s tariff hikes are not good policy

                I am generally not in favour of trade protection. I grew up in a country that had very extensive protection (tariffs, import quotas) on manufacturing goods, which was justified on a number of grounds – capacity to shift to defense industries; stable employment; and more abstractly, an expression of becoming a ‘modern’ nation, leaving our agrarian roots behind. The initial move to impose high tariffs was that a young industry would take time to develop – the so-called infant industry argument, which goes back to the 1790 Report on Manufactures written by American economist Alexander Hamilton. The problem is that the infant never really grew up and the tariffs just became a cosy rent-sharing margin for unions and multinational corporations. Meanwhile consumers paid excessive prices for deficient-quality motor vehicles (among other products). It is clear that as trade opens up there are workers and regions that lose – and lose badly. The answer is not try to reinvent the past through protection. Rather, it is to use the government’s fiscal capacity to create new opportunities in these regions to ensure that workers disadvantaged by import competition can transit into new jobs with stable incomes. That option is often overlooked because modern governments have become obsessed with austerity. And, as I argue below, that obsession will in the context of Donald Trump’s tariff hikes, work against the European nations that are running ridiculously large current account surpluses.
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                  Posted in Eurozone, US economy | 30 Comments

                  Eurozone policy failures laid bare

                  On March 13, 2018, the OECD released its latest Economic Outlook with accompanying “Interim projections” as at March 2018) suggesting that the current growth phase will continue through to next year as consumer and business confidence improves and translates in higher investment rates. The OECD, however, forecasts that growth in the Eurozone will decline over the next two years. The major Eurozone nations (France, Germany and Italy) are not witnessing the growing investment expenditure. The Eurozone might be seeing a little sunshine creeping out from the very dark clouds. But it is far from recovered and the future is ominously black. Key cyclical indicators remain at depressed levels, which means that when the next cycle hits, the Eurozone will be in a much worse position than before. And the reason: the fundamentally flawed design of the monetary system with its accompanying austerity bias. The reform required is root-and-branch rather than a prune here and there.
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                    Posted in Eurozone, Fiscal Statements, Labour Force | 7 Comments

                    The Weekend Quiz – March 17-18, 2018 – 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 | 5 Comments