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Saturday Quiz – July 25, 2009

Welcome to the billy blog Saturday quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days.

There is a slight change of format this week just for a change.

See how you go with the following five questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

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    No cause for celebration

    I wrote the following piece this morning for tomorrow’s local Fairfax newspaper. While some of the content is definitely of local interest there might be some things of interest to the broader debate. Also it is written to fit a column so it doesn’t allow for much elaboration.

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      The world is going insane I think

      The world seems to be going more insane every time I check. I have this naive belief that we bother to elect governments because we understand they can do things (as a collective) that we cannot do very easily (as individuals). I also assume we all think our elected governments will broadly use their fiscal powers to pursue an agenda that will advance public purpose – that is, seek ways to improve our standard of living and ensure all citizens participate in the bounty that the economic system generates (including sharing the losses when it doesn’t so generate). Of-course, I know that our polities basically govern to keep themselves in power. But there is the occasional election. Anyway, recent events suggest that governments seem to be able to construct popularity by taking actions that do us harm.

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        The revolving door – how social policy is co-opted

        I mentioned yesterday that I would reflect on the ACTU Jobs Summit, which was held in Sydney on Monday. I was one of the invited speakers. You can download notes of my talk HERE. The revolving door idea has been on my mind a lot over the last decade or even earlier. The revolving door idea – that open door between key institutions such as unions, welfare agencies and the like and government – relates to how political struggle manifests. The revolving door is a process which increasingly sees organisations and institutions that started out to defend the rights of the poor and the workers become co-opted into the discourse of the day to the detriment of their own charters. That is what this blog is about.

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          Fed chairman not quite getting it …

          In an article in yesterday’s WSJ The Fed’s Exit Strategy, federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke provides an account of some of the operations of the monetary system that I write about in billy blog. While he doesn’t say it explicitly, he confirms that debt is issued to support interest rates (not fund net government spending) and that debt is not necessary at all if the central bank pays a “competitive” rate on overnight bank reserves held at the central bank. He also confirms that inflation is not an inevitable aspect of an expansionary package but it could be. All fundamental propositions of a modern monetary view of macroeconomics. So in one week, a Nobel Prize winner and now the Chairman of the Fed are stumbling around logic that confirms the neo-liberal driven deficit-debt-inflation-higher-taxation hysteria is without foundation.

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            Why don’t mainstream economists get modern money if it is right?

            Today, I am in Sydney giving a talk at the ACTU Jobs Summit and pretty short of time. I was also motivated by the Temporary Leader of the Opposition who announced on his Twitter site yesterday that his dog, Mellie had just updated her Blog. Yes Malcolm’s dogs blog keeps us up to date with all their goings on including watching the Tour de France. So if he can do it so can I except I don’t like pets. So I thought I would introduce a Guest Blogger spot so that whenever someone I know, who doesn’t want to create their own infrastructure has something interesting to say, they will be able to say it. So today’s guest blogger is Victor Quirk. This is what he has to say. I’ll be back tomorrow.

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              More gross flows – movements between employment

              Last Monday’s blog asked What can the gross flows tell us?. The topic is vast given the detail and in that blog I only considered the inflows and outflows from unemployment. In this blog I analyse the flows between full-time and part-time employment as well as movements between non-participation and employment to finish off the story. The analysis helps us understand what is happening during this downturn to

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                Saturday Quiz – July 18, 2009

                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 five questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

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                  Nobel prize winner sounding a trifle modern moneyish

                  In Deficits saved the world you read that a Nobel Prize winner not previously associated with Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is starting to come round. The article by Paul Krugman highlights some of the basic elements of the sort of macroeconomics that I have been writing about for years and which forms the basis of this blog. It shows definitively the point I make about the macro balances – that a government surplus will squeeze the non-government sector into deficit and vice versa. It also addresses the current policy debate which is getting swamped a bit by idiots who are saying that fiscal policy is not working and should be constrained to get the government budget back into surplus.

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