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Compact with Retrenched Workers – not a job in sight!

Current problem: jet lag. I keep saying to myself – 1 day for every time-zone. I have a week to go! Today I have been in Brisbane discussing the Functional Economic Regions geography which I have created to improve spatial analysis in Australia. The new geography is now being used by other social scientists because it represents an improvement on the standard geographical boundaries that ABS uses to disseminate regional data. I might write a blog about this one day although it is very technical and rather dry. But life as a researcher is “10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration” although for me the 10 might be a little lower! After all I am a stupid modern monetary theorist! But today’s blog is about the Compact with Retrenched Workers – the latest policy joke emanating from Canberra.

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    What else but a fiscal stimulus?

    Today the ABS released the May 2009 Retail Sales data which showed that retail spending is continuing to grow despite the gloom that surrounds the economy. The main culprit – the fiscal package. While the jumps in retail sales earlier in the year were tentatively ascribed to the fiscal intervention it was clear we had to wait a few more months before we could be more definite in our assessment. As of now we can confidently say that the early interventions by the Government have had positive impacts on the economy. Whether they will last depends on what happens to unemployment. If it continues to rise then ultimately this will undermine the positive spending trend. Then significantly more fiscal intervention will be needed.

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      California IOUs are not currency … but they could be!

      I seem to be stuck in the US at the moment – blog-wise. I can assure you I escaped their shores at the weekend and am now freezing in Newcastle, NSW. But I still have reading left over from hanging around US book shops last week. One story that is very interesting at the moment is the plan by the Californian State Government to begin issuing IOUs (reserved warrants) because it has “run out of cash”. As far as I can work out the IOUs will not become a second currency (alongside the USD) but one simple extra announcement by the State would be enough to allow California to be sovereign in their IOUs. What do you suppose that extra complication might be?

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        Obama … doomed to fail

        Well I am now back in Newcastle and in the last two weeks the ocean has slumped from a cold 19 celsius to a freezing 16. See what happens when you turn your back. I think the sharks like the cold water less though. At least that is what I am telling myself as I read another surfer (on the south coast) was mauled last week. Anyway, my casual travel reading also saw me read the July edition of the Harper’s Magazine which had two very interesting articles about developments in the US, which ultimately have global implications. In recent months, I have been becoming more pessimistic about the idea that the current global economic crisis will represent a major change in ideology, away from free market neo-liberalism towards a more sustainable and fairer social democratic policy structure. The articles reinforce that pessimism.

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          Saturday Quiz – June 27, 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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            Income or employment guarantees?

            While I am still reflecting on the UNDP workshop I participated at earlier this week in New York, another issue which came up repeatedly during the workshop is the on-going dispute between those who advocate income guarantees against those (such as me) who advocate employment guarantees. I didn’t cover this dispute at all in yesterday’s blog – Bad luck if you are poor!. When you start digging into the claims made by the income guarantee lobby you realise that most of their case is built on a failure to understand how a modern monetary economy works. For those who understand the opportunities available to a government which issues a sovereign currency, then the attractiveness of income guarantees disappears (in my opinion). So this blog documents some of this debate.

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              Bad luck if you are poor!

              Greetings from College Park, Maryland (pronounced Marrilynd! in Australian). It is near Washington (DC) and I have work here (at the UMD) and in the capital for the next 2 days. Weather is hot but we are 189 kms or 2.8 hours from the nearest surf according to Google maps, which is equivalent to being landlocked to me! So no quick surf before work! Losers! I came down here late yesterday (5 hour drive) after a workshop at the Levy Institute jointly hosted with the United Nations Development Program, which was held in upstate New York. No summer up there at the moment but the Catskills Mountains are very beautiful – it is near to Woodstock. Anyway, I left the workshop thinking – bad luck if you are poor!

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                Fiscal rules going mad …

                Several readers have asked me about fiscal rules and I have been promising to write about them for some time now. I was finally goaded into action by the current German rush to madness which will see them constitutionally outlaw deficits. When I saw the news that the German government was pushing constitutional change along these lines I thought good – the Eurozone will be dead soon enough and perhaps a better aligned fiscal and monetary system will emerge. Fiscal rules can take lots of different shapes all of which entrench chronic unemployment and poverty. The only fiscal approach that is applicable to a sovereign government operating within a fiat monetary system is one that ensures full employment is achieved and sustained. Anyway, here is an introduction to the mean-spirited and wrong-headed world of fiscal rules.

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