skip to Main Content

Breaking up the banks

In the last recent period we have been told that Goldman’s is doing “god’s work”, that they are “sorry” for the “things” they have done wrong, and that their operations are essential to the well-being of the economy. Conversely, there have also been (influential) calls to “break up the banks” so that retail banking would be separated from the investment (risk-taking) activities. During the neo-liberal period, these two distinct roles became blurred and banks increasingly behaved as hedge funds. Legislation that supported the separation was abandoned under intense lobbying from vested financial market interests. The mess that these developments has created is now for all too see. Modern monetary theory (MMT) provides some simple rules for assessing whether the break-up plan is sensible and necessary. That is what this blog is about.

Spread the word ...
    Read More

    I guess they didn’t want to win the war

    Today in NSW it reached 41 degrees Celsius again. The bushfire season has started early and of-course we all conclude it is related to climate change. But I was thinking about other things – to wit – the difficulty new ideas that have relatively complex underpinnings face in gaining traction in the public debate which is saturated by single line mantras that the media loves to repeat over and over again. This thinking was, in part, motivated by two opinion polls I examined from the US. The second one indicated that a growing (and already dominant) proportion of US citizens want the US government to run balanced budgets. How I thought would they think that would work?

    Spread the word ...
      Read More

      Let’s just focus on inflation

      It’s Friday and today has been very hot (nigh on 40 Celsius). One could also easily get hot (under the collar) just engaging in one’s daily reading given the amount of misinformation and sheer terrorist journalism and public commentary there is at present. The IMF released its latest Economic Outlook calling for a general return to surpluses. Why have we fallen prey to this insidious notion that government surpluses are normal and deficits are for fighting fires? In fact, the latter is more the truth. Surpluses are only required if the external sector is so strong that the economy will overheat if the government doesn’t drain private purchasing power. Anyway, I just stay calm through it all … like any good modern monetary theory (MMT) soldier. There is a war going on out there in ideas land and cool heads are needed.

      Spread the word ...
        Read More

        I have found an inflation threat

        I read a news report today – 13,000 riot police, troops guard Obama. Hmm, I thought it might finally be the groundswell of people imbued with the logic of modern monetary theory (MMT) and anger over rising disadvantage, who had decided to take action. Especially after hearing the President’s latest foray into the media as an “expert” on matters fiscal. And only 13,000 troops … good odds I thought. But he was actually in South Korea and the report says that the assembled crowds were chanting “We love Obama”. Don’t they know anything … these people? Didn’t they hear or read his latest interview?

        Spread the word ...
          Read More

          Employment guarantees in vogue – well not really

          Two related articles in The Economist last week (November 7, 2009) caught my attention. The first article – Battling joblessness – Has Europe got the answer – was about how the Continent may be a guide to all of us in tackling unemployment. The second article – Faring well – was extolling the virtues of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). They provide a further basis for discussing employment guarantees.

          Spread the word ...
            Read More

            The enemies from within

            A few years ago, a senior federal parliamentarian came to Newcastle one weekend to discuss macroeconomic policy with me. He might have saved the trip given his unwillingness to modify his neo-liberal views, which dominate all sides of politics here (including The Greens). But at one point I said that his party could not keep assuming that the left would remain loyal in the face of continued privatisation proposals and their obsession with achieving bigger budget surpluses than the conservatives. His response was “where else are they going to go” – the ultimate in disdain. The story has overtones on a daily basis when you realise that the so-called and often self-styled “progressive” side of the macroeconomic debate demonstrate their lack of understanding of how the monetary system operates and parade policy proposals that not only undermine any notion of full employment but also concede the main game to the conservatives.

            Spread the word ...
              Read More

              Japan grows along with the hysteria

              Today, the Cabinet Office in Tokyo issued the third-quarter Japanese national accounts data which showed that the economy has posted positive growth for the second consecutive quarter and is now motoring along at an annualised rate of 4.8 per cent (1.2 per cent in the September quarter). In the June quarter growth resumed at 0.7 per cent (2.8 per cent annualised) and so the recovery is getting stronger. Given they did not allow labour underutilisation of labour to rise very much (a large increase by Japanese standards but relatively small compared to countries such as the UK and the US, they should be able to absorb the jobless fairly quickly. But this will only strengthen the growing call for the government to cut back net spending. It is a case of denying what is staring you the face.

              Spread the word ...
                Read More

                Australia’s response to climate change gets worse …

                Just when you thought that the Australian Government’s response to climate change – the proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS) which promises to generously exempt or compensate the heavy polluters – was bad enough, it was announced today that it will also now indefinitely exclude agriculture from the ETS. The decision is purely political as was the earlier decision to exempt agriculture until 2015. All the Government is doing is appeasing the Opposition so that it can get the legislation through the Senate. The Opposition recently revealed that the majority of their parliamentarians deny there is a climate change problem. Why would you want to trade concessions with them? But the fundamental problem lies in the fact that the neo-liberal market-based paradigm is a totally unsuitable framework for dealing with climate change.

                Spread the word ...
                  Read More
                  Back To Top