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The Weekend Quiz – May 29-30, 2021 – 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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    The Weekend Quiz – May 29-30, 2021

    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that 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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      ECB realises it has to keep funding Member State deficits for the foreseeable future

      Well, the Melbourne virus outbreak has scuttled lots of plans and events. We wouldn’t be in this situation if the Federal government had have invested in dedicated quarantine facilities last year when they were told to and taken advice to ensure their vaccination purchases were sufficient. Anyway, that is for another day. Today, I have been examining European data and matching them against a recent interview (May 26, 2021) – Interview with Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, conducted by Jun Ishikawa – that Nikkei published yesterday. Things have changed a bit in Europe since the GFC although the fundamental problem of the Eurozone remains – there is a disjuncture between fiscal responsibility and fiscal capacity and the only way that that mismatch is being addressed is the via the on-going ECB funding of fiscal deficits, despite the denial that that is what is happening. It is plainly obvious to all.

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        Manufacturing growing strongly in the UK as jobs fall in Australia with the fiscal cuts

        It is Wednesday so a blog lite day for me. The next part of this week is a bit up in the air for me after the Covid outbreak that resulted from a breach of quarantine in Adelaide has spread to Melbourne and looks a bit ugly. Fingers crossed that I can get back home to Melbourne tomorrow. Today I briefly review the latest payroll data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows that despite all the bluster from the Federal government to the contrary, their fiscal retreat in March is now costing jobs, as predicted. I also examine the latest production data from the UK, which should provide good news for British manufacturing workers. And finally, we have a little birthday celebration with some singing.

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          Don’t say its over until its over – MMT is not close to dominating the narrative

          Don’t say its over until its over. There has been progress in the macroeconomics narrative since the GFC, which accelerated during the pandemic. Governments have certainly expanded fiscal deficits and taken on more debt and the usual hysteria, which many of those same governments helped to ferment in the public debate, has fallen away. Obviously, for political reasons, a government that has previously been terrorising the population about the dangers of deficits and rising debt as a cover for ideologically-driven austerity programs, has no incentive in continuing those narratives while they have been dragged into maintaining capitalism on life support. The question has been whether these narratives will return once the health emergency starts to fade a little. There is clear evidence emerging that the lessons that the pandemic has taught us are not being absorbed by the economics commentariat, who dominate the public space with their opinions. Two clear examples of this came out this week (already) in the Australian press, which replicates the sort of commentary I am increasingly seeing around the globe. Deeply sad.

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            Australia – wages growth remains flat with no household consumption boom in sight

            On Wednesday last week (May 19, 2021), the ABS released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the March-quarter 2021. The WPI data shows that nominal wages growth remains suppressed and workers were able to glean only the most marginal real improvement in purchasing power. Public sector workers endured real wage cuts. The public sector is clearly not demonstrating leadership with their ridiculous wage freezes and wage caps stifling wages growth not only in the public sector but also via the spillover effects to the private sector. Most sectors went backwards in real terms and it was only the annual minimum wage adjustment that saw gains in some sectors – militating against any narrative that suggests that the market is driving inflationary pressures. Not even close.

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              The Weekend Quiz – May 22-23, 2021 – 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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                The Weekend Quiz – May 22-23, 2021

                Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that 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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                  Australian labour market goes backwards in April

                  Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the March-quarter 2021, which showed that wages growth remains low in Australia. I will analyse that next week separately because there are some interesting policy principles involved. Today, the ABS put out the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for April 2021 and while unemployment fell by 0.3 points, this was all down to the decline in participation as employment plunged by 30,600. Unemployment rate would have been 70.3 thousand higher had not the participation rate fallen (that is the rise in hidden unemployment) and the unemployment rate would have been 6 per cent rather than the official 5.5 per cent. Monthly hours of work declined by 13 million hours (0.7 per cent). The design of fiscal stimulus packages requires a careful assessment of when it is right to taper them and/or withdraw them altogether. In this neoliberal era, governments who reluctantly provide stimulus during bad times, tend to withdraw the support too early. The current evidence suggests that is once again the case here. Further, uncertainty has now reached new heights as a result of the vaccination bungling by the federal government. Overall, the recovery is still too slow and more government support by way of large-scale job creation is needed.

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                    Right becomes Left for Paul Krugman

                    It is Wednesday and I am catching up on other things. But In a rather extraordinary article (May 16, 2021) – Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains why he’s more left-wing than the Modern Monetary Theory crowd – we learn about hubris. I provide some brief commentary on that claim before chilling out to some great post minimalist music.

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