The Buzz Over MMT

By Stephanie Kelton

The blogosphere and Twittersphere are buzzing over today’s NYT article on Warren Mosler and the proponents of Modern Money (or Monetary) Theory (MMT).  This isn’t the first time MMT has been featured by a high-profile mainstream media outlet (see here, here, here) and, as usual, there are some editorial inaccuracies.

Warren has responded to the mistakes that affect him personally, and Randy Wray followed with some quick thoughts of his own.  I spent close to 30 minutes on the phone with the journalist who wrote the latest NYT piece, so let me offer a further correction of (and for) the record.  I was quoted as saying:

These ideas definitely aren’t disseminated through published academic journals. It’s all on the Internet.

Um, no.  What I said is that we — the academics who helped develop the literature on MMT — started blogging as a way to get our ideas out more quickly than through traditional channels, where it is customary to wait two years or more before an article is finally published.  The notion that MMT has no academic footprint is astonishingly inaccurate, for there are, quite literally, hundreds of publications including: peer-reviewed articles, books, chapters in edited volumes, encyclopedia entries, working papers, policy briefs, etc. in print.  Suggesting otherwise supports the general tenor of the NYT piece — i.e. MMT is an Internet phenomenon that hasn’t been vetted through traditional peer-reviewed channels. That is patently false.

Has the Internet helped to generate a following?  I’d say so.

And it seems to ruffle a lot of feathers.





24 responses to “The Buzz Over MMT

  1. I love the quote from Professor Thoma. As if, even if it were true that real interest rates are affected by changes in real output, government use of resources is a sin, but private use of resources is a virtue.

    • Stephanie Kelton

      Not sure it’s safe to assume ” ” marks indicate Thoma’s actual words. I’m sure he’ll clarify if necessary.

    • Mark Robertson

      I think the claim that the earth orbits the sun is just nuts.
      ~ The enemies of Copernicus

      I think the idea that man can fly is just nuts.”
      ~The enemies of the Wright Bros.

      I think the claim that germs cause infection is just nuts.
      ~ The enemies of Ignaz Semmelweis

      “I think MMT is just nuts.”
      ~ Professor Mark Thoma

  2. Doesn’t the Levy Institute count.

    So what did she say when you confronted her with the corrections?

    I don’t know why you bothered really. Hatchet jobs intend to make those kind of mistakes.

  3. Mrs. Klein speaks for the Village, not for the MMT unwashed.

  4. Possibly best to ignore this kind of rubbish reporting otherwise, the more popular MMT becomes, the more time you will spend correcting these idiots. That doesn’t play well and it just gives them more copy.
    Might be best to ignore it.

  5. Maurice Ring

    Maybe the agnostics in Southern California for whom only the Liberal Elite have credentials worth listening to, will put aside their NYT and investigate.

  6. Roger Erickson


    Did you talk with Annie before or after her article was published?

    And did you ask her which people/editors suggested her article; allowed it, & then & vetted it? (that would be even more interesting; that would reveal some of the political operations going on behind the scenes)

    gotta wonder why Annie published that article, and in that way;
    you can likely guess her source’s agenda from the title (it takes serious vetting & backers to get an opinion piece through the NYT editors; they have endless requests to filter);
    Warren must have gotten under someone’s skin! [El Diablo Peterson himself? 🙂 ]

    Point 1: any new PR is initially good PR

    Point 2: which people/editors suggested it; allowed it & vetted it? (that would be even more interesting)

    either way; all I learned is that Mark Thoma & Michael Reger are painted as no friends of progressive politics (instead of helping to build an obviously useful & needed discussion, they’re presented as negative, and appear to want to bury operational disclosure; In fact, those two come across in the article as incredibly narrow minded, and even selfish! It’s possible that they were misquoted (let’s hope so); goes to show how & why orthodox economics lacks the spirit of scientific inquiry .. and often seems more about power and obsequious publicity-seeking [or position-protection] rather than honest pursuit of operational reality)

    plus, the most surprising thing about Annie Lowrey’s article is that it completely ignores the most simplistic points that Warren makes:

    a) that there’s a difference between economic theory and existing currency operations;

    b) and that theory & actual operations do have to reconcile in daily life

  7. John Rosenfield

    I wonder if Dr. Kelton asking for a current interview with the Huffington Post could prove to be beneficial. Readers may then have the opportunity to compare and contrast the reporting about MMT in the Huffington Post vs. the NYT.

  8. Roger Erickson

    this follow up at the NYT is much more useful for those realizing they should at least know the rudiments of existing currency operations

    should be very useful

  9. At least they asked Thoma. Can you imagine if they had asked Krugman instead?

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  11. Pavlina R. Tcherneva

    I spoke with Annie Lowry for almost an hour about this piece. Virtually the entire conversation was about the academic pedigree of MMT. She knows better.

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  14. Andrew Hartman

    @MarkThoma has tweeted a link for the article at 8:16 PM on 4Jul13 without comment.

  15. Dale Pierce

    It’s good that folks pushed back, but the truly great news here is that the words “Modern Monetary Theory” and the letters “MMT” appeared in the New York Times. Virtually all of the coverage we get at this stage is going to be either abusive, dismissive, derisive or all of the above.


  16. Has anybody started a bibliography of MMT publications (by the name MMT or some other name)?

  17. Let’s remember that this is coming from the same publication who hired and published Judith Miller’s inflammatory (and false) pieces about what a good idea it would be go to to war with Iraq.

    Robert McChesney and John Nichols have written about the oligarch’s capture of the media (and internet) in publications like Digital Disconnect and Dollarocracy.

    Their suggestion: Journalism vouchers, say $200 / citizen, to hand out to non-profit media outlets. We might actually get some good reporting then, rather than having to rely on the likes of NY Times & Faux News.

    Journalism vouchers…spread the word.

    Naturally the staffers of the appropriate agencies in Washington think such a thing would be valuable in making journalism, particularly investigative journalism, the natural counterweight to government malfeasance, but also believe championing such a thing would be a career killer. It’s up to us.

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