Author Archives: Devin Smith

The Oppressive Free Lunch

By J.D. Alt

alt-lunchTrying your best to balance the Federal Budget with a limited number of Tax Dollars—and doing so while visibly displaying great compassion for your fellow citizens in the hope they might reelect you—requires some very special thinking skills. These unique skills of rational analysis and gentle compassion were on display recently when Congressman Paul Ryan gave a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference laying the ground work for his forthcoming efforts to cut the deficit by “reforming” the welfare system.

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Essays in Monetary Theory and Policy: On the Nature of Money (12)

By Anonymous Student*

Pre-MMT Knowledge

And there I was, a teenager, strolling on the Kingsway – a district with a long road that encompasses high-end shops, restaurants, and hotels on both sides of the road and as the name implies, it literally used to be the King’s way to his palace – when I saw a few street children walking around begging the privileged passersby for mercy-money. Sadly, I observed that the street children were invisible to almost everyone. The fortunes would look straight at them and see right pass through them. I wondered why those shoppers who could afford to spend on high-end designer handbags could not show mercy on those children and spend a few dollars on them. One of the conclusions I reached was that maybe because they were so used to encountering not only those underprivileged children, but also, a lot of other underprivileged people in their daily lives in that society that they were immune to them. This story is of a developing country and as with a lot of developing nations, the income gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” was pretty high and consequently, inequality persisted in every aspect of life among the citizens there.

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NEP’s Bill Black appears on BBC’s Law In Action

Bill appears on an episode of BBC Radio 4′s series Law In Action originally broadcast on March 4, 2014. The topic of discussion is why no senior bankers have been prosecuted for their role in the financial crisis and whether companies should be able to avoid criminal prosecution by making a deal with a judge about how they work in future. Bill appears at about 13:30 on the timeline. You can listen here.

 

FORGET THE 1%

By J.D. Alt

All this talk about the 99% versus the 1%? I say the easiest—and likely the most useful—thing to do is just forget the 1%. Write them off. Let them have their gated communities, their mega-yachts, their island retreats and off-shore bank accounts. What do we need them for?

For one thing, we DON’T need their money. Even if we could get it—which we can’t because they steadfastly refuse to use it for anything other than casino gambling in their private and secretive financial networks. We wonder why we have a “jobless recovery”? Does it have anything to do with the fact that such a large percentage of our “capital” has, for all practical purposes, been removed from the economy?

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When Will They Ever Learn: Uncle Sam is not Robin Hood

By L. Randall Wray

Memo to Obama: Don’t tie progressive spending policy to progressive tax policy. Each can stand on its own.

Reported today in the Washington Post:

Obama proposes $600 billion in new spending to boost economy

President Obama on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious budget that promised more than $600 billion in fresh spending to boost economic growth over the next decade while also pledging to solve the nation’s borrowing problem by raising taxes on the wealthy, passing an overhaul of immigration laws and cutting health costs without compromising the quality of care. Obama seeks to raise more than $1 trillion – largely by limiting tax breaks that benefit the wealthy — to spend on building roads and bridges, early childhood education and tax credits for the poor.

Here’s the conceit: Uncle Sam is broke. He’s got a borrowing problem. He’s gone hat-in-hand to those who’s got, trying to borrow a few dimes off them. But they are ready to foreclose on his Whitehouse.

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Key House Republicans Almost Get Accounting Control Fraud

By William K. Black

To prepare myself for a guest lecture to a class at the University of Kansas I did some research about the House Financial Services Committee, now chaired by Jeb Hensarling (R. TX).  I was pleased to learn that the Committee’s home page emphasizes the key role that accounting control fraud played at Fannie and Freddie.  The home page has a “spotlight” section designed to draw the reader’s eye to a short series of documents designed to support passage of the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, which focuses on eliminating Fannie and Freddie.  The documents largely stress that Fannie and Freddie were accounting control frauds.

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Revising Adam Smith

By J.D. Alt

The Ebook DIAGRAMS & DOLLARS (in top 10 best-sellers on Amazon/ category money & monetary policy!) paints an optimistic picture of what “Sovereign Spending” could achieve for our collective benefit. The video made from it (approaching 3,000 views on YouTube—thank you Haiku Charlatan!) ends with cheering calisthenics around the final diagram of our national prosperity. Unfortunately, the “real world” of our Congressional leaders and media spin-machine is painting a very different picture—a dire vision of out-of-control government spending and national insolvency. Understanding why that is, and what we can do about it, is the real challenge we have before us.

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Degrees of Responsibility for Climate Catastrophe

By Michael Hoexter

The climate crisis is an event with such profound personal and broadly social moral implications that many shy away from discussing the crisis itself let alone its ethical aspects.  Via our society’s use of fossil fuels we are, if our combustion of these fuels remains unchecked and in addition we further destroy the carbon fixing capacity of natural systems, destroying almost all wealth, the likelihood of their being future civilizations, and even the possibility for existence for future generations.  To continue ignoring climate change and effective climate action is definitely an après moi le deluge stance, an expression of callousness and self-absorption unsupportable by moral justification.  Morality and ethics is here not an exotic preoccupation of a select group but a basic reality-check:  does what we are doing make sense and promote the general ends to which these activities are devoted?  How do we assess our own agency and role and those of others, in events that are occurring around us and will with very high likelihood exacerbate in the future?

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MMT AND EXTERNAL CONSTRAINTS

By L. Randall Wray

To Fix or To Float, that is the question.

MMT argues that a sovereign government that issues its own “nonconvertible” currency cannot become insolvent in terms of its own currency. It cannot be forced into involuntary default on its obligations denominated in its own currency. It can “afford” to buy anything for sale that is priced in its own currency. It might be able to buy things for sale in foreign currency by offering up its own currency in exchange—but that is not certain.

If, instead, it promises to convert its currency at a fixed price to something else (gold, foreign currency) then it might not be able to keep that promise. Insolvency and involuntary default become possible.

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If New York Times Reporters Won’t Read Krugman about Austerity Will they Read Brooks?

By William K. Black
(Cross posted at Benzinga.com)

The New York Times Incompetence in Macroeconomic Reporting (IMR) Award

I have written repeatedly about the New York Times’ needs to create a prize in incompetence in macroeconomic reporting (IMR) and suggested that the paper award the IMR prize to its reporters.  I suggested that the prize consist of a two hour lunch with Paul Krugman in which he will provide them with a remedial lecture on why austerity is an economically illiterate response to a recession.

NYT columns discussing austerity, particularly in the eurozone, demonstrate that its reporters religiously avoid reading Krugman’s scores of columns on austerity.  As always on this subject, I want to make express that I don’t insist that the reporters agree with economics.  It is fine for reporters to state that economics has known for 75 years that austerity is a self-destructive response to a recession but that some economists disagree.   It is fine for the reporter to explain why he agrees with the austerian economists.  It is not acceptable journalism to ignore the dominant economic view, 75 years of supporting events, and the empirical studies by austerians (the IMF) finding that fiscal changes have more powerful effects on the economy consistent with the dominant theory.  It is not acceptable journalism to ignore unemployment and inequality and the role of austerity in increasing both.  I end by expanding on Krugman’s column about a tragic financial media meme by discussing three related memes that are causing great harm.

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