Category Archives: L. Randall Wray

Jobs for Greeks

By L. Randall Wray

With Syriza in the driver’s seat, Greece now has some hope for the end to austerity imposed by Germany and the Troika.

Here’s a good short piece by C. J. Polychroniou, a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute. As he explains, what Syriza wants is no more—and no less—radical than what the USA did in the 1930s to deal with its Great Depression: “the bulk of Syriza’s economic program for addressing the catastrophic crisis in Greece, which has evolved into a humanitarian crisis, is inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs”.

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Ferguson, MO

By L. Randall Wray

This article rings true.

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson by a cop, we’ve seen video after video of cops killing unarmed young men and even boys. The excessive militarization of our domestic police has come into question. The institutionalized racism among our police forces is only part of the problem.

It certainly looks like our police are literally scared to death of the population they are sworn to protect. The operative notion seems to be that our police should not take any risks—they should assume all boys and men—at least if they are black–are armed and dangerous, hence police should shoot first and sort things out later. In any event, prosecutors do not indict police who are doing their job, and juries rarely convict them for bad judgment. Better to err on the side of their own safety. It is indeed hard to second-guess them. I say this sincerely even if I find this unacceptable.

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Odds and Sods: Some Good Reads For a Cold Winter Friday

By L. Randall Wray

If you, too, are living in one of the sub-zero climes right now, you want some stimulating reading for Friday.

  1. Here’s one of the best and fairest summaries of MMT that I’ve seen:

As Joe says: “Few matters of economic importance are as woefully misunderstood as modern money. It can seem a fiendishly complicated subject, even to economists. Schumpeter confessed to never having understood money to his own satisfaction, while Keynes claimed to know of only three people who really grasped it: ‘A Professor at another university; one of my students; and a rather junior clerk at the Bank of England’.”

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Is It Time for MMT To Become Mainstream to Save Us from the Second Global Financial Crisis of the Millennium?

By L. Randall Wray

Some of you will remember that MMT got its first huge mainstream exposure through a Washington Post article written by Dylan Matthews.  He’s just written another excellent story, this time about Stephanie Kelton going to Washington. Finally, there might be an alternative to the deficit hawk and timid deficit dove lovefest!

As Dylan says: “For years, the main disagreement between Democratic and Republican budget negotiators was about how to balance the budget — what to cut, what to tax, how fast to implement it — but not whether to balance it. Even most liberal economists agree that, in the medium-run, it’s better to have less government debt rather than more. Kelton denies that premise. She thinks that, in many cases, government surpluses are actively destructive and balancing the budget is very dangerous. For example, Kelton thinks the Clinton surpluses are nothing to brag about and they actually inflicted economic damage lasting over a decade.”

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In Appreciation of Lord Robert Skidelsky–Presentation for Economists for Peace and Security

By L. Randall Wray
Cross posted from Economonitor
Updated 01-10-2015: Added video links

I just returned from the annual ASSA meetings in Boston. This is largely a front for the American Economics Association to produce an appearance of pluralism. The ASSA is actually run by the AEA, which allocates to itself the prime locations and biggest conference rooms—and then offers a few slots and tiny rooms for most of the heterodox groups that also hold their annual meetings with the ASSA.

This is the closest economists come to a pornfest. As you walk by the typical AEA panel presentation, you’ll see a tiny audience in a darkened room, titillated by a powerpoint slide filled with obscene mathematics.

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BOOM BUST BOOM: MINSKY AT THE MOVIES

By L. Randall Wray

I highly recommend a movie to be released next year (that is, the year that begins next week). Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, is one of the key developers of the film. It is on the Global Financial Crisis, but also provides a quick history of bubbles and crashes. It is highly entertaining and as good as any that I’ve seen on the crisis.

The movie features Hyman P. Minsky as well as J.K. Galbraith, who appear as life-sized puppets. One of Terry’s crew told me they brought Minsky over from England on a plane as a fare-paying customer. I would have loved to have seen the look on the faces of the flight attendants. I hope they bought him a beer.

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What’s Wrong with Heterodox Economics Journals?

By L. Randall Wray

I just came across a very interesting bit of research, A Guide to Paradigmatic Self-Marginalization: Lessons for Post-Keynesian Economists by Leonhard Dobusch and Jakob Kapeller; you can find it here.

I realize this is not going to be of interest to many of our readers, as it is a sort of “inside the halls of academia” analysis. What the authors do is to look at the strategies of editors running the top orthodox and the top heterodox journals in economics. Actually it might be a bit unfair to label these strategies, as the authors do not mean to imply that editorial policy knowingly pursues the strategies. Instead, the article looks at the ex post results.

In a nutshell, what they find is that the articles published in orthodox journals do not cite the research published in heterodox journals. NO SURPRISE THERE! But they also find some startling self-defeating practices pursued by heterodox journals.

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A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM TO RESTORE PROSPERITY: THE BERNIE SANDERS PLAN

By L. Randall Wray

Here’s a summary of the plan Bernie Sanders has set out, along with my comments (in italics).

1.) We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. $1 trillion investment to create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive.

Agreed, but let’s not settle for a mere 13 million jobs. We need twice that. And, of course, the “price tag” is irrelevant—so long as we create useful jobs that pay living wages, we can “always afford” to pay for them. By creating jobs we are not just investing in infrastructure, but we are also investing in our people, enhancing their participation in our society and providing them with the means to support their families. We can always afford that.

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The Answer to the Unemployment Problem Is More Jobs

By L. Randall Wray

Dean Baker, everyone’s favorite progressive economist (mine, too), has an interesting take on our unemployment problem.

Give more paid vacations.

The idea is that if all the employed work less, employers will need to hire the unemployed to produce what the already employed won’t be producing while sunning themselves on Florida’s beaches.

Look, I’m all for shorter work weeks. It is ridiculous that labor’s push somehow got stuck a century ago at the 40 hour work week in the USA. Employed Americans work more hours per year than just about any other workforce on the planet.

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Rising Tides Lift All Yachts: Why the 1% Grabs all the Gains From Growth

By L. Randall Wray

You’ve probably seen references to the work of my colleague (and former student), Pavlina Tcherneva in recent days. If not, take a gander at this:

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The NYT article includes links to her published article in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, the first issue edited by me and my Levy Institute colleague Jan Kregel. Pavlina also presented her results at the just finished International Post Keynesian Conference at UMKC. We’ll soon have a website up with many of the powerpoints and papers. The next conference will be held in 2016. Mark your calendars.

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