Category Archives: Scott Fullwiler

CBO—Still Out of Paradigm after All These Years

By Scott Fullwiler

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its long-term deficit and national debt projections last week.  These are the projections most widely cited in policy discussions about long-term “sustainability” of the national debt and entitlement programs.  In this post I focus on a small but very important part of the report—the CBO’s discussion of the “Consequences of a Large and Growing Debt,” which can be found on pages 13-15.  This section can be found in past reports going back several years, and hasn’t change much if it has changed at all during this time.  It is also consistent with the thinking of most economists on these issues.  As readers of this blog will recognize, the CBO’s analysis is “out of paradigm” in that it is inapplicable to a sovereign, currency-currency issuing government operating under flexible exchange rates such as the US, Japan, Canada, UK, Australia, etc.

Continue reading

Krugman Gives DeGrauwe 2011 Credit for What MMT Has Argued for 15+ Years

By Scott Fullwiler

In the comments section of my last post, Neil Wilson linked to this piece by Paul Krugman from last fall.  It’s a useful lecture in that it shows mainstream economists are beginning to understand that currency issuers under flexible exchange rates (a term he actually uses) are not generally subject to bond vigilantes, a condition that applies only to nations without their own currencies, debt in other currencies, and/or fixed exchange rates.

In the paper, as he’s done before, he cites DeGrauwe 2011 as the “seminal” paper demonstrating that Eurozone nations are subject to bond vigilantes while others like the US, Japan, and the UK would not be.  I’ve got nothing against DeGrauwe 2011 aside from his own failure to cite heterodox literature that preceded him by decades in some cases.  Ok, so I do have something against it, but not in terms of content (though I haven’t read closely so perhaps I’d find something).  And in fairness Krugman’s suggestion that DeGrauwe 2011 is “seminal” could be due to the fact that the latter provides a model (though the Kelton/Henry paper I cite below does, too; though it’s quite different, it would not be difficult to build on in the direction DeGrauwe 2011 moves)—and we all know that neoclassicals have difficulties discussing anything outside the context of a formal model (not that models aren’t extremely useful for many things, but they should not be the tail that wags the dog, and for neoclassicals they are essentially that).

Continue reading

Krugman Now Disagrees with His Earlier Critique of MMT

By Scott Fullwiler

In a post yesterday, Paul Krugman notes the CBOs long-term projections for federal government deficits and the national debt now show a reduced projection of nominal interest rates:

This markdown has the effect of making the budget outlook — which was already a lot less dire than conventional wisdom has it — look even less dire.

After a bit of discussion of debt-interest rate dynamics—which I earlier discussed in detail here and in my series here (printable version here)—Krugman explains the importance of understanding currency issuers like the US versus currency users like the Eurozone nations for understanding these dynamics:

Continue reading

“Debt-Free Money” and “ZIRP Forever”

By Scott Fullwiler

I wrote a while back about how neoclassical economists don’t realize their view that interest on reserves (IOR) stops “printing money” from being inflationary also means that it’s impossible to create inflation by “printing money.”  See here.

I’m not 100% sure on this one (and please feel free to correct me if you know better than I do) because I admittedly haven’t given the literature a thorough read, but from what I can tell, it appears “debt-free money” advocates may not realize they are similarly overlooking the actual operations of the monetary system.  So, apologies in advance if I’ve misinterpreted.

From what I’ve seen, “debt-free money” (DFM) advocates want a world in which the government spends via cash (i.e., paper money).  They are against government issuing bonds or any interest on the debt, since that would suggest the government’s money isn’t “debt free” (again, please correct me if I’m wrong in this description).

Continue reading

More on Consolidating or Not

By Scott Fullwiler

As Randy’s recent post on consolidating vs. not explained, a number of critics argue that consolidation doesn’t “really” happen.  Of course, that’s not the point MMT is making, as we’ve noted numerous times, including Randy’s post. Regardless, though, there are real-world governments that do publish consolidated reports.

The UK posted its report here

Neil Wilson has reviewed it for those that don’t want to read through the whole thing here.

Hat tips both to Neil Wilson and Economonitor commenter acornus

Krugman, Helicopters, and Consolidation

By Scott Fullwiler and Stephanie Kelton

Paul Krugman has a new post that explains why the debate over money- vs. bond-financing of government deficits is really much ado about nothing.  In it, he essentially echoes longstanding MMT-core principles, as we will show below.  Indeed, MMT blogs have written as much many times previously (for example, see here, here, here, and here).

Krugman’s post looks at two alternative scenarios:

Case 1: The government runs a deficit, selling bonds to offset the shortfall, while the Federal Reserve does QE

Case 2: The government runs a deficit but does not sell bonds, instead financing all of its spending by “printing money” (i.e. with newly created base money)

Continue reading

Modern Money and Public Purpose Seminar 6

The latest in the MMPP Seminars at Columbia feature NEP’s Scott Fullwiler. The topic of this seminar is Interactions Between Monetary and Fiscal Policy. You can watch below or visit MMPP’s site.

THE PERMANENT FLOOR 2004

By Scott Fullwiler

The discussion over the permanent floor has led to a (in my view) fantastic post from Steve Randy Waldman.  His key conclusions regarding how interest on reserve balances works are the following: Continue reading

Understanding the Permanent Floor—An Important Inconsistency in Neoclassical Monetary Economics

By Scott Fullwiler

I’ve written numerous times already about how a deficit “financed” by bonds vs. “money” doesn’t matter in terms of inflationary effect.  Notwithstanding my views there (which are not discussed in this post), the point of this post will be to explore the neoclassical paradigm on this matter, since this is at the core of the recent debate between Steve Randy Waldman (see here, here, and here) and Paul Krugman (see here and here) on the so-called “permanent floor.”  (It might be of interest to some that I explained how a “permanent floor” would work back in 2004.)

Continue reading

Functional Finance and the Debt Ratio—Part V

By Scott Fullwiler

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [...]

This five part series will explore at length (warning!) and in detail (another warning—wonk alert!) the MMT perspective on the debt ratio and fiscal sustainability.  While the approach suggests a macroeconomic policy mix and strategies for both fiscal and monetary policies that most neoclassical economists currently believe are unsustainable, ultimately the MMT preference for a significant role for fiscal policy in macroeconomic stabilization is shown to be consistent with traditional neoclassical views on fiscal sustainability.

This fifth and final (!) part applies functional finance to CBO’s projections of the government’s long-term budget outlook and then offers concluding remarks for the entire series. Continue reading