By Stephanie Kelton
This year’s must-have stocking stuffer. My new MMT Coloring book.
Randy Wray and Stephanie Kelton presented at Fields Institute at University of Toronto in conjunction with INET. The conference was Mathematics for New Economic Thinking. The presentation links below will take you to Field’s site where slides appear side by side with the video. Below the links to the videos are links to view and download PDF versions of the slides as well.
Randy Wray’s presentation, “The Nature of Money: A Series of Debits and Credits” can be viewed here.
Stephanie’s presentation, “Fiscal Space and Financial Stability: A Differential Analysis” can be viewed here.
Randy’s slides are available here.
Stephanie’s slides are available here.
As much as I dislike the title of this article from Advisor Perspectives, the essay itself is a good overview of the talks I’ve been giving at national, regional and chapter meetings of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) over the past year-and-a-half. I wasn’t aware that Veras was working on a piece and didn’t see it until it was published (or I would have implored him to change the title!). I wanted to share the piece but only after this word of caution: I would not and did not say, “deficits don’t matter,” as you’ll discover if you read the entire piece. This is a touchy subject for MMTers, who’ve been (wrongly!) accused of taking the position that “deficits don’t matter.” Randy Wray made the MMT position crystal clear years ago, and I told Dan Jamieson the same thing when he interviewed me for a similar piece in Investment News:
InvestmentNews: Are MMT theorists saying deficits don’t matter?
Ms. Kelton: Deficits do matter, but not in the way people think.
So with that flashing neon disclaimer in place, here’s Veras’ article from Advisor Perspectives.
A few weeks ago, I had a lengthy e-mail exchange with Frank N. Newman, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Frank’s books (here and here) are so closely aligned with MMT thinking about deficits, debt, monetary operations, etc. that I wanted to get his thoughts on one of the most common criticisms of MMT. MMT recognizes that the currency itself is a simple public monopoly and that the issuer of the currency must spend (or lend) it into existence, before it can be used to pay taxes or buy bonds. The implication? Governments that issue sovereign money are not revenue constrained. Critics have argued that MMT has this all wrong because the system requires the government to have numbers on its balance sheet before it can spend — i.e. the government is not allowed to run an overdraft and is, therefore, constrained by cash on hand. Here’s what Frank Newman thinks of that critique:
Many economists (perhaps even those who agree with us) refuse to talk about the national debt and government deficits the way we do on this blog. Instead of boldly challenging the assertion that the U.S. faces a long-run debt (or deficit) problem, headline progressives typically do what Jared Bernstein did in his column today — i.e. they pay “obligatory” tribute to the Balanced Budget Gods, thereby reinforcing the case for austerity at some point in the not-so-distant future when we will be forced to to deal with this very bad thing called the government deficit. Followers of my work here and on Twitter know that I refuse to pay homage to the Balanced Budget Gods. Instead, I prefer to shift the burden of proof onto those who contend that the U.S. faces a long-term debt or deficit problem. The first step is to establish that solvency can never be an issue for a government that spends, taxes and borrows in its own (non-convertible) currency. The following quote from the St. Louis Federal Reserve usually does the trick, but this great confession from Alan Greenspan also helps.
NEP’s Stephanie Kelton appeared on Chris Hayes’ All In on Monday evening, (10/8/13). The topic of discussion was “Why the debt ceiling isn’t your family budget” examining the fallacy of comparing the debt ceiling to a family budget.
See the full show here.
Today’s jobs report was lousy. Employers added just 169,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls in August, and downward revisions to June and July payroll numbers erased 74,000 jobs from the record. Lots of people are saying that the this weakness means that the Fed cannot, must not, dare not Septaper. Others have said what a bad time it would be to let a debt ceiling fight force a government shutdown. I’ve only seen one person zero in on the fundamental problem with our economy — the government’s deficit has gotten too small. Kudos to Ezra Klein for connecting the dots and to Carolyn McClanahan for immediately recognizing this as a key MMT insight
John Kenneth Galbriath’s book, The Good Society: The Humane Agenda, creates a blueprint for a more just, prosperous and stable world. I’m re-reading it for the nth time because I continue to believe we might just get there one day. Indeed, I’m convinced we must.
Brad DeLong has a post up today in which he advocates an expansion of the Social Security system. He opens with the following paragraph:
Edward Filene’s idea from the 1920s of having companies run employer-sponsored defined-benefit plans has, by and large, come a-crashing down. Companies turn out not to be long-lived enough to run pensions with a high enough probability. And when they are there is always the possibility of a Mitt Romney coming in and making his fortune by figuring out how to expropriate the pension via legal and financial process. Since pension recipients are stakeholders without either legal control rights or economic holdup powers, their stake will always be prey to the princes of Wall Street.
Ripping off pensioners is indeed reprehensible, and we should be prepared to call out anyone who schemes the pension system at the expense of the powerless. And we should do it even if it means calling out a certain would-be-Fed-Chairman whom DeLong has championed:
When it comes to Wall Street, Summers said he obtained insights based partly on working part-time for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw and Company where he earned over $5 million in just one year. Summers said the experience gave him “a better sense of how market participants sort of think and react to things from sort of listening to the conversations and listening to the way the traders at D. E. Shaw thought.”
One young female quant who worked with him had this to say on her blog, “But when I think about that last project I was working on, I still get kind of sick to my stomach. It was essentially, and I need to be vague here, a way of collecting dumb money from pension funds. There’s no real way to make that moral, or even morally neutral.”
By “dumb money,” she is referring to the fact that investors, including those who manage public pension funds, routinely buy certain types of secure assets on a regular schedule or in other predictable patterns. Hedge funds like D.E. Shaw take advantage of that predictable behavior by selling these assets to investors for a slightly higher price. Because of the huge dollar value and volume of these investments, such strategies can make hundreds of millions of dollars for hedge funds.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter @StephanieKelton
President Obama, who met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the White House yesterday, is reported to have said that while Athens can’t rely exclusively on austerity for its economic recovery, it will need to take tough action:
It is important that we have a plan for fiscal consolidation, to manage the debt, but it is also important that growth and jobs are a focus,” said President Obama.
I think Prime Minister Samaras is committed to taking the tough actions that are required, but also, understandably, wants to make sure the Greek people see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Greek people have already seen household incomes fall by a third as a consequence of three years of “tough action.” Unemployment stands at nearly 28 percent, and youth unemployment is a staggering 64.9 percent. A quarter of the population has trouble putting food on the table, public health is deteriorating, suicide is up 26 percent, etc. Worst of all, there’s no end in sight.
The Greeks have served as Guinea Pigs in the most vile neoliberal macroeconomic experiment in modern history. From where I’m sitting, that light at the end of the tunnel looks like just another oncoming freight train.
Follow Stephanie on twitter @deficitowl