MMT: REPORT FROM THE FRONT

By L. Randall Wray

PART 1

As many readers know, the third annual MMT conference was recently held at Stonybrook, and you can find the program as well as videos of the conference at the link: (https://www.mmtconference.org/). In addition, real-world economics review has just issued a new volume devoted to MMT (http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue89/whole89.pdf). I’ll briefly address both, in two parts. I’ll talk about the conference in this one, and about the RWER papers in the second part.

Part 1: The Third International MMT Conference

Unfortunately, I missed the first day of the conference as I was the plenary speaker at the annual ABFM (Association for Budget and Financial Management) conference in Washington DC. This invitation resulted from a chance meeting with a member of the group when I was teaching on a Fulbright to Estonia. At first he was shocked at the views I was propagating, but quickly became a convert, converted another member, and that led to the invitation. This group mostly researches state and local government finance—obviously those are currency users and need to balance budgets—but they tend to apply what they know to the federal budget. MMT of course explodes that because the finances of the sovereign currency issuer are nothing like those of the non-sovereign government entities. However, many of the attendees were open to MMT—or, at least, now they want to know more. It was a pleasant experience—and I learned more about a whole sector of the academy that I didn’t know much about. Many of those attending are in Masters of Public Administration schools. My own Professor Minsky’s first graduate degree was an MPA. I actually wrote a paper on the topic of the problems of state and local government finance, up here at Levy (http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/fiscal-reform-to-benefit-state-and-local-governments-the-modern-money-theory-approach).

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The Terrible Cost of Politically Induced Hate of Minorities

By William K. Black
September 23, 2019      Kansas City, MO

Muslims and Jews in America and Israel share some common experiences.  In Israel and the territories Israel occupies, they are the targets of murderous hate from each other.  They have competing, horrid stories of mistreatment by other ethnic and religious communities and each other that go back over a thousand years.

In the United States, the relationship between Muslims and Jews is vastly better, but mixed.  The American hate killers of Jews and Muslims are overwhelmingly right-wing supremacists who hate Jews, Muslims, people of color, and the ‘left.’  So far, the nightmare scenario of waves of revenge pogroms by American Jews and Muslims has not occurred.  We all need to work to prevent that nightmare from ever occurring.

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Trumps Asks the Right Question, Provides the Wrong Answer

By William K. Black
September 23, 2019     Kansas City, MO

Since the Trump administration began, I have been making a series of predictions that any white-collar criminologist would find obvious.  I discuss three of those points in this article.  First, Trump is leading the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history.  Second, over time, only the sleaziest, most cowardly, and least competent mid and senior level officials would remain in power.  Third, Trump exemplifies the “Dark Triad” – the toxic mix of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism.  People beset by the Dark Triad personality characteristics are serial liars.  Each of the three predictions has proven true, but any competent, honest white-collar criminologist would have made the same predictions, so I take no pride in their proven accuracy.

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Two-Cent Message

By J.D. ALT

Elizabeth Warren has succeeded, I think, in framing an argument as close as anyone is going to get (in the present election cycle) to the progressive position of MMT. Warren acknowledges that she’s proposing goals and undertakings that will “cost” a lot of money. She further acknowledges that everyone asks: “How are you going to pay for it?” And she gives a very specific and simple answer: an “ultra-millionaire tax”—which she details as “two-cents on every dollar of income over $50 million.” She then goes on to list what those “two-cents” will accomplish: The cancellation of college debt; free two-year college education; universal pre-school day-care…etc.

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48 States to Investigate Google: Anti-Trust or Politicking?

While there are real reasons to be concerned about Google’s immense power, this investigation is quite politically motivated, NEP’s Bill Black on The Real News Network. You can view here with a transcript.

Democrats Should Refuse to Continue to Support Stupidity and Cowardice

William K. Black
September 15, 2019      Kansas City, MO

A craven group of Democrats is furious with Beto O’Rourke for calling for the mandatory sale of assault rifles to the United States.  Reuters’ headline says it all:  “O’Rourke’s ‘hell yes’ vow to take away rifles worries U.S. lawmakers pushing for gun limits.”  Seriously?  Democratic lawmakers (who have adopted no meaningful federal law in response to tens of thousands of gun deaths and maiming) are upset because a prominent Democrat proposed a law to get military-style assault rifles out of civilian life.  Granted, the Republicans have patented their right to be the party of stupid, but Democrats should not compete by becoming the party of less stupid, but equally cowardly.

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Awakening the Investor-in-Whole-Society

By J.D. ALT

There’s a lot of handwringing now about how central banks have no ammunition to fight a recession. The fact that this is apparently true—and, perhaps, uniquely true in modern history—is all the more reason to explore MMT’s premise that central banks are not just instruments of private commerce, but are, as well, instruments of collective, democratic will. The bankers are in a box of their own making, but that box, in fact, is inside another box which, as MMT makes clear, has lots of ammunition not only to fight a recession, but to pursue the betterment of American society whether an economic downturn unfolds or not.

Let’s consider the central bankers’ basic dilemma: If private enterprise begins to slow, they would love to issue more money to get it back up to speed. But inside their box the only way to do that is by encouraging private enterprise to borrow more money. Private enterprise, in turn, decides to borrow more based on production and spending decisions tied to the making of potential profits. The only lever the central bank has to affect these profit calculations is the manipulation of interest rates—lowering rates to make the profitability of enterprise more feasible (hence, encouraging more borrowing and more money creation) or raising rates to do the opposite. So, if interest rates are already close to zero, the central bankers are out of ammunition if private enterprise, on a large scale, decides to slow down operations and lay-off workers.

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Is it Cynical to Believe the System is Corrupt?

While a new poll shows most US citizens believe the political and economic system is rigged against them, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also echo this sentiment. Some conservatives are now pushing back. But what says the evidence? NEP’s Bill Black appears on The Real News Network and analyzes the situation. You can view here with a transcript.

Rigged System Apologists and Deniers Fear Senators Warren and Sanders

William K. Black

August 26, 2019     Kansas City, MO

Greg Weiner has written an article aimed at those he hates – progressive Democrats.  He entitled it “The Shallow Cynicism of ‘Everything is Rigged.’” Weiner wrote, in the midst of the most corrupt administration in U.S. history, not to attack President Trump, but instead to attack Senators Warren and Sanders.  Their sin?  They oppose corruption.  Worse, they view corruption as immoral, they ‘walk the walk’ by refusing to take contributions from corporations, and they are proving remarkably skilled at explaining to the public how the corrupt rig specific systems.  Democrats are reacting by giving strong support to Warren and Sanders.  Weiner argues that some corruption is good and that we need far more of it.

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Why Moscow Mitch needs MMT

By J.D. ALT

Mitch McConnell is desperate to find investment funds and businesses that will create jobs for his Kentucky constituents. America, it seems, is mostly incapable of being a source for either. Such is the diminishment of our impoverished private enterprise system that only foreign companies seem interested in bringing U.S. dollars to America to build the factories that will employ us.

America, for example, has not built an aluminum rolling mill in over forty years. It must be easier (read “more profitable”) just to import the stuff. If you want to create jobs, though, in exchange for votes from your constituents, “profitability” takes on new dimensions. And while those additional dimensions don’t seem to appeal much to American enterprise, for some inexplicable reason they are appealing to foreign “investors”—especially ones from Russia. Russia, it seems, has discovered a new form of American “politico-capitalism.”

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