Tag Archives: Modern Monetary Theory

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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Enough Money

By J.D. Alt

Money causes labor to do useful things, and goods and services to be exchanged between people, thereby enabling people in general—both individually and collectively—to obtain what they need. In order for this process to occur in an optimal way—that is, in order for the maximum number of people to obtain what they need, individually and collectively, it seems clear that two basic conditions must be met: (1) there needs to be enough money to pay people to create all the goods and services they need, and (2) this adequate supply of money needs to be in the hands of people who are actually able and motivated to spend it for that purpose.

By “enough money” I mean this: Is there enough money to pay people to build all the things and provide all the services they need both individually and collectively—without there being too MUCH money (which could cause prices to escalate)? If there isn’t enough money, it is likely there will be things we need but which we cannot have—not for the lack of available and willing labor to provide those things, but for lack of money with which to pay that labor. In this case that labor not only remains wastefully unemployed, but we, collectively and individually, go without something which we otherwise could have, and might possibly—even desperately—need. (It is also possible, of course, that we cannot have the things we need because the required natural resources—energy, materials, chemicals and minerals etc.—are not available. This, however, is not a “money problem” but a resource problem.)

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MMT and the Next Growth Cycle

By Thornton Parker

Discussions on this forum generally treat MMT in isolation rather than in the context of other forces that drive an economy.   In Japan, for example, the sales tax increase to reduce the government’s deficit is widely seen as a recent cause of its lagging economy. But a bit of history shows a different picture.

At the end of World War II, the country was decimated. Many of its young men were dead; its industries and cities were in ruins; its people were humiliated and overwhelmed by two atomic bombs; even its religion was repudiated. An island nation, it had no local friends, little fuel, and almost no raw materials. The only thing it was rich in was poor people.

Most western economists believed it was destined to remain a basket case indefinitely. But the Japanese rejected that assessment, saying if that was what conventional economics predicted, they would invent their own economics. And they did just that.

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The Problem with Code Words

By J.D. Alt

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was recently quoted in the Washing Post as having said something quite remarkable given the IMF’s historical position on monetary policy: “…we have to repeat over and over that monetary policy cannot be the only game in town, and that there has to be a combination of sound fiscal policies, use of fiscal space for those countries that have fiscal space in order to support growth and rejuvenate that growth.” The problem is, what do these words and phrases mean to most people who read them—including most U.S. politicians and economic pundits? What do they really mean, for that matter, in Lagarde’s own mind? Our collective thinking—and hence our actions—seem entrapped by “code” words which we assume everyone understands to mean some specific thing even though we’re not entirely clear what they mean ourselves. The result is massive confusion, hesitation, and inaction at a time when bold and effective steps are desperately needed.

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Framing MMT – Modern Money Network

A Modern Money Network contributor – Jason Kessler put together this beautiful graphic based on Randy Wray’s Meme for Money series that appeared here on NEP.

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Why Money Matters

By L. Randall Wray*

Our Mission Oriented Finance conference explores how to direct funding toward what Hyman Minsky called “the capital development of the economy”, broadly defined to include private investment, public infrastructure, and human development. (See more here.)

But to understand how, we need to understand what money is and why it matters. After all, finance is the process of getting money into the hands of those who will spend it.

The dominant narrative is that money “greases” the wheels of commerce. Sure, you could run the commercial machine without money, but it runs better with lubricant.

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IT’S OFFICIAL: TOO BIG TO FAIL IS ALIVE AND WELL

By L. Randall Wray

Thank heaven for Tom Hoenig, the only proven-honest central banker we’ve got. Yes, I know he’s moved on from the KC Fed to serve as Vice Chairman of the FDIC. He actually might do a lot more good over there, anyway.

In recent months, we’ve heard how Wall Street’s Blood-sucking Vampire Squids have reformed themselves. They no longer pose any danger to our economy. They’ve written “living wills” that describe how they’ll safely bury themselves without Uncle Sam’s help next time they implode.

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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).

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National Retirement Infrastructure – Part 3

By J.D. Alt

1. Why we can afford it—2. Why we need it—3. How we can build it

3. How we can build it.

Cohousing, as briefly explained in Part 1, offers a uniquely supportive context for retired living. Cohousing communities consist of between 10 and 30 privately occupied and maintained dwelling units which share certain common facilities, amenities and, in some cases, social responsibilities and activities. It is this “commons” sharing that can potentially provide a retired person with benefits they otherwise could not afford to have, or have easily. For example, the shared facility might include an apartment for a live-in nurse-assistant/care giver who would provide assistance, in each of the private dwellings, as needed. Or, the “commons” might include a small exercise pool that individual retirees can utilize for a daily work-out. “Traditional” cohousing projects typically include a common cooking and dining facility where at least one meal a week is a shared community event—(individual dwellings have their own small kitchens as well.) In general, the goal is to create a comfortable balance between private autonomy and community activities.

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National Retirement Infrastructure – Part 2

By J.D. Alt

1. Why we can afford it—2. Why we need it—3. How we can build it

2. Why we need it.

What is retirement anyway? For most people it seems to be the end of that middle period of their lives where some business, or institution, or civic entity has paid them Dollars in exchange for their labor or personal services. This “Dollar-earning-in-exchange-for-work” period can end at various points in a life-span, for various reasons planned or unplanned: Some of us become disabled by health catastrophes in our 40s or 50s, some find the particular skill we learned or developed over the years is suddenly no longer in demand (and it’s much too late to start over again). Many people are forced to stop providing their labor or services at a certain age by retirement rules designed to create employment openings for the younger generation coming along behind. While a few are fortunate enough to continue earning Dollars in exchange for their services right up until the very end—entertainers, writers, highly specialized professionals come to mind—the vast majority of U.S. citizens all share the same basic fate: at some point in time, with many years or even decades remaining in our life-span, we will cease earning Dollars in exchange for our labor or services.

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