Douthat’s Mendacious Meritocracy Myth

William K. Black
December 8, 2018      Bloomington, MN

The funeral services for President George HW Bush triggered Ross Douthat’s nostalgia for the “aristocratic virtues of the old WASP establishment, and a disappointment with the meritocracy that has risen in its place.”  This column ignores his nostalgia and alleged virtues and discusses briefly his bizarre assumption that a “meritocracy” runs America.  Given the 2008 Great Financial Crisis (GFC) and President Trump, I thought that the meritocracy fantasy was dead.  We are far closer to anti-meritocracy (a kakistocracy).    Continue reading

Who Said This?

William K. Black
Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC
December 5, 2018     Bloomington, MN  55437

I cannot write many blogs during the fall semesters because I teach four classes (I co-teach one of them).  The fall term of instruction at UMKC is now over so I am writing one piece before turning to grading.  I have recently done additional research on a topic I know is of great interest – the prosecution of elite white-collar criminals.  I have organized it in the form of a game in which the reader guesses who authored the quoted passage. Continue reading

Sears Bankruptcy Engineered to Benefit Executives and Stiff Workers

Executives of Sears stand to gain up to $1 million in bonuses, should Sears be liquidated, and $500,000 if it’s restructured. Meanwhile, ordinary workers at Sears are being laid off without severance payments. NEP’s Bill Black appears on the Real News Network and talks about how US bankruptcy law is rigged to favor executives. You can view with transcript here.

Let’s Rebuild Mexico Beach

By J.D. ALT

It’s telling that in the media coverage about the damage inflicted by Hurricane Michael, there are a lot of stories about how the citizens of Mexico Beach would like to rebuild their town, but no stories at all about how they might be enabled to do that. Only the opposite: why it’s going to be virtually impossible for Mexico Beach to ever be Mexico Beach again. Why is that?

One reason: These were modest structures in a modest town, paid for with modest, working-class incomes. They cannot be rebuilt as modest structures. If they are to be rebuilt at all, they will have to be elevated, heavier, stronger, laterally-braced and deeply rooted. Replacement costs will likely be on the order of $2 for every $1 of value they might have been insured for. That’s an expenditure few of the Mexico Beach citizenry can afford.

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Amazon’s New NYC and DC Headquarters Bilked the Cities

The contest for Amazon’s HQ2 prompted hundreds of cities to put in tax break and subsidy bids. NEP’s Bill Black appears on the Real News Network and says these deals never pay off for the communities involved. You can view with a transcript here.

An MMT View of the Twin Deficits Debate

Invited Presentation by L. Randall Wray at the UBS European Conference, London, Tuesday 13 November 2018

Q: These questions about deficits are usually cast as problems to be solved. You come from a different way of framing the issue, often referred to as MMT, which—at the risk of oversimplifying—says that we worry far too much about debt issuance. Can you help us understand where fears may be misplaced?

Wray: First let me say that I think the twin deficits argument is based on flawed logic.

It runs something like this: the government decides to spend too much, causing a budget deficit that competes with private borrowers, driving interest rates up. That appreciates the currency and causes a trade deficit.

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FUTURE DOLLARS

By J.D. ALT

In recent essays I’ve made reference to a new framing of what is actually happening when the U.S. treasury issues a bond. It seems to me, this new framing goes to the heart of MMT and might well hold the key to a practical implementation of MMT principles in real world applications. The framing is this:

A U.S. treasury bond is a certificate of issuance of future dollars.

I will expand on this in a moment, but first it is important to say what this framing says a treasury bond is NOT:

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Trump Probably Engaged in Felony Tax Evasion

NEP’s Bill Black appears on The Real News Network and analyzes the New York Times investigation into Trump’s tax evasion and argues that if true, these would be considered felonies. However, he will probably never be held to account for this, before he leaves office. You can view here with transcript.

CHANGE THE SUBJECT

By J.D. ALT

So, I will now, once again, court blushing naivete….

In the middle of a contemplative walk—during which, I confess, I was imagining with enthusiasm how the Democrats might extract revenge should they win the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections (hearings and subpoenas relating to the FBI “investigation” of Brett Kavanaugh, subpoenas for Donald Trump’s tax returns, drawing up articles of impeachment, etc.)—I was suddenly struck by the realization of what a terrible mistake it would be to do any of that.

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MODERN MONEY THEORY: How I came to MMT and what I include in MMT

My remarks for the 2018 MMT Conference September 28-30, NYC

L. RANDALL WRAY

I was asked to give a short presentation at the MMT conference. What follows is the text version of my remarks, some of which I had to skip over in the interests of time. Many readers might want to skip to the bullet points near the end, which summarize what I include in MMT.

I’d also like to quickly respond to some comments that were made at the very last session of the conference—having to do with “approachability” of the “original” creators of MMT. Like Bill Mitchell, I am uncomfortable with any discussion of “rockstars” or “heroes”. I find this quite embarrassing. As Bill said, we’re just doing our job. We are happy (or, more accurately pleasantly surprised) that so many people have found our work interesting and useful. I’m happy (even if uncomfortable) to sign books and to answer questions at such events. I don’t mind emailed questions, however please understand that I receive hundreds of emails every day, and the vast majority of the questions I get have been answered hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of times by the developers of MMT. A quick reading of my Primer or search of NEP (and Bill’s blog and Warren’s blogs) will reveal answers to most questions. So please do some homework first. I receive a lot of “questions” that are really just a thinly disguised pretense to argue with MMT—I don’t have much patience with those. Almost every day I also receive a 2000+ word email laying out the writer’s original thesis on how the economy works and asking me to defend MMT against that alternative vision. I am not going to engage in a debate via email. If you have an alternative, gather together a small group and work for 25 years to produce scholarly articles, popular blogs, and media attention—as we have done for MMT—and then I’ll pay attention. That said, here you go: [email protected].

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