There is no economic theory so stupid that it won’t have its adherents in academia. From James Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:
MMT is the most potentially damaging economic doctrine I have ever encountered, with the exception of communism.
Let’s begin with the idea that the Fed and Treasury should be merged in practice so that the Fed will monetize any amount of spending or borrowing the Treasury wants.
The reason markets have any confidence at all in the Fed is precisely because they are perceived as independent of congressional spending plans. MMT takes this confidence for granted and assumes the Fed can just crank up the printing press whenever the Treasury likes.
But, as soon as this kind of coordinated effort appears, markets will lose confidence, inflation expectations will soar and interest rates will skyrocket. The plan would collapse before it really began. This is exactly the type of adaptive behavior by investors and markets that MMT academics do not understand.
MMT says that a currency issuer such as the U.S. can never go broke because it can simply print money to pay off the debt (provided the borrowings are in the same currency as the printed money). This may be true in some narrow, literal sense, but it does not mean investors have to wait around for the trainwreck.
The evidence is strong that debt-to-GDP ratios above 90% are a major headwind for growth. Today that ratio is 130% and heading higher. More borrowing does not produce growth; it simply makes the debt problem worse.
Modern Monetary Theory is the ultimate in something-for-nothing economics, aka magic. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:
The people pretending to run the world’s financial affairs do. The more layers of abstract game-playing they add to the existing armatures of unreality they’ve already constructed, the more certain it becomes that they will blow up all the support systems of a sunsetting hyper-tech economy that now has no safe lane to continue running in.
Virtually all the big nations are doing this now in desperation because they don’t understand that the hyper-tech economy is hostage to the deteriorating economics of energy, basically fossil fuels, and oil especially. The macro mega-system can’t grow anymore. We’re now in the de-growth phase of a dynamic that pulsates through history, as everything in the universe pulsates. We attempted to compensate for de-growth with debt, borrowing from the future.
But debt only works in the youthful growth phases of economic pulsation, when the prospect of being paid back is statistically favorable. Now in the elder de-growth phase, the prospect of paying back debts, or even servicing the interest, is statistically dismal. The amount of racked-up debt worldwide has entered the realm of the laughable. So, the roughly twenty-year experiment in Central Bank credit magic, as a replacement for true capital formation, has come to its grievous end.
Jeff Deist spares SLL the trouble of debunking the Modern Monetary Theory fantasy. From Deist at mises.org:
Modern monetary theory (MMT) has a new champion, and a new bible. Stephanie Kelton, economics professor at SUNY Stony Brook, is the author of The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy. Professor Kelton was an advisor to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns, and her ideas increasingly find purchase with left progressives. It is certainly possible that she has a future either in a Biden administration or even on the Federal Reserve Board, which is a testament to how quickly our political and cultural landscape has shifted toward left progressivism. And left progressivism requires a “New Economics” to provide intellectual cover for what is essentially a political argument for painless free stuff from government.
Kelton’s essential argument, first advanced by MMT guru Warren Mosler in the 1990s, is quite simple: federal spending is unconstrained by revenue. Taxes function only to regulate demand and hence inflation; federal borrowing functions only to regulate interest rates. Sovereign government treasuries can create and spend as much money as they like to stimulate growth, especially when the economy is underperforming. If inflation spikes, taxes can be imposed to take money out of the economy.
Print your way to prosperity, what could be simpler? Only those who profoundly hate humanity could embrace the idea. From Claudio Grass at lewrockwell.com:
There is nothing new under the sun
Modern Monetary Theory, or “MMT”, has been getting a lot of attention lately, often celebrated as a revolutionary breakthrough. However, there is absolutely nothing new about it. The very basis of the theory, the idea that governments can finance their expenditures themselves and therefore deficits don’t matter, actually goes back to the Polish Marxist economist, Michael Kalecki (1899 – 1970).
MMT as a centralisation tool
MMT says that the national debt means that we owe the money to ourselves, so the central bank in combination with the approval and blessings of the political branch can now together spend as much as they want without facing any consequences. In other words, we can print our way to prosperity. The only real problem according to the theory is that there is not enough money and not that resources are scarce and therefore limited. To understand the basic idea behind this, let’s use the game “Monopoly” as an example. If players decide to double the amount of monopoly-money to play with, the logical outcome will be that people start to pay much higher prices e.g. for the same amount of locations. Whenever more money is chasing the same amount of goods, prices will rise. Another lesson is that the bank will always win, especially when it has the power to change the rules at any time during the game.
Posted in banking, Capitalism, Currencies, Debt, Economy, Governments, Money, Morality, Politics, Propaganda
Tagged Marxism, Modern Monetary Theory