Bill Mitchell-en MMT is what is, not what might be1
(ii) Puntua: printzipioak eta balore ieologikoak3
(iii) Ezaguera faltsua: korronte nagusiko teoria4
(iv) Antzekoa gertatzen da makroekonomian5
(v) B. Mitchell-en bi etsenplu6
(vi) DTM erregimen aldaketa da7
(vii) Korronte nagusiko teoriakoen erasoak8
(viii) Zertan den DTM9
(ix) 1971ko abuztuaz gero, fiat-eko moneta sistema10
(x) Euroguneko estatu kideak11
(xi) DTM eta errealitatea12
(xii) Lan bermea, job guarantee13
(xiii) Jadanik bizi gara DTM-ko munduan14
(xiv) DTM-k permititzen digu mundu hori hobeto ikustea, iluntasunik gabe15
(xv) DTMk jendea ahalduntzen du, DTM marko berri bat da bizi gareneko sistema monetarioa nola funtzionatzen duen ulertzeko16
(xvi) DTM ez da ezkerrekoa, ezta eskumakoa ere! Ideologia argitzen du17
“I hope that discussion helps some readers out there who have been struggling with this sort of issue.”
2 Ingelesez: “One of the things I have noted with regularity is that readers and other second-generation Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) bloggers often fall into the error which we might characterise as the “When we have MMT things will be different” syndrome. Or the “we need to change to MMT principles to make things better” syndrome. Thinking that MMT constitutes a regime change is incorrect and steers one away from the core issues. In this blog, I reflect on that syndrome and some other aspects of the development of ideas, which I hope will provide readers with a clearer picture of what the core (early) MMT developers (Mosler, Bell/Kelton, Wray, Mitchell, Tcherneva, Fullwiler) had in mind when we set out in the early 1990s to construct a better way of doing macroeconomics.”
3 Ingelesez: “The point is that while MMT constitutes a regime change in economic thinking within the academy it does not constitute a regime change in the way the monetary system operates. We need to separate the operational principles exposed by MMT academics from their ideological values to really come to terms with the fact that MMT is what is, not what might be. (…)”
4 Ingelesez: “In economics, I characterise most of the mainstream theory as ‘fake knowledge’. Please read my blog – The failure of economics – reality and language – for more discussion on this point.
It doesn’t help us understand the way the monetary system operates. The mainstream explanations and characterisations are just plain wrong – and systematically so – one myth links into and reinforces another in a stream of logical nonsense.
But if you then ask why the mainstream adopt the position that they do, which in any reasonable assessment is ‘just plain wrong’ – then exploring that question is insightful because we enter the world of ideology and the role that ideas have in reinforcing existing power elites.
It is clear that the adoption of ‘free market’ conceptions help maintain the elite position in the deployment of real resources and the income flows that are derived.
There was a recent and interesting article in The Nation (March 6, 2017) – Our political economy is designed to create poverty and inequality – along these lines.
So, while mainstream economics is bunkum, understanding its role is important and helps us understand why ‘better’ ideas struggle to gain ascendancy in the contest of ideas. (…)”
5 Ingelesez: “Similarly, does an adherence by policy makers to the fake knowledge offered by mainstream macroeconomics force millions of people to endure unemployment and poverty unnecessarily. The answer is clearly yes. (…)
All of these stories (and there are many more I could write about) involve regime change. They involve a new set of ideas or explanations coming headlong against the perceived mainstream and then being undermined until it becomes self-evident that the facts support the new idea.
Once supplanted, the old theories are no longer considered valid knowledge. Kuhn also noted that there is a sort of mob rule among practitioners within a dominant paradigm and they vehemently hold onto their views even in the face of logical or empirical anomaly.
The dominant group becomes trapped in what Irving Janis called Groupthink and initially vilifies those who propose new ways of thinking.
Not all novel ideas face this sort of brick wall. But when the professional bodies become trapped by Groupthink and, typically, there is status and money at stake (particularly, commercial edge) then resistance can be fierce and prolonged.
So we can fairly say that the ideas discussed above resulted in regime change in their particular areas. In some cases, the regime confronted was dominated with real knowledge (…) but some assertions relating to that knowledge become exposed.
In other cases, the knowledge is fake all along and the dominance of the discipline is maintained through control of media, professional appointment and promotion, access to research funds, and other smokescreens that are erected to deter outsiders from knowing what the facts are.
Mainstream macroeconomics fits into that latter category. It is fake knowledge and always has been. But the Groupthink discpline among the profession is very tight and coercive. Anyone who has ever challenged its position will know what I mean.”
6 Ingelesez: “I was giving an invited presentation once at a prestigious conference on my macroeconomic views (I was the token Keynesian they used to have along to say they were providing a balanced roster of speakers! Not!).
Anyway, after I had given the presentation, the discussant started off by saying (with a whirring noise to start his spiel) “ladies and gentlemen, I think we are being visited by a presence from Mars today!” He said very little after that and just rode on the laughter in the audience. That was meant to be serious professional interchange.
It was nothing more than bullying. There was huge laughter at my expense – but by this stage I was a senior professor and had experienced years of this sort of ignorance. Always water off a duck’s back! I was inured to it.
When I was starting out, my very first referee’s report on a journal submission was one sentence long (they are normally, at least, a few pages long). It said “the author obviously hasn’t read or understood the first chapter in Lipsey”, which was a major mainstream textbook at the time, preaching the sort of rubbish that goes for mainstream macro.
That was it. I had spent hours working on the paper ensuring it was very tight and all I got was that. I took it as a challenge. But many more sensitive younger aspirants would have been destroyed by it – their confidence shot and their motivation damaged.
The economics profession is brutal and you have to have a thick hide to survive if you take it on.”
7 Ingelesez: “So in this sense, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) constitutes a regime change. It directly challenges (and exposes) the lies and deceptions of the dominant economic theories and provides a systematic and consistent alternative.
At first we were ignored – for the first 10 years at least of our work (the small group I noted above). Then the progressive side of economics (Post Keynesians) started criticising us – mainly because they attended similar conferences. They were hostile because MMT challenges some of the neo-liberal baggage that Post Keynesians still accept.
But as the message has spread further and the ‘second-generation’ MMTers on social media have become more vocal and numerous, there is now attacks coming from the mainstream economists.”
8 Ingelesez: “I wrote about a recent attack in this blog – When mainstream economists jump the shark and lose it completely.
These attacks are becoming widespread and represent the next stage in our development as a set of ideas. The neo-liberal Groupthinkers in the profession are now sensing that their position is weakening as more and more people are starting to eschew the value of the mainstream economics as a result of its massive failure in dealing with the GFC.
That event exposed my profession, which for years had been operating under the radar, so to speak. But its failures were manifest and the mob rule has began to erect all sorts of defences to protect their regime, including mounting public attacks on MMT.”
9 Ingelesez: “But the regime shift that I have been talking about up to now is not the same thing as the blogosphere claims that ‘things will be better when MMT is adopted’.
That sort of sentiment implies that we can shift to a ‘MMT regime’ if enough politicians are convinced.
The point to understand is that MMT is a system of thought that allows us to understand how a fiat currency monetary system operates and the central role that government can play in a modern monetary economy.
Modern monetary economies use money as the unit of account to pay for goods and services. An important notion is that money is a fiat currency, that is, it is convertible only into itself and not legally convertible by government into gold, for instance, as it was under the gold standard or later versions of the gold standard.”
10 Ingelesez: “What is mostly ignored in mainstream economic commentary is that in August 1971, the monetary system agreed at the famous Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, which required the central banks of participating nations to maintain their currencies at agreed fixed rates against the US dollar, collapsed.
The system proved unworkable and when President Nixon abandoned the convertibility of the US dollar into gold, most nations moved to a fiat currency system.
Within a fiat currency system, the government has the exclusive legal right to issue the particular fiat currency.
Further, given that this money is the only unit which is acceptable for payment of taxes and other financial demands of the government presents the government with a range of options.
We know that the government is not just a ‘large household’. The latter is the user of the currency and must finance its spending beforehand, ex ante, whereas government, the issuer of the currency, necessarily must spend first (credit private bank accounts) before it can subsequently debit private accounts, should it so desire (raising taxes).
Clearly, a fiat-currency issuing government is always solvent in terms of its own currency of issue.
MMT also teaches us that the purpose of State Money (fiat currency) is to facilitate the movement of real goods and services from the non-government (largely private) sector to the government (public) domain.
Government achieves this transfer by first levying a tax, which creates a notional demand for its currency of issue. To obtain funds needed to pay taxes and net save, non-government agents offer real goods and services for sale in exchange for the needed units of the currency. This includes, of-course, the offer of labour by the unemployed. The obvious conclusion is that unemployment occurs when net government spending is too low to accommodate the need to pay taxes and the desire to net save.
This analysis also sets the limits on government spending. It is clear that government spending has to be sufficient to allow taxes to be paid. In addition, net government spending is required to meet the private desire to save.
If the Government doesn’t spend enough to cover taxes and the non-government sector’s desire to save the manifestation of this deficiency will be unemployment. The basis of this deficiency is at all times inadequate net government spending, given the private spending (saving) decisions in force at any particular time.”
11 Ingelesez: “Different nations (or blocs of nations) structure and use the capacity possessed by a fiat currency in different ways. The Eurozone Member States voluntarily ceded the capacity to Frankfurt and then imposed harsh rules on themselves with respect to net spending.
Other nations have evolved differently.”
12 Ingelesez: “But the point is that every day, across every nation, monetary systems are in place that operate along the lines described and explained by MMT.
MMT has a very close relationship to reality, whereas mainstream macroeconomics is largely incapable of dealing with reality.
So to think that a better world is just a matter of moving to MMT is to misunderstand the reality. Monetary systems of all shapes and sizes already operate according to MMT.
So when I read comments like “if we introduced MMT …” or “under MMT policies …” or “when MMT becomes the norm”, which all imply that MMT is a regime that we would move to if society was more enlightened and would open up a new range of policy options that a truly progressive government might pursue I know that this point has been misunderstood.”
13 Ingelesez: “This is tied in with other comments, specifically about the Job Guarantee, which suggest that MMT is a progressive doctrine or a left-wing approach to economic policy-making and what is holding MMT back from being introduced is the right-wing conspiracy to maintain hegemony.”
14 Ingelesez: “I understand all these comments are well intended and people are genuinely attracted to some of the policy options that MMT proponents advance. This is notwithstanding, what I consider to be some doctrinal and irrational resistance to proposals such as the Job Guarantee.
But the conception that we might move to an MMT world where enlightened policy will free us from the yoke of capitalist exploitation is plain wrong.
The fact is that we are already living in the MMT world. We interact with each other every day in the MMT world. The monetary system, whether it be in the US, Australia, Japan or any of the Eurozone nations, operates along MMT lines.
So it is not about moving to some new Shangri-La, which we might call the MMT world – we are already in, that world.
What MMT provides is a new lens to view the world we live in and the monetary system operations that are important in our daily lives.
This new lens opens up new insights into what is going on in the economy on a daily basis. It’s not something to move to, it already is.”
15 Ingelesez: “MMT, as a new powerful lens, makes things that are obscured by neo-liberal narratives more transparent.
It means that the series of interlinked myths that are advanced by conservative forces to distract us from understanding causality and consequence in policy-making and non-government sector decision-making are exposed.
So when a Conservative politician or corporate leader claims that the government has run out of money and therefore cannot afford income support for the unemployed any longer at the levels previously enjoyed, MMT alerts us to the fact that this is a lie and that there must be an alternative agenda.”
16 Ingelesez: “MMT thus empowers a population who learn about it to see things for what they are and to ask questions that they never previously would have thought possible to ask or even relevant.
Previously, when a politician has said the government will run out of money or is maxing out its credit card, an uninformed population will take that statement as granted.
But an understanding of the MMT framework all its lens would mean that the population will now reject the “run out of money” obfuscation and instead demand to know why the government doesn’t want to support a particular policy option.
MMT thus, introduces into the policy debate, the possibility of new policy options and directions that have previously been dismissed out of hand through the use of spurious economic arguments that the politicians and their advisors know will not be properly scrutinised nor understood by the general population who they are trying to manipulate.
MMT is thus, a framework for understanding how the monetary system we live in operates and the capacities and options that are currency-issuing government has to advance our well-being.
It also allows us to understand the likely consequences of deviating from a truly sovereign state, which we define in terms of the currency-issuing status of the government (incorporating exchange-rate arrangements and central bank interest rate setting capacities).
In the latter context, the MMT lens provided us with a clear understanding of why the Eurozone would be a failure with significant negative consequences for the Member States.”
17 Ingelesez: “Further, MMT is neither left-wing nor right-wing.
Where the confusion lies is in conflating the theoretical and descriptive content of MMT with the value systems that the proponents of MMT overlay on this content.
It might be thought that MMT is left-wing because the values I expound are from the left. But that would be a wrongful inference.
The ideological persuasion of any perspective will manifest in the values that are expounded and the policy prescriptions that are proposed to advance those values.
What MMT has allowed is for the ideological persuasion to become much clearer when a person advances a particular policy proposal.
For example, when a politician, faced with rising unemployment, says that there is no fiscal space for the government to create jobs to deal with the mass unemployment, a person considering that comment through the MMT lens, will immediately realise that the government must have a reason for maintaining higher than necessary unemployment.
We know there must be a ‘hidden’ agenda because our understanding tells us that the government fiscal space is defined in terms of available real resources that the government can purchase with its currency-issuing capacity. So if there is mass unemployment then we know that there are such available real resources.
So why would the government refuse to purchase them and bring them back into productive use?
The focus then shifts on what that reason is and questions are likely to lead, for example, to an examination of corporate influence that might be leading the government to refuse to use their currency-issuing capacities to maintain full employment.
But when a right-wing politician inspired by MMT expresses a desire to ensure there is a reserve army of unemployed because it will suppress wage demands and enhance profits (which he/she values above worker dignity etc) then they would propose cutting the fiscal deficit because their MMT training tells them that is how they will achieve their goal.
MMT just tells us what the consequences of imposing our values on society via policy choices will be. Those values can take any political or ideological colour.”