All of a sudden MSNBC cable commentators are talking about plutocracy and oligarchy. Surprisingly, the first occurrence of this I'm aware of was Chuck Todd, reacting on his Daily Rundown show to the spectacle of Republican candidates traveling to Vegas to seek funding from Sheldon Adelson and his group of hugely wealthy Jewish Republican donors. Todd began to explore the implications of that event. He seemed exercised, and more than the slightest bit upset, about its meaning for Democracy and used the words plutocracy and oligarchy. Andrea Mitchell also discussed it later and she, too, registered apparent dismay, while using the “p” and “o” words.
Chris Hayes has been on leave during this period, so we haven't heard from him about this. But Chris Matthews, the “oh so very slightly left-of-center insider” has been making very unfriendly noises about Adelson, the Kochs, and the Supremes, culminating today (April 3rd) with nasty references to plutocrats, oligarchs, and candidates, kissing oligarchs somewhere or other, on both his program and Al Sharpton's. Read more about Is the MSM Blackout on Inequality, Plutocracy, and Oligarchy Ending?
It now looks like the big media and leaders in both parties are no longer focusing on the Government Shutdown crisis, but are now moving on to the notion that the shutdown is melding with the upcoming probable breaching of the debt limit to create a combined mother of all fiscal crises. Along with this, the media and many politicians, encouraged by the President's standing “strong, strong, strong,” are now directing attention away from whether ObamaCare will be delayed or compromised, to other types of ransom the Administration might pay in return for both re-opening the Government and also providing an increase of an undetermined amount in the debt limit. Meanwhile there are reports that under increasing Wall Street pressure John Boehner is preparing to negotiate with House Democrats and allow a vote to pass a CR and a clean debt limit increase bill, in return for concessions he can take back to his caucus.
TINA does not apply in this case, and the President's choices are not limited to just refusing to negotiate or giving in to ransom demands whether focused on Obamacare, the Keystone Pipeline, entitlement cuts,“tax reform frameworks” or any other measures that give “tea party” Republicans “the respect” they think is due them. By continuing to frame things in this way, the media and politicians in both parties are echoing the Administration's framing of the situation and absolving the President of his share of the blame for the debt limit crisis. They are also preparing the way for a compromise, that will, almost certainly, result in hurtful cuts to Government spending including renewed consideration of "the Great Betrayal," also known as the Grand Bargain, and probably passage of the chained CPI cuts to Social Security over the objections of a large majority of the American people. Read more about Stop “the Great Betrayal:” Kabuki Update
Like many others, I'm not worried about the so-called fiscal “cliff,” and the ravages to the economy that are likely to occur if Congress doesn't do something about it before the end of the year. That's because a lot of the impact can be cushioned in the short run by Executive Branch manipulations while negotiations continue to go on. But if measures aren't taken to reverse the contractionary effect of the sequestration-induced changes, we're looking at deficit cuts of $487 Billion over 9 months of the fiscal year. Read more about The Fiscal “Cliff” and the Real Problem
In my last post, I discussed the first part of Beowulf's post entitled: “(MMT - JG) + Medicare for All = MMT,” and also some dialogues between Jamie Galbraith and both TomThumb and Beowulf related to the MMT Job Guarantee at one of FiredogLake's Book Salon's featuring Jamie's n Read more about (MMT - JG) + Medicare for All Not = MMT
A few days ago my friend Beowulf decided to exercise his wry sense of humor with this title of a post he offered for our consideration: “(MMT - JG) + Medicare for All = MMT.” Beo then goes on to talk about some details of a comment exchange with Jamie Galbraith at one of FiredogLak Read more about Dialogues with Jamie Galbraith and the MMT Job Guarantee
Matthew Yglesias posting in Slate, also gave us a few words on Dylan Matthews's post about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). He starts with this thought: Read more about The WaPo MMT Post Explosion: Matthew Yglesias's Reaction to MMT
Kevin Drum, posting in Mother Jones, also threw his hat into the ring of discussion about Dylan Matthews's post about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Kevin begins by characterizing MMT as “. . . . Read more about The WaPo MMT Post Explosion: Kevin Drum's Take on MMT
This post continues my critical evaluation of Dylan Matthews's, post published on Ezra Klein's blog called “You know the deficit hawks. Now meet the deficit owls.”
Here's the next exchange envisioned by Dylan: Read more about WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part Three, Banking, and Default vs. “Hyperinflation”
This post continues the critical evaluation of Dylan Matthews's, post published on Ezra Klein's blog called “You know the deficit hawks. Now meet the deficit owls.”
The Inflation/Hyperinflation Bogeyman Read more about WaPo Covers MMT, But Does Its Usual Bad Job: Part Two, Inflation/Hyperinflation
In a comment on another post of mine, Kelly Canfield, a blogger and commenter at FDL, asked me for the following.
What I would appreciate is a simple, 3,4 bullet point method as to why I should support, and more importantly, tell others that MMT is superior to the Keynes theories which I have pointed out and illustrated to others before this current situation.
I can easily explain that the private sector is not providing demand, and that the Fed sector should, and people would be better off with demand stimulus.
Explain to me how I EXPLAIN that MMT is superior to that basic premise, if it is?
Not sure I want to do that in three or 4 bullet points. But what I will do is to state what I think are some differences that are very significant for policy activism between a Keynesian approach employed by people like Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and Robert Reich and a Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) approach employed by people like Warren Mosler, L. Randall Wray, Bill Mitchell, Jamie Galbraith, Stephanie Kelton, Marshall Auerback, Scott Fullwiler, and Pavlina Tcherneva. So, here are some contrasts between the two approaches on seven important issues. Out of these contrasts, there should be much material for short explanations about why MMT is superior to Keynesian approaches. [Readers? -- lambert] Read more about Keynesian Deficit Doves vs. MMT Deficit Owls
(Reprinted with the Permission of the Author)
(Editor's Note: This is a long and difficult piece, originally published at Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism site, and has an academic style. But, nevertheless, if you want to understand more about what the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) school of economics has to offer, it is well worth your investment of time. It is the definitive critique of Paul Krugman's two recent blog posts on MMT, in my view.
In addition, in the process of criticizing Paul's views, Scott Fullwiler illuminates a lot of the deep thinking and knowledge developed by those following the MMT approach over many years, now. If you read this, you can see just how far off-base Paul Krugman is in his attempt to de-construct MMT, and you can also see how much work Paul has to do to really understand what his colleague economists using the MMT approach have developed.)
The old saying that bad press is better than no press is definitely true in this case. Without the advent of the blogosphere, our work would likely never even be noticed by the likes of Paul Krugman, so the fact that he’s writing about us (here and here) this weekend at least means we’re doing better than that, even if his assessment of us is far less than glowing. At the same time, and particularly given that Krugman is so widely read, it’s imperative to at the very least set the record straight on where MMT and Krugman differ. I should note before I start that others have done very good critiques already that overlap mine in several places (see here, here, here, and here).
Krugman makes three incorrect assumptions about what MMT policy proposals actually are while also demonstrating a lack of understanding of our modern monetary system (as is generally verified by volumes of empirical research on the monetary system by both MMT’ers and non-MMTer’s). These are the following:
Assumption A: The size of the monetary base directly (or indirectly, for that matter) affects inflation if we’re not in a “liquidity trap”
Assumption B: MMT’s preferred fiscal policy approach or strategy—Abba Lerner’s functional finance—is Non-Ricardian
Assumption C: Bond markets alone set interest rates on the national debt of a sovereign currency issuer operating under flexible exchange rates
Assumptions A and C are central to the Neo-Liberal macroeconomic model. Assumption B is a common misconception about MMT and a common perception of Neo-Liberals about the nature and macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy (i.e., Neo-Liberals often believe that activist fiscal policy is Non-Ricardian). Read more about Paul Krugman – The Conscience of a Neo--Liberal
A number of people including myself have been furiously blogging for many months now on the world-wide austerity war that most Governments are fighting against the well-being of their citizens. Read more about Bill Mitchell on the Austerity War
Self-styled “progressive organizations” and commentators have been releasing their own deficit reduction plans in reply to the plans released by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici, and The Peterson-Pew Commission. These new plans, were released by the Institute for America's Future, Citizens Commission on Jobs, Deficits, and America's Economic Future and Our Fiscal Security, a collaboration of Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and The Century Foundation (TCF). The first, “Report and Recommendations of Citizens Commission on Jobs, Deficits, and America's Economic Future” was written by Jeff Madrick with contributions from Roger Hickey, R. J. Eskow, Robert Borosage, Dean Baker, Robert Kuttner, Robert Pollin, and other unnamed Commission members. The second, “Investing in America's Economy: A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility” was written by Becky Thiess and Andrew Fieldhouse, both of EPI, with contributions from Heather McGhee (Demos, Defense Spending), Maggie Mahar (TCF, Health Care), and Josh Bivens (EPI and relating public investments to economic growth). The report was also written under the guidance of Greg Anrig (TCF), Tamara Draut (Demos), and John Irons (EPI). Read more about The “Progressive” Give-Up Formula Is Alive and Well In the Latest Deficit Reduction Plans
The debates between the deficit doves and the deficit owls continued at New Deal 2.0 (ND20) today. Jeff Madrick, a dove, gives us a post entitled: “Stimulate Now: On Inflation and Deficits.” In this post, I'll evaluate Jeff's views paragraph by paragraph.
”Some have suggested that if a country nears the point that it must consider default, that is, it can’t generate enough tax revenues to pay debt and meet other minimal commitments, then all it need do is create reserves if it has a sovereign (aka ‘fiat’) currency.”
Maybe Jeff is right that “some have suggested . . .” the above, but I've never seen anyone do that. The economists I read who write about the capabilities of Governments sovereign in their own currencies say that such countries can't be forced to default, that they can only do so voluntarily, and that if they do, it's only because their decision makers don't understand that they can't be forced into default by international markets any external authorities. Read more about Deficit Doves Vs. Deficit Owls at ND20: Part Two