Here’s a Black Swan for ya: Trump does MMT


The Economist tackles MMT today:

That perspective is not always clear; there is no canonical mmt model. But there are some central ideas. A government that prints and borrows in its own currency cannot be forced to default, since it can always create money to pay creditors. New money can also pay for government spending; tax revenues are unnecessary. Governments, furthermore, should use their budgets to manage demand and maintain full employment (tasks now assigned to monetary policy, set by central banks). The main constraint on government spending is not the mood of the bond market, but the availability of underused resources, like jobless workers. Raising spending when the economy is already at capacity can lead to rapid inflation. The purpose of taxes, then, is to keep inflation in check. Spending is the accelerator, taxation the brakes. Fiscal deficits are irrelevant as long as unemployment is low and prices are stable.

To those versed in orthodoxy—in which governments must eventually pay for their spending through taxes—these ideas sound bizarre. This strangeness is partly a result of mmt scholars’ unconventional idiom. Speaking with mmt’s adherents is sometimes like watching a football match with friends who insist the ball remains stationary while every other element in the game, including the pitch and goalposts, moves around it. Communication is made harder still by mmters’ sparse use of mathematical models. To economists who consider heavy-duty maths a mark of seriousness, such reluctance to use equations is either evidence of intellectual inferiority or a way of avoiding scrutiny.

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About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.