There are certainly some who think that MMT is indeed a “magic money tree” and that, for example: “as a sovereign nation, the UK can always afford high quality universal NHS healthcare.”. cyclical movements in the economy. From what I’ve read, they will not actually be independent as London will continue to rule their foreign policy. that means for borrowing and taxes. This may well make sense when interest rates are at or close to zero. The magazine is owned and supported by the Resolution Group, as part of its not-for-profit, public interest activities. The pandemic has landed treasuries everywhere with whacking great overdrafts—in the UK... Jonathan Portes is Professor of Economics, King's College London and Senior Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe. The Scots will decide if they will to remain a part of Great Britain or become independent. Every human action has some perfect model in the stars that only the economist can see. They stopped flights to Hong Kong as well. Most people have not noticed it, but the official capitulation/sellout of science happened on Sep 3, 2020.#1 Democrats believe — or lie to their constituents about — that the economy is a “100-penny dollar,” meaning the more of those pennies “selfishly” hoarded by “billionaires,” the fewer pennies left to pay “working Americans” a “living wage” — instead of focusing on creating more dollars. Nonsense economics: the rise of modern monetary theory. Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. Current mainstream economics as taught in the most universities is “neoclassical”. Plus: Philip Collins on who's to blame for Boris Johnson, and the latest on the search for a vaccine. I’m fond of saying that economics is closer to tarot card reading than physics on the empiricism scale. But one thing is absolutely certain. Economic Nonsense Posted on February 17, 2014 by thezman I’m fond of saying that economics is closer to tarot card reading than physics on the empiricism scale. He will know why. This site uses cookies to improve the user experience. This is perhaps the nub of the issue. The fact that none of them would let you borrow their pencil much less pitch a tent in their yard is dismissed as irrelevant. EMAIL. Presidential Nonsense on Economics. MMT as nonsense economics – or not. by Walter E. Williams January 18, 2012. I wish, as an Englishman, to throw my small weight into the Britain or Scotland debate. Why Do Democrats Hate Donald Trump So Much? The Bank of England. If you have a kid who is trying to figure out where to go to college, you might want to counsel him or her to avoid going to Stony Brook University, at least if he or she plans on majoring in economics. Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information. June 9, 2020. In it’s simplest form (AOC), it’s the “100 pennies in a dollar” illustration. Instead, the smart set says things like this: I’m against Scottish independence because I’m horrified at the prospect of our country being dismantled. It's being used to support policy proposals and is both lauded and attacked in the popular press. Login to post comments using social media accounts. To an economist, not such right exists. First, it says that deficits are positively necessary for growth. by Laurence M. Vance; In sum, “economic nationalism” equals economic nonsense. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications. The problem is that the cultural, historic and commercial ties that bind us are too tight to safely be cut. Yes, the UK can afford a high quality NHS. The claim that that MMT means that a future government can dodge hard choices about how to pay for decent public services is just plain nonsense. Economics takes the same view. But the result would still be the same as that predicted by conventional economists. But again it’s necessary to unpack this. 'Saving' Social Security and Medicare sounds like a good idea, but they can't be saved in their current form because politicians are hooked on lying about what it will take. Economics is the one area of practical mathematics where getting the wrong answer is of no consequence. The West is slipping into paganism and the economics profession is supplying the shamans. For further discussion, please see Discounting Revisions Housing Starts Were Flat Mish By using this site, you agree that we can set and use these cookies. To an uncultured ear, that sounds like a reasonable thing. The reason is no one ever gets the right answer. Put another way, the English answer to the Scottish demand can be “No, because we said so. Scotland will become something like Puerto Rico without the rum and fine weather. It is up to the Scots to decide if they wish to be ‘independent’ (though the sensible money is that they will aim for being in the EU as soon as possible, not least because Brussels provides a safe haven for failed or worn out politicians to go on being paid vast salaries) and they will no doubt cast votes inspired by emotional subjects such as Mel Gibson waving a sword. Follow Progressive Pulse. And no matter what the Bank of England did, long-term interest rates would rise, as the private sector—not just “markets” or Goldman Sachs, but ordinary businesses and households—observed that we were not just spending more than we were taxing, but that we were consuming, or trying to consume, more than we were producing, and that inflation was the inevitable consequence. The field of economics is extremely important to us all, which is why realism is needed all the more. The actions and beliefs of the private sector matter as well. Even long after the fact it is hard to really know how much economic activity took place in a certain place at a certain time. Money is ultimately a creation of government—but that doesn’t mean only government deficits determine the level of demand at any one time. Any passing opportunist must be free to set up camp because the economist believes it will please the gods of efficiency. Facebook Twitter Linkedin Whatsapp Parler Email Print. The future is not written, at least we don’t think so, which means conditions can change between the time you make a prediction and the point in the future being predicted. Sam Tanenhaus looks at the final days of Trump, while Ngaire Woods examines Biden's in-tray. Ocasio-Cortez has also expressed interest, suggesting it might help finance ambitious plans for healthcare and a “Green New Deal.” So, MMT has moved away from the fringes and into the centre of the debate amongst those who agree that we need to spend more—perhaps much more—on public services and public investment, but disagree on what Richard argues that what it means is “that there is no requirement per se to balance the government’s books”—and that fiscal rules of the sort Labour proposes which, even if they don’t target balanced budgets, impose any constraint on the deficit are therefore damaging and unnecessary. Economics is a failed science. Cutting UK overseas aid in the name of Covid fiscal prudence is pure nonsense Larry Elliott In economic terms Rishi Sunak’s saving of up to £4bn is … I’m not saying a country of 5m people, with a wealth of know-how, couldn’t survive. So in the end I, like many others who opposed both the dishonest rhetoric and the unnecessary economic damage of post 2010 “austerity,” find the arguments of MMT proponents frustrating. The Scottish commercial banks, with their vast liabilities, and still unresolved off-balance-sheet losses, will always physically reside in Britain. But MMT goes farther than this. For more details on the cookies we use and how to manage them, see our, Theresa May’s latest Brexit "red line" is as foolish as the rest, The OECD’s economic survey was vital—but not for the reasons you’d think. And economic policy aside, it might be good marital policy to let him have one. 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But that’s no longer controversial, and was explicitly recognised by government policy during and immediately after the 2008 financial crisis. The millions of variables in play makes forecasting problematic. The guy just wants a new truck. They can therefore look at current activity and predict the future compared to the world of forms. SHAPIRO: AOC TRYING TO EXPLAIN ECONOMICS IS LIKE 'A BADGER TRYING TO EXPLAIN CALCULUS' This, of course, is nonsense. Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). CMV: Trickle Down Economics is baseless nonsense Note: Sorry for aggressive title, but I was trying to adhere to the rules. Economics is a social science that studies human behaviour not abstract atoms. Scotland has been in Great Britain since 1707 and done pretty well as a consequence. REGISTER NOW This sounds almost too obvious for John Rentoul’s famous list of “Questions To Which The Answer Is No.” But for some proponents of “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT), Labour’s adoption of a “fiscal credibility rule” (based in part on academic work by Simon Wren-Lewis and me), means that “Labour is committed to the thinking which will deliver more austerity.”. At least the old priesthoods knew their limits. Peter said that’s because more people in the household are working. The jab … But to say the president is responsible for an economic boom for the bottom half of wage earners — it’s nonsense.” Trump also said that the median household income is the highest its ever been. by Jacob G. Hornberger. The first point—that (fiat) money is ultimately a governmental construct in modern capitalist economies, and central banks can indeed produce as much of it as they want—is not news…. The economy of the United States is the daily economic activity of 300 million people, plus every country with whom we conduct business. Wren-Lewis describes this as the “consensus assignment.” MMT reverses this—under MMT, fiscal policy is the main tool. “First it says governments can make money out of thin air, at will… MMT then says all government spending is in fact funded by money created in this way, created by central banks on the government’s behalf… MMT logically argues as a consequence that there is no such thing as tax and spend when considering the activity of the government in the economy; there can only be spend and tax.”. Thank you for your support of Prospect and we hope that you enjoy everything the site has to offer. You will be able to object to this processing on the next page and in all our communications. by Peter May on 31st January 2019. And the same applies to the UK. Most famous for his academic writings on interest rates, the Austrian economist was also known to aggressively debate against the scholastic thinkers of the Old Left. Economic Nonsense in the New York Times. Spread ideas for a progressive world. Your password will then be emailed to you. PLUS you’ll find out about the big ideas that will shape our world with Prospect’s newsletter and receive our Top Thinkers e-book free. Unfortunately. We wouldn’t become Turkey overnight—but Explore Freedom » Freedom on the Web » Economists Say ‘Economic Nationalism’ Is Economic Nonsense Economists Say ‘Economic Nationalism’ Is Economic Nonsense by Stuart Anderson, Forbes Trending Articles. And education, and welfare system, and so on. It looks like you are a Prospect subscriber. Equally, it also means that MMT—at least the credible version—does not mean there is no limit to deficits, just a different one, dictated by the potential impact on inflation. Here’s where the proponents of MMT end up tying themselves in knots. Democratic rising star Alexandria That said, behavior economics is a minor field and much of the work being done has not significantly reorientated in the field. To the sane person, it is obvious that the people of a nation hold the exclusive right to determine who can and who cannot enter. If they now think it is better to go it alone, that’s for them to decide. That’s what sane people should expect. Critics argue that economics is not a science due to a lack … MMT—unless you reintroduce some more orthodox thinking via the backdoor—would tell you the opposite. The biggest economic nonsense of all is a promise to pay people later, if they will pay their taxes today, when basic arithmetic says we will not be able to do so. But, no matter how large a deficit it ran, Bangladesh couldn’t afford universal NHS-quality healthcare for its people. Wren-Lewis and I argued strongly at the time that deficit reduction should have been slowed, not accelerated. Since it’s government deficits that ultimately create money, without a deficit demand will inevitably be below what’s needed. Register today and access any 7 articles on the Prospect website FREE in the next 30 days. Facebook. It’s not much help to tell a chancellor trying to write a Budget—setting out her tax and I’d also argue that an independent Scotland is an economic nonsense. The output gap is an economic measure of the difference between the actual output of an economy and its potential output. Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years. And that in turn means you can have budget surpluses and excess demand at the same time, just as you can have budget deficits and deficient demand. China has come down very hard trying to contain this outbreak. The problem is obvious. Pretending economics can ever, under any circumstance, in any fashion, be treated as an empirical science, is nonsensical from the get go. Afterall, a … MMT isn’t a magic money tree after all. Murphy also argues that MMT “has a clear interest in restraining inflation” and this means “taxing sufficient government created money out of existence in a period to secure this goal.”. So in the end MMT, having begun by arguing that a conventional fiscal rule is a neoliberal plot to entrench austerity, seems to end up in much the same place. Politicians who say that “we risk going the way of Greece” or “there is no money left” are scaremongering: a point made very forcefully by both Wren-Lewis and myself back in 2011. The first point—that (fiat) money is ultimately a governmental construct in modern capitalist economies, and central banks can indeed produce as much of it as they want—is not news, certainly not to “orthodox” economists, as MMT proponents might label Wren-Lewis and me. Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information. If this means anything coherent at all—there seems to be a misplaced “not,” but even so the logic or economics here baffles me—the implication is that the government’s debt should over time grow broadly in line with nominal GDP, with ups and downs reflecting Sure, the UK could run very large budget deficits, even with unemployment low. by Jonathan Portes / January 30, 2019 / Leave a comment. Editor: Tom ClarkManaging Editor (Arts & Books): Sameer RahimSenior Editor: Alex DeanHead of Digital: Chris Tilbury Production Editor: David McAllisterCreative Director: Mike Turner Assistant Editor: Rebecca LiuEditorial Assistant: Emily LawfordUS Writer-at-Large: Sam Tanenhaus, Editorial enquiries: 020 7255 1344Subscription enquiries: 0330 333 0173, Commercial Director: Alex StevensonHead of Marketing: Paul MortimerMarketing and Circulation Executive: Susan Acan Head of Advertising Sales: Adam Kinlan 020 3372 2934Head of Finance and Resources: David de Lange. England gets lot of them… Read more ». ', enter your email address and press 'Submit'. For example, in 2011-12, when inflation rose sharply, even as the economy remained weak. Economics is generally regarded as a social science, which revolves around the relationships between individuals and societies. Generally, economists are better at solving & explaining acute economic problems than predicting or preventing them. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we’re one entity — a reality that’s prevailed for centuries, long before the 2012 Olympics. Post-Covid, are taxes hikes essential to fund the future? Immigration is a great example. Chinese tourism has all but collapsed and we should see a very sharp decline in the economic output in China for the first quarter of 2020. They can be symbolically severed, yes, with the creation of yet another expensive layer of Scottish government, with all the special advisers, civil servants and juicy public sector per diems that would bring to Edinburgh’s already cosseted political elite. The UK’s most prominent proponent, Richard Murphy, sets it out here. But this isn’t true as a matter of economics, theoretical or empirical. The witch doctor thinks he is tapping into some universal truth that transcend time and place. That gives him the ability to diagnose the present and predict the future. The big ideas that are shaping our world— straight to your inbox. nonsense economics April 18, ... that they’ve been teaching their students a lot of nonsense for thirty years. But this is about as orthodox a policy prescription as you can get. And this is the crucial point—if it tried to buy them and printed money to do so the result would mostly be inflation, with more money chasing a restricted supply of doctors and MMT has become increasingly popular in some quarters on the left, both in the UK and abroad. As Richard puts it: “A government with a balanced budget necessarily denies an economy the funds it needs to function.”. Click to learn more about these interests and how we use your data. It was easy enough to point to the empirical evidence that showed that many of the justifications for austerity were simply wrong. For the last 30 years at least, the conventional approach to macroeconomic management has been to use interest rates, not fiscal policy, to control demand and inflation. The result is statistical nonsense that fluctuates wildly as reflected in the lead chart. Macroeconomics isn't nonsense per se, but it is what Thomas Kuhn might call a "pre-paradigmatic" science. This is the text, including slides, from a talk given on October 28 2020 during an online event organised by University College Cork’s Economics and Environmental Societies. Please understand I’ve been asking in the most genuine way for someone to explain what is wrong about what I’m saying and what I’m missing. Murphy says: “Experience in recent years has suggested that total tax revenues should be less than total government spending or additional money supplies required to ensure the liquidity to permit growth is not present in the economy. Everyone in the West is petrified to stand up and say they want what they want because they want it. Economics is modern shamanism. The English can argue that he likes his country the way it is and will not go along with changing it. Despite this, economists act as if they possess the ability to accurately forecast the future. The differential expressed as a percentage of GDP might well be close to the desired inflation rate.”. Few contributors in the field of economics have done more to educate the masses about the intellectual failures of Karl Marx than Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. At the sociological level it would mean giving up the trappings of power and pay that go with their current intellectual monopoly because the paymasters of … Prospect subscribers have full access to all the great content on our website, including our entire archive. MMT is no longer limited to books and journals. Why do so many teenage girls want to change gender? In fact, more women are working in the US today than men. It is not just a pithy put-down. But the idea it can do so without raising taxes is for the birds. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images, Is John McDonnell a neoliberal? Cultural pride is so taboo we have otherwise reasonable people claiming the maths are on their side in the same way Druids thought the gods were on their side. And it’s an integral part of Labour’s fiscal rule. it is a mixture of the tautological and the tendentious. If what MMT is saying is that budget deficits don’t matter because a sovereign government that prints its own currency (like the US, UK, or Turkey, but unlike eurozone countries) can, in principle, never be forced against its will to default, this is broadly correct. So how, ask Jill Rutter and Anand Menon, did we come to the brink of a hard departure? The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, paving the way for vaccination to start next week. We were planning a Shanghai WEC in May. It's not just the Phillips Curve which is nonsensical. Crucially, Scotland’s still extremely precarious financial services industry is viewed as UK-backed — and that means the Bank of England. When Britain voted to leave the EU, the country seemed on course for a soft Brexit. Here influential supporters close to the Labour leadership include Paul Mason and Chris Williamson MP; in the US, one of its leading theorists is Stephanie Kelton, who was an economic advisor to Bernie Sanders. Patriotism, tradition, nostalgia and mere taste are probably the primary motivations for the voters. But it’s the second point that matters. Bangladesh is a sovereign nation just as much as the UK is (meaning, in this context, that it has its own currency managed by a central bank that is under the ultimate control of the government). The reason you can’t rigidly separate positive from normative economics is that you can’t rigidly separate claims of fact from claims of value in general. so on. A perfectly good argument against this vote is based in history and tradition. And this is really the key. Here’s a good example of how this weird religion has spread like kudzu across the West. Wine Economist – making sense of nonsense in the wine world. Does MMT then argue that governments can simply spend whatever they like? Instead, the writer feels it necessary to work through a bunch of pseudo-scientific reasons as to why the maths say it is a bad idea. Professor Michael Veseth (Ph.D.) teaches International Political Economics at the University of Puget Sound in the State of Washington. So, while most economics is just organised common sense the difficult part of economics is the working out of how common, how sensible and … It simply isn’t rich enough—it doesn’t have the doctors, nurses, or hospitals it would need. You can create money out of nothing, but you can’t create doctors, schools, or consumer goods. I’m not talking about predicting the future. The various observations and theories have yet to be worked up into a cohesive whole on which economists in general can reach consensus, and which has predictive/explanatory power sufficient to justify a central place in the academic field. It is not quite superstition, but the guy with the bone in his nose is within hailing distance of the town’s economist. Germany has been running surpluses for years. China has been clamping down aggressively. But MMT is in many respects not wrong: instead, it is a mixture of the tautological, the obvious and the tendentious. This practice test covers material presented in the various parts, while the PDF file provides a set of questions that test your understanding of the material presented. To be fair, the credible proponents of MMT recognise this. Economics, I’m talking macroeconomics, deals is loads of complexity. Worse yet, we are slipping into a tyranny of shamans. PLUS receive a free e-book and 7 articles of your choosing on the Prospect website. What does it mean to say that “there can only be spend and tax” rather than “tax and spend”? A doctor cannot reliably predict if someone can get cancer or prevent someone from getting cancer, but he can offer treatment for it and an explanation for the biological processes that cause cancer. Practice Questions 2010. Why creative destruction hasn’t become a nonsense phrase AEIdeas Economics Technology and Innovation Economic Fluctuations and Growth Innovation Pethokoukis Political Economy US Economy The problem with this is that it is either obvious or misleading. Discussion over.”. So if you see economics as pseudoscientific nonsense, it is because you can see only the 3 lights that exist and are unable to see just two or imagine there are four. Both from an economic perspective and from a common sense one, taxing and (government) spending happen at the same time. And what does this mean in practice? None of this is to say that economics is useless or rubbish, just that it is looking at things in the wrong way. the logic is the same. He may respect the Scots desire for independence, but it is not in the best interest of the British, who happen to be in charge, so they will not permit the vote or Scottish independence. So he probably knows his economic argument is nonsense. Economics - "/lit/ - Literature" is 4chan's board for the discussion of books, authors, and literature. If you do not know your login details, simply close this pop-up and click 'Login' on the black bar at the top of the screen, then click 'Forgotten password? Worse, it’s easy to point to circumstances where on the face of it a naïve MMT-based approach would have pointed you in precisely the wrong direction for the short term. Inflation would rise. MMT is increasingly popular among left-wing economists. It’s certainly entirely consistent with what Wren-Lewis and I have written. spending plans—that reversing the order would magically solve all their problems. So what is MMT—and what would it actually mean in policy terms for the UK? Most English people are pretty neutral about Scotland. The Conservative belief that there is some law of nature which prevents men from being employed, that it is “rash” to employ men, and that it is financially ‘sound’ to maintain a tenth of the population in idleness for an indefinite period, is crazily improbable – the sort of thing which no man could believe who had not had his head fuddled with nonsense for years and years … I say if you see an economist, beat him. Behavioral economics doesn't reject the basic assumptions found in the wider field of economics, it presumes they are valid and tests to see the extent to which they affect market system. Remember that the UK’s budget was in surplus in 1987, at a time when the economy was in an unsustainable boom.