Why are we still treating economics as if it were an empirical science that makes reliable predictions?

Robert Skidelsky is an eccentric British economist: trained at Oxford, author of a definitive three-volume biography of Keynes, a Lord who sat with the Tories as their economics critic during the Blair regime, who now sits as an independent who is aligned with Labour's left wing. Back in September, Yale University Press published Skidelsky's latest book, Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics, a retelling of the history of economics as a discipline that seeks to uncover how economics' failings created the 2008 crisis and have only made things worse since. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a symposium on a green, postcapitalist economics in Brussels, Nov 11

On November 11, the Edgeryders nonprofit assocation is bringing me to Brussels for a day-long event called The Science Fiction Economics Lab, where I'll be jointly keynoting with Edgeryders economist Alberto Cottica, a lifelong science fiction fan, about radical futuristic economic ideas for a more cooperative, sustainable future. Read the rest

"The People's Money": A crisp, simple, thorough explanation of how government spending is paid for

Modern Monetary Theory is an economic paradigm that treats money as a utility that governments issue and tax in order to mobilize resources needed to provide the services that the public wants; it explains why some kinds of government spending leads to inflation while other kinds do not, and how sovereign states use different levers to control inflation, even when they're spending extraordinary sums, as in WWII. Read the rest

Washington establishment freaks out as Modern Monetary Theory gains currency

Modern Monetary Theory (previously) is an economic philosophy based on the idea that all state spending is "deficit" spending, since money comes into existence when the government spends it, and when the government raises taxes, it does so in order to take that money out of existence, both in order to control inflation and to limit the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy. Read the rest

My MMT Podcast appearance, part 2: monopoly, money, and the power of narrative

Last week, the Modern Monetary Theory Podcast ran part 1 of my interview with co-host Christian Reilly; they've just published the second and final half of our chat (MP3), where we talk about the link between corruption and monopoly, how to pitch monetary theory to people who want to abolish money altogether, and how stories shape the future. Read the rest

My appearance on the MMT podcast: compelling narratives as a means of advancing complex political and economic ideas

I've been following the Modern Monetary Theory debate for about 18 months, and I'm largely a convert: governments spend money into existence and tax it out of existence, and government deficit spending is only inflationary if it's bidding against the private sector for goods or services, which means that the government could guarantee every unemployed person a job (say, working on the Green New Deal), and which also means that every unemployed person and every unfilled social services role is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Read the rest

A thorough defense of Modern Monetary Theory

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" -- Gandhi's aphorism neatly describes the trajectory to date of Modern Monetary Theory, the latest incarnation of "chartalism," which holds that money comes into existence through government spending, and is taken out of circulation when the government taxes it back -- which means that without government deficit spending, there is no money, and which also means that the government doesn't have to fund its operations through taxes, but rather, it can issue as much currency as it needs to operate, within limits. Read the rest

Bill Gates debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'tax the rich' policy

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made some comments this week on the 'tax the rich' ideas making the rounds in America.

Taxing the rich is fine, he said in an interview with The Verge, and "more progressive" taxes on the ultra rich are okay.

Gates then went on to characterize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an 'extreme' politician who is missing the point by focusing on targeting high income brackets. Read the rest

Canada's housing market is slowly but surely imploding, and Canadians are more exposed than the US was in 2008

After 20 years of unprecedented lows, Canada's central bank is gradually raising rates; this, combined with strict rules on new loans, empty house taxes in overheated cities like Vancouver, and mandatory ownership disclosures (which keep money launderers out of the market) are depressing the Canadian housing market, and the prognosis is not good. Read the rest

Modern Monetary Theory: why government spending isn't like household checkbooks

You know the drill: someone proposes something utterly commonsense, that has been done all over the world (say, universal healthcare) and the next thing you know, someone's shown up to shout "Who will pay for it?!" Read the rest

How much would universal health care really cost?

The Koch-backed Mercatus Institute was humiliated last month when it published a scare story claiming that American couldn't afford the $32.6 trillion cost of universal health care for the next decade, a number that seems huge until you realize that the cost of privatized US health care over the same period will be $2 trillion higher. Read the rest

Modern Monetary Theory: the economic basis for expanded social spending and greater shared prosperity

The last 40 years has seen a steady rise of deficit-hawking, in which the world's postwar social safety nets are shredded because the state "can't afford" them -- think of all the times you've heard of national debt being money that "the taxpayers" will have to pay back, and misleading comparisons between sovereign governments (who print their own money) to households and businesses (who don't), as though sovereign state finance was just a scaled-up version of balancing the family check-book. Read the rest