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Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell is a Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. He is also a professional musician and plays guitar with the Melbourne Reggae-Dub band – Pressure Drop. The band was popular around the live music scene in Melbourne in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band reformed in late 2010.

Articles by Bill Mitchell

The Weekend Quiz – January 16-17, 2021 – answers and discussion

2 days ago

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Question 1:

From the perspective of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) he is correct, excessive real wages growth can trigger mass unemployment.

The answer is True.
In this blog post – What causes mass unemployment? (January 11, 2010 )- I outline the way aggregate demand failures causes of mass unemployment and use a simple two person economy to demonstrate the

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The Weekend Quiz – January 16-17, 2021

3 days ago

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz – the last for 2020. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. From the perspective of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) he is correct, excessive real wages growth can trigger mass unemployment.TrueFalse2. A government desires to reduce the unemployment rate over the next year and gears its macroeconomic policy to maintaining trend real GDP growth, which is 3.5 per cent per annum. If we know that labour productivity is growing at 2 per cent per annum, the labour force is growing at 1.5 per cent per annum, and the average working week is constant in hours, will the government succeed in its aim

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British Labour may as well just not turn up at the next election

4 days ago

Why does the Shadow Chancellor of Britain have a WWW page entry at the Institute for Fiscal Studies? HERE. Perhaps when you read this you will have the answer. What follows is bad. It won’t make anyone happy – my critics or those who agree with the analysis. But that is what has happened in the progressive world as lots of ‘progressives’ added the neoliberal qualifier to their progressiveness and paraded around claiming technical superiority and insights on economic policy that the old progressives just could not grasp. They have become so enthralled by their own cute logic that they cannot see they are handing the opposite side of politics electoral victory on a consistent basis. After you read this you might understand why I say that the British Labour may as well just not turn up at the

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Scotland: a nation cannot be independent and use another nation’s currency or even peg to it

5 days ago

It is Wednesday and only a few points plus a sort of reflection on a recently departed musician. The few points really relate to the latest news from Scotland that it is thinking (once again) of seeking independence but using a foreign nation’s currency (one version) or pegging to another nation’s currency (another version. We should be clear – an independent Scotland requires its own currency, which it floats on international markets and has a central bank that sets its own interest rates (that is, determines its own monetary policy). Using a foreign currency or pegging to a foreign currency immediately voids national independence. The fact that the leading players in the independence debate don’t seem to comprehend that point is a worry. The fact that there is also strong sentiment to be

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OECD is apparently now anti austerity – warning, the leopard hasn’t changed its spots

6 days ago

In the last week, we have heard from the Chief Economist at the OECD (Laurence Boone), who has been touted on social media as offering a fundamental shift in economic thinking at the institution towards fiscal dominance. This is an example of a series of public statements by various New Keynesian (that is, mainstream macroeconomists) who are apparently defining the new macroeconomics of fiscal dominance. The point is this. Within the mainstream macroeconomics there was always scope for discretionary fiscal intervention under certain conditions. The conditionality is what separates their version of the possibilities from those identified and explained by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Just because these characters are coming out of their austerity bunkers to scramble to what they think is

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US labour market recovery has ended as health problem intensifies

7 days ago

It has been clear that with the virus infections in the US increasing rapidly and with the lack of fiscal support from government, that the labour market conditions would probably start to deteriorate after a brief period of recovery following the first blush with the virus. I have been predicting that since December 2020. The latest data reveals that assessment was accurate. On January 8, 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – December 2020 – which reveals a deteriorating or static situation, depending on the weight one gives to the payroll data relative to the household survey. Payroll employment fell by 140 thousand. In terms of the household survey, with employment and the labour force hardly moving,

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The Weekend Quiz – January 9-10, 2021 – answers and discussion

9 days ago

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Question 1:

Widening the tax base provides the government with more capacity to spend.

The answer is True.
Clearly, I was tempting the reader to follow a logic such that – Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) shows that taxpayers do fund anything and sovereign governments are never revenue-constrained because they are the monopoly issuers of the currency in use.

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The Weekend Quiz – January 9-10, 2021

10 days ago

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz – the last for 2020. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. Widening the tax base provides the government with more capacity to spend.TrueFalse2. If there is an external deficit, and the private domestic sector successfully increases its overall saving as a percentage of GDP, then income adjustments will always ensure the government fiscal balance is in deficit.TrueFalse3. Estimates of structural fiscal deficits published the multilateral agencies such as the IMF and the OECD are to be treated with suspicion because they are based on excessively optimistic estimates of potential

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Britain is now free of the legal neoliberalism that has killed prosperity in Europe

11 days ago

So Britain finally became free – sort of – from the European Union last week. I haven’t fully read the terms of the departure but the progress I have made so far in the text (several hundred pages) leads me to conclude that Britain has not gone completely free from the corporatist cabal that is the European Union. The agreement will see a Partnership Council established which locks Britain in to an on-going bureaucratic process dominated by technocrats – the sort of things the EU revels in and gets it nowhere. Overall, though, despite all the detail, Britain’s future policy settings will be guided by its polity and resolved within its own institutions. That means that the Labour Party has the chance to really push a progressive agenda. I doubt that it will but there are no excuses now.

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Bond investors see through central bank lies and expose the fallacies of mainstream macroeconomics

12 days ago

It’s Wednesday and I usually try to write less blog material. But given the holiday on Monday and a couple of interesting developments, I thought I would write a bit more today. And after that, you still get some great piano playing to make wading through central bank discussions worth while. The Financial Times article (January 4, 2021) – Investors believe BoE’s QE programme is designed to finance UK deficit – is interesting because it provides one more piece of evidence that exposes the claims of mainstream macroeconomists operating in the dominant New Keynesian tradition. The facts that emerge are that the major bond market players do not believe the Bank of England statements about its bond-buying program which have tried to deny the reality that the central bank is essentially buying

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Not enough food: The case for a Just, Urgent and Sustainable Transition continues

13 days ago

Today, we have a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. He indicated that he would like to contribute occasionally and that provides some diversity of voice although the focus remains on advancing our understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its applications. It also helps me a bit and at present I have several major writing deadlines approaching as well as a full diary of presentations, meetings etc. Travel is also opening up a bit which means I can now honour several speaking commitments that have been on hold while we were in lockdown. Anyway, over to Scott …

Not enough food: The case for a Just, Urgent and Sustainable Transition continues
As 2020 came to a

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My blog is on its ‘New Year’s Holiday’ today

14 days ago

My blog is on its ‘New Year’s Holiday’ today, while I devote more time to other writing commitments. To keep us amused, we have a great song from the 1960s, which might lead you down new musical paths to explore the musician featured. Regular transmission returns tomorrow. The photo is from the beach at Barwon Heads, Victoria, which is around where I was meant to be this week, prior to the border closures and flight cancellations last week due to the new Sydney virus outbreak. It is one of my favourite spots and I go there regularly.

A little Twitter comment
I am thinking of deleting my Twitter account. I only signed up because I used to get a lot of E-mails in the afternoons from people enquiring as to when I would be posting my daily blog update.
So I thought that if I conditioned

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The Weekend Quiz – January 2-3, 2021 – answers and discussion

16 days ago

Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Question 1:

Quantitative easing and an expansion of net public spending both add net financial assets to the non-government sector but the former aims to stimulate demand by lowering interest rates while the latter policy choice more directly adds demand to the system.

The answer is False.
Quantitative easing then involves the central bank buying assets from

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The Weekend Quiz – January 2-3, 2021

17 days ago

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz – the last for 2020. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. Quantitative easing and an expansion of net public spending both add net financial assets to the non-government sector but the former aims to stimulate demand by lowering interest rates while the latter policy choice more directly adds demand to the system.TrueFalse2. If the household saving ratio rises and there is an external deficit then Modern Monetary Theory tells us that the government must increase net spending to fill the private spending gap or else national output and income will fall.TrueFalse3. When a government

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Is the $US900 billion stimulus in the US likely to overheat the economy – Part 2?

18 days ago

The answer to the question posed in the title is No! Lawrence Summers’ macroeconomic assessment does not stack up. In – Is the $US900 billion stimulus in the US likely to overheat the economy – Part 1? (December 30, 2020) – I developed the framework for considering whether it was sensible for the US government to provide a $US2,000 once-off, means-tested payment as part of its latest fiscal stimulus. Summers was opposed to it claiming that it would push the economy into an inflationary spiral because it would more than close the current output gap. Today, I do the numbers. The conclusion is that there is more than enough scope for the Government to make the transfers without running out of fiscal space.

Measuring the output gap in the US
The first graph gives you an idea of the real GDP

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Is the $US900 billion stimulus in the US likely to overheat the economy – Part 1?

19 days ago

Comments made last week by the former Clinton, Obama and now Biden economist Lawrence Summers contesting whether it was sensible for the US government to provide a $US2,000 once-off, means-tested payments was met with widespread derision and ridicule from progressive commentators. There were Tweets about eviction rates, bankruptcy rates, poverty rates, and more asserting that the widespread social problems in the US clearly meant that Summers was wrong and a monster parading as a progressive voice in the US debate. I didn’t see one response that really addressed the points Summers was making. They were mostly addressing a different point. In fact, the Summers statement makes for an excellent educational case study in how to conduct macroeconomic reasoning and how we need to carefully

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Still on holidays

20 days ago

My blog is still on holiday until Wednesday, December 30, 2020. All the best from my local beach (Bar Beach today). I have started to read the EU-UK agreement. Not very enlightening I can tell you. Music to follow …

Music – Fu Man Chu from Rico Rodriguez and Don Drummond
This is what I have been listening to today while working.
It is one of my favourite trombone players – Emmanuel ‘Rico’ Rodriguez – who sadly died in September 2015 at the age of 80.
He was born in Cuba but made his name in Jamaica after being taught by none other than – Don Drummond – one of the all-time best brass players from Kingston.
The undoubted best jazz, reggae trombone player of all time.
Rico played devotional music (rasta) with Jamaican hand drummer – Count Ossie in the 1950s and later with Winston Rodney aka

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On Holidays …

21 days ago

My blog is on holiday until Wednesday, December 30, 2020 as I attend to other writing commitments. I am also doing a lot of calculations to see whether the current proposed US stimulus bill that the lameduck president is holding up as a last gasp exercise in power is sufficient given the output gap. This relates to comments that a Biden advisor made last week eschewing any notion of a $US2,000 cash payment to all Americans (including dependent children) on the grounds that it would overheat the economy. He has been systematically vilified by progressives but I haven’t seen any systematic analysis to see whether this statements hold up. Until Wednesday, all the best from my lockdown hub. But for today, some music to help us work better.

Music – Jazz from Ethiopia
This is what I have been

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The Weekend Quiz – December 26-27, 2020 – answers and discussion

23 days ago

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Question 1

When a government runs a continuous deficit (spending more than they are receiving in revenue), the risk is that the accumulated public spending will build up over time and cause inflation.

The answer is False.
This question tests whether you understand that fiscal deficits are just the outcome of two flows which have a finite lifespan. Flows

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The Weekend Quiz – December 26-27, 2020

24 days ago

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz – the last for 2020. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. When a government runs a continuous deficit (spending more than they are receiving in revenue), the risk is that the accumulated public spending will build up over time and cause inflation.TrueFalse2. If governments allowed the automatic stabilisers built into the government balance to work counter-cyclically and avoided discretionary shifts in fiscal policy, the fiscal balance would return to its appropriate level after a cyclical disturbance.TrueFalse3. If austerity led to all national governments simultaneously running

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No justification for public sector wage freezes during the pandemic

25 days ago

I provide a lot of research support for trade unions in wage determination cases in Australia, where wage agreements are uniquely decided in judicial processes. The cases are onerous and highly contested and as an expert witness I am often grilled for lengthy periods by the employers’ barristers in the evidential phase. One of the things that has been relevant in the last year or so has been the wage caps and freezes that government employers are placing on their workforce as a way of ‘saving money’. Prior to the pandemic they were forcing real wage cuts or zero real wages growth on workers under their wage cap strategies as part of their pursuit of fiscal surpluses. Now they are imposing freezes to reduce the size of their deficits. And, the same is happening in other jurisdictions such

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My Op Ed in the mainstream Japanese business media

26 days ago

It’s Wednesday and my blog-light day. Today, I provide the English-text for an article that came out in the leading Japanese business daily, The Nikkei yesterday on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to the pandemic. Relevant links are provided in the body of the post. The interesting point I think is that ‘The Nikkei’ is the “the world’s largest business daily in terms of circulation” and has clear centre-right leanings. The fact that they are interested in disseminating ideas that run counter to the mainstream narrative that the centre-right politicians have relied on indicates both a curiosity that is missing in the conservative media elsewhere, and, the extent to which MMT ideas is becoming more open to serious thinkers. I have respect for media outlets that come to the

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Further evidence undermining the mainstream case against fiscal deficits

27 days ago

Yesterday, I discussed the results of recent research that demonstrated the ‘trickle down’ hypothesis, which has been used to justify the sequence of tax cuts for high income recipients, was without any empirical foundation. While mainstream economists have been enchanted with that hypothesis, heterodox (including Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economists have never considered it had any validity – neither theoretical nor empirical. But it is good that mainstream researchers are now ratifying that long-held view. Today, I am discussing another case of the mainstream catching up. When I say catching up, the implications of these new empirical studies are devastating for key propositions that the mainstream macroeconomists maintain. The ECB Working Paper series published an interesting paper

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More evidence against the ‘trickle down’ orthodoxy in macroeconomics

28 days ago

On December 10, 2014, I wrote this blog post – Trickle down economics – the evidence is damning. The discussion was about how inequality undermines growth and that redistribution of national income towards higher income groups does not stimulate income growth for lower income groups. It provided evidence that destroys the basic tenets of mainstream economics and supports a wider social and economic involvement of government in the provision of public services and infrastructure, particularly to low income groups. The ‘trickle down’ fiction was propagated in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and dovetailed with the emerging dominance of supply-side thinking. Behind ‘trickle-down’ was a nasty neo-liberal plot to undermine state activity and

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The Weekend Quiz – December 19-20, 2020 – answers and discussion

December 19, 2020

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Question 1:

Governments concerned with their public debt ratio should encourage growth because the debt ratio falls once economic growth resumes.

The answer is False.
The primary deficit may not fall when economic growth is positive if discretionary policy changes offset the declining net spending as tax revenue increases and welfare payments fall (the

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The Weekend Quiz – December 19-20, 2020

December 18, 2020

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. Governments concerned with their public debt ratio should encourage growth because the debt ratio falls once economic growth resumes.TrueFalse2. A nation can run a current account deficit accompanied by a government sector surplus of equal proportion to GDP, while the private domestic sector is spending more than they are earning.TrueFalse3. Government deficit spending would have a greater immediate expansionary impact on aggregate spending if the central bank bought the public debt to match the deficit instead of a situation where the government

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Australian labour market – recovery continues after Victorian lockdown eases

December 17, 2020

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics – Labour Force, Australia, November 2020 – released today (December 17, 2020), shows that the labour market has improved largely due to the recent easing of the lockdowns in Victoria after its devastating second virus wave. Employment increased by 0.7 per cent (90,000) in the month (which is a fairly strong result) and outstripped the growth in the labour force (0.5 per cent), which means that unemployment fell (0.1 points) or 17.3. Underemployment also fell by 1 point and the broad labour underutilisation rate (sum of unemployment and underemployment) fell by 1.2 points. But the recovery is still too slow and more government support by way of large-scale job creation is required given total employment is still 233 thousand below the

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Neoliberal myopia strikes again

December 16, 2020

It is Wednesday, so just a few snippets and some music. My main comment today is on the report released yesterday (December 15, 2020) by the national body Infrastructure Australia. The report – Infrastructure beyond COVID-19: A national study on the impacts of the pandemic on Australia – once again demonstrates the way in which mainstream macroeconomics, which has restricted government investment in essential instrastructure over the last three decades or so, has created poor outcomes and has failed to prepare the nation for the future. This sort of myopia just repeats itself across all nations. Hopefully, the fiscal response to the pandemic, even though in many countries it has been inadequate, is demonstrating that the mainstream approach is deeply flawed and provides no guidance for the

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The gig economy – a shameful failure of the neoliberal project

December 14, 2020

Today, we have a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. He indicated that he would like to contribute occasionally and that provides some diversity of voice although the focus remains on advancing our understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its applications. It also helps me a bit and at present I have several major writing deadlines approaching as well as a full diary of presentations, meetings etc. Travel is also opening up a bit which means I can now honour several speaking commitments that have been on hold while we were in lockdown. Anyway, over to Scott …

The gig economy-a shameful failure of the neoliberal project
As the turbulent events of 2020 continue to

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Europe’s neoliberal DNA is still at work

December 14, 2020

Many progressives are claiming that the EU has seen the light as evidenced by their relaxation of the harsh Stability and Growth Pact rules during the pandemic. There are even papers coming out advocating a ‘Post Third Way’ revival of social democratic forces in Europe to further integrate and reorient it along the lines of the social Europe narratives. I think this enthusiasm misrepresents what is going on in Europe at present. The hard-core, neoliberal DNA has not morphed. There has been no relaxation of the SGP rules given that a thorough knowledge of the legal basis of the Pact shows that there is scope in the rules for what is going on at present. Further, there is evidence that even though the temporary provisions in the SGP are being exercised, the European Commission is resorting

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