Monday , October 18 2021
Home / Bill Mitchell
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 – October 16-17, 2021

3 days ago

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. A nation can run a government sector surplus, which is larger as a proportion to GDP than the external deficit, while the private domestic sector is spending more than they are earning.TrueFalse2. The automatic stabilisers built into national government fiscal policy always operate in a counter-cyclical manner.TrueFalse3. Sovereign government spending becomes more costly when the bond markets push yields on new public bond issues up.TrueFalse

Read More »

Australian labour market continues to contract

4 days ago

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest labour force data today (October 14, 2021) – Labour Force, Australia – for September 2021. The background is that the entire East Coast is in or has been in lockdown over the last few months and for the two largest labour markets (NSW and Victoria) that lockdown has been very tight. Both states are in the process of easing restrictions as vaccination rates rise. The September 2021 data reveals that the longer NSW lockdown is now impacting heavily on employment growth which is now 4.7 points below the March 2020 level. Similarly, Victoria’s employment level has fallen and is 2.1 points below the pre-pandemic level. Overall for the nation, employment fell for the second consecutive month as did the participation, the latter cushioning

Read More »

The British Chancellor cannot run short of sterling unless he chooses to do so

5 days ago

It’s Wednesday and my blog-lite day or so it seems. Today I briefly discuss the proposition that the British government can run short of sterling. It cannot unless it chooses to do so. And the basis for choosing to do so would be deeply irrational and irresponsible, when judged from the perspective of advancing the well-being of the citizens. I also reflect on the vested interests in the financial markets and the way they get platforms in the media and policy making circles to advance their sectional interests (profit). And mostly, we just have a 33 minute musical feast to reflect upon.

Institute of Fiscal Studies continues to embarrass itself
The London-based IFS released its – Green Budget 2021 – yesterday (October 12, 2021) – “in association with Citi” – which means the IFS cannot

Read More »

The one-trick New Keynesian ponies are back in town

6 days ago

I learned long ago that when you consult a surgeon the recommendation will be surgery. After about 10 or more knee operations (both legs) as a result of sporting injuries, and, then some, to undo the damage done by previous surgery, I ran into a physiotherapist who had a different take on things. He showed me ways the body can respond to different treatments and retain the capacity for high-level training and performance even with existing damage. I still run a lot and his advice was worth a lot. The point is to watch out for one-trick ponies. The analogy is not quite correct because sometimes surgeons get it right. I don’t think the same can be said for a mainstream economist, who are also one-trick ponies. If you ask a mainstream economist what to do about macroeconomic policy they

Read More »

US labour market – recovery in a fairly languid state

7 days ago

Last Friday (October 8, 2021), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – September 2021 – which reported a total payroll employment rise of only 194,000 jobs in August and a 0.4 points decline in the official unemployment rate to 4.8 per cent. The combination of rising employment and falling unemployment might suggest that things are improving. But the reality is that the active labour force shrunk significantly as the participation rate fell by 0.1 points in the face of declining employment opportunities. The results suggest that the labour market recovery has slowed quite significantly from the situation mid-year. The US labour market is still 4,970 thousand jobs short from where it was at the end of February 2020,

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – October 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:

Assuming the expenditure multiplier is greater than 1, if the government increases its deficit they will have a greatest impact on aggregate demand if there are no offsetting monetary operations by the central bank (government bond sales) draining the excess reserves created.

The answer is False.
The mainstream macroeconomic textbooks all have

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – October 9-10, 2021

10 days ago

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. Assuming the expenditure multiplier is greater than 1, if the government increases its deficit they will have a greatest impact on aggregate demand if there are no offsetting monetary operations by the central bank (government bond sales) draining the excess reserves created.TrueFalse2. If the government achieves in reducing its fiscal deficit by say $10 billion, the net financial assets destroyed by this withdrawal could be replaced by the central bank engaging in a $10 billion quantitative easing program.TrueFalse3. Which government deficit

Read More »

Australian government issues debt, buys most of it itself, and then pays itself interest into the bargain

11 days ago

These are rather extraordinary times indeed. I have been trawling through the Australian public debt data which is spread across the federal sphere and the various states and territories. The official data published by the ABS is always dated (lagging a year or so) and the state-level debt data is actually quite hard to put together – their various ‘debt management’ offices do not make it easy to put a time series together. My interest is in working out the impact of the rather radical shift in usual conservative Reserve Bank of Australia behaviour when the pandemic hit. They started buying government bonds (at all levels) and now own large swathes of public debt. They have also effectively been funding the rather large deficits that the governments in Australia have been running. And

Read More »

Video – Exploring the basic principles and myths surrounding MMT

12 days ago

It’s Wednesday and I am besieged with writing commitments. Luckily, I have a video to present and some other things that might be of interest. And a short musical offering with a difference.

Event – Exploring the basic principles and myths surrounding MMT, Brisbane, October 5, 2021
Here is a video of a presentation I made yesterday to a group of financial professionals in Brisbane. They are running a series on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and had originally invited me to debate a gold bug type from the US.
I declined given that the person in question had made a series of vapid (being generous) comments about MMT and spending time with that level of hostility would have been a waste.
So they decided to run the series over two weeks – with my presentation yesterday and his next week. The

Read More »

We will soon see just how ‘pragmatic’ Sunak really is

13 days ago

At present, Britain is still in the throes of a global pandemic that has devastated the nation. Last week, at Brighton, the key economic spokespersons for the TLP or the Tory-lite Party (short form, British Labour Party) told the voters of Britain why they should remain in opposition. They were sterling performances by the leader and shadow chancellor. Clarifying for all, the fact that the Party hasn’t learned much at all about their recent history. A history that has seen them lose 4 national elections in a row and in the face of one of the worst British governments in history (and that is really saying something), the TLP’s electoral fortunes continue to wallow in loss-making percentiles. Then we had the Tory version outlined by the actual chancellor on Monday. Taking advantage of the

Read More »

Live Stream on Currencies footage – Helsinki, October 2, 2021

14 days ago

It is a public holiday today celebrating – Labour Day – which recognises the struggles to successfully gain an 8-hour working day for workers. The first of the many marches in this struggle occurred in my hometown of Melbourne on April 21, 1856, and history shows that this march was successful in achieving the first 8-hour day decision in the world, without loss of pay. So today we think of that. If workers unite they have the capacity to achieve great things. What follows is a brief report and footage from a debate I participated in on October 2, 2021, which was organised by some groups in Helsinki, Finland.

I have several deadlines at present so I am using the Labour Day holiday to advance those while taking a day from blog posting other than what follows.
Event – Currency Arrangements,

Read More »

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

16 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:

The distinction between structural and the cyclical components of the final government balance helps us to determine the direction of the discretionary fiscal policy stance of the government. In that context, which of the following situations represents the more expansionary outcome:
(a) A fiscal deficit equivalent to 5 per cent of GDP.
(b) A

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – October 2-3, 2021

17 days ago

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. The distinction between structural and the cyclical components of the final government balance helps us to determine the direction of the discretionary fiscal policy stance of the government. In that context, which of the following situations represents the more expansionary outcome:A government deficit equivalent to 5 per cent of GDP.A government deficit equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP.You cannot tell because you do not know the decomposition between the cyclical and structural components.2. If private domestic investment is greater than private

Read More »

(Modern) Marx and MMT – Part 2

18 days ago

This is Part 2 of my analysis of the way that fundamental ideas in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) are totally consistent with a reasonable interpretation of Marx’s work. The motivation to clarify these issues came after I spoke at an event last weekend in the UK and shared a panel with a critic who claimed that Marx’s work established that MMT is wrong to assume that unemployment is a monetary phenomenon (insufficient spending) and that government spending can do anything about it. The claim was based on a view that Marx thought that capitalist firms have some unique logic that if they decide not to produce no amount of sales orders will induce them to expand production even if they have massive excess capacity (‘machines lying idle’) and a huge pool of idle labour to draw upon. No

Read More »

British Labour Conference seems to be going well

19 days ago

It’s Wednesday, and I have been following the British Labour Party conference and it seems they are conducting business as usual. That is, working out new and old ways to keep themselves unelectable even when the Tories are one of the worst British governments in history I would think. But so it goes. A split is the only way forward I guess. The Blairites can then hold conferences, stack votes to have unelectable leaders and design fiscal rules to their hearts content. At least they will be saving me time this time around. I will just be able to cut and paste my previous critiques of John McDonnells’ neoliberal Fiscal Credibility Rule and apply the analysis to the new Rachel Reeves’ rules. Not much has changed. Who is giving this lot advice? After that, I am sure you will appreciate that

Read More »

Marx and MMT – Part 1

20 days ago

I gave a talk at the Resist Event in Brighton UK last Sunday evening. On the panel was a person who dismissed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as irrelevant to the real challenges that arose under Capitalism and he invoked Marx a lot. It was not a very illuminating interchange because not only did he misrepresent what MMT was but, in my view, he also seemed to think that we could extrapolate Marx’s scant ideas of money directly into the situation faced by nations today. Marx considered money to be a commodity (gold) and he did not present any meaningful analysis of the role played by the modern consolidated central bank-treasury function (aka government). Last Sunday’s critic claimed that MMT is wrong to assume that unemployment is a monetary phenomenon (insufficient spending) and that

Read More »

The Merkel failure

21 days ago

Its seems the conservative economics press is going through a hard time as it tries to wrest itself from its past litany of errors of judgement, backing the wrong horse, whatever. The latest example is The Economist Magazine, which ran a Leader Article over the weekend (September 25, 2021) = The mess Merkel leaves behind. It eviscerates the Merkel period for leaving Germany with a legacy that will cause headaches for future leaders and for the German people. This runs counter to the usual stuff the Magazine has offered about the soundness of Germany over many years as a bastion of stability and good financial management. It also provides a dose of reality to the raft of ridiculous glowing assessments of the Merkel years. In my view, she has overseen a government that has undermined its own

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – September 25-26, 2021 – 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:

If the external sector was running a surplus equivalent to 4 per cent of GDP, and the sum of all the private sector spending plans indicated it was desiring to run a surplus overall equivalent to 6 per cent, then the government could safely plan on achieving a fiscal surplus of 2 per cent of GDP.

The answer is False.
First, you need to

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – September 25-26, 2021

24 days ago

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. If the external sector was running a surplus equivalent to 4 per cent of GDP, and the sum of all the private sector spending plans indicated it was desiring to run a surplus overall equivalent to 6 per cent, then the government could safely plan on achieving a fiscal surplus of 2 per cent of GDP.TrueFalse2. The automatic stabilisers work counter-cyclically without any discretionary changes by government and push the fiscal balance back to its appropriate level after a major cyclical disturbance.TrueFalse3. The monetary base always adjusts by

Read More »

Go Dees!

24 days ago

Victorians (those from the State of) tend to like – Australian Rules Football – which is our eccentric own code that developed in Melbourne in the 1850s. Not all of us follow the game, but a huge number. We have tribal loyalties to football teams and play-act those passions out every weekend – with mock hatred for the opposition and the like. Some take it further than that and enter states that border on mental disease. But most don’t and they understand perspective – that it is just a game, a distraction in our lives. I follow the – Melbourne Football Club (MFC) – the Demons, the Dees, the Red and the Blue, which is the oldest club in the game having been founded in 1858. Tomorrow is a very big day for supporters of the Melbourne Football Club (MFC) because our team is finally in a Grand

Read More »

Job vacancies rising in Britain in mostly below-average pay sectors

25 days ago

Part of my working day is spent updating databases and studying the additional observations. I learn a lot that way about trends and how far off the mark my expectations of a particular phenomenon might be. Today I updated various labour market datasets from Britain and did some digging into the relationship between vacancies and pay. It is clear that as the British economy opens up again, that unfilled job vacancies have grown very strongly over the Northern summer. While that is a good thing because it means there are opportunities for workers to gain employment, shift employment to better paying jobs etc, the message is no unambiguous. If the vacancy growth is biased towards low-pay work then the chances for upward mobility might be stifled. Such a trend might also reflect the fact that

Read More »

Zero-hour contracts in the UK are an affront to progress

26 days ago

It’s Wednesday and so not much blog writing today. I have a few writing commitments to finalise in the coming few weeks and I need some time to do that. So today I provide some working notes and analysis of the data on UK Zero-hour contracts after I updated my dataset today. Some advertising of upcoming events follows and then some great guitar playing. A typical Wednesday at my blog it seems.

Zero hour contracts in the UK
I was updating some datasets today and did some thinking about the so-called – Zero-hour contract – situation in the UK.
Here are some things about this data – really I am just providing some notes I took about the data.
The neoliberal era has generated many indecent affronts to progress and these working arrangements have to be up there at the forefront.
They represent

Read More »

ECB researchers find fiscal policy is very effective and more so if central banks buy up the debt

27 days ago

The ECB published a Working Paper recently (September 2021) – Monetary and fiscal complementarity in the Covid-19 pandemic – which represents progress in the narrative. While the technical model that the ECB uses is just an ad hoc attempt to reverse engineer the reality so they can claim they can explain it, what is useful from the exercise is that the old mainstream narratives that fiscal policy is ineffective in providing permanent boosts to real output (or that austerity does not permanently damage the growth trajectory) can no longer be sustained. The taboo surrounding central bank purchases of government debt because they cause accelerating inflation can no longer be sustained. The claims that fiscal deficits drive up interest rates can no longer be sustained. Now the public debate

Read More »

They never wrote about it, talked about it, and, did quite the opposite – yet they knew it all along!

28 days ago

During the GFC, a new phenomenon emerged – the ‘We knew it all along’ syndrome, which was characterised my several mainstream New Keynesian macroeconomists coming out and claiming that some of the insights provided by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economists were banal and that their own theoretical framework already accommodates them. The pandemic has brought a further rush of the ‘We knew it all along’ syndrome. Apparently, mainstream macroeconomics is perfectly capable of explaining the fiscal reality the world has found itself in and there is no need to MMT, which, by assertion, is saying nothing new. These sorts of statements are not coming from Facebook or Twitter heroes who might have done a few units in economics or even acquired a degree in the discipline. They are coming from

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – September 18-19, 2021 – answers and discussion

September 18, 2021

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.

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

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – September 18-19, 2021

September 17, 2021

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. Using national accounting rules which dictate that the government balance is always equal to the non-government balance with an opposite sign, we can conclude that if the public sector successfully achieves a fiscal surplus then the private sector must be spending more than it is earning (that is, running a deficit).TrueFalse2. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) denies that the stock of aggregate spending can exceed the capacity of the productive sector and cause inflation.TrueFalse3. Assume that the government increases spending by $200 billion at the

Read More »

Australian labour market in dire straits

September 16, 2021

At present, the pandemic is causing massive fluctuations in the labour force aggregates to the point that it is very difficult to know more than that things a bad even when conventional indicators would normally be moving in a direction that would lead to the opposite conclusion. Today (September 16, 2021), the Australian Bureau of Statistics put out the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for August 2021. The background is that the entire East Coast is in or has been in lockdown over the last few months and for the two largest labour markets (NSW and Victoria) that lockdown has been very tight. The August 2021 data reveals that the longer NSW lockdown is now impacting heavily on employment growth. Employment, working hours, and participation are now falling sharply and we have the

Read More »

Monetary policy is not effective in dealing with a pandemic – it must support active fiscal policy

September 15, 2021

It’s Wednesday and I have now settled back into my office after being stuck away from home for 9 weeks as a result of border closures between Victoria and NSW. So I am reverting back to the usual Wednesday pattern of limited writing, although today, the topic is worthy of some extended narrative. Before we get to the swamp blues music segment, I am analysing a speech made by the RBA governor yesterday on the role of monetary policy during a pandemic, whether low interest rates are driving house prices too high, and, what should be done about that. The conclusion is that he supports better use of fiscal policy – sustaining supportive fiscal deficits and dealing with the distortions that are contributing to high housing prices, via amendments to taxation (eliminating incentives for high

Read More »

Travelling music

September 14, 2021

The Covid situation in Australia has deteriorated in recent months after the conservative NSW government allowed it to spread (after a lax approach to quarantine – privatising the service). For the last 9 weeks or so I have been stuck in another state, away from home, and wondering when I could get back across the border again. Well yesterday I finally acquired a travel permit to cross the border between NSW and Victoria and 10 hours later (by car) I am now back at home. So I am catching up on things this afternoon (with two computer monitors – yeah) and there will be no formal blog post. But there is some music. Back tomorrow.

Music – for travelling
Sometimes you need to really concentrate on a new album and play it several times to appreciate the nuances and subtlety of the performance

Read More »

Remembering Tuesday, September 11

September 12, 2021

Last Saturday, September 11, we observed the anniversary of a terrible terrorist act, inflicted on a free people with a democratically-elected government by multinational conspiratorial forces. The terrorist attack happened on a Tuesday. It resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people and the offenders have never been brought to justice. We should etch that day – Tuesday, September 11, 1973 – in our consciences, especially if you are an American, British or Australian citizen, given the culpability of our respective governments in that despicable coup d’etat. Today, a bit of a different blog post as I remember this historical event and the way it undermined progressive thought for years. The type of economic policies introduced by Pinochet on advice from the ‘Chicago Boys’ became

Read More »