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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 25-26, 2020 – 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:

A fact that is overlooked by those promoting austerity programs, is that when economic growth resumes, the automatic stabilisers work in a counter-cyclical fashion to ensure that the government fiscal balance returns to its appropriate level.

The answer is False.
The factual statement in the proposition is that the automatic stabilisers do

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The Weekend Quiz – January 25-26, 2020

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 fact that is overlooked by those promoting austerity programs, is that when economic growth resumes, the automatic stabilisers work in a counter-cyclical fashion and ensure that the government fiscal balance returns to its appropriate level.TrueFalse2. From a monetary perspective, it would be impossible for a central bank to directly purchase Treasury debt to facilitate a national government’s fiscal deficit while still targeting a non-zero policy rate.TrueFalse3. . Rising government bond yields for new issues indicate:that government spending

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Australian labour market – full-time jobs shrink as quality of work falls

4 days ago

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released of its latest data today (January 23, 2020) – Labour Force, Australia, December 2019 – which continues to show that the Australian economy is in a weak state with a fairly moderate labour market performance being recorded for December 2020. The culprit – the Australian government – which is starving spending by its obsessive pursuit of a fiscal surplus. While unemployment fell by 0.1 points as a result of the employment growth, full-time employment also fell. So all the net job opportunities created were part-time which suggests that the quality of the overall employment mix has deteriorated. In the last six months, 74 per cent of net employment change has been in the part-time labour market. The broad labour underutilisation (unemployment plus

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Tax the rich to counter carbon emissions not to get their money

5 days ago

Wednesday snippets follow. Tax the rich! That has become a misguided progressive Left mantra. The intention is to maintain public services including health, education and income support which are core issues for progressives. But then the neoliberal indoctrination that has infested this group intervenes. They seem to think the government needs the money of those with lots of it before it can provide essential and progressive public services and fight the climate emergency. They support political parties that set as their primary macroeconomic target the achievement of a bigger fiscal surplus than the conservatives at a time when there are more than 13.5 per cent of available and willing labour resources not working (either unemployed or underemployed) and households are carrying record

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Work not UBI – the hopeful not the surrender

6 days ago

I have long disagreed with Guy Standing about the solutions to unemployment. 20 years ago we crossed paths on panels and in the literature where he would argue that UBI was the way forward and I would argue that it was a neoliberal plot and that, instead, we needed to push for job creation. My view has always been that to surrender to the neoliberals on their claim that governments cannot generate sufficient jobs to satisfy the desires for work of the unemployed was a slippery slope. Standing continues to publish his fiction. In his latest Social Europe article (January 15, 2020) – Building a progressive alliance in Britain – he seeks to integrate UBI proposals with a recovery plan for British Labour. My view is that would not help Labour recover from the shots they fired into their own

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Canada – MMT poster child?

7 days ago

On August 10, 2015, the Library of the Canadian Parliament released one of their In Brief research publications – How the Bank of Canada Creates Money for the Federal Government: Operational and Legal Aspects – which described the operational interactions between the Bank and the Canadian Treasury that facilitate government spending in some detail. It allows ordinary citizens to come to terms with some of the essential capacities of the currency-issuing Canadian government, which Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) highlights as a starting point towards achieving an understanding of how the monetary system operates. The description is in contradistinction to the way the mainstream macroeconomics text discuss this part of the economy. It leads to an analysis where we learn that the Bank of Canada

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The Weekend Quiz – January 18-19, 2020 – 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:

The net worth of the non-government sector would be initially invariant to a decision by government to match or not to match its net public spending with bond issues.

The answer is True.
The mainstream macroeconomic textbooks all have a chapter on fiscal policy (and it is often written in the context of the so-called IS-LM model but not

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The Weekend Quiz – January 18-19, 2020

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. The net worth of the non-government sector would be initially invariant to a decision by government to match or not to match its net public spending with bond issues.
TrueFalse2. The wider the spread between the price the central bank sets on the reserves it provides the commercial banks on demand (so-called penalty rates) and the target policy rate, the more difficult it becomes for the central bank to ensure the quantity of reserves is appropriate for maintaining its target policy rate.TrueFalse3. Assume that a national is continuously running

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Racial prejudice in Britain rises with unemployment

11 days ago

When I was a relatively junior academic, one of the things I was interested in was how labour market prejudice is influenced by the state of the economic cycle. This was a period when Australia was undergoing a deep recession (early 1990s) and it was clear that hostility to immigrants had risen during this period. I was interested to see whether this was related. The interest goes back to my postgraduate days when I was studying labour economics and we considered labour market discrimination in some detail. Then, it was clear from the literature, that employers who used racial profiling to screen job candidates would lose out if the labour market was strong, but could indulge their negative views about different racial groups without loss in times of recession. But we didn’t do much work

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The German government celebrates its record surplus while infrastructure collapses

12 days ago

Wednesday blog post – so only a few snippets including some discussion about Germany’s latest extreme outcome – a record fiscal surplus, which the Ministry of Finance is claiming is responsible. Judged by the fact that the economy has ground to a halt and there is a massive infrastructure deficit in the country as a result of a systematic starving of capital expenditure by the government, one has to ask: are they joking! The surplus was, in part, the result of the German government not spending allocated public investment funds because there are insufficient skilled public servants on tap to manage the projects. So the government has hacked into skilled employment first, then it finds that there are not enough qualified officials left to oversee essential projects. So capital formation

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The Tories in Britain have a clear way forward – thanks to the Labour Party hacks

13 days ago

How things are changing. After the British election in December, the policy terrain in the UK has shifted such that the Tories are now being lectured to about the dangers of a stimulus package, while British Labour seems to be promoting leadership candidates that mostly were part of the problem that led to their failure. In the latter context, we are seeing King or, should I say Queen makers, who I would have thought were unelectable trying to influence the leadership choice. And former Labour advisors tweeting and what have you about what Labour should be doing when it was their advice that got the Party into the mess it is currently in. Meanwhile, the Tories have an almost open field to finish the first stage of the Brexit process off, and, secure the ongoing support of the voters that

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US Labour Market – not yet at full employment despite low unemployment

14 days ago

On January 10, 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – January 2019 – which reveals a labour market that that is still adding jobs, albeit at a slower rate than it was last year. The December performance showed that this moderation has not yet impacted on the unemployment rate – meaning that the employment growth is keeping pace with the underlying population growth with participation steady as indicated by the steady employment-population ratio. The Broad labour underutilisation ratio (U-6) remains high (but fell in December by 0.2 points) and the official unemployment is now hovering around levels not seen since the late 1960s. The U-6 indicator fell because underemployed workers are finding low-wage jobs in

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The Weekend Quiz – January 11-12, 2020 – 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:

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

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The Weekend Quiz – January 11-12, 2020

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. 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.True False3. When a government such as the US or

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Australia’s bushfire dystopia – another entry for the neoliberal report card

18 days ago

I decided that I would run the CFA Franc series in three consecutive parts to maintain continuity and allow me to edit the final manuscript which Pluto Press will use to finalise the book by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla. That meant that my usual Wednesday snippets sort of blog post didn’t happen this week. So, given that I have to travel for several hours today, Thursday becomes Wednesday and I just want to write a few comments about the current crisis in Australia (from the perspective of someone who has done considerable research for the United Firefighters Union here over many years) and also announce the details of the first MMTed Masterclass to be held in central London in February. I will be in Adelaide for the sustainability conference and other commitments over the next few

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Introduction – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – Part 3

19 days ago

I have been commissioned to write the Introduction (Preface) to the upcoming book – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla, which is an English version of the original 2018 book, L’arme invisible de la Françafrique. It will soon be published by Pluto Press (UK) – as soon as I finish this introduction. The book is incredibly important because it shows the role that currency arrangements play in perpetuating colonial oppression and supporting the extractive mechanisms that the wealthy have used for centuries to further their ambitions. It also resonates with more recent neoliberal trends where these extractive mechanisms, formerly between the colonialist (metropolis) and the occupied peripheral or satellite nation, have morphed into

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Introduction – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – Part 2

20 days ago

I have been commissioned to write the Introduction (Preface) to the upcoming book – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla, which is an English version of the original 2018 book, L’arme invisible de la Françafrique. It will soon be published by Pluto Press (UK) – as soon as I finish this introduction. The book is incredibly important because it shows the role that currency arrangements play in perpetuating colonial oppression and supporting the extractive mechanisms that the wealthy have used for centuries to further their ambitions. It also resonates with more recent neoliberal trends where these extractive mechanisms, formerly between the colonialist (metropolis) and the occupied peripheral or satellite nation, have morphed into

Read More »

Introduction – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – Part 1

21 days ago

I have been commissioned to write the Introduction (Preface) to the upcoming book – The Last Colonial Currency: A History of the CFA Franc – by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla, which is an English version of the original 2018 book, L’arme invisible de la Françafrique. It will soon be published by Pluto Press (UK) – as soon as I finish this introduction. The book is incredibly important because it shows the role that currency arrangements play in perpetuating colonial oppression and supporting the extractive mechanisms that the wealthy have used for centuries to further their ambitions. It also resonates with more recent neoliberal trends where these extractive mechanisms, formerly between the colonialist (metropolis) and the occupied peripheral or satellite nation, have morphed into

Read More »

The Weekend Quiz – January 4-5, 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:

The government has two macroeconomic policy arms available – fiscal and monetary policy. However, it only has control over monetary policy.

The answer is True.
First, this question relies on an understanding that the treasury and central bank are both part of the consolidated government sector.
Please read my blog post – The consolidated

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The Weekend Quiz – January 4-5, 2020

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. The government has two macroeconomic policy arms available – fiscal and monetary policy. However, it only has control over monetary policyTrueFalse2. Americans enjoy a higher material standard of living as a result of the Chinese holdings of US government debt.TrueFalse3. A strategy to force the government to maintain a balanced fiscal position that the private domestic sector has to be continuously accumulating debt unless the external account moves into surplus.TrueFalse

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A conversation between MMT founders

25 days ago

A different blog post today. On November 29, 2019, I sat down with my friend Warren Mosler in Newcastle, Australia while he was on his more or less annual visit to see us. We decided to film a conversation we had about the origins of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), how we came to it, the current state of MMT and future trends, including being part of the narrative surrounding the Green Transition. You will hear our concern about how the work we put in place at the outset is now being used in popular debates as well as other anecdotes. We consider the recent YouTube debate that Warren participated in in Italy and clear up the misunderstandings that followed that episode. We provide our own perspective on the way the GND debate is unfolding. I hope you find the 38 minute video that follows

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Two films to watch which won’t make you happy …

26 days ago

Best wishes to all for 2020. It is a public holiday today in Australia and I have to catch a plane to travel North. And it is Wednesday anyway and I am training myself off writing blog posts for that day. Earlier this week, I saw the Ken Loach’s latest movie – Sorry We Missed You – which I can attest is a very harrowing experience of life in Britain under neoliberalism. I was going to say under the Tories, but then life under the previous Labour government was also made harder for those in the regional areas, particularly as fiscal rectitude became the norm. You will find the movie hard going that is for sure. I also saw the newly released movie – Where’s My Roy Cohn – which is also a rather difficult movie to watch, given the way it resonates with the way the modern political classes

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A response to Greg Mankiw – Part 3

27 days ago

Before Xmas, I published a two-part reply to Gregory Mankiw’s paper on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – A Skeptic’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory (December 12, 2019). I was trying to get the response finished before the break and Part 2 had already become too long. So I decided to leave one issue that I didn’t get to address for a shorter third response once service resumed. I think this part of the response is necessary to set right on the public record. It exemplifies how critics need to work harder to actually understand what MMT is about. And while they try to claim that MMT is opaque and difficult to get to terms with, thereby sheeting the blame for their misguided renditions of our work back onto us, the issue I discuss today is very easy to come to terms with. It is front and centre

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How to discuss MMT without discussing it – BIS style

28 days ago

On October 13, 2019, the Bank of International Settlements published a paper – Exiting low inflation traps by “consensus”: nominal wages and price stability – (which was based on a speech one of the authors was to make in late November at a conference in Colombia). The reason I cite this paper is because it talks about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – in pejorative terms, without really knowing what MMT is. But the most interesting aspect of it was the admission that the mainstream theory that they use to set up the ‘straw person’ they tear down cannot explain real world events. The BIS unwittingly admits that the mainstream macroeconomics really is adrift and the analytical frameworks that arise from it (DSGE etc) are incapable of explaining real world developments. So I thought that was

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The Weekend Quiz – December 28-29, 2019 – answers and discussion

December 28, 2019

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 austerity led to all national governments simultaneously running public surpluses (which is the aim) then it would be impossible for all their respective private domestic sectors to spend less than they earn.

The answer is True.
The question tests a knowledge of the sectoral balances and their interactions, the behavioural relationships that

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The Weekend Quiz – December 28-29, 2019

December 26, 2019

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 austerity led to all national governments simultaneously running public surpluses (which is the aim) then it would be impossible for all their respective private domestic sectors to spend less than they earn.TrueFalse2. A leakage from the spending system can occur via taxation, imports or saving which reduces the expenditure multiplier effect of government spending. Another leakage, which reduces the expansionary impact of government deficit spending on aggregate demand, occurs when the government matches the fiscal deficit with debt-issuance

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Still on holidays

December 25, 2019

The blog is on holiday until Monday, December 30, 2018 although the usual Weekend Quiz will appear. There might be an existential question or two about Santa given the video that Norad has published. All the best from my local beach (Bar Beach today). Music to follow …

Woodford Festival, Queensland, December 28, 2019
I am talking at the Woodford Folk Festival on MMT and Green Transition this Saturday, at 11:10 in the GREENhouse as part of the Festival’s Talks Program.
If you are attending the Festival, then it would be great if you stopped and joined the audience.
For – Further details.
Apparently, Santa managed to get to Australia this year, after missing us last year
Last year, I consulted the – Norad Santa Tracker – which is compiled by the US North American Aerospace Defence Command

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On holidays

December 24, 2019

The blog is on holiday until Monday, December 30, 2019 although a harder than usual quiz will appear later this week. All the best from my local beach (Nobbys). For the rest of the week I am finishing writing commitments that have approaching deadlines and have to travel to my next speaking engagement at the end of the week.

Woodford Festival, Queensland, December 28, 2019
I am talking at the Woodford Folk Festival on MMT and Green Transition this Saturday, at 11:10 in the GREENhouse as part of the Festival’s Talks Program.
If you are attending the Festival, then it would be great if you stopped by and joined the audience and shared your ideas.
For – Further details.
Musical accompaniment …
This is what I am listening to while working today. It is one of my favourite post-minimalist

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A response to Greg Mankiw – Part 2

December 24, 2019

In – A response to Greg Mankiw – Part 1 (December 23, 2019) – I provided the E-mail correspondence that preceded the publication of – A Skeptic’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory (December 12, 2019) – by Greg Mankiw. In this blog post, I provide a response to the specific points made in that paper and conclude that if it aims to be a fair ‘guide’ to MMT (even from a critical perspective) then it fails badly. So let me explain why I hold that view. Today’s post is long and will take some reading. It could have been a lot longer. But I intend to take a break from writing the blog until next week (the Quiz will appear as usual though), so you have plenty of time to read this longer than usual post. Normally, I would have spread it out over 3 or 4 parts.

Referencing
I will dispense with this

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A response to Greg Mankiw – Part 1

December 22, 2019

On October 2, 2019, I received an E-mail from Gregory Mankiw. It was sent to me, Randy Wray and Martin Watts and asked us some questions about our textbook – Macroeconomics – which had been published by leading textbook publisher Macmillan in March 2019. The book has been selling strongly with a third printing already in the pipeline and a second edition coming, hopefully, later next year. Macmillan also publish Greg Mankiw’s macroeconomics textbook, which has been the dominant teaching book in undergraduate programs. I will take you through the E-mail correspondence that followed because it puts in context what Greg Mankiw decided to do next. Instead of continuing the correspondence on academic terms, which was a reasonable expectation at the time, given the initial approach and our

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