Tuesday , September 21 2021
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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 – September 18-19, 2021 – answers and discussion

4 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.

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

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The Weekend Quiz – September 18-19, 2021

5 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. 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

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Australian labour market in dire straits

6 days ago

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

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

7 days ago

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

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Travelling music

8 days ago

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

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Remembering Tuesday, September 11

9 days ago

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

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The Weekend Quiz – September 11-12, 2021 – answers and discussion

11 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 we assume that inflation is stable, there is excess productive capacity, and the central bank maintains its current monetary policy setting then if government spending increases by $X dollars and private investment and exports are unchanged, the sum of changes to taxation revenue, import spending and household saving will be greater than $X

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The Weekend Quiz – September 11-12, 2021

12 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 we assume that inflation is stable, there is excess productive capacity, and the central bank maintains its current monetary policy setting then if government spending increases by $X dollars and private investment and exports are unchanged, the sum of changes to taxation revenue, import spending and household saving will be greater than $X dollars because of the expenditure multiplier.TrueFalse2. When a government such as the US government voluntarily constrains itself to borrow to cover its net spending position, it substitutes its spending

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NSW fails to control Covid (incompetence) and the labour market contracts sharply across the nation

13 days ago

There were two significant data releases from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week that provide information about the state of the labour market – both in the short-term and also in terms of longer-term trends. The first release (September 8, 2021) – Labour Account Australia – June 2021 – is a quarterly dataset that allows us to tie together information about employment, persons, hours and payments. The second release today (September 9, 2021) is the – Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia – Week ending August 14, 2021 – which is Australian Tax Office data that provides a much more current view of how the labour market is performing. That snapshot is especially valuable given the on-going tight lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne and the impact they are having on employment and

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European growth positive but weak

14 days ago

It’s Wednesday, so just a few items that have passed me by this week. Eurostat published the latest national accounts data yesterday (September 7, 2021) that reveals that key Eurozone states are still lagging behind where they were before the pandemic. In some cases (Italy and Spain), they hadn’t even got back to pre-GFC levels of activity before the pandemic stuck. So a double hit to these nations in the space of a decade or so. That damage will be immense and demonstrates once again the dysfunctional nature of the currency union. Then I consider the latest nonsense from the Business Council of Australia – which is just a special pleading organisation for the top-end-of-town. They think it is time to go back to the deficits are bad narrative (except when their members are receiving

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As the mainstream paradigm breaks down

15 days ago

On September 2, 2021, the Head of the BIS Monetary and Economic Department, Claudio Borio gave an address – Back to the future: intellectual challenges for monetary policy = at the University of Melbourne. The Bank of International Settlements is owned by 63 central banks and provides various functions “to support central banks’ pursuit of monetary and financial stability through international cooperation”. His speech covers a range of topics in relation to the conduct of monetary policy but its importance is that it marks a clear line between the way the mainstream conceive of the role and effectiveness of the central bank and the view taken by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economists. I discuss those issues in this blog post.

First, note that Claudio Borio openly admits:

… the loss of

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US labour market recovery stalling

16 days ago

Last Friday (September 3, 2021), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – August 2021 – which reported a total payroll employment rise of only 235,000 jobs in August and a 0.2 points decline in the official unemployment rate to 5.2 per cent. The results suggest that the labour market recovery has slowed quite significantly. The US labour market is still 5,333 thousand jobs short from where it was at the end of February 2020, which helps to explain why there are no fundamental wage pressures emerging.

Overview for August 2021:

Payroll employment increased by 235,000.
Total labour force survey employment rose by 509 thousand net (0.33 per cent).
The seasonally adjusted labour force rose by 190 thousand (0.12 per

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The Weekend Quiz – September 4-5, 2021 – answers and discussion

18 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:

MMT recognises that increasing the amount of money in the economy will reduce its value.

The answer is Maybe.
The question is mostly false but there are situations (rare) where it could be true – so maybe.
The question requires you to: (a) understand the difference between bank reserves and the money supply; and (b) understand the Quantity

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The Weekend Quiz – September 4-5, 2021

19 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. MMT recognises that increasing the amount of money in the economy will reduce its value.TrueFalseMaybe2. If national government public works expenditure funds the construction of a new road but then digs it up and rebuilds, the expenditure in the rebuild would not count towards national income.TrueFalse3. The marginal propensity to consume (MPC) is the extra consumption that is induced for every extra dollar of national income. The marginal propensity to import (MPM) is similarly the extra spending on imports that is induced for every extra dollar

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The Bank of Goldman Sachs at Threadneedle Street

20 days ago

As I provided a detailed analysis of the National Accounts release yesterday, today, I am writing less via the blog and am shifting the Wednesday music feature to Thursday. That makes sense. Today, I am bemoaning the creation of the Bank of Goldman Sachs, formerly known as the Bank of England. Groupthink seems to plague this institution. And then, to restore equanimity, we have a music tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry who died in Jamaica this week.

Bank of England Groupthink – redux
In this blog post – Bank of England Groupthink exposed (January 8, 2015) – I discussed the response by the Bank of England to a report from the UK Treasury Select Committee (House of Commons) demanding the Bank act in a more transparent manner.
The Select Committee Report (November 8, 2011) – Accountability of

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Australian national accounts – growth 3 months ago but no guide to current situation

21 days ago

Time series data is somewhat difficult to use at present because of the dramatic impact the pandemic (and the lockdowns) has had on behaviour. It is difficult to conduct precise statistical work that spans this period and in the future, econometricians like me will have to use special techniques to isolate these observations if we are to get anything meaningful from the data over longer horizons into the future. National accounts data is also fraught at the best of times because of the lags in collection and publication. It tells us where we were three months ago and three months before that. So while today’s data release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the – Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, June 2021 (released September 1, 2021) – shows

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The dying embers of New Keynesian reasoning

22 days ago

Lawrence Summers is a New Keynesian economist. That means something. While there are nuances that exist between members of that school of thought, mostly to do with policy sensitivities and speeds of adjustment, the New Keynesian paradigm has demonstrated clearly that it is incapable of capturing the macroeconomic dynamics in any consistent manner, despite it being the dominant approach in the profession. So, it is no wonder when Summers provides opinions the underlying logic he demonstrates is similarly flawed. Unfortunately, he keeps getting important platforms to express these opinions, which continues to blight the public policy debate. He was at it again when he started lecturing the US Federal Reserve Bank on the conduct of its asset-purchasing program.

Recall that Lawrence Summers,

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Brexit is delivering better pay for British workers (on average)

23 days ago

I find it amusing when some self-styled ‘progressive’ commentator, usually writing in the UK Guardian newspaper, bemoans Brexit and points to claims by business that there is a shortage of workers. The ‘shortage’, of course, is results from not being able to access unlimited supplies of cheap foreign workers as easily as before. When I see a shortage of workers, I celebrate, because it means employers will have to break out of their keep wages growth low mentality to attract labour; that they will have to offer adequate skills training to ensure the workers can do the work required; and, that unemployment will be driven as low as can be. What is not good about that? Brexit has done a lot of things, one of them being to provide the British working class to arrest the degradation in their

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The Weekend Quiz – August 28-292, 2021 – answers and discussion

25 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.

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 – August 28-292, 2021

26 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. In a fiat monetary system (for example, US or Australia) with an on-going external deficit, if you desire the domestic private sector to reduce its overall debt levels without employment losses, then you have to support the national government increasing the fiscal deficit beyond the size of the external deficit in line with the private de-leveraging process.TrueFalse2. The only time that a fiscal surplus represents increased national savings is when the government creates a sovereign fund. TrueFalse3. The massive build-up of Chinese holdings of

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ECB nearly comes clean – higher fiscal deficits, higher QE

27 days ago

Last year, the US Federal Reserve dropped a bombshell on mainstream macroeconomics by abandoning the consensus approach to monetary policy, which prioritised fighting inflation over maintaining low levels of unemployment, and, increasing interest rates well before any defined inflationary pressures were realised – the so-called forward guidance approach. It has also been buying massive quantities of US government debt and controlling bond yields in the markets as a result. Attention has been on the ECB to see where it would pivot too and whether it was going to abandon its own massive government bond buying program any time soon, which has been effectively funding the fiscal deficits of the 19 Member-States of the Eurozone. Recent statements have indicated the QE programs in Europe will

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Immanuel Kant on money and more

28 days ago

Today is Wednesday and we mourn the death of Charlie Watts. But while we are doing that, here are some snippets on C18th philosophy and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the ideological poverty of German politics, vaccines, and then some Charlie.

Immanuel Kant on Money
A reader (thanks Justin) sent me an interesting tract that he had come across in his own reading.
The discussion below is from the 1797 book – The Metaphysics of Morals – written by the German philosopher – Immanual Kant.
For some unknown (now) reason, I skipped that work after I had read the 1785 work – Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals – during my days of catching up learning about the great moral philosophers.
The full text is available – HERE.
My source wrote:

As to page numbers, the standardized page numbers from

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The Pandemic, Government Failures and Accumulated Social Wreckage

29 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. Today he is writing about impact on local communities of the current Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney. Over to Scott …

I am currently involved in a book project with a number of colleagues looking into the impact of Covid-19 on Australian cities and urban regions.
The book, which will be published by Springer in 2022, is focusing on how the pandemic and the associated economic and social fallout is reflected in the daily “workings” of our large urban areas, and how and what impacts might the pandemic have in store for cities in the long term.
Cities are the spatial reflection of accumulated social wreckage
I have commented

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Keynes on national self-sufficiency

August 23, 2021

One of the emerging discussions is what will the post-coronavirus world look like both within nations and across nations. There is a growing thread about the worries of increased state authoritarianism as governments have imposed an array of restrictions. There is also an increasing debate about the need for nations to return to enhanced national self-sufficiency to avoid the disruptions in the global supply chain that the pandemic has created. In 1933, John Maynard Keynes gave a very interesting lecture on this topic in Dublin. In this blog post, I consider that lecture and assess its currency in the contemporary setting.

The challenges ahead
There is a growing thread about the worries of increased state authoritarianism as governments have imposed an array of restrictions.
There are

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The Weekend Quiz – August 21-22, 2021 – answers and discussion

August 21, 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.

Question 1:

A fiscal deficit equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP tells us that the government is adopting a less expansionary policy than if the fiscal deficit outcome was equivalent to 5 per cent of GDP.

The answer is False.
The question probes an understanding of the forces (components) that drive the fiscal balance that is reported by government agencies at

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The Weekend Quiz – August 21-22, 2021

August 20, 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. A fiscal deficit equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP tells us that the government is adopting a less expansionary policy than if the fiscal deficit outcome was equivalent to 5 per cent of GDP.TrueFalse2. When the government borrows from the non-government sector to match an increase in net public spending, the initial increase in aggregate demand is less than would be the case if there was no bond sale.TrueFalse3. Consider the following table which describes four different economies in terms of the behavioural parameters relating to the leakages to

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Australian labour market – deteriorating but the worst is yet to come

August 19, 2021

Today (August 19, 2021), the Australian Bureau of Statistics put out the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for July 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, although not tight enough in NSW. The July 2021 data reveals that employment growth has come to a stop, although the negative impacts of the lockdowns are mainly showing up as reduced working hours and falling participation rates at present. But the job losses will get worse next month given the extended disaster that is now unfolding in NSW. The impact of the slower population growth is showing up in the continued drop in the unemployment rate, but the major fall in unemployment

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Australia – parlous wages growth signals loss of worker purchasing power

August 18, 2021

Today (August 18, 2021), the ABS released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the June-quarter 2021. The WPI data shows that nominal wages growth remains suppressed, and, as a result of the transitory spikes in inflation recently, workers in all sectors experienced sharp drops in their real wages (purchasing power). The behaviour of nominal wages in Australia gives us a clear signal that there is little prospect of sustained inflationary pressures emerging from the labour market any time soon. Wages in the public sector grew by only 1.3 per cent over the 12 months as a result of the ridiculous wage freezes and wage caps that the federal and state governments are imposing. This is not leadership at all.

The Wage Price Index:

… measures changes in the price of labour, unaffected

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Trends in the Northern Ireland labour market – Part 1

August 17, 2021

The article in the Socialist Worker Review (No. 89, July/August 1986, pp. 19–21), by Eammon McCann – The protestant working class – has kept me thinking for some years. I recalled it the other day when I was updating my Northern Ireland labour market data and working on some text. As a result of reading this article many years ago, I became very interested in the labour market dynamics in Northern Ireland, in particular, as they impact on the debate about unification and EU membership (yes, I have always been anti-EU). In that vein, I have been following the trends over time rather closely. More recently, the central place of the North Ireland Protocol in the Brexit discussions has increased the relevance of this research. I also benefitted from some very interesting conversations a few

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Time for a debate about re-nationalisation

August 16, 2021

In the wake of further Covid angst in Australia, the airlines are once again laying off thousands of workers. One of the airlines, Qantas, formerly the publicly-owned national carrier announced last week major job cuts soon after it secured a rather substantial rescue package from the Federal government. Qantas makes a habit of crying poor despite paying its executives slavishly large salaries and aggressively using its market power to undermine smaller regional airlines that have served Australia for years. Mainstream economists, who were cheer boys for the privatisation in the first place, continue to extol the virtues of selling off the airline at bargain prices to private interests. The reality is however different. The airline provides an overpriced service and can no longer be

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