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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 – June 12-13, 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:

Larger fiscal deficits as a percentage of GDP typically mean that there are less real resources available for other productive uses.

The answer is True.
It is clear that at any point in time, there are finite real resources available for production. New resources can be discovered, produced and the old stock spread better via education and

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The Weekend Quiz – June 12-13, 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. Larger fiscal deficits as a percentage of GDP typically mean that there are less real resources available for other productive uses.TrueFalse2. For a nation running an external deficit, income adjustments will ensure that the government fiscal balance is in deficit if the domestic private sector is save overall as a percentage of GDP.TrueFalse3. Higher levels of taxation permit the government to spend more.TrueFalse

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MMT and Power – Part 2

4 days ago

This is Part 2 of a series that is developing here on the topic of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and power. I often read that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is defective because it has no theory of power relations. Some critics link this in their narrative to their claim that MMT also has no theory of inflation. They then proceed to attack concepts such as employment buffers, on the grounds, that MMT cannot propose a solution to inflation if it has no understanding of how power relations cause inflation. These criticisms don’t come from the conservative side of the policy debate but rather from the so-called Left, although I wonder just how ‘left’ some of the commentators who cast these aspersions actually are. The problem with these criticisms is that they have clearly adopted a partial

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Price rises should be short-lived – so let’s not resurrect inflation as a bogeyman

5 days ago

It’s Wednesday and I am somewhat besieged. So just a few reflections today before we delve into our latest music offering. I had an Op Ed published in the UK Guardian today (my time) which analysed the latest inflation scares that have been dominating the popular media. More and more mainstream macroeconomists are coming out and asserting that economies will overheat. The usual gold bugs have been delighted by this shift in the narrative back to the obsessions and manias that keep them occupied on a daily basis. What was interesting to me was the responses of the commentators to the Guardian Op Ed. If the sentiments expressed represent the state of macroeconomic knowledge (presumably mostly in the UK) then we have a long way to go before Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the sensible

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The monetary and fiscal normality of Wolfgang Schäuble – stagnation and entrenched unemployment

6 days ago

I have been working on an article that will come out in the press soon on inflationary pressures. It is obvious that characters like Larry Summers and Olivia Blanchard are trying to stay at the centre of the debate by issuing various lurid threats about the likelihood of an inflation outbreak in the US and elsewhere. Last week, the Financial Times published an article (June 3, 2021) by the former German Finance Minister and now President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble – Europe’s social peace requires a return to fiscal discipline. I was initially confronted with the juxtaposition of this author, who bullied all and sundry during to the GFC to ensure an austerity mindset was maintained at great cost to the millions who were deliberately forced to endure unemployment, with the photo of

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US labour market recovery continues but still 7,629 thousand jobs short from February 2020

7 days ago

Last Friday (June 4, 2021), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – May 2021 – which showed that the recovery since the catastrophic labour market collapse in March and April 2020, continues after a moderate month in April 2021. Payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May 2021 after rising by only 266 thousand last month. The slight rise in unemployment last month gave way to a fall in the unemployment rate by 0.3 percentage points to 5.8 per cent. edged up slightly to 6.1 per cent. The broader labour wastage captured by the BLS U6 measure fell by 0.2 points to 10.2 per cent. The US labour market is still 7,629 thousand jobs short from where it was at the end of February 2020.

Overview for May 2021:

Payroll

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The Weekend Quiz – June 5-6, 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:

Central bankers are talking about retaining quantitative easing to ease the aggregate demand losses associated with the implementation of withdrawal of fiscal stimulus programs. If calibrated correctly, QE can replace the net financial assets destroyed by the withdrawal of the fiscal injection.

The answer is False.
Quantitative easing then

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The Weekend Quiz – June 5-6, 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. Central bankers are talking about retaining quantitative easing to ease the aggregate demand losses associated with the implementation of withdrawal of fiscal stimulus programs. If calibrated correctly, QE can replace the net financial assets destroyed by the withdrawal of the fiscal injection.TrueFalse2. If the growth in wages (the money you get paid) keeps pace with inflation which is accelerating at the same rate as labour productivity is growing, then the profit share in GDP remains constant.TrueFalse3. The government is attempting to

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The aftermath from my recent podcast on the Job Guarantee and UBI

11 days ago

Given I provided a detailed National Account analysis yesterday, I am using today as a blog lite day with just some snippets and then a musical offering – as per my usual Wednesday practice. I did an interview for Real Progressives last week and some of the social media reaction has been hysterical – claims that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has gone political and that MMT advocates abandoning the capitalist system and so on so forth. Some of this stuff is coming from self-identified ‘progressives’, which makes me wonder how much meaning term retains. In some cases, the attacks were really Trojan horses for the dislike of my Brexit stance or my attacks on the British Labour Party for pushing an unworkable and neo-liberal inspired fiscal credibility rule, which they had to change just before

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Australian economy now slightly above the March 2020 level as growth continues

12 days ago

The data release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the – Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, March 2021 (released June 2, 2021) – shows that the Australian economy grew by a healthy 1.8 per cent in the March-quarter after growing by 3.2 per cent in the December-quarter 2020. Further, the economy is now 1.1 per cent larger than it was at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Household consumption growth is positive but subdued. Fiscal support is declining. But business investment is now recovering and is a really positive sign. Several sectors are still struggling and renewed outbreaks of the virus in recent weeks will further create these disparities. I consider there is still need for expanded fiscal support.

The main features of the

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Plenty left behind in a national economy that the Government claims is ‘roaring back’

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. Today he is continuing his discussions around the uneven regional impacts of job losses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So while I am tied up today it is over to Scott …

Sorry Mr Treasurer, you might think the economy is roaring back, but there are plenty of left behind places that might disagree
The conservative media celebrated the Federal Government’s fiscal statement (AKA the budget) that the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered on May 11, 2021, with typical bluster.
The title of article in the Australian Financial Times article (May 11, 2021) – The economy is ‘roaring back to life’ – was

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Criticism of failed economists is not cancel culture

14 days ago

Everybody is concerned with ‘herd immunity’ at present as the pandemic continues on ravaging our social and economic lives. But I have been studying the concept of ‘herd mentality’ for some years, aka – Groupthink. Mainstream macroeconomics is sustained, not by any internal logical consistency (on which it fails), by close congruency with the empirical data (on which it fails), which are the usual qualities of a dominant system of ideas, but, rather, by (using modern terminology) its long-standing and on-going cancel culture. So it is rather amusing to read one of the leading voices in that paradigm, Kenneth ‘Spreadsheet’ Rogoff, whinging on the Internet that ‘cancel culture’ is being used to undermine the reputations of one of his mates (Larry Summers). Both continue to get platforms in

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The Weekend Quiz – May 29-30, 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:

Mainstream economists use the notion of ‘crowding out’ to argue that public spending squeezes out private spending and results in a less efficient allocation of resources overall. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) denies that crowding out can occur.

The answer is False.
The normal presentation of the crowding out hypothesis which is a central plank

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The Weekend Quiz – May 29-30, 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. Mainstream economists use the notion of ‘crowding out’ to argue that public spending squeezes out private spending and results in a less efficient allocation of resources overall. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) denies that crowding out can occur.TrueFalse2. A rising government deficit will always allow the private domestic sector to increase its overall saving in nominal terms.TrueFalse3. Assume the government increases spending by $100 billion in the each of the next three years from now. Economists estimate the spending multiplier to be 1.5 and

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ECB realises it has to keep funding Member State deficits for the foreseeable future

18 days ago

Well, the Melbourne virus outbreak has scuttled lots of plans and events. We wouldn’t be in this situation if the Federal government had have invested in dedicated quarantine facilities last year when they were told to and taken advice to ensure their vaccination purchases were sufficient. Anyway, that is for another day. Today, I have been examining European data and matching them against a recent interview (May 26, 2021) – Interview with Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, conducted by Jun Ishikawa – that Nikkei published yesterday. Things have changed a bit in Europe since the GFC although the fundamental problem of the Eurozone remains – there is a disjuncture between fiscal responsibility and fiscal capacity and the only way that that mismatch is being addressed

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Manufacturing growing strongly in the UK as jobs fall in Australia with the fiscal cuts

19 days ago

It is Wednesday so a blog lite day for me. The next part of this week is a bit up in the air for me after the Covid outbreak that resulted from a breach of quarantine in Adelaide has spread to Melbourne and looks a bit ugly. Fingers crossed that I can get back home to Melbourne tomorrow. Today I briefly review the latest payroll data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows that despite all the bluster from the Federal government to the contrary, their fiscal retreat in March is now costing jobs, as predicted. I also examine the latest production data from the UK, which should provide good news for British manufacturing workers. And finally, we have a little birthday celebration with some singing.

Payroll employment falling in Australia
The ABS released the latest – Weekly

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Don’t say its over until its over – MMT is not close to dominating the narrative

20 days ago

Don’t say its over until its over. There has been progress in the macroeconomics narrative since the GFC, which accelerated during the pandemic. Governments have certainly expanded fiscal deficits and taken on more debt and the usual hysteria, which many of those same governments helped to ferment in the public debate, has fallen away. Obviously, for political reasons, a government that has previously been terrorising the population about the dangers of deficits and rising debt as a cover for ideologically-driven austerity programs, has no incentive in continuing those narratives while they have been dragged into maintaining capitalism on life support. The question has been whether these narratives will return once the health emergency starts to fade a little. There is clear evidence

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Australia – wages growth remains flat with no household consumption boom in sight

21 days ago

On Wednesday last week (May 19, 2021), the ABS released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the March-quarter 2021. The WPI data shows that nominal wages growth remains suppressed and workers were able to glean only the most marginal real improvement in purchasing power. Public sector workers endured real wage cuts. The public sector is clearly not demonstrating leadership with their ridiculous wage freezes and wage caps stifling wages growth not only in the public sector but also via the spillover effects to the private sector. Most sectors went backwards in real terms and it was only the annual minimum wage adjustment that saw gains in some sectors – militating against any narrative that suggests that the market is driving inflationary pressures. Not even close.

The summary

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The Weekend Quiz – May 22-23, 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:

Assume inflation is stable, there is excess productive capacity, and the central bank maintains its current monetary policy setting. It is then true that if government spending increases by $X dollars and private investment and exports are unchanged then nominal income will continue growing until the sum of taxation revenue, import spending and

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The Weekend Quiz – May 22-23, 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. Assume inflation is stable, there is excess productive capacity, and the central bank maintains its current monetary policy setting. It is then true that if government spending increases by $X dollars and private investment and exports are unchanged then nominal income will continue growing until the sum of taxation revenue, import spending and household saving rises by $X dollars.TrueFalseMaybe2. The crucial difference between a monetary system based on the gold standard world and a fiat currency monetary is:that under the former system,

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Australian labour market goes backwards in April

25 days ago

Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the March-quarter 2021, which showed that wages growth remains low in Australia. I will analyse that next week separately because there are some interesting policy principles involved. Today, the ABS put out the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for April 2021 and while unemployment fell by 0.3 points, this was all down to the decline in participation as employment plunged by 30,600. Unemployment rate would have been 70.3 thousand higher had not the participation rate fallen (that is the rise in hidden unemployment) and the unemployment rate would have been 6 per cent rather than the official 5.5 per cent. Monthly hours of work declined by 13 million hours (0.7 per cent). The design of

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Right becomes Left for Paul Krugman

26 days ago

It is Wednesday and I am catching up on other things. But In a rather extraordinary article (May 16, 2021) – Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains why he’s more left-wing than the Modern Monetary Theory crowd – we learn about hubris. I provide some brief commentary on that claim before chilling out to some great post minimalist music.

Hubris personified
Paul Krugman, the arch-type New Keynesian, seems to continually be seeking attention as someone that is ahead of the curve.
His record of analysis and prediction drawing on that analysis is pretty poor and I started becoming aware of that in the 1990s when he embarassed himself with his recommendations to the Japanese government as they struggled with their commercial property collapse.
Please read my blog post – Balance

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Further evidence the government should and can be doing more to help the most vulnerable

28 days ago

I am tied up most of today in Sydney and so am handing over the blog responsibilities to our regular guest blogger, 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 the impact the Australian Government’s COVID income supplement has had on financial stress and the need for continued support for our mot vulnerable households. Over to Scott who shows clearly that the persistence of poverty is a government choice …

New data … further evidence the government should and can be doing more to help the most vulnerable
In several of my previous blog entries here (go to guest blogger category to trace them) I’ve written about the issues of poverty and disadvantage in support of our Just, Urgent and

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The inflation mania is growing – but manias are manias

28 days ago

The other day I gave a talk to the ‘investment’ community in Melbourne and they wanted to talk a lot about inflation, which seems to be their foremost concern at the moment. Tomorrow, I am giving a similar presentation in Sydney and I expect a similar line of questioning. Think about it. Wages growth is projected to be so low over the next several years that real wages will decline for at least 3 to 4 years. The Output gaps are still significant and were significant even before the pandemic. Households were already cutting back consumption spending growth, given record levels of indebtedness and no prospect of wages growth. Where pray tell are the inflationary pressures going to come from? I also keep reading of similar fears from economists and central bankers. The latest I saw came from

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The Weekend Quiz – May 15-16, 2021 – answers and discussion

May 15, 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

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The Weekend Quiz – May 15-16, 2021

May 14, 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 sovereign national government can run a balanced fiscal position over the economic cycle (peak to peak) as long as it accepts that after all the spending adjustments are exhausted that the private domestic balance will only be in surplus if the external balance is in surplus when averaged out over the same cycle.TrueFalse2. An understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) allows us to understand that mass unemployment can arise if the growth in real wages are excessive.TrueFalse3. Only one of the following statements is definitely true when you

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Central bank writes off government currency transfer

May 13, 2021

Today, I am treating as Wednesday, given I wrote an extended treatment of the Australian government’s fiscal statement yesterday and I reserve Wednesday’s for other writing commitments. So just a few things today but including a really interesting piece of news. Some music to follow for those who seem to like what I come up with on Wednesdays. But the interesting snippet is from a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean that might just be showing the world how central banks and treasuries should interact.

Central Bank of Mauritius wipes off government currency transfer
On May 16, 2020, the Government Gazette of Mauritius No. 57 notified us of a new piece of legislation that would go before the parliament in that nation.
THE COVID-19 (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT 2020 – proposed

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Australian government fiscal statement 2021-22 – a largely missed opportunity

May 12, 2021

Last night, the Federal Treasurer released the annual ‘fiscal statement’ (aka ‘The Budget’) and everyone is jumping up and down at the size of the spending proposed. Yes, the deficit and debt hysteria has been abandoned for the time being – but only because this is an election year (presumably). This is an announcement government (with little action) and the actual bigger spending initiatives are not next year but in the hazy forward years which means we can largely disregard them. Further, what most commentators are ignoring is that the Government is proposing a record fiscal contraction next year (2021-22) and is relying on (unrealistic) growth in household consumption expenditure over a period they project real wages will fall. If their projections are to be believed then household debt

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Australian labour market struggling with significant sectoral disparities

May 11, 2021

Tonight, the Federal Treasurer releases the annual ‘fiscal statement’ (aka ‘The Budget’) and we already know that the Government is now in a period of fiscal contraction despite all the big expenditure numbers being touted in the press. I will write more about that tomorrow. But it is now 6 weeks since the Government abandoned the JobKeeper wage subsidy program and today’s ABS release of the – Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 24 April 2021 – might give us some guidance as to the impact of the fiscal withdrawal in terms of job loss. The problem though is that the period in question was also a school holiday period, which confounds things somewhat. Suffice to say that the labour market is definitely not booming. It has gone backwards since the end of March but how much

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US labour market goes backwards with mixed signals – but significant slack remains

May 9, 2021

Last Friday (May 7, 2021), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – April 2021 – which showed that the recovery since the catastrophic labour market collapse in March and April 2020, has substantially slowed after signs in March that the revovery was accelerating. The change in payroll employment fell from 770 thousand in March 2021 to a miserly 266 thousand and unemployment edged up slightly to 6.1 per cent. The broader labour wastage captured by the BLS U6 measure fell by 0.4 points to 10.7 per cent. The US labour market is still 8,215 thousand jobs short from where it was at the end of February 2020 and the unemployment to job openings ratio also suggests significant slack remains.

Overview for April 2021:

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