The seven biggest American depressions or downturns going back years, she said, were all preceded by government surpluses. What she disagrees with is the reason given. In her view, deficits are not a sign of excessive spending or necessarily a forerunner of inflation. But she argues that it is much more likely that deficits are too small, depriving the economy of critical investments.
The best way to stabilize the economy and ensure full employment and a humming economy, she said, is to have the federal government guarantee every American a job. The notion that surpluses could cause economic downturns flips conventional thinking. Hatzius of Goldman Sachs. In his view, giant private-sector deficits are much more alarming than public-sector ones because households and companies are at much greater risk of losing access to credit in a downturn.
McCulley, now retired from Pimco, used the same kind of analysis to guide his investing decisions after the financial crisis. He figured the only way that private borrowers could shrink their vast storehouse of debt was to have the government buy up those assets. He was unconcerned that the federal deficit would balloon as a result. That is why the firm invested heavily, for example, in the federally guaranteed mortgage-backed securities that most other firms were shedding. Koo of Nomura has further developed the idea of sectoral balances to explain the most recent wave of recessions and argue for larger government deficits.
And as long as the government invests in projects that produce an economic return greater than the yield on year Treasury notes — currently about 2. Without any specific reference to M. A couple of M. Warren Mosler , a hedge-fund mogul who resides in low-tax St. Croix, helped bankroll some of the work at those schools, donating money for student scholarships and conferences.
Mosler developed some of the ideas underlying M. He is used to doubters. Croix in a pair of shorts be right? Ron Biscardi, chief executive of the investment firm Context Capital Partners, was one of those persuaded by the guy in shorts. When he read Mr.
The Econocracy: The Perils of Leaving Economics to the Experts
Kelton as a speaker. Biscardi described himself as a libertarian and conservative. To him, modern monetary theory means not only more government spending on infrastructure, but also lower taxes on the wealthy. To many mainstream economists , though, M. From this perspective, M.
Full list of essays included in the book
For most of her career, Stephanie Kelton was accustomed to being ridiculed. It started in grad school. At Cambridge University in the late s, she signed up for an economics course taught by Willem Buiter, who later became the chief economist at Citigroup. When she asked a question about money in a particular model, he turned, red-faced with fury, and unloaded on her. The words obviously left an impression.
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But it seems the world has. Pod Save America and Financial Times want her on their podcasts. After that, the House of Lords in London.
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Everybody wants a piece of Kelton these days because a simple, radical idea she has been workshopping her entire career is the next big thing in Democratic Party politics. The serious concern is inflation, and a job guarantee would revolutionize the way the United States manages the value of the dollar, forcing the Federal Reserve to stop creating unemployment when it wants to keep prices down. Politicians like the job guarantee for a simpler reason: Everybody gets a decent job. The idea is getting traction in the Senate.
Even supercentrist Cory Booker has signed off on a pilot version. The Center for American Progress, a leading Democratic think tank, is subtly trying to take credit for the concept while watering it down. It is instead a story about power and political legitimacy, about the way public officials use economists to block or advance social change and about how economists build credibility by circulating through the cocktail parties, expense-account dinners and conference rooms of high finance.
A onetime college dropout at California State University in Sacramento, Kelton has managed to earn the esteem of both Sanders and an oddball clique of multimillionaire Wall Street traders. Even in hindsight, her journey through this heady milieu seems improbable, almost impossible. Five years ago, Kelton had a teaching position at the University of Missouri at Kansas City that was partly financed by Warren Mosler, a Wall Street veteran who lives in the Virgin Islands to keep his tax bill down.
His politics were flexible.
He calls himself a progressive today, but he started pitching his economic ideas to Donald Rumsfeld in the steam room of a racquetball club in the early s. Money is a tool governments use to manage these variables and solve social problems. It is not a scarce resource that governments have to track down in order to pay for projects.
Mosler figured this out by making enormous amounts of money placing big bets on deeply indebted governments. But influence does. And Mosler knew a lot of rich people from his days in high finance, including Maurice Samuels, who made millions for himself and Harvard University when he helped manage its endowment during the George W. Bush years. Samuels was MMT-friendly. He made a killing betting on the Italian lira in a Mosler-inspired trade in the s, and in , he talked another Wall Street alum, Andres Drobny, into hosting a dinner on MMT and suggested he invite Kelton to explain the doctrine.
Her father served in the military, and she spent her childhood roaming between Illinois, California and North Carolina. She left Cal State in when the pay at a local furniture store seemed enough to fulfill her modest ambitions. When she went back to school a couple of years later, she became fascinated by ideas that mainstream economists had long since abandoned.
Studying Keynesian economics was not a fast track to power and wealth in the s. At the time, even top Democrats in Washington considered Keynes little more than a curiosity from the Great Depression.
The Book in Three Sentences
The hot topics in the field were innovation, creative destruction and a future in which information technology rendered the political problems of the 20th century obsolete. When Drobny reached out to her, Kelton agreed to stop by the 21 Club in Manhattan to talk about MMT, expecting a small event with a few friends.
The 21 Club is not Crazy Beans. After a few deep breaths, Kelton started her talk. It was a hit. Her inbox was flooded with follow-up questions, including a note from BNP Paribas chief economist Julia Coronado requesting a private briefing. After all, Wall Street took her under its wing before Democrats took her seriously.
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In Washington, by contrast, being right rarely matters. A big part of any Washington economics job is providing a sense of scientific certainty to political judgments that are, by their very nature, uncertain. This is true for big policy changes as well as straightforward tasks like projecting growth rates and government revenue. The job, in other words, is to back up your team.
The choice, in short, is between the incomprehensible and the inconsequential. Their book is funny, well-written and iconoclastic and by far the best thing on management published this year. The authors argue that it is perfectly possible to run a business with consistently growing profits as they do without requiring employees to work madly long hours. Sleep-deprived managers are likely to be counterproductively impatient. Basecamp employees have a hour week, except in the summer when the company runs a four-day, hour week.
Those are the right sort of perks, say Messrs Fried and Heinemeier Hansson. The wrong kind, found in many offices, include free dinners, games rooms and snack bars, which are all devices to keep employees at the office for longer. Another criticism of corporate culture levelled by the book is that offices have become interruption factories. People are working longer and later because they cannot get stuff done at the office any more. At a conference attended by people, the authors asked how many had recently enjoyed hours of uninterrupted work; only 30 hands went up.
Open-plan offices are particularly bad at providing an environment for calm, creative work, they argue.
Conversations are kept to a whisper and there are separate rooms when meetings are needed. Meetings are avoided, especially those involving lots of people. Workers do not need to be kept abreast of every single corporate development via memos or all-staff emails. In their telling, made-up numbers function as a source of unnecessary stress until they are either achieved or abandoned.
Nor should workers demand that their colleagues deal with a query straight away.