Podcast: Play in new window
From living in Detroit, I can tell you exactly what happens when you disenfranchise entire generations-they simply give up. They lose hope and they pass this lack of hope on to their children. Detroit has been the canary in the coal mine-go ahead and blame the unions if you want. The cause of the lack of investment in the future is irrelevant to this conversation. What matters is the result of not investing in the future. When you don’t invest in the future, you do not only lose 1 generation. We are approaching a tipping point where the weight of the underclass has grown to the extent that the rich are beginning to wonder if it is worth carrying them anymore. Perhaps our leaders don’t care this time because they know the game is up due to peak oil. Maybe their goal is to ride this out as long as possible and accumulate what they can for as long as the party goes on. I think the leaders no longer believe that they can spend enough to really make a difference. There are simply too many people and not enough resources. It is a tragedy that we couldn’t have headed this off 50 years ago with better planning.
I found what you had to say very interesting; I think we have the same issues in Britain – only we are all squeezed together on this tiny Island, I think it could get ugly.
“…canary in the coal mine” – excellent way to put it. Boy, oh, boy…
Seventy years, I think. A that time the world had real good planners around. And they knew how to limit population growth.
Betting on Peak Oil? Global Warming?
TPTB can’t seem to get anything done political. Would it be unfeasible to think they might let the Economy do the job?
And doing it in a way that transfers the wealth upwards?
Good to see you joining the conversation, Anne.
I’m going a bit off topic here, but your comment, mentioning peak oil, reminded me of the video I’m going to attach here. And I also thought of you mentioning that you’re a dairy farmer. Do I have that correct, or no?
I apologize if I’m off on that, but in the event that you are a dairy farmer, I’d be curious to know if you’ve seen this video, and if so (or get a chance to view it for the first time), what do you think of it?
I am mainly a dairy farmer, but since we have more land than is necessary, we produce meat on the male calves and grow some barley and sometimes oatmeal.
We farm the ordinary way, quite energy-intensive. But the farm did quite well during WWII with the serious energy shortage then.
it’s too cold for anything to grow here in the winter, and mostly the fields are covered with snow. So we have to bring the grass to the cows.
what I am fearing more than energy-shortages is foreclosure on our debt and/ or the government regulations which demand ever new “investments” we have to get deeper into debt for.
the video was quite interesting, but England is like a garden compared to the marginal farming we can do.
I hope you get by. My guess on foreclosures is probably that the worst is behind us, this austerity ‘nonsense’ has almost run its course. So we will see all sorts of public works projects, tax breaks etc. Banks will then lend again and so on.
However somewhere, not too far, down the road we are going to hit the problems associated with limited energy availability and that is one we can’t print out of existence. Countries that have prepared will do relatively well. The economies of those that have not will crash. Could you run your farm if electricity and fuel was much more expensive or rationed? I would have difficulty if even there was regular blackouts.
Energy is probably the worst; there are problems with timber production, copper, lead, rare earths, etc. We may invent our way out of much of this but it is going to need a lot of work and investment and currently there seems little urgency.
The sooner we move to a system that measures the wealth of the country in terms of stock the better. So if you fell a forest you are poorer unless you replant. etc. Currently we are to some extent just plundering.
We need to think of our children. we are not important~! We are just regret of our lives.
We need to think, and secure our progeny. Then; we will truly have achieved.
You will hate me, but do we need them? What for?
The “tragedy of the commons” rears its head again.
The earth has limited resources, there is limited space for one species to expand and cause more damage to the environment. No other species claims the right to destroy forest, pollute waters, bung humongous amounts of poisons into the atmosphere.
The earth should be respected and, as the overbearing and burdensome species, we should curtail our blind greed to have more brats and build more cities and dig up fossils and burn them. But no! We all go on about “green” and “eco”, but on a personal level we are totally selfish.
The tragedy of the commons is in many ways not as much our problem as that of centralization of power. Of course we depleted resources too, but since we had to live with the consequences, we tried hard not to. Unwritten laws, peer pressure and survival are strong correctives. We owned the fruit of our work, and not much else.
Then alien powers came and enclosed much of the common land, to exploit for use elsewhere. Now the consequences are removed form the benefits, and tragedy follows.
But hey, what does it matter if we don’t plan to leave it to someone? We’d just stop having kids and no one will ever know….
Right up my street this one, and I am sure you know I am all about the Public sector spending big at the moment, especially with my interest in all things MMT/MMR…..
Looking forward to Linda’s comments on this one…!!!
( Sorry, no real questions tonight, it makes perfect sense from here…!!! )
I’m pretty tired now – we’ve been workin’ hard around here, ;-), and damn it, windslice has now helped me to realize I need to incorparate a few more key things along those lines (which I’m now turning to).
See, for example, this blog entry by Scott Fullwiler, taking up the blogosphere discussion between Krugman and Keen that occurred earlier this year, which I think will help me with getting a yet still clearer “picture” of bank lending and the public.
(I think I’m much more ready for this article now, after all the exercises many of us have been working our way through here, which I *know* has left me far better off in terms of this issue than I was a few days ago. And now, with windslice finally getting through to me that the clear waters I thought we had finally reached are, yes, clearer than before, but still muddier than is best, I think I’m well primed for Scott’s article.)
That said, I did very much appreciate this WEN featuring these posts by Martin Wolf.
I can only think, at the moment, via associations that come to mind. And one that very much comes to mind, having just watched it in full yesterday, is the video that emma posted here:
That video features Nicole Foss, Steve Keen, and Tom Greco on a panel (I guess from 2011).
And one of the things brought up (in trying to discern something about what the future holds) is what gave rise to Nazi Germany and WWII.
The panel talked about the germs of that occurring back at the end of WWI. Many of you probably know the history of the agreements being made then better than I do. But it rang all sorts of bells as the panel discussed the damage to Germany stemming from those arrangements.
You just can’t leave a population that dessimated and not expect them to formulate a very potent response, if the opportunity arises… It may take a very long time to come to fruition, but if the seeds are there…
As Keen said, by the time Hitler was emerging on the scene, the circumstances were ripe for some leader to scrap “moderate, responsible” spending expectations, which is exactly what Hitler did. He, of course, dramatically re-armed. And he let ‘er rip with spending in all sorts of ways, which brought the German economy virtually to the point of full employment.
And for a population that had been mired in despair (for reasons that had very little to do with anything they could do anything about)… well, it’s pretty natural to find that many of such a population could have fallen madly in love with a madman.
Unfortunately, in the “reasonable” climate of his day, it sometimes takes a madman (in the right position) to be willing to defy convention as radically as Germany needed to have happen.
Too bad (for the sake of so many), Hitler couldn’t be selectively “mad.”
Of course, the folks featured on the video emma pointed out talk about this far better than I can.
Keen cited Hitler’s success in transforming the German
economy after repudiating the Versailles Treaty terms for repayments.
Historian Stephen Zarlenga dedicates a full chapter in his
book (The Lost Science of Money) to everything from the Weimar hyper-inflation
through the Hitler-Schacht governmental finance of the incredible rebuilding of
the German economy.
But Hitler’s greatest monetary insights came from economist
Gottfried Feder, who was the advisor to the German Workers Party.
“”The basis of Feder’s ideas was that the state should
create and control its money supply through a nationalized central bank rather
than have it created by privately-owned banks, to whom interest would have to
be paid. From this view was derived the conclusion that ‘finance’ had enslaved
the population by usurping the nation’s control of money.””
Zarlenga goes on:
“”Feder’s views could easily have originated from the work
of German monetary theorists such as George Knapp, whose book ‘The State Theory
of Money’ is still one of the classics in the monetary area.
Right on Page 1, Knapp got it right : “Money is a creature
of law. A theory of money must therefore deal with legal history”.”” (Zarlenga)
Knapp called the legal invention of fiat money as ‘the most
important achievement of economic civilization’.
Citing the evolution of the German monetary school of
thought, which was based on the earlier American experiments, Zarlenga also
“”Thus, the ultimate source of Feder’s viewpoint may have
been the ideas of the American Greenback movement of the 1870s”.
Say the word.
For the Money System Common.
That is very interesting to me, Joe. Is that what happened? Hitler’s Germany went the full way of a nationalized bank debt-free currency issuance?
If it is, I could definitely see that as happening. I mean, Hitler was, of course, radicalized enough to break completely free of convention and run a monetary system in whatever way he was convinced would be the best way.
So, what happened after Hitler’s Germany in this regard? Was such a system completely dismantled and a different one instituted (or re-instituted)?
Now, if you told me at this point to go and read for myself about it, I’d understand, ;-).
But if you could provide any more information about it here (or point me to a nice video on the web about it, ;-)), I’d appreciate it, ;-). Perhaps you could create a separate post about it?
Or perhaps you could create separate posts about the monetary system you advocate?
It tends to get very hard for me to follow a discussion about the economy, including banking systems as a part of that economy, when, in a single thread, or discussion, folks have very different models in mind when discussing “the monetary system.”
So I think it would be easier for me, Joe, to consider the system you advocate as a topic of discussion in its own right. And under such a heading, I could see doing some clear compare and contrasts of different models (when that’s made clear is part of the purpose of the discussion).
It’s not that I mind learning about it, or hearing more about it (or other models, for that matter) – it’s just that the various models can become very “muddled” without some clear distinctions, maybe even some clear “space” provided for them, as a help in the discussions.
Does that make sense?
Technical question for Mystic.
Something new has happened for me in posting comments.
The spacing between paragraphs is not preserved for me.
I can use the “edit” function and go back in to a comment of mine to provide spacing, which, for whatever reason, *holds*.
I can see things have changed – there’s the rating system for comments, and the like. So it seems that, at least for me, this is also one of the changes that has occurred.
Perhaps it’s just a compatibility issue with my specific system…
Just a note: When originally writing this comment, I provided spacing inbetween paragraphs. (Another time, I even added extra spacing, thinking maybe that would help, but that didn’t “hold” either.)
I note that your next comment below is well spaced.
Have your `cracked it`, or are you still `spaced out`~?
All of my other comments are edited for spacing.
And I can continue to do that if I have to (now that I know that spacing “holds” the 2nd time around for me). I was just wondering if there’s a way that I won’t have to take that extra step.
Just as a personal aside:
Joe, it tends to get very hard for me to follow a discussion about the economy, including banking systems as a part of that economy, when, in a single thread, or discussion, folks have very different models in mind when discussing “the monetary system.”
So I think it would be easier for me, Joe, to consider the system you advocate as a topic of discussion in its own right. And under such a heading, I could see doing some clear compare and contrasts of different models (when that’s made clear as part of the purpose of the discussion).
It’s not that I mind learning about it, or hearing more about it (or other models, for that matter) – it’s just with the various models, now adding another model as you join the discussions, Joe, ;-), discussions become more “muddled” in my brain, ;-).
There had been maybe 2 models brought to the “sandbox” in several OTP economic discussions, whether expressly acknowledged as such or not – the more familiar neoclassical model and the MMT model. And I was beginning to be able to juggle between those two models kinda sorta OK when following discussions, but now, with a 3rd model involved in many of the discussions – whew!
But then, whoever thought much of a juggler who juggled less than three items? ;-) Maybe I just need to get used to several models potentially being brought to a discussion.
I could see posts from you that might include your video postings that you do elsewhere. I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t also include them here (for people to engage with or not engage with).
(By the way, just a general note, I think a lot of folks may read or listen to a post (or a comment), even though they may not engage in discussion about it.)
I am going to push some Joe stuff (this week-end for sure).
Yeah, I may remain primarily interested in MMT’s way of working with the current system, especially now that Keen seems interested in integrating some of their work in order to help form a “school of thought.”
But that, clearly, has its own great challenges – in advocating for a very different way to “see” the system we have; not to mention, some of the reforms to the system that they are interested in making; nor, some of their own radically different policy proposals than what we currently have in place.
So, as long as I have a way to see what Joe advocates in a way that I can distinguish as its own separate “model” – just so that the models are each clearer to me (especially as we add to our models in the “sandbox,” ;-)) – I’d definitely be interested in seeing Joe contribute more.
Of course – just my personal take… not that Joe needs any “take” from me at all, ;-).
I think when I was first learning about MMT, that in itself was such a huge change for me that I felt the need to stick just with that for a while, in order to get a better feel for it.
But now that I’m slowly but surely gaining a better “footing” with that, I am better able to “hear” more about still other alternatives to our current way of “seeing” and working with the economy (which, for better or worse, is necessary before important policy decisions, etc., are made).
I think another reason that I’m currently especially intrigued by MMT (and its current off-shoots; I’ve been spending a *bit* of time learning more about the recent break-away that Cullen Roche advocates, which they call Monetary Realism, or MR – I think)…
…is that I *am* interested in learning more about the system we currently have and the fact that it is, apparently, very different than most think it is.
I’m also very, *very* interested in Keen’s work because not only is he trying to help us to better “see” what we currently have via his explanations (particularly with the banking system)…
…but also because the modeling system he’s building, *The Minsky Project* — which can apparently be used even in introductory Econ classes, with just a few components, on up to most all the key components within a monetary system —
…will, I think, help by leaps and bounds to better demonstrate what these folks have been working so hard to do in a mostly verbal way.
Such a model can easily show how well or poorly it performs at modeling the real-world economy, which means, that with enough of a solid record behind it, it will be harder and harder to disregard what these folks have for so long been “going on about,” ;-).
This will be the `Joe angle` ….. not MMT.
Thanks for pushing this Nick.
I don’t think it is useful babbling about the future not having dabbled in the past.
Of course it is the government that has to spend to revive the economy. No one else can take the risk, or have the same impact. A bit of leadership needed. A statesman banging on with positive action and rhetoric would do a lot of good.
What matters though is on what and how they spend the money. If it improves the efficiency of the economy long term say with investing in renewables, or improving the nations assets, like planting forests to meet future demand or repairing and upgrading the building stock, encouraging investment then it is win win.
I remember once seeing a row of people cutting the grass with hand scissors and asked why no lawn mower. Was told that all but one would then be unemployed. Wrong way to spend public funds, and this sort of nonsense is not uncommon, but in less extreme forms.
Problem is I doubt if my own particular government has any idea where it is heading. Local politicians even worse. We are cursed with a political class that seem unable to rise to the challenge.
Of course, you make some excellent points.
May I ask where you are from, Alan?
Currently Co. Antrim
Surely in the past (i.e. the ‘golden era’ of economic growth) it was possible to borrow yr way out of debt as the odds were stacked in yr favour. Now, in a climate of zero or even negative growth, it is impossible to borrow and invest yr way out of debt as the positive investment opportunities simply arent there any more.
So William, as leader of your country, what would you do~?
I would lie to the people so they didnt lynch me
Exactly. You would lie, just like the rest of ‘em~!
Someone needs to do some truthin’.
(but first, will have to do some knowin’)
I wonder if there will still be yearly inflation (us dollar devaluing) during a deflationary (gdp shrinkage) period. If the dollar value continues to decrease, and there are no profitable places to invest money, what happens to the billions in personal accounts or trillions in businesses?
Can the price of gold go so high that people stop trusting “paper gold” and insist on instant redemption? What effect would it have on the commodities market if sellers were forced to do “full reserve accounting” for commodity transactions?
Sean. Please read through your own comment here (and try and see what a mess it is).
In the first bit I am sorting out my thoughts on money value vs usefulness. I have been trying to sort out “the end game” for people who acquire wealth on a large scale. I have not understood why someone would want to earn 20 million a year if they don’t spend it on their self or those they care about, and don’t put it back into the working economy.
In the second bit I am contemplating the paper market for goods vs in-your-hand goods. Is there a point where corruption of market values makes the real-world transactions look safer? Would the economy be worse off if people were not legally allowed to sell commodity futures?
It seems to me the ability to create an IOU for a set amount of goods, without having to actually possess those goods, is a blank check for value corruption. Am I wrong in this?
How is a commodity future’s price tied to the price of real goods? If the value of a future I hold goes up, who paid for that profit on my books?
To tell the truth Sean ….. I think you are running round like a chicken that has had its head cut off.
You’ve responded to my posts twice now, and not answered my questions in either one. I am confused as to how to take your responses. It does not seem condescending, but also doesn’t seem to have much info to point me towards more beneficial communication.
I understand that I lack comprehension of financial markets and instruments, but I was under the impression that exposing my ignorance and trying to work through it was the preferred method here.
You are running without a head, when you should be walking at best ….. probably just sitting and watching.
You are asking multiple high level questions, without first establishing a basic understanding.
That is, you are wasting your own time ….. but that does not oblige me to waste mine.
Is there a limit to how much government can spend?
Suppose that would also limit how much can be saved by the other sector.
This guy seems to be suggesting that the interest on government debt is a necessary tool to limit government spending.
This is from a UK freedom of information request to the Bank of England
9. why does the government have to borrow money WITH interest from private banks rather than just creating it and spending it where it is needed interest free?
“You appear to suggest that the government could create money interest-free and spend it “where it is needed”. If the government were to take such an approach, it would soon become inflationary. To understand why this would be the case, please consider where the government would draw the limit on what is “needed”? (There are always more hospitals, schools, roads, etc. that are needed.)Monetary history demonstrates that creating money as you suggest would result in high inflation (think, for instance, of the hyper-inflationary experiences of 1920s Weimar Germany or recently in Zimbabwe). So, instead, the Government borrows money, which it promises to repay. But those lending to the Government will only be willing to do so if the government has a credible debt policy and pays them interest on the debt”
All Central Banks have pretty much the same policy direction from their respective government legislation.
It is that the CB use its policy tools to seek the fullest possible employment of the willing and able population while at the same time maintaining the purchasing power of the currency – general price stability.
So, the answer as to when the government would cease to issue its debt-free money would be when everyone was working without general inflation.
To use Weimar or Zimbabwe as examples of government direct currency issue debt-free as sure to end in currency-inflation is first, to resort to an all paper money regime and second, to infer that ANY government CB in today’s modern monetary economy could INCREASE the money in circulation by MANY BILLIONS OF TIMES we now have IN ONE YEAR.
Perhaps HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS TIMES.
As did Zimbabwe and the Weimar’s private banks..
There is one reason why government must continue to borrow from private banks to pay its Bills.
The banks own the government.
And not the other way around.
For the Money System Common.
If the Government issued/ spent debt free money (quantitative easing, helicopter drop or whatever) into the economy, it would be inflationary, As this is outside the 5/5 bank asset/liability thing that Mystic was on about.
Am I on the right track?
It would depend on what the money was spent on…
The FOI answer could be translated as – “Government officials are very childish and will always get carried away”.
I don’t see that as an acceptable response~?
I need to think this through a bit more.
But I think that underlying a healthy economy there has to be a mix of production, mineral extraction and exports.
All the rest sits on top and takes a cut. The financial industry too. It is very unclear to me whether the financial industry generates wealth for the country or simply extracts a rent. I believe it is the latter,
Government expenditure is only useful when it enhances the productivity of the private sector.
I have a bit of difficulty wondering how government deficits will “fill the hole” left by private sector saving rather than spending. Government spending is funded by the taxes and issuing bonds. But the bonds are essentially mopping up the same money spent into the economy, unless the CB has ‘QE’d them.
I have an embryonic thought going on. It is somewhere along the lines that the problem is not sectoral balancing between the private and public sectors, but an imbalance in the private sector alone.
Through the accrual of capital to capital, too much wealth has accumulated in too few hands. This can be from small cases of “buy to let” landlords, sitting on their bums and extracting what they can, to the billionaires wielding far far more capital than they can ever hope to spend.
To solve this there needs to be a redistribution on a massive scale, so that for example the cost of housing/living does not put people into penury.
I don’t know what the exact figures are, but some 5% of the people own 90% of all the assets. If all that wealth was more fairly redistributed we could once again have a humming economy.
In Greece, Spain, UK, France, Germany there are immensely rich people. That is where we need to look for a bit of rebalancing.
If you read article number 2 (I think it was…..with the charts) ….. you will see that there is a money-go-round and the most vital link is `industry`. Industry must be confident to invest in the future. It almost boils down to `when they do invest, all is well`.
Chicken and the egg.
We used to have loads of chickens laying eggs.
Now there are no more eggs.
The cycle is broken.
But I think it is more fundamental.
in order for the eggs to be laid, there has to be a profitable environment. The environment has to come from the government, but they have stifled the one we used to have through laws and taxes in order to “serve the public” but ended up “serving themselves”.
Perhaps they did.
It will be very complicated to sort the good from the bad, because no one can really know which is which…..and the world has actually changed to adopt the new regulations etc.
`Going backwards` is not a practical option~!?
With regards wealth, so much depends on what we view as our wealth. It is as hard to come to terms with as any discussion on financial systems. How do you value sitting by a river and watching the flora and fauna. If you were offered millions would you be richer if as a result it were destroyed?
We all appreciate the different values that people put on stuff and experiences.
But none of that helps with the discussions we have around here, where hard numbers, poverty, financial wealth, economic analysis are much more important.
In the context of sitting by a river and watching the pollution float by,
Who is paying for somebody to sit there and make no contribution to the economy whatsoever? Who feeds them? Where do they take shelter and clothes and who pays for it?
Why should some bugger be able to afford to do that, but at the same time another poor sod has to look out on a slum and beg for the stale bread?
But you have a valid point.
Surely once somebody can afford to sit by the nice river and watch the birds, bees and trees swaying in the breeze, why the fuck can’t they give the rest away to those that cannot?
Visions of Metropolis.
Your original pondering on the financial industry generating wealth for the country. It enables trade and investment. It may not directly create wealth, but without it the wealth may not be created. Beyond that I doubt if it serves any useful purpose whatsoever. If it earns commission from activity abroad then for the country
receiving gains wealth, but elsewhere someone loses.
The point I was trying to make was ‘what is wealth’ and not who has it. It is more than money. What we value and prioritise is of greater importance than book keeping.
I share your angst about the distribution of wealth and the inequality of opportunity, but in all of human history there is a class that works, ekes out a living, and dies in wars, and another that is basically parasitic.
Changing the way money is created will not change that inequality.
In the future how we measure the economic well being of any country may well be very different from how we currently do it especially if we regard resource availability as finite. Say we dam that river for Hydro, do we lose fish stocks, irrigation, alluvial deposits, or willow production down stream, what ancillary gains from the dam? There is not just gains, but potential loses and currently we tend to ignore the loses.