Tomorrow, I will consider the furore that has arisen in the last few days after the US Congressional Budget Office released its latest forecasts, which showed the US deficit will rise, and, because they still insist in matching the deficit with bond-issuance to feed the corporate welfare machine, public debt will also expand. With an on-going jobs gap and depressed labour force participation rate, the rising deficit if properly targetted would be desirable. The rising public debt is a negative but only as a result of its unnecessary corporate welfare dimension rather than any concerns about capacity to pay etc. But today, given it is Wednesday and a ‘blog light’ day for me now I have only one related observation to make, which will contextualise tomorrow’s more detailed discussion. For today though I am mostly engaged in revising the final manuscript of our new, upcoming Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) textbook after receiving edits from the publishers, Macmillan.
A short blog post today (Wednesday and all). I am working on the revisions to our Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) textbook that will be published by Macmillan-Palgrave in November 2018. We have all the editorial and external reviews available now and are working through the editorial process to complete the final version. Mostly clarifications and style issues. There will be a slight rearrangement of chapter order and emphasis but nothing major. In the meantime, some thoughts on UBI and some music for today. A more detailed blog post will come along tomorrow.
The blog is on holiday today (Easter Monday) and will return with Part 3 (and final) of my response to a German critic tomorrow (Tuesday, April 3, 2018). I have been travelling a lot today and decided to spend the rest of the free time on some writing and other things. You might want to spend your free time today playing the new Google – Where’s Wally? – game, which has some really nice drawings available. Go to Google maps and test yourself out. Music accompaniment if you click on …
It is Wednesday and just a brief comment on current affairs today. Tomorrow I will have Part 2 of my response to the German attack on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Nations more often and not claim to identify with a value system that is intended to bind the citizens together. It is a fine line between this and nationalism. The US for example, claims to be the land of the free, although that is a patently ridiculous thing to hold out given the nature of its society. Australia has long traded on the claim that it elevates sportspersonship, fairness, honesty above all else. In a sports’ obsessed nation, we hold ourselves out to be ‘fair but tough’. We play very hard – competitively – but honour sporting traditions. At times, this claim is at the sanctimonious extremes and we regularly criticise other sporting nations for what we perceive to be rule breaking – even rule stretching doesn’t escape our ‘holier than thou’ media and commentators. That myth has now been exposed. In fact, our most elevated national team – the Australian cricket team – has demonstrated that it stoops to deliberately conceived cheating (not spur of the moment) in order to win. And now these revelations are obvious, the national scandal that has followed, reveals how out of touch we have become with what has happened to our Society in this neoliberal era.
I am back on my regular pattern which means there will be no detailed Wednesday blog – just some snippets if anything. This morning, I did a radio interview on the national broadcaster (ABC) about the growing spread of unpaid work experience. It was clear the interviewer thought that work experience was a good thing. I indicated that it was a creeping disease that has become part of the neoliberal agenda to erode the rights of workers. In Australia, this disease has morphed into a cost-shifting exercise where employers have pushed their responsibility to train their workforces onto the public education system and are now demanding payment from students to allow them to undertake so-called ‘work experience’. Increasingly, this practice is become built-into educational programs, which compromises the quality of the education. But while it is dressed up in mighty descriptions such as ‘preparing our youth for an exciting future’ it amounts to nothing more than unpaid work. The latest iteration is that now people pay to work for free. Our trade unions are largely silent on this scandal.
Thursday is my last day in Helsinki and I have a lot of travelling to do later in the afternoon after I finish teaching. So I am posting this in the early hours of Thursday (Oz time), even though I am still in Helsinki. The new Post Graduate program in Global Political Economy, which we have launched at the University of Helsinki is a great development. I have been conducting lectures in a subject – From Modern Money Theory to Global Political Economy and Revival of Classical Political Economy. The class is largely made up of non-economics students and so the challenge has been to develop a set of conceptual and analytical tools fairly quickly and apply them to the major debates of the day. I think the time I have spent working out how to do that will be of great use when we launch programs under the MMT University banner later in the year. After my trip to Barcelona last weekend, we are hoping to introduce a similar type of course into the University there as part of an expanding network where students will be able to learn the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and apply them to real world problems. More later on other developments.
I am now in Europe (just) and will be here for the next two weeks. Next weekend, I will be speaking at some events in Barcelona and I will circulate details when I know more. This week I am giving three lectures at the University of Helsinki as part of a new postgraduate course they are offering. Tomorrow through Thursday, I will publish a three-part blog post series on The New Keynesian fiscal rules that mislead British Labour. I am examining the input from the academy that has clearly influenced decisions taken by the British Labour Party leadership in recent years. It is influence that they should have ignored. The fundamental principles that underpin the New Keynesian approach to macroeconomics do not form a suitable basis for a progressive socio-economic policy agenda. While that approach concedes that in the short-run fiscal policy can be used to ‘stabilise’ a recessionary situation, the overall advice is that austerity then has to be imposed to ‘smooth’ tax burdens on future generations and minimise public debt. The tax burdens arise because they claim taxes fund government spending and the public debt oscillations arise because they claim the government relies on debt issuance to fund the deficits that are required to meet short-term emergencies (war, recession etc). It is a jumble of gobbledygook hiding behind the precision of some simple mathematics. The latter, though, while held out as a rigourous ‘authority’ to back up the policy claims, is, in fact, incapable of providing definitive determinations of what is best for Society. It is an elaborate sham my profession inflicts on the debate. Anyway, a three-part series is coming up.
It is Wednesday, so only a few snippets only today, while I am working on six lectures I have to give in Helsinki over the next two weeks. The first of those lectures will be a public event. And looking at the weather I am about to undergo around a 45 degree Celsius turnaround from where I am today in Australia to where I will be next week! That is what happens when you go to Finland in the early part of the year. Anyway, here are some items of interest I hope.
It is Wednesday, so only a snippet of a blog about a few things that caught my interest recently. Words have meaning and concepts have meaning. That is, until you are a social democratic politician in Europe. Then meaning goes out the window as does mission – unless the mission is power at all costs. Social democratic values and views do not resemble neoliberal economic or right-wing social agendas at all. Yet in the hurly burly of European and British politics that is what has been happening. Across three nations (Sweden, Germany and Britain) we have seen this trend in the last few days. The claim is that it is clever politics to shift into the ‘centre’ and take back voters from the conservatives. The problem is that the centre moved significantly to the right over this neoliberal era. Now we have so-called progressive politicians who three decades ago would have looked like conservative right-wingers. It is not clever politics at all. They just lock themselves into positions that make it very hard to pursue true progressive policies. Meanwhile, the people they claim to care about are forced to endure damaging economic policies. Stupid all round.
This is my Wednesday no blog day. I am working on various written pieces today. But I did stray on some anti-Brexit material overnight (thanks to all who sent it through), which shows how far the British Labour Party has to go before they can even pretend to be a progressive voice in politics. They are sounding very much like a European social democrat/socialist party on this issue and we know what happened to that lot across various elections over the last year. I have a few words to say about that in what follows.