Saturday Quiz – September 18, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Australian labour market – when is a boom a boom?

The national ABC news carried the headline – Unemployment slashed by jobs boom after the ABS released the Labour Force data for August 2010. While the net employment change was more than the market economists predicted (why would that surprise anyone given their tendency to continually get it wrong) I would hardly call the outcome a jobs boom. Further, the broader indicators of labour underutilisation deteriorated in the August quarter of 2010 with underemployment rising by 0.4 percent. There are 12.5 per cent of workers (at least) idle in one way or another (unemployed or underemployed). The fact that our teenagers continue to experience negative employment growth is also telling. While the bank economists have hailed today’s figures as indicative of “very strong across the board” performance and are whipping up the inflation bogey, the reality is different. We continue to waste a huge amount of our potential capacity and there are no inflationary pressures coming from the labour market at present.

Read more

Australia continues to grow but the signs are not all good

Well its officially Spring in Australia and today in Newcastle it is a very warm 23 degrees (warm for this time of year) and it looks like being a long hot (beautiful) summer. The statistics world is looking very bright today as well with the release by the Australian Bureau Statistics of the National Accounts data for the June quarter. The media are today beating up a story about the Goldilocks economy which on first glimpse is a reasonable conclusion. But given that growth has been driven by rising personal consumption and falling saving when household debt remains at dangerous levels, and export growth which is mostly due to terms of trade effects which will not last for much longer and government fiscal stimulus spending which is now being withdrawn something has to happen to private investment soon for the growth to endure. Further, if you take the government contribution out over the last year then things look very sick indeed. The fiscal intervention definitely kept the Australian economy afloat over the last year although that impact is now waning significantly.

Read more

There is no solvency issue for a sovereign government

Yesterday, I indicated that I would provide some commentary on the latest Morgan Stanley briefing (August 25, 2010) – Sovereign Subjects – which received a lot of press coverage in the last few days and roused the interest of many of my readers. I cannot link to it as it is copyrighted. But the MS document is another example of how you can spread nonsense by ignoring the elephant that is sitting in the corner of the room. The MS briefing is essentially a self-aggrandising rant which perpetuates the standard neo-liberal myths and offers nothing new. I sincerely hope that the author’s company and all of their clients take his advice and lose significant amounts of their investment funds. The more losses are made in this respect the more quickly people will see through the cant that is served up by these clowns.

Read more

Saturday Quiz – August 14, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Saturday Quiz – July 31, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Where are the gold bugs, Austrians and deficit terrorists?

On July 20, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) published the Minutes of its last board meeting (July 6, 2010). This caused headlines for the day – the journalists must have been bored that day – because it raised the possibility that the RBA would increase interest rates in August – right in the middle of an election campaign (the federal election is late August). The bank economists as usual predicted rising rates and significant spikes in the inflation rate. Well today the the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the Consumer Price Index, Australia data for the June quarter and it showed that inflation is moderate and falling. The market economists were “surprised”. I wonder if their organisations have any money dependent on the judgement of their economists? I wouldn’t bet a cent on the basis of their opinions. They continually make false predictions on the outcomes of all the major data releases – always claiming that the economy is overheating and that fiscal support has to be withdrawn. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Read more

Defunct but still dominant and dangerous

I am reserving Friday’s for no blog, short blog or normal blog depending on whether I can do other things and keep my weekend’s free of blog activity. In general I will use Friday’s to put a Quiz up for Saturday and prepare the Answers and Discussion for Sunday. If I have some “blog” time left and there is something interesting to write about then I will post it – like today. There was an interesting article in the UK Guardian (July 21, 2010) by Robert Skidelsky who was the biographer of John Maynard Keynes. The article – What do deficit slashers wear under their hair shirts? – probes the “assumptions made by the economists who demand rapid ‘fiscal consolidation'”. I thought that was interesting given that most of the published justifications for austerity rather vaguely invoke failed economic theories like Ricardian Equivalence and Rational Expectations. Skidelsky’s point is that these defunct macroeconomic doctrines which got us into this mess are now resurfacing as the dominant narrative. That spells disaster.

Read more

Saturday Quiz – July 17, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Labour market – just marking time

Today the ABS released the Labour Force data for June 2010 which show that the unemployment rate is stable at 5.1 per cent (last month was revised down to 5.1 per cent) with virtually no change in the number of jobless. While employment growth is remains positive it is just keeping pace with the growth in the labour force. Further, the recent trend towards full-time employment growth has moderated and part-time growth dominated this month’s employment gains. As a result, aggregate hours worked fell in June which suggests that underemployment will have risen slightly. But a positive note is the reversal in the falling participation rate. While the bank economists have hailed today’s figures as indicative of an economy “near full capacity”, the reality is that the data is consistent with a broad array of statistics showing the Australian economy is slowing as the effects of the fiscal stimulus dissipate and and private spending remains subdued.

Read more

Something is seriously wrong

The Toronto G-20 leaders’ meeting is being held this weekend (June 26-27, 2010) and one expects it will endorse the position taken at the recent G-20 annual Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in South Korea. The communiqué released from that meeting illustrates how influential the deficit terrorists have become. At the Pittsburgh meeting of the G-20 leaders in September 2009 the communiqué talked about the sufficiency and quality of jobs. Six months later they had abandoned that call and are now preaching higher unemployment and increased poverty via austerity packages imposed on fragile communities. This is in the context of dramatic increases in global poverty rates in 2009 due to income losses associated with entrenched unemployment. Then I note that the recently released 2010 World Wealth Report shows that the world’s rich got richer during the 2009 recession. The only reasonable conclusion is that something is seriously wrong in the world we have constructed.

Read more

Saturday Quiz – May 15, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Life in Europe – another day, another (futile) bailout

Last Wednesday (May 5, 2010) I wrote that Bailouts will not save the Eurozone in response to the miserable plan put forward to take the Greek government out of the bond markets for a period. Yesterday they announced a major ramping up of the credit line they are offering which is more characteristic of a fiscal rescue than anything else. However, it amounts to the blind leading the blind. The euro funds to finance the credit line are coming from the same countries that are in trouble. There are no new net financial euro assets entering the system as a consequence of this €750bn bailout plan and, ultimately, that is what is required to ease the recession and restore growth. The restoration of growth will also ease their budget issues. But this is Europe we are talking about. Despite the nice cars and bicycles they make, they are not a very decisive lot and their institutional structures are hamstrung by an arrogant sclerosis that pervades their polity and corporate world.

Read more

Protect your workers for the sake of the nation

I am currently researching the way in which the labour market functions to discipline the inflationary process has fundamentally changed over the last 20 years as underemployment has risen. I will have more to say on that at another time as the work advances. But today it led me into considering research that demonstrates that different employment protection (higher dismissal costs etc) standards across the EMU have been instrumental in explaining the differentials in unemployment that are now evident. So nations with more protection have fared better in the crisis than nations which more vigorously pursued the neo-liberal flexibility agenda (that is, creating rising proportions of precarious employment). This type of research puts the debate now raging in the Eurozone that nations have to adjust by drastically cutting wages and conditions into a different light.

Read more

Not the EMF … anything but the EMF!

What is it about Europeans? Historically, they seem to want to invade each other with regularity with mass carnage the result and sometimes some border re-alignments. They are happy when there is a freezing cold white-out (or do they just say that to avoid acknowledging it is better in the sun by the beach). When they do get to the beach – it is always at some tacky crowded place and they end up looking like cooked lobsters. They love Eurovision pop and … soccer. Need I go on? And then they decide to lumber themselves with a poorly conceived and shockingly designed common currency arrangement that hasn’t a hope of delivering sustained prosperity to all member states and continually requires damaging deflations and reductions in living standards when external crises hit. But then ….

Read more

Saturday Quiz – March 6, 2010 – answers and discussion

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 macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

Read more

Bond markets require larger budget deficits

Today I have been reading all the documentation surrounding the proposals issued by the Bank of International Settlements to reform the regulatory system for international banking. These considerations then took me to an interesting paper from Deutsche Bank where they refute (albeit unintentionally) much of the media hysteria about exploding government bond yields and bond markets “closing governments down” because their deficits are “ballooning out of control”. In fact, the DB Report shows categorically that within the new regulatory framework that the BIS (and hence the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will introduce), there is scope for larger budget deficits. In terms of the state of the Australian labour market and the very slow growth that the world economy will experience in the coming years, a further stimulus package is necessary. The DB Report implies that the bond markets would welcome it. Curious?

Read more

Barnaby, better to walk before we run

Today I have been thinking about the macroeconomics textbook that Randy Wray and I are writing at present. We hope to complete it in the coming year. I also get many E-mails from readers expressing confusion with some of the basic national income concepts that underpin modern monetary theory (MMT). In recent days in the comments area, we have seen elaborate examples from utopia/dystopia which while interesting fail the basic national income tests of stock-flow consistency. Most of the logic used by deficit terrorists to underscore their demands for fiscal austerity are also based on a failure to understand these fundamental principles. So once again I provide a simple model to help us organise our thoughts and to delve into the elemental concepts. It is clear that in order to come to terms with more complicated aspects of MMT, one has to “walk before they can run”. So its back home today.

Read more

On human bondage

Today I have been thinking how extraordinarily stupid human beings are. The so-called Club Med Eurozone nations are being fast tracked into a crisis by a pernicious concoction of corrupt and lazy ratings agencies, Northern European truculence, and a ridiculous monetary system that provides no fiscal support within what is really a federal system. And as the ailing governments boldly and stupidly declare a willingness to play ball with the Brussels-Frankfurt consensus bullies there are signs that social order is beginning to break down. Then I read that an American city is turning its lights off at night to save money. Then I read some goon telling everyone to short US bonds because there will be a debt meltdown. And all of this stuff stems from unnecessary constructions and constraints that we have placed on systems that should be geared to advancing general welfare.

Read more

The latest WMD – public deficits!

Person the life-boats! Get the hard hats out! Strife and pestilence is coming! I am wondering what all these loons – the deficit terrorists – who are now elevating a simple endogenous fiscal balance into a national emergency – will say in a few years when growth returns, unemployment falls, people start rebuilding their savings and most importantly their children do not go into slave camps making widgets to send back to the previous generation to pay for the fiscal balances and … the sky stays firmly above our heads although it does rain occasionally down on us to help farmers grow vegetables. What will these hysterical idiots say then? Today, the budget deficit has become the latest WMD. A seek and destroy mission is required. Bring out the military and attack treasury offices everywhere. Rally patriots the hour of calling is nigh?

Read more
Back To Top