Published on October 15, 2014
1. FISCAL AND MONETARY POLICY WITH A SOVEREIGN CURRENCY L. Randall Wray, Levy Institute and UMKC firstname.lastname@example.org www.levy.org Blogs: Great Leap Forward www.economonitor.com/lrwray/ NEP neweconomicperspectives.org/
2. WHAT ARE THE MONETARY CONSTRAINTS TO SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY OF EMPLOYMENT? • Fed has done “all it can do”. $29 Trillion and counting. (Agreed: more than it should have done!) • Now up to Fiscal Policy. • But Uncle Sam is Broke!
3. Fiscal Constraints • Economists: Unsustainable debt path! • 70% of Americans say progress on Deficit needed • Chinese might stop lending to us! • Zimbabwe and Weimar hyperinflation! • Burden our grandkids! • Look at Euroland! • Sovereign debt crisis • Default risk • Bond vigilantes
4. But Is that True? • “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain • Is there evidence of run-away, Weimar/Zimbabwe Deficit Spending? • Is debt at historic high? • Is govt spending out of control? • Have we hocked ourselves to China? • Does debt burden our grandkids? • Will Entitlements bankrupt our grandkids?
5. Alternative: what is money •It is a State monopoly •State money of acct •Money things; hierarchy of IOUs-- Denominated in the state money of acct
6. Minsky and Modern Money • “Anyone can create money, the problem lies in getting it accepted.” • “The need to pay taxes means that people work and produce in order to get that in which taxes can be paid”. • State chooses money of account, imposes obligation denominated in that unit, issues currency denominated in that unit, and accepts its own currency in payment of the obligations.
7. We Cannot Run Out of Money Uncle Sam’s Money Tree The possible consequences are: • Over-Full Employment of Resources • Inflation
8. Reaction to MMT • Federal government spends through keystrokes that credit bank accounts so it can afford anything for sale in dollars. • The reaction typically goes through four stages: • 1. Incredulity: That’s Crazy! • 2. Fear: Zimbabwe! Weimar! • 3. Moral Indignation: You’d destroy our economy! • 4. Anger: You’re a Dirty Pinko Commie Fascist!
9. Chairman Bernanke: Keystrokes • As Chairman Bernanke explained on 60 Minutes in 2009: • (PELLEY): Is that tax money that the Fed is spending? • (BERNANKE): It’s not tax money. [W]e simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account.
10. St. Louis Fed "As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational. Moreover, there will always be a market for U.S. government debt at home because the U.S. government has the only means of creating risk-free dollar-denominated assets.“ Government can NEVER run out of Dollars; It can NEVER be forced to default; It can NEVER be forced to miss a payment; It is NEVER subject to whims of “bond vigilantes”.
11. How to Reconcile "I think there is an element of truth in the superstition that the budget must be balanced at all times. Once it is debunked [that] takes away one of the bulwarks that every society must have against expenditure out of control. There must be discipline in the allocation of resources or you will have anarchistic chaos and inefficiency. And one of the functions of old fashioned religion was to scare people by sometimes what might be regarded as myths into behaving in a way that the long-run civilized life requires.” (Paul Samuelson) Necessity of balancing the budget is a myth, a superstition, the equivalent of that old-time religion. So what is the truth? If economics is to rise above superstition, we need to know.
12. A Simple Model of Money: Single Bank This is really hard! The bank cannot run out!
13. Simple Model: Multiple Banks The CB can’t run out!
14. Simple Model: Sovereign Currency Issuer Spends Taxes The sovereign can’t run out!
15. Sovereign Currency w/CB and Banks Taxpayer Contractor Sovereign’s bank Cannot run out
16. Why Don’t Economists Get This? • It was more transparent when Treasury “raised a Tally” • Operational constraints on modern Central Banks • Economists don’t understand banks! • And don’t want to let the cat out of the bag
17. Govt Spends First, Then Collects Taxes • The BofE issues its notes to merchants upon bills of exchange… The advances to government are conducted in the same manner, the amount to be advanced is placed to the credit of the treasury, or of the particular department for which it is destined, and the officers in that department draw for it, from time to time, as may be required. When the bills discounted, or the taxes on which the advances have been made, become due, then the notes which have been advanced are returned in payment. (T. Smith 1832) The BofE issues the notes that will be used to pay taxes in Redemption
18. Banks Advance Notes, Then Collect Them • This mode of issuing notes is not peculiar to the bank of England, it is followed by every respectable and well regulated bank…A bank discounts a bill of exchange…and gives its own notes, which are returned when the bill becomes due; but if, in the interim, these notes are presented, and gold demanded and received for them when the bill comes due, there will be no notes to retire it with…. [B]anks always hold securities for a larger amount than they have notes out. As they are not bound to take any thing except their own notes or specie; if they do not, or cannot, get the first, they must the last; and thus, not only the specie they have issued must revert to them, but, should they stop making fresh issues, a great deal more. • Banks issue the notes that debtors will use to make payments to the banks in Redemption
19. How Government Spends its Own Currency Today: Keystrokes • Spending credits • Government credits bank’s reserves; bank credits account of recipient • Taxes debits • Government debits bank’s reserves; bank debits account of taxpayer • Deficits net credits • Government net credits bank’s reserves; bank net credits account of recipient
20. Money as Scorekeeping
21. Self-imposed constraints • Budgeting, debt limits • Operational constraints: • Treasury writes checks on accounts at CB • CB prohibited from buying Treasury Debt new issues • Use of Special Depositories • Use of Tax and Loan accts
22. Modern Money: Fiscal Policy • Modern govt spends by crediting bank accounts, and reserves of those banks • Fed and special banks help facilitate process • Sovereign govt can “afford” to buy anything for sale in its currency • Taxes by debiting bank accts • Net creditsdeficitsnet financial assets • Govt does not, cannot “borrow” its own currency
23. Modern Money: monetary policy summary • Central bank sets overnight rate • Accommodates demand for reserves • Coordinates with Treas to supply/drain reserves
24. Policy Implications • Govt cannot go bankrupt in its own currency • Govt can always “afford” to buy anything for sale in its own currency • If there is unemp labor, govt can always hire it to put it to work—existence of unemp is ALWAYS a failure of policy • The only economic constraints govt faces are: full emp of resources, and inflation • Other constraints are political
25. Modern Money: What I did and did NOT say • I did say: Sovereign govt faces no financial constraints; cannot become insolvent in its own currency • But it can only buy what is for sale • I did NOT say that govt ought to buy everything for sale • Size of govt is a political decision with economic effects • I did NOT say that deficits cannot be inflationary: • Deficits that are too big can cause inflation • I did NOT say that deficits cannot affect exchange rates: • Sovereign govts let currency float; float means currency can go up and down
26. L. Randall Wray, Levy Institute and UMKC email@example.com www.levy.org Blogs: Great Leap Forward http://www.economonitor.com/lrwray/ NEP http://neweconomicperspectives.org/
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