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Money, fiscal policy, and interest rates: A critique of Modern Monetary Theory

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  • Thomas I. Palley

Abstract

This paper excavates the set of ideas known as modern monetary theory (MMT). The principal conclusion is that the macroeconomics of MMT is a restatement of elementary well-understood Keynesian macroeconomics. There is nothing new in MMT's construction of monetary macroeconomics that warrants the distinct nomenclature of MMT. Moreover, MMT over-simplifies the challenges of attaining non-inflationary full employment by ignoring the dilemmas posed by Phillips curve analysis; the dilemmas associated with maintaining real and financial sector stability; and the dilemmas confronting open economies. Its policy recommendations also rest on over-simplistic analysis that takes little account of political economy difficulties, and its interest rate policy recommendation would likely generate instability. At this time of high unemployment, when too many policymakers are being drawn toward mistaken fiscal austerity, MMT's polemic on behalf of expansionary fiscal policy is useful. However, that does not justify turning a blind eye to MMT's oversimplifications of macroeconomic theory and policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute in its series IMK Working Paper with number 109-2013.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imk:wpaper:109-2013

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Keywords: modern monetary theory; money financed budget deficits; fiscal policy;

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  1. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a simple stochastic macro model," Staff Studies 57, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, July.
  3. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  4. James Tobin, 1982. "Money and Finance in the Macro-Economic Process," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 613R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Blinder, Alan S. & Solow, Robert M., 1973. "Does fiscal policy matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 319-337.
  6. Louis-Philippe Rochon & Matias Vernengo & Louis-Philippe Rochon & Matias Vernengo, 2003. "State money and the real world: or chartalism and its discontents," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 57-67, October.
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