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What's Wrong With Modern Money Theory (MMT): A Critical Primer

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  • Thomas I. Palley

Abstract

Recently, there has been a burst of interest in modern money theory (MMT). The essential claim of MMT is sovereign currency issuing governments do not need taxes or bonds to finance government spending and are financially unconstrained. MMT rests on a triad of arguments concerning: (i) the macroeconomics of money financed budget deficits, (ii) the employer of last resort or job guarantee program, and (iii) the history of money. This primer analyzes that triad and shows each element involves suspect economic arguments. That leads MMT to underestimate the economic costs and exaggerate the capabilities of money financed fiscal policy. MMT's analytic shortcomings render it poor economics. However, its simplistic printing press economics is proving a popular political polemic, countering the equally simplistic and wrong-headed household economics of neoliberal austerity polemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas I. Palley, 2019. "What's Wrong With Modern Money Theory (MMT): A Critical Primer," FMM Working Paper 44-2019, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:imk:fmmpap:44-2019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mathew Forstater & Warren Mosler, 2005. "The Natural Rate of Interest Is Zero," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 535-542, June.
    2. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    3. Milton Friedman, 1961. "The Lag in Effect of Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 447-447.
    4. Eric Tymoigne & L. Randall Wray, 2015. "Modern Money Theory: A Reply to Palley," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 24-44, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Modern money theory (MMT); budget deficits; job guarantee program;

    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian; Modern Monetary Theory
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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