Monetarism versus Fiscalism versus MMT

Succinct outline of main economic paradigms informing current debates by Tom Hickey posted in Mike Norman.

…In a non-convertible floating rate monetary system, the currency issuer is not constrained operationally. The only constraint is real resources. If effective demand outruns the capacity of the economy to expand to meet it, then inflation will result. If effective demand falls short of the capacity of the economy to produce at full employment, then the economy will contract, an output gap open, and unemployment will rise.

This view is based on a Treasury-based monetary regime, in which money is created through currency issuance mediated by government fiscal expenditure. Issuance of Treasury securities to offset deficits functions as a reserve drain, which functions as a monetary operation that enables the central bank to hit its target rate rather than being a fiscal operation involving financing. Similarly, taxes are seen not as a funding operation for government expenditure, but as a means to withdraw non-government net financial assets created government expenditure, in order to control effective demand and thereby reduce inflationary pressure as needed iaw the sectoral balance approach and functional finance.

This view is quite the opposite of the credit-based monetary presumptions of monetarists, which MMT regards as appropriate to a convertible fixed rate regime like the gold standard but not to the current non-convertible floating rate system that began when President Nixon shut the gold window on August 15, 1971, and was later adopted by most nations, excepting those that pegged their currencies, ran currency boards, or gave up currency sovereignty as did members of the European Monetary Union in adopting the euro as a common currency.

It is important to note that MMT economists are NOT recommending the adoption of a Treasury-based monetary system. Rather, they are asserting that the present monetary system is already Treasury-based operationally, even when governments choose to impose political restraints that mimic obsolete practices and create the impression that these are operationally necessary.

MMT also recommends an employer assurance program (ELR (Employer of Last Resort) , JG (Job Guarantee)) to create a buffer stock of employed that the private sector can draw on as needed. This reduces idle resources and presents the possibility of achieving actual full employment (allowing 2% for transitional) along with price stability, which monetarism presumes inflationary. The ELR program also establishes a wage floor as price anchor for price stability.

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