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The Story of MMT in Italy

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Knowing the history of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in Italy is very important. In Italy, this theory began its expansion in 2009. In 2012, 2181 Italians came to learn MMT. All this is due to the commitment of a journalist who will have to be in the history books: Paolo Barnard.

But let’s start from the beginning. Paolo Barnard is a journalist who has devoted himself to investigative journalism throughout his life. His resume is the best of any reporter in Italy, and perhaps even in the whole of Europe. He has written for the most important Italian newspapers and co-founded the most important television program of investigative journalism: Report. After reporting on the corruption of the pharmaceutical industry, state television forced him out but he went ahead in his investigation without ever giving up.

Finally, on September 28, 2009, Paolo Barnard, through the American director Michael Moore, contacted MMT economist William Black to interview him about how monetary systems function. Through Black, Barnard also learned of economist Randall Wray, by whom he became aware of MMT. And here, in the mind of Barnard, an idea undertaken by Wray and other UMKC economists is born: spread the MMT all over the world.

So Barnard, after numerous private lessons from MMT economists, and after learning the theory to perfection, began to tour Italy by lecturing in conferences explaining to ordinary people with simple words the mechanisms of the macroeconomics of modern currency.

In February 2012, Barnard organized the first national three-day MMT summit in Rimini, attended by Stephanie Kelton, Marshall Auerback, Alain Parguez, Michael Hudson and William Black. This event becomes the largest conference ever held in Italy, with over 2100 paying participants. The conference is recorded by national television but the recordings mysteriously disappear. Some shots, however, appear in the documentary PIIGS, the most watched Italian documentary in history, which in the English version is narrated by the actor Willem Dafoe.

In March 2012, the MMT Movement took off with economists making public presentations of modern monetary theory worldwide. Meanwhile, Barnard manages to return to TV, where on May 25, 2012, he explains the crime of the Eurozone (subtraction of monetary sovereignty) in front of millions of Italians and Mario Monti, who was president of the European Group of the Trilateral Commission until, in the same year, he resigned and was made Italy’s prime minister, imposed by the markets through a coup.

The first thing that Mario Monti did as he comes to power is to include a balanced budget amendment in the Constitution, an economic abomination according to the MMT, as it prohibits deficit spending. The “left” supports every single maneuver of the technocrats, fully aware that it will destroy the Italian economy. For example, Bersani, Secretary of Italy’s Democratic Party at the time, declared that a balanced budget means to castrate the country of all economic policy, but less than a year later, he approved it.

While new outlets for the dissemination of MMT were born throughout Italy, in October 2012, the second national MMT summit was organized, in which Warren Mosler and Mathew Forstater also took part, with two events of two days each: 21st and 22nd in Rimini, and 27th and 28th in Cagliari. It also creates the Italian Economic Recovery Program, which illustrates step by step how Italy should recover its lost monetary sovereignty and apply a modern money lens to the economy.

In the meantime, Barnard became too dangerous to the Italian establishment, so his TV appearances became less and less until he is completely censored. Now, whenever the word “MMT” is likely to appear on television, the microphone is removed from those who try to talk about it.

After public outcry, Barnard reappears occasionally on some private television shows but even then, his appearances always suffer from strong censorship on the part of the producers. At a certain point, he decided to continue the disclosure only through his blog.

Presently, in Italy, there is a political movement for MMT, founded by myself, called Democrazia Verde, which has actively contributed to Brexit, but this is another story.

Nicolas Micheletti

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