2019 has been a good year for Modern Monetary Theory, beginning with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s January interview with Business Insider. She stated, simply, that MMT “absolutely… needs to be a larger part of our conversation.” It seems to be happening, as MMT is finally getting coverage in the mainstream media and financial press.
Well-known proponents of MMT are advisors to Bernie Sanders and AOC. And as a testament to the power of ideas, in May five Senate Republicans introduced a resolution to denounce MMT.
It is in this atmosphere that the 3rd International MMT Conference will take place. As MMT gains in popularity, the annual conference takes on greater importance.
“This year’s MMT conference is going to be so important for global racial and climate justice,” says Nathan Tankus, Research Director of Modern Money Network. “From Ndongo speaking about the CFA Franc to an incredible panel on the relationship of public finance to racism and racial justice, we have some of our most exciting speakers ever. And Mathew Forstater will contextualize all this great work and the way it has been a part of MMT from the beginning.” Tankus will be part of a panel on “MMT and the Green New Deal,” with Fadhel Kaboub, among others.
On social media, Raul Carrillo, Director of Modern Money Network, posted notes addressed to “people of color (and people of flavor)” explaining why they should care to learn about money:
To put it bluntly: money is a central feature of society, but one of the least understood features. Plenty of folks study taxation, banking, finance, and macro, but few study money itself. I happen to think this is a mistake: Money must be a fundamental unit of power analysis. To borrow a crude analogy, studying economics with a bad grasp of money is like studying biology with a bad grasp of physics. Really understanding money deepens us and helps us protect ourselves from getting swindled.
The Modern Money paradigm views money as a relationship between each of us and the state. It’s a technology at the interface between us and raw power. It’s an almost unspeakably important site of both despair and hope, so, strategically, we need to wrap our heads around it.
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So, money is regularly used as a tool of state power. But governments also delegate the money power. In the modern U.S., this is a particularly chronic problem. Uncle Sam charters, licenses, and regulates banks as franchises that invoke the government’s power to lend, invest, and grow the economy. But in reality, banks operate as exploitative public utilities. When they’re not excluding people of color outright, they’re surveilling us, speculating on our ability to hold onto property, and stripping wealth from our neighborhoods. When they get bailed out, we get austerity. And to add insult to injury, the government watches this all go down without guaranteeing any of us can even work, can even participate within the system, to start getting money again, to pay the piper. The elimination of the material conditions of self-sufficiency rolls the fuck on.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Because money – the foundational tool of the economy, is a creature of public law, not private markets — we have some hope for transformation. By demanding the state fulfill its duties, and use public money for public purpose – as well as creating alternative institutions within civil society — we can break the cycle of crisis, austerity, and extraction. We can break the cycle that is currently wheeling us into fascism and climate cataclysm. – Raùl Carrillo
Carrillo, Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina Tcherneva, and Scott Fullwiler will present a panel on “MMT and the Public Sphere.” Kelton, joined by Andres Bernal and Randall Wray, will close out the conference with “Building the MMT Movement.”