Episode 89 – Juxtapositions with Bill Mitchell

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Bill Mitchell joins us this week to discuss a plethora of American misconceptions… perceived exceptionalism, obvious neoliberalism, and a dysfunctional electoral system, as we approach the culmination of perhaps the most absurd and disheartening presidential election in history.

The interview covers the consequences of neoliberalism in Europe, the UK, Australia, and the US, both in the rightward march of political parties and the ticking clock of catastrophic climate change. They discuss the attraction to the Universal Basic Income by some on the left who can’t see its underlying agenda and the perils of turning us all into consumption units.

Bill Mitchell is the guest we need to hear from as the ugly campaign season winds down. Our Australian friend’s vantage point, as well as his astute grasp of political economy, combine with his level-headedness to bring a message of understated optimism. When Steve gives in to a rare bout of despair about the future, Bill talks about the early days of the MMT movement, when Warren Mosler and the others would count the number of MMTers on their fingers.

MMT is becoming mainstream. Everybody’s hearing about it in the Australian press as regular articles now. I write op-eds in the Murdoch press about MMT. Critics or supporters are getting articles published regularly. Central bankers are talking about it. They’re giving evidence before government committees about it. The financial markets are increasingly getting me to run workshops to teach them MMT – all around the world, not just in Australia – because they want to know about it, and they also now have finally worked out that an adherence to mainstream economics has cost them money. So I wouldn’t be as despairing about the spread of the ideas just yet.

Bill sees a cautionary tale in the subversion of Keynes’s ideas during the Great Depression. The mainstream economists hijacked his substantial insights into what’s called the neoclassical synthesis, which essentially watered his ideas down to only be applied in a special case. He sees today’s orthodoxy normalizing MMT within their own skillset when, in fact, the work of MMT economists has demonstrated the catastrophic failure of mainstream macroeconomics. He refers to the German physicist Max Planck, who said “Science advances one funeral at a time.” Bill adds that paradigms shift the same way.

As for navigating through these final weeks of the US presidential election, Bill suggests we focus on and accelerate the education process and the organization of grassroots resistance. He says our challenge is to start rebuilding the sense of collective responsibility to society.

…And hope to hell that we’ve got some climate space that we can do that education, and that organization, and we can save the planet. But I’d focus on the positive and wouldn’t get tied up too much in the dilemma you’re facing with Biden and Trump. I mean, it’s a no-win, isn’t it? So try to move beyond that sort of angst, not tear yourselves apart about that, but move beyond it. And basically, I’m an optimist. I just, every day, get up and pursue the education agenda in hopes that little bit each day moves us in a positive way.

It’s clear that with either electoral outcome we’re not going to get a fantastic response to the climate emergency, new public infrastructure investments, and we’re certainly not going to fix our dysfunctional healthcare system, so if we’re not going to get anything we want from either of these two, it’s time to move on.

Professor Bill Mitchell holds the Chair in Economics and is the Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), an official research centre at the University of Newcastle. He also is a Visiting Professor at Maastricht University, The Netherlands, and is on the management board of CofFEE-Europe, a sister centre located at that university.

@billy_blog on Twitter

http://www.billmitchell.org/

“Macroeconomics” ordering information on bilbo.economicoutlook.net/

Bill Mitchell joins us this week to discuss a plethora of American misconceptions… perceived exceptionalism, obvious neoliberalism, and a dysfunctional electoral system, as we approach the culmination of perhaps the most absurd and disheartening presidential election in history.

The interview covers the consequences of neoliberalism in Europe, the UK, Australia, and the US, both in the rightward march of political parties and the ticking clock of catastrophic climate change. They discuss the attraction to the Universal Basic Income by some on the left who can’t see its underlying agenda and the perils of turning us all into consumption units.

Bill Mitchell is the guest we need to hear from as the ugly campaign season winds down. Our Australian friend’s vantage point, as well as his astute grasp of political economy, combine with his level-headedness to bring a message of understated optimism. When Steve gives in to a rare bout of despair about the future, Bill talks about the early days of the MMT movement, when Warren Mosler and the others would count the number of MMTers on their fingers.

MMT is becoming mainstream. Everybody’s hearing about it in the Australian press as regular articles now. I write op-eds in the Murdoch press about MMT. Critics or supporters are getting articles published regularly. Central bankers are talking about it. They’re giving evidence before government committees about it. The financial markets are increasingly getting me to run workshops to teach them MMT – all around the world, not just in Australia – because they want to know about it, and they also now have finally worked out that an adherence to mainstream economics has cost them money. So I wouldn’t be as despairing about the spread of the ideas just yet.

Bill sees a cautionary tale in the subversion of Keynes’s ideas during the Great Depression. The mainstream economists hijacked his substantial insights into what’s called the neoclassical synthesis, which essentially watered his ideas down to only be applied in a special case. He sees today’s orthodoxy normalizing MMT within their own skillset when, in fact, the work of MMT economists has demonstrated the catastrophic failure of mainstream macroeconomics. He refers to the German physicist Max Planck, who said “Science advances one funeral at a time.” Bill adds that paradigms shift the same way.

As for navigating through these final weeks of the US presidential election, Bill suggests we focus on and accelerate the education process and the organization of grassroots resistance. He says our challenge is to start rebuilding the sense of collective responsibility to society.

…And hope to hell that we’ve got some climate space that we can do that education, and that organization, and we can save the planet. But I’d focus on the positive and wouldn’t get tied up too much in the dilemma you’re facing with Biden and Trump. I mean, it’s a no-win, isn’t it? So try to move beyond that sort of angst, not tear yourselves apart about that, but move beyond it. And basically, I’m an optimist. I just, every day, get up and pursue the education agenda in hopes that little bit each day moves us in a positive way.

It’s clear that with either electoral outcome we’re not going to get a fantastic response to the climate emergency, new public infrastructure investments, and we’re certainly not going to fix our dysfunctional healthcare system, so if we’re not going to get anything we want from either of these two, it’s time to move on.

Professor Bill Mitchell holds the Chair in Economics and is the Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), an official research centre at the University of Newcastle. He also is a Visiting Professor at Maastricht University, The Netherlands, and is on the management board of CofFEE-Europe, a sister centre located at that university.

@billy_blog on Twitter

http://www.billmitchell.org/

“Macroeconomics” ordering information on bilbo.economicoutlook.net/

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