Real Progressives

Episode 96 – Treasury’s Gift To The Fed with Robert Hockett

When Steve Mnuchin announced a clawback of the CARES Act, the liberal media wasted no time before launching condemnations. Among our friends in the MMT community, wiser heads prevailed. Make no mistake, nobody denies Mnuchin is the Grinch who stole Christmas. But like a magic eye picture, if you change your focus slightly, a different image will form. This week, our friend, Robert Hockett, joins us to tell us why Mnuchin’s announcement can be seen as a gift in our stocking, not a lump of coal. 
 
On the surface, the CARES Act appeared to be an acknowledgment that the Federal Reserve and Treasury had gotten it wrong in 2008-09. They had bailed out the banks, while ignoring the victims of those very same institutions whose obscene dealings had plunged the planet into crisis in the first place. This time they were extending a lifeline to Main Street, and to the states, regions, and cities bearing the brunt of the current crisis — who are, in fact, first responders on the front lines of both the pandemic and economic devastation it has wrought. 
 
The CARES Act was ultimately a smokescreen, making it appear as if Congress and the White House wanted to take serious action, while its performance was same old, same old. Mnuchin said the facilities established under CARES Act “achieved their objectives,” which apparently meant propping up Wall Street and enriching the elite. 
 
As Bob wrote in his recent Forbes column, the Fed never needed the CARES Act in the first place. It can provide funds to strapped entities under provisions that already exist under the Federal Reserve Act. Meanwhile, he sees the creation of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) and Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) as net positives because they call attention to the possibilities for “spreading the Fed.” . 
 
This episode is packed with information on the workings of the regional Federal Reserve banks and their underutilized potential for meaningful aid to cities, states and territories (like Puerto Rico) and life-saving loans to small businesses. Whether the Fed will accept this role is a whole ‘nother question. It may never depart from its ostensible mission of shoring up the financial industry. Much may depend on the incoming administration. Which brings us to… 
 
The final part of the interview is Bob’s assessment of Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for Treasury, as well as speculation on the rest of the team of economic advisors, including potential roles for Stephanie Kelton, a long-time favorite of this podcast. He ends on a note of his irrepressible optimism. We wish we could agree. We hope he’s right. But we doubt it. 
 
Robert Hockett is the Edward Cornell Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, Visiting Professor of Finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Senior Counsel at Westwood Capital, LLC. He specializes in the law, economics, and philosophy of money, finance, and enterprise organization in their theoretical and practical, their positive and normative, and their local, national, and transnational dimensions. 

Check out Bob’s TWO new books!

Financing the Green New Deal: A Plan of Action and Renewal 

Money From Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve

His latest column from Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rhockett/2020/11/20/treasurys-gift-to-the-fed–and-to-our-states-cities-and-small-businesses/?sh=571e252564c8 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Share this Episode

Follow the show and subscribe on your favorite player.

When Steve Mnuchin announced a clawback of the CARES Act, the liberal media wasted no time before launching condemnations. Among our friends in the MMT community, wiser heads prevailed. Make no mistake, nobody denies Mnuchin is the Grinch who stole Christmas. But like a magic eye picture, if you change your focus slightly, a different image will form. This week, our friend, Robert Hockett, joins us to tell us why Mnuchin’s announcement can be seen as a gift in our stocking, not a lump of coal. 
 
On the surface, the CARES Act appeared to be an acknowledgment that the Federal Reserve and Treasury had gotten it wrong in 2008-09. They had bailed out the banks, while ignoring the victims of those very same institutions whose obscene dealings had plunged the planet into crisis in the first place. This time they were extending a lifeline to Main Street, and to the states, regions, and cities bearing the brunt of the current crisis — who are, in fact, first responders on the front lines of both the pandemic and economic devastation it has wrought. 
 
The CARES Act was ultimately a smokescreen, making it appear as if Congress and the White House wanted to take serious action, while its performance was same old, same old. Mnuchin said the facilities established under CARES Act “achieved their objectives,” which apparently meant propping up Wall Street and enriching the elite. 
 
As Bob wrote in his recent Forbes column, the Fed never needed the CARES Act in the first place. It can provide funds to strapped entities under provisions that already exist under the Federal Reserve Act. Meanwhile, he sees the creation of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) and Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) as net positives because they call attention to the possibilities for “spreading the Fed.” . 
 
This episode is packed with information on the workings of the regional Federal Reserve banks and their underutilized potential for meaningful aid to cities, states and territories (like Puerto Rico) and life-saving loans to small businesses. Whether the Fed will accept this role is a whole ‘nother question. It may never depart from its ostensible mission of shoring up the financial industry. Much may depend on the incoming administration. Which brings us to… 
 
The final part of the interview is Bob’s assessment of Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for Treasury, as well as speculation on the rest of the team of economic advisors, including potential roles for Stephanie Kelton, a long-time favorite of this podcast. He ends on a note of his irrepressible optimism. We wish we could agree. We hope he’s right. But we doubt it. 
 
Robert Hockett is the Edward Cornell Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, Visiting Professor of Finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Senior Counsel at Westwood Capital, LLC. He specializes in the law, economics, and philosophy of money, finance, and enterprise organization in their theoretical and practical, their positive and normative, and their local, national, and transnational dimensions. 

Check out Bob’s TWO new books!

Financing the Green New Deal: A Plan of Action and Renewal 

Money From Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve

His latest column from Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rhockett/2020/11/20/treasurys-gift-to-the-fed–and-to-our-states-cities-and-small-businesses/?sh=571e252564c8 

Scroll to Top Skip to content