A little over a year ago, I wrote a column about Modern Monetary Theory. Don't look now, but it's no longer a theory, it's reality. Depending on how it eventually turns out, we'll find out if the economic cure to the coronavirus was worse than the disease.
In simple terms, MMT adherents believe that countries that issue and back their currencies, like the U.S., can print as much money as they need and still stay solvent. (Compare the eurozone, where the European Central Bank issues the currency, not the individual member countries). And without creating runaway inflation.
You can try this at home, too, you know, although it doesn't work nearly as well for individuals as it does for governments. Pay off one of your credit card balances with a balance transfer from another bank, then keep repeating the process. This will work for a while until the merry-go-round eventually stops when the banks stop lending you money, and you'll have to either pay everything you owe or wind up in bankruptcy court.
Of course, it's different for the government, which is one of MMT's main arguments, since it can just print more money when it runs out, which means the merry-go-round keeps going, even if investors stop buying Treasury bonds. If that happens, which it never has, the Federal Reserve, a separate but "independent" arm of the government, will pick up the slack.
Neat, huh? Continue reading "This Time It's For Real"