Bill Mitchell on the Austerity War

A number of people including myself have been furiously blogging for many months now on the world-wide austerity war that most Governments are fighting against the well-being of their citizens. The position we’re blogging is that there is no deficit problem requiring fiscal austerity for those Governments including the United States that issue their own non-convertible currencies with floating exchange rates, and have no external debt in currencies not their own; and also that there is no fiscal sustainability problem for these Governments because they cannot run out of money, and therefore the level of their deficits, national debts, and debt-to-GDP ratios are just irrelevant from a real fiscal sustainability viewpoint. I’ve offered a number of posts supporting this argument including here, here, here, and here. Others, including Bill Mitchell, Warren Mosler, Randy Wray, Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina Tcherneva, Jamie Galbraith, Marshall Auerback, Mike Norman, Matt Franko, Tom Hickey, and Scott Fullwiler have filed numerous posts and articles on the subject.

It’s been very hard to get our “deficit owl” views aired beyond the blogosphere, and into the publications of the progressive establishment. These publications publish pieces that reflect a “deficit dove” point of view, advocating spending now during the recession, but a long-term fiscally responsible” plan to solve “the deficit problem” and reach “fiscal sustainability,” by making the tax system much more progressive than it is today, and cutting corporate welfare. Implicit in the deficit dove view, in agreement with “the deficit hawk” view that is at the heart of the austerity propaganda machine, is the idea that the United States must raise money by taxing or borrowing to fund its spending, and also that surpluses, in the abstract, are a good thing, and that deficits are undesirable, and unsustainable, in the long term.

Today was a good day in the fight against austerity. One of the leading “deficit owls,” and a leading figure in the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) School of Economics, Professor Bill Mitchell of the University of Newcastle, Australia published an article in The Nation entitled “Beyond Austerity.” Jamie Galbraith publishes there occasionally, but has pulled his punches in expressing the MMT point of view. This article, on the other hand, is an admirable summary of many of the main points of MMT as they apply to the issues of austerity and fiscal sustainability. It touches every base in the MMT argument, at least in outline.

Read it if you care about what progressives can do to bring back a prosperous America, where everyone can work, get the health care they need, and where the level of inequality is reduced enough to remove the threat to democracy from the rich that we’re experiencing today.

(Cross-posted at All Life Is Problem Solving and Fiscal Sustainability).

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