Tag Archives: Modern Monetary Theory

Modern Monetary Theory, Centralized Control And Gold

My friend and colleague, Chris Powell, Treasurer of GATA, wrote a compelling essay on Modern Monetary Theory. MMT has been in operation by the western Central Banks since Bretton Woods. The “QE” program that began in 2008 is the most recent and blatant implementation of MMT. This is a must-read if you are interesting in understanding the hidden mechanism at work that is destroying the United States.

Modern Monetary Theory, which has been getting much attention lately, is so controversial mainly because it is misunderstood. It is misunderstood first because it is not a theory at all but a truism.

That is, MMT holds essentially that a government issuing a currency without a fixed link to a commodity like gold or silver is constrained in its currency issuance only by inflation and devaluation.

This is a very old observation in economics, going back centuries, even to the classical economist Adam Smith, and perhaps first formally acknowledged by the U.S. government with a speech given in 1945 by the chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Beardsley Ruml. The speech was published in 1946.

Ruml said:

“The necessity for a government to tax in order to maintain both its independence and its solvency is true for state and local governments, but it is not true for a national government. Two changes of the greatest consequence have occurred in the last 25 years which have substantially altered the position of the national state with respect to the financing of its current requirements.

“The first of these changes is the gaining of vast new experience in the management of central banks. The second change is the elimination, for domestic purposes, of the convertibility of the currency into gold. Final freedom from the domestic money market exists for every sovereign national state where there exists an institution which functions in the manner of a modern central bank and whose currency is not convertible into gold or into some other commodity.”

Ruml noted that in a fiat currency system such as the United States had adopted by 1945, government did not need to tax to raise revenue but could create as much money as it wanted and deploy it as it thought best, using taxes instead to give value to its currency and implement social and economic policy.

MMT does not claim that the government should create and deploy infinite money. It claims that money can be created and deployed as much as is necessary to improve general living conditions and eliminate unemployment until the currency begins to lose value.

The second big misunderstanding about MMT is that it is not a mere policy proposal but is actually the policy that has been followed by the U.S. government for decades without the candor of Ruml’s 1945 acknowledgment.

The problem with MMT is that, in its unacknowledged practice, it already has produced what its misunderstanding critics fear it for: the creation and deployment of infinite money and credit by central banks as well as vast inflation.

In accordance with MMT, this creation of infinite money and credit has necessitated central banking’s “financial repression” — its suppression of interest rates and commodity prices through both open and surreptitious intervention in bond and futures markets and the issuance of financial derivatives.

That is, since money creation in the current financial system is restrained only by inflation, this restraint can be removed or lessened with certain price controls, which, to be effective, must be disguised, lest people discern that there are no markets anymore, just interventions.

The British economist Peter Warburton perceived this in his 2001 essay, “The Debasement of World Currency — It Is Inflation, But Not As We Know It“:

“What we see at present is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts. On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur. On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities, or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value.

“Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value not only of the U.S. dollar but of all fiat currencies. Equally, they seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets. [EMPHASIS ADDED.]

“Central banks have found the battle on the second front much easier to fight than the first. Last November I estimated the size of the gross stock of global debt instruments at $90 trillion for mid-2000. How much capital would it take to control the combined gold, oil, and commodity markets? Probably no more than $200 billion, using derivatives.

“Moreover, it is not necessary for the central banks to fight the battle themselves, although central bank gold sales and gold leasing have certainly contributed to the cause. Most of the world’s large investment banks have overtraded their capital so flagrantly that if the central banks were to lose the fight on the first front, then the stock of the investment banks would be worthless. Because their fate is intertwined with that of the central banks, investment banks are willing participants in the battle against rising gold, oil, and commodity prices.”

This “financial repression” and commodity price suppression have channeled into financial and real estate assets — the assets of property owners — the vast inflation resulting from the policy of infinite money creation, thereby diverting inflation from assets whose prices are measured by government’s consumer price indexes. Meanwhile those indexes are constantly distorted and falsified to avoid giving alarm.

As a result the ownership class is enriched and the working class impoverished. Of course this is exactly the opposite of what MMT’s advocates intend.

But while the monetary science conceived by MMT people well might develop a formula for operating a perfect monetary system with full employment and prosperity for all, the monetary system always will confer nearly absolute power on its operators, and as long as the operators are human, such power will always corrupt many of them — even MMT’s advocates themselves.

That’s why market rigging is the inevitable consequence of MMT as it is now practiced and why the world is losing its free and competitive markets to monopoly and oligopoly and becoming less democratic and more totalitarian.

So what is the solution?

Maybe some libertarianism would help: Let governments use whatever they want as money, but let individuals do the same and don’t mess with them. Gold, cryptocurrencies, seashells, oxen, whatever — leave them alone.

Most of all, require government to be completely transparent in whatever it does in the markets. If government wants to rig markets, require that it be done in the open and reported contemporaneously.

After all, the world can hardly know where to go when it isn’t permitted to know where it is.

MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) Thoroughly Disemboweled

The best I can figure is that some very liberal, trust-fund Phd Sociologist professors at Bennington hooked with a group of radical Public Policy students from Harvard somewhere in a cabin in Vermont and did a group analysis of John Maynard Keynes’ “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” after ingesting copious quantities of LSD. From out of that drug-addled assemblage, MMT sprung to life in “socially correct” political circles in NYC and DC.

Short of that explanation for the current obsession with MMT – also known as “Magical Money Tree” –  among the elitist intellectual trust-fund liberal political class, I have a hard time explaining the enthusiasm for this comic book version of economics.

A good friend of mine, who happens to be highly intelligent and obsessive about research, is thoroughly confounded by the idea anyone in their right mind would consider MMT as a serious policy tool other than as a mechanism to accelerate the confiscation of wealth and liberties from the public.

The best I could offer is that legitimizing MMT with academic endorsements is a precursor to the next round of QE, which will have to be Weimar in scale.  Occam’s Razor applies here. It’s that simple.  A Government unable  slow down its spending deficit has no other means of paying its bills other than to raise taxes to a level that will trigger mass revolt or use its printing press.  You see where this is going…

Interestingly, a writer/analyst who springs from the left, and who otherwise I would have thought to have been a proponent of MMT, thoroughly explores and disembowels the concept.  You can literally sense the author’s struggle to find a use for MMT:

We have a private economy driven by exploitation, overwork, asset stripping, and ecological destruction. MMT has little or nothing on offer to fight any of this. The job guarantee is a contribution, though a flawed one, and it’s not at the core of the theory, which proceeds from the keystroke fantasy. That fantasy looks like a weak response to decades of anti-tax mania coming from the Right, which has left many liberals looking for an easy way out. It would be sad to see the socialist left, which looks stronger than it has in decades, fall for this snake oil. It’s a phantasm, a late-imperial fever dream, not a serious economic policy.

Ordinarily I would have briefly skimmed through this essay. But if you are making an effort to be open-minded and understand the genesis, history and follies of MMT, it’s worth spending the time to read this piece in its entirety – then you can have a good laugh:  Modern Monetary Theory Isn’t Helping by Doug Henwood

Modern Monetary Theory isn’t just an insult to one’s intelligence, it’s a complete affront to common sense.