Thursday, July 26, 2018

Monetary Theory and the Left

Tony (probably correctly) believes that I should write more about monetary theory.

Good point. Without monetary reform, there is simply no way the the world can pay the huge bills that will be incurred running an effective program to combat climate change. So in no particular order, here are my excuses for not writing about the subject every damn day—like it probably deserves.

1) I have written extensively on money and the economics of development. I still consider the chapter on Money to be the most well-thought-out chapter in Elegant Technology. But over the years, I have sort of run out of things to say.

2) The "left" is notoriously uninterested in monetary debates—lord knows I have tried. I have heard money debated in barber shops, gas stations, feed mills, church basements—sometimes (rarely) even in political forums. I grew up in the corn belt. My grandfather was an active member of the Farmer-Labor Party. But I haven't heard anyone from the "left" discuss the money subject since I started at U Minn in 1967. And the few people I have tried to engage either get lost in the math or the fact that fractional banking is not as established / legitimate as the big myths of banking and finance. The fact that the evidence is beyond rational debate does not sway minds—especially those who believe that "the personal is the political" and so shun the notion that something as impersonal as money may be the most important political subject of them all.

3) That leaves the "right." There are people like Ron Paul who are very good critics of the Federal Reserve. But his "solution" is the Gold Standard. Now the Fed has fallen into the hands of some serious fools, but on their very worst days, they are still a superior alternative to the Gold Standard.

4) Ellen Brown. Enter her name in the search box of this blog and you will find dozens of posts related to some well-written argument she is making. She loves the Bank of North Dakota—easily the best idea Progressives ever had. Strange how no one has duplicated that institution in other states, but she has done a nice job of lighting the fire that may lead to a California version.

5) There are a lot of crackpots out there. Because the nature of money is a subject that is virtually absent in the mainstream financial press, most people who develop any theories at all are usually self-taught. Now because there are a wealth of good books written about money and folks like Franklin, Edison, and Ford took an active interest in the subject, it IS possible to get your arms around this sprawling subject by reading alone, but it is difficult. It's the folks who aren't willing to do the necessary homework that end up as cranks.

Anyway, I promise to try to address legitimate monetary questions directed my way.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think MMT is the monetary theory we want. Maybe as bad as the gold bugs. I recently tried to get my thoughts on this written down and posted them on my blog, mostly as a series of short counterpoints to common statements of MMT proponents. Please note that I am not at all an authority on this, just picking up a few breadcrumbs left by others and trying to think a bit more.