Summary: As we approach the fiscal cliff, economists of different schools offer radically different advice. Austrians and Chicago-ians warn about the consequences of anything other than a fast austerity. Keynesian economists suggest continued deficits until the economic growth (and especially unemployment) return to acceptable levels. And advocates of modern monetary theory (MMT) tell us not to worry; there are fiscal limits — but they’re of no immediate concern. Today guest author Ed Dolan puts the pleasing MMT perspective under the microscope.
This is the fourth in a series about modern monetary theory. Other posts are:
(1) America’s strength is an illusion created by foolish borrowing, 10 October 2012
(2) Prof Black blasts back at yesterday’s post about the US debt, 11 October 2012
(3) Ed Dolan talks to us about modern monetary theory. Can it save us?, 12 October 2012
- Sustainability as solvency
- Mathematical sustainability
- Functional sustainability
- What can MMT and the rest of us agree on?
- About the author
- For More Information about Modern Monetary Theory
- Other posts about our fiscal deficits
This was originally posted at Roubini’s Economonitor; posted here with his generous permission
As negotiations over fiscal policy heat up, one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that U.S. fiscal policy should be sustainable. The trouble is, there are sharp disagreements about just what sustainability means. This post explores three different meanings of fiscal policy sustainability and explores their significance for current budget debates.
(2) Sustainability as solvency
The first, and simplest, meaning of sustainability makes it a synonym for solvency. The proposition that we do not have to worry about debts and deficits because the government can never “run out of money” has become a mantra among followers of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). As L. Randall Wray puts it in his book Modern MoneyTheory, “When we say that [perpetual government sector deficits] are ‘sustainable’ we merely mean in the sense that sovereign government can continue to make all payments as they come due—including interest payments—no matter how big those payments become.”