Have you heard of the latest econ fad hitting the more left-leaning lawmakers in Congress?
It’s called Modern Monetary Theory, known by the catchier acronym MMT.
A “new” school of economics based on the older theories of “Chartalism,” it promises free money. Yes, you heard that right: free money.
It’s predicated on the notion that the US Treasury and the Fed are one and the same entity. The funny thing is that this notion is more or less true.
MMT asserts that government should be in a position to spend money via Treasury...as much as necessary and without limit.
The Fed then buys the notes and stuffs them into the balance sheet until their maturity period.
As the Treasury issues more debt, the Fed simply prints more money to cover that debt.
The Treasury can spend for large projects--healthcare, infrastructure, more jobs, income, free tuition, and anything else government decides it needs to do. Meanwhile, the Fed covers those debts using its proverbial printing press.
This means that no government debt is ever “real debt.”
Therefore, no government debt can ever be a real burden.
Sounds like THE perfect economic system, right? Spend and spend, print and print, an endless cycle in which the US will never run out of money.
Has Congress finally stumbled upon the formula for monetary Utopia?
Or is this utopian dream a precondition to plunging the dollar and the entire nation into a dystopian crisis from which it may never recover?
What’s Wrong with MMT?
MMT assumes a number of “fixed” certainties, some of which may be true.
But in reality, the only thing certain in the world is change. And with change comes risk.
- The government is self-funding. It does not need to tax nor issue bonds to raise capital when it can simply print money. Therefore, government can never run out of money.
With a healthy dose of cynicism it’s hard to say that this isn’t true. The government does make use of the proverbial printing press. We know this, and perhaps you do too.
- There can never be a lack in US dollar demand. Americans need it to make transactions. And the world needs dollars to engage in international trade. It is therefore a “closed system.” And if the system is closed, with the dollar holding it all together, then deficits don’t matter.
Actually, no, this doesn’t work. If government began printing truckloads of dollars, inflating the money supply and decreasing the dollar’s purchasing power, chances are you wouldn’t want to hold dollars.
Think about it: you can travel to almost any country with your domestic currency (say, travel to Europe without Euros in your pocket; or Japan without Yen).
It almost doesn’t matter, because once you make a point of sale purchase, you can always find a means to convert your dollars to whatever currency you need to make a purchase.
If the dollar begins to sink in value, who is not going to hold foreign currency or gold, converting it to dollars in the last minute while enjoying its rise in the meantime?
This assumption also sees the current global order pertaining to trade as a fixed system. The dollar, in other words, will remain the world’s reserve currency. The dollar is the glue that makes all international trade possible.
Congressional MMT proponents are not paying attention to what’s happening with China, Russia, and many other nations--many of whom are looking to gold and gold-backed currency to de-dollarize.
Deficits do matter, because once the dollar begins to drop in value (due to excessive printing) foreign nations will be looking to utilize another currency that isn’t debasing itself like the US dollar.
The US dollar is not the only game in town. And although the US is the world’s predominant superpower, we shouldn’t allow our status to blind us to our vulnerabilities.
All empires--from Roman to the more recent British--have been blind to their own weaknesses. They collapsed. The US isn’t any different.
And if Congress wants to push forward with this blindly arrogant assumption, then it will only accelerate the dollar’s demise, along with the country to which the dollar belongs.
MMT is supported by many of our own leftist politicians who have absolutely no clue as to how the economy works.
This plan can lead our nation to insolvency, as it leads to the dollar to its own ruin, severely destroying its purchasing power. Strangely, many people can’t see this threat.
Should we get anywhere near the level of insanity as to see such a plan implemented, the only way to hedge against it is to own hard assets like land, real estate, natural resources, and gold and silver.
America is vulnerable. IF IT WERE NOT, then Congressional leaders wouldn’t be taking such a ridiculous economic plan that seriously.
But they are taking it seriously.
Therefore, the threat is quite serious and very real.