MMT ist nicht nur Neo-Keynesianismus

MMT – Modern Monetary Theory – war schon mehrfach Thema bei bto:

→ Ist MMT die Lösung?

→ James Montier entpuppt sich als Anhänger von MMT

→ MMT eine Neuauflage der Ideen John Laws?

Nun hat Stephanie Kelton, die bekannteste Vertreterin dieser Theorie, ein Buch veröffentlicht: “The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy”. Grund genug, um einige Passagen und Kommentare dazu auf bto zu diskutieren:

  • “MMT starts with a simple observation, and that is that the US dollar is a simple public monopoly. (…) the federal government can never run out of money. It cannot face a solvency problem with bills coming due that it can’t afford to pay. It never has to worry about finding the money in order to be able to spend.” – bto: Logisch, denn die nötigen Dollar werden einfach gedruckt.
  • “In other words, MMT is a rehash of the state theory of money, made famous by Georg Knapp in 1905. Which, incidentally, allowed to finance Germany’s military build-up before the First World War and led to Germany’s hyperinflation, which destroyed the mark in late-1923. There is nothing new in this theory, and it has been lauded by inflationists of different stripes since unbacked fiat currencies emerged. (…) the state cannot print money indefinitely. The state’s insolvency is only deferred by monetary inflation for as long as it can pluck wealth from its population by debauching the currency. And the more it inflates, the more it has to inflate until it is forced by markets to face up to this fact.” – bto: Ja, denn interessanterweise wachsen auch die Schulden mit der Inflation.
  • “(…) the state is like a junkie: once hooked on free-and-easy money it is virtually impossible for it to stop using monetary debasement as an increasingly important source of finance. (…) The beneficiaries are the government, its agencies and its crony favourites — usually commercial banks and big businesses. In other words, by debasing money for its own benefit the state is impoverishing those it claims to help. (…) Correctly stated, inflation is not the rate of increase of prices but the rate of increase of the quantity of money. A rise in the general level of prices is the symptom, not the disease.”
  • Die MMT Argumentation geht weiter so: “(…) if you think of the government deficit as the difference between what the government spends into the economy and what it taxes back out then imagine a government that spends $100 into the US economy but it only taxes 90 of those dollars back out. We label that a government deficit; we record that on the government’s books. What we forget to do is pay attention to the fact that there’s now $10 somewhere in the economy that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, that is put there by the government’s deficit.In other words their deficits become our surpluses and so when we talk about the government having all this red ink, we have to remind ourselves that their red ink becomes our black ink and their deficits are our surpluses and the question is then should you expand fiscal policy? Should you run bigger budget deficits in order to boost growth?” – bto: Wir denken an Italien, wo der hohen Staatsverschuldung entsprechend hohe private Vermögen entgegenstehen.
  • “Macroeconomists of all stripes believe in deficit spending to stimulate the economy, failing to realise that the monetary expansion sets in motion a cycle of credit. The Keynesian idea was to use deficit spending to reduce the impact of a business slump and to encourage confidence to return. The reduction in lending risk that followed then encouraged banks to expand bank credit, a means of monetary expansion which the banks are licenced by the state to provide. Invariably, bankers become greedy and when the boom has run its course, they realise they have taken on too much risk. Bankers’ greed rapidly turns to fear and bank credit contracts, driving the economy into the next slump. (…) Structural reform of the banking system to remove bank credit expansion is part of the solution. The other part is for governments to always run balanced budgets instead of making the credit cycle even more destabilising through deficit spending.” – bto: Ich denke nicht, dass der Staat ein ausgeglichenes Budget haben muss. Richtig ist aber, dass der Kreditzyklus eine wichtige Rolle spielt.
  • “To state that a government deficit gifts money to the private non-financial sector that otherwise would not exist is the basic belief behind macroeconomics. It is misguided. Let us first assume the deficit is funded by savers. In that case, the economy is starved of investment funds which would otherwise have been more positively deployed, and Kelton’s $10 gift to the economy is borrowed from savers and is not an extra distribution. Alternatively, if its origin is an inflation of the currency, then the population itself has paid for it through monetary debasement.” – bto: Das stimmt, wenn man sagt, dass jedes Ausweiten der Geldmenge immer einer Entwertung entspricht.
  • Dann zitiert er wieder Stephanie Kelton: “Nobody can know how much debt is too much debt. If you look at Japan today you see a country where the debt to GDP ratio is something like 240%, orders of magnitude above where the US is today or even where the US is forecast to be in the future. And so the question is how is Japan able to sustain a debt of that size. Wouldn’t it have an inflation problem? Would it lead to rising interest rates? Wouldn’t this be destructive in some way? The answer to all those questions as Japan has demonstrated now for years is simply, no. Japan’s debt is close to 240% of GDP, almost a quadrillion. That’s a very big number. Again, long term interest rates are very close to zero. There’s no inflation problem and so despite the size of the debt there are no negative consequences as a result.” – bto: James Montier weist in dem oben verlinkten Beitrag darauf hin, dass die steigende Verschuldung des Staates in Japan dazu führt, dass das Geldangebot gewachsen ist, weshalb die Zinsen sinken mussten. Richtig ist jedoch, dass die gestiegene Verschuldung des japanischen Staates nicht zu Inflation geführt hat und auch nicht zu steigenden Vermögenspreisen. Die Unternehmen haben in der Zeit Schulden abgebaut. Insofern der Beweis, dass MMT funktioniert?
  • Japan’s population still retains the savings ethos, which means that when the Bank of Japan expands the money supply it is banked by the population when they receive it, fuelling investment, rather than spent on inflating consumer prices. That is the explanation for why Japan’s economic system, despite the state’s best efforts to undermine it, shows little price inflation and continued stability.” – bto: Dieses Argument überzeugt mich nicht. Denn die Sparquote der Japaner sinkt seit Jahren. Es bleibt die Frage, warum der Anstieg der Geldmenge nicht zu höheren Preisen führt. Vielleicht weil es kein richtiger Anstieg ist?
  • Stephanie Kelton: “Think about what happened after World War Two when the US national debt went in excess of 100% –close to 125% of GDP. If we were talking about it the way we talk about it today as burdening future generations, as posing a grave national security risk, we would have to scratch our heads and say, wait a minute; do we think that our grandparents burdening the next generation with all of those bonds that were sold during World War Two to win the war, build the strongest middle class – all that  produced the longest period of peacetime prosperity. The Golden age of capital; all of that followed in the wake of fighting World War Two, increasing deficits massively, increasing the size of the national debt. And, of course, the next generation inherits those bonds. They don’t become burdens to the next generation, they become their assets.” – bto: Das stimmt natürlich. Die Staatsschulden sind nicht ein Problem zwischen Generationen, sondern immer eine Verteilungsfrage innerhalb einer Generation.
  • Kritik: “(…)  in 1950 the US had a virtual monopoly on monetary gold and its holding was about 40% of all above-ground stocks. This enabled the US to keep the inflationary symptoms of monetary expansion at bay, at the expense of its gold stockpile. The belief that the expansion of debt, which is fundamentally the consequence of monetary expansion, was benign and will continue to be so is therefore badly flawed. This became evident following President Nixon’s ending of the Bretton Woods agreement in August 1971, since when measured in gold the dollar has lost 98% of its purchasing powerToday, we lack the monetary stability that the golden fig-leaf of the Bretton Woods era provided, and the consequences of the expansion of national debts in all currencies, advocated by MMT, will turn out to be very different from those of the post-war period.” – bto: So wird es kommen, weil es keine Begrenzung gibt. 
  • “Assuming it is funded by means other than of savings, all state spending is inflationary and dilutes the existing stock of money to the advantages of some and the disadvantage of others. Furthermore, it is often erroneously assumed that government debt acquired by the banks and not subsequently sold to the Fed represents investment as opposed to inflationary funding.” – bto: Das ist so, weil, so die Logik, es immer zu einer Ausweitung der Geldmenge kommt.
  • “Kelton makes naïve claims about controlling inflation, which she believes is an increase in the general level of prices. Unwarranted faith is placed in the state’s management of the economy, and in her belief it can use money responsibly as its primary management tool. This is despite all the empirical evidence to the contrary, and it flies in the face of properly reasoned economic theory. (….) MMT is an ephemeral macroeconomic cult which tells us much about the psychological condition of a wider belief system running out of road. It is perhaps symptomatic of peak macroeconomics, about to slide down the other side of diminishing influence into catastrophic failure, then ultimately, it’s rejection.” – bto: Das mag sein. Auf jeden Fall muss man sich die Frage stellen, wodurch sich MMT letztlich von der Geldpolitik Deutschlands zur Finanzierung des Ersten Weltkriegs unterscheidet.

→ “MMT —it’s just neo-Keynesian macroeconomics”, 11. Juni 2020