Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
US Debt and Yield Curve (Spread between 2 year and 10 year US bonds) - 24th Feb 21
Should You Buy a Landrover Discovery Sport in 2021? - 24th Feb 21
US Housing Market 2021 and the Inflation Mega-trend - QE4EVER! - 24th Feb 21
M&A Most Commonly Used Software - 24th Feb 21
Is More Stock Market Correction Needed? - 24th Feb 21
VUZE XR Camera 180 3D VR Example Footage Video Image quality - 24th Feb 21
How to Protect Your Positions From A Stock Market Sell-Off Using Options - 24th Feb 21
Why Isn’t Retail Demand for Silver Pushing Up Prices? - 24th Feb 21
2 Stocks That Could Win Big In The Trillion Dollar Battery War - 24th Feb 21
US Economic Trends - GDP, Inflation and Unemployment Impact on House Prices 2021 - 23rd Feb 21
Why the Sky Is Not Falling in Precious Metals - 23rd Feb 21
7 Things Every Businessman Should Know - 23rd Feb 21
For Stocks, has the “Rational Bubble” Popped? - 23rd Feb 21
Will Biden Overheat the Economy and Gold? - 23rd Feb 21
Precious Metals Under Seige? - 23rd Feb 21
US House Prices Trend Forecast Review - 23rd Feb 21
Lithium Prices Soar As Tesla, Apple And Google Fight For Supply - 23rd Feb 21
Stock Markets Discounting Post Covid Economic Boom - 22nd Feb 21
Economics Is Why Vaccination Is So Hard - 22nd Feb 21
Pivotal Session In Stocks Bull Bear Battle - 22nd Feb 21
Gold’s Downtrend: Is This Just the Beginning? - 22nd Feb 21
The Most Exciting Commodities Play Of 2021? - 22nd Feb 21
How to Test NEW and Used GPU, and Benchmark to Make sure it is Working Properly - 22nd Feb 21
US House Prices Vaccinations Indicator - 21st Feb 21
S&P 500 Correction – No Need to Hold Onto Your Hat - 21st Feb 21
Gold Setting Up Major Bottom So Could We See A Breakout Rally Begin Soon? - 21st Feb 21
Owning Real Assets Amid Surreal Financial Markets - 21st Feb 21
Great Investment Ideas For 2021 - 21st Feb 21
US House Prices Momentum Analysis - 20th Feb 21
The Most Important Chart in Housing Right Now - 20th Feb 21
Gold Is the Ultimate Reserve Asset - 20th Feb 21
Is That the S&P 500 And Gold Correction Finally? - 20th Feb 21
Technical Analysis of EUR/USD - 20th Feb 21
The Stock Market Big Picture - 19th Feb 21
Could Silver "Do a Palladium"? - 19th Feb 21
Three More Reasons We Love To Trade Options! - 19th Feb 21
Here’s What’s Eating Away at Gold - 19th Feb 21
Stock Market March Melt-Up Madness - 19th Feb 21
Land Rover Discovery Sport Extreme Ice and Snow vs Windscreen Wipers Test - 19th Feb 21
Real Reason Why Black and Asian BAME are NOT Getting Vaccinated - NHS Covid-19 Vaccinations - 19th Feb 21
New BNPL Regulations Leave Zilch Leading the Way - 19th Feb 21
Work From Home Inflationary House Prices BOOM! - 18th Feb 21
Why This "Excellent" Stock Market Indicator Should Be on Your Radar Screen Now - 18th Feb 21
The Commodity Cycle - 18th Feb 21
Silver Backwardation and Other Evidence of a Silver Supply Squeeze - 18th Feb 21
Why I’m Avoiding These “Bottle Rocket” Stocks Like GameStop - 18th Feb 21
S&P 500 Correction Delayed Again While Silver Runs - 18th Feb 21
Silver Prices Are About to Explode as Stars are Lining up Like Never Before! - 18th Feb 21
Cannabis, Alternative Agra, Mushrooms, and Cryptos – Everything ALT is HOT - 18th Feb 21
Crypto Mining Craze, How We Mined 6 Bitcoins with a PS4 Gaming Console - 18th Feb 21
Stock Market Trend Forecasts Analysis Review - 17th Feb 21
Vaccine Nationalism Is a Multilateral, Neocolonial Failure - 17th Feb 21
First year of a Stocks bull market, or End of a Bubble? - 17th Feb 21
5 Reasons Why People Prefer to Trade Options Over Stocks - 17th Feb 21
The Gold & Gold Stock Corrections Are Normal - 17th Feb 21
WARNING Oculus Quest 2 Update v25 BROKE My VR Headset! - 17th Feb 21
UK Covid-19 Parks PACKED During Lockdown Despite "Stay at Home" Message - Endcliffe Park Sheffield - 17th Feb 21
How to Invest in ETFs in the UK - 17th Feb 21
Real Reason Why Black and Asian Ethnic minorities are NOT Getting Vaccinated - NHS Covid-19 Vaccinations - 16th Feb 21
Gold / Silver: What This "Large Non-Confirmation" May Mean - 16th Feb 21
Major Optimism for Platinum, Silver, and Copper - 16th Feb 21
S&P 500 Correction Looming, Just as in Gold – Or Not? - 16th Feb 21
Stock Market Last pull-back before intermediate top? - 16th Feb 21
GAMESTOP MANIA BUBBLE BURSTS! Investing Newbs Pump and Dump Roller coaster Ride - 16th Feb 21
Thinking About Starting to Trade This Year? Here Are Some Things to Keep in Mind - 16th Feb 21
US House Prices Real Estate Trend Forecast Review - 15th Feb 21
Will Tesla Charge Gold With Energy? - 15th Feb 21
Feeling the Growing Heat and Tensions in Stocks? - 15th Feb 21
Morgan Stanley Warns Gasoline Industry Is About to Become Totally Worthless - 15th Feb 21
Debts Lift Gold - Precious Metal Prices Will Rise on a Deluge of Red Ink - 15th Feb 21
Platinum Begins Big Breakout Rally - 15th Feb 21
How to Change Car Battery Without Losing Power, Memory, Radio Code Settings - 15th Feb 21
Five reasons why a financial advisor can make a big difference to your small business - 15th Feb 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

The Great Fallacy at the Heart of Modern Monetary Theory

Currencies / Fiat Currency Jan 03, 2015 - 03:44 PM GMT

By: Jesse


As with all theories that miss the mark, Modern Monetary Theory presents some insights into the matter of course, but seems to hinge on one or two key assumptions that are more matters of assertion than historical or even practical experience. It is founded not so much an economic theory, but on a belief without a firm foundation.

This paragraph taken from Yves Smith's recent article about MMT

"The sovereign government cannot become insolvent in its own currency; it can always make all payments as they come due in its own currency because it is the ISSUER of the currency, not simply the USER (as a household or private business is).

This issuing capacity means that the government does not face the same kinds of constraints as a private sector user of money, which in turn exposes the fallacy of the household analogy, so beloved in popular economics discourse."

The finances of a sovereign are most assuredly NOT like those of a household. And those of a Bank are not like a household either.

In several ways they can be the inverse of a household in their motivations. For example, when household spending is slack because of an economic shock, the government may wish to engage in more spending to counteract this. Some think it is the role of government to keep the economy out of what is called a liquidity trap or as I understand it a feedback loop of cutbacks that greatly exacerbate the problem of slack demand.

This is one of the points of having a government, that is, to do things that the individual cannot do well alone, no matter how powerful they may think that they are, and to protect the rights of the many from those who are more powerful, both foreign and domestic.

But here is the matter of disputation, emphasis in caps theirs, in italics mine. "The sovereign government cannot become insolvent in its own currency; it can always make all payments as they come due in its own currency because it is the ISSUER of the currency, not simply the USER."

Do you see what is missing here, and more importantly, what is implied?

What is missing is the acknowledgement that the users of a currency, call them 'the market,' can and will and have quite often throughout history questioned the valuation of a currency, and often to the point of practical worthlessness, if certain actions are taken by the sovereign in creating their currency.

This speaks to a principle that I spelled out some time ago, that the practical limit on a sovereign government in printing money is the willingness of the market to accept it at a certain value. And this applies to any sovereign, more readily perhaps if they are smaller and weaker, but always given time nonetheless.

If Russia, for example, were to merely start printing more rubles and set a target valuation for them, they could enforce this internally. And in fact, many sovereigns have done so throughout history. I remember visiting Moscow shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and marveling at the disconnect between the official stated valuations and the actions of the ordinary people in seeking alternatives like the US Dollar, gold, diamonds, and even Western style toilet paper, a more useful sort of paper than the ruble.

Technically Russia could not become insolvent in rubles, because they could always print more of them to pay all their debts, make purchases, and salary payments. The great caveat in this is that Russia had to maintain a measure of control and enforcement to make that principle 'stick.'

And this is what probably makes MMT inadvertently statist, and dangerous. That is because this belief only works within a domain in which the state exercises complete control over valuation.

In the case of the US dollar as a global reserve currency, if this theory is applied, and one of my great fears is that it will be, then there is an inherent need for the Dollar Cartel to continuing expanding their span of control over all of the producing and purchasing world, in order to enforce this belief.

I am sorry to have to disagree with people whom I like and enjoy reading, but as you can see I think there is an important point of disagreement here. And given the number of sovereigns who have defaulted, causing significant pain in their people and in the lives of others, it is not a trivial thing.

I suppose that there are many other things in MMT that are correct, as it seems to be quite the usual thing in many ways, but there is an important exception in the assertion that the state has no limit to its power to set value, because that is exactly what is implied in the canard that a sovereign cannot default in its own currency. Technically it cannot because it can always print more than enough pay off debts and make more purchases. But it can create money in such a way as to break the confidence of the market, and call its valuation into question. And this is a de facto default.

What happens when the people refuse to accept it at their stated value? What happens to people who do not agree that the State can do no wrong? Because if the State can never be at fault in creating and spending money, that makes it a problem and a source of great mischief.

In the historical examples the government always resorts to force of some sort in varying degrees, and official exchange rates, and other actions not only on their own people but on their neighboring sovereigns who refuse to submit to the valuation of a currency by official diktat.

It is a dangerous statement that might be remedied by an acknowledgement that there are practical limitations on the power of the State in creating money, and that it is related to the willing acceptance and confidence of the people in its fairness and justice, and especially people who are not part of that same economic sphere of influence. And if the adherents of a belief cannot agree with this, then it calls into question all the other aspects of a belief that is based on such an absurdity a priori principle.

So it was with the 'efficient market hypothesis,' which believed that people acting in a group are naturally good and rational, and therefore needed little or no regulation. It was widely accepted in economic circles, and those who did not accept it were dismissed as unsophisticated. And it did not matter that this assumption was shown to be blatantly incorrect to anyone who is familiar with the reality of the marketplace, or has ever driven on a modern high speed motorway.

People on the whole are not naturally rational, good, and self-regulating to a degree sufficient to permit with the dispensation of the rule of law. If only this were true! And a persistent minority among them are so much not inclined to the good as to be sociopaths and inclined to be criminals.

And unfortunately politicians who act for the State are not angelically good and beneficent either. But this is what is implied in creating a system that allows for their acquiring and exercising almost unlimited power that is beyond question, in money or in anything else, but in particular something as important as the general means of exchange and valuation.

By Jesse

Welcome to Jesse's Café Américain - These are personal observations about the economy and the markets. In plewis

roviding information, we hope this allows you to make your own decisions in an informed manner, even if it is from learning by our mistakes, which are many.

© 2014 Copyright  Jesse's Café Américain - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Jesse Archive

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules