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MMT - An Excellent Analogy



October 19, 2011 – Comments (3)

This is a nice way to think about the situation. This also mirrors a number of statements that I made in this post.


19 October 2011 by Cullen Roche

A reader emails this in from “Peter” on Neil Wilson’s site.  I’m not sure if this is Pragcap readers PeterC, PeterD or some other Peter, but who ever it is, thanks!:

    “MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) focuses on the way monetary systems such as ours operate and the implications from this knowledge.

    Is MMT advocating a free lunch? Is it saying that we can simply spend our way to prosperity? No! It instead identifies the real as opposed to imaginary constraints on economic growth.

    Think about our economy as of a car that needs to get from where we’re now to its destination – Prosperity! MMT recognizes that the car has a gas pedal and a brake pedal and a steering wheel that if used right can get us to our destination. Think of the gas pedal as injection of money into the economy (also known as “spending”), the brake as removal of money from the economy (also known as “taxation”) The driver is the government and it can steer the car in various directions. Other countries have their own economies, so, think of other cars sharing the roads with yours.

    The “deficit-hawks” believe that big deficits are always bad. Deficit is the difference between spending and taxation. So, their position is similar to a belief that too much pressing on gas (without counterbalancing by braking) causes crashes. While it is true that if you go too fast you are more likely to crash, pressing on gas and going too fast are two separate things. For example, when the car is going uphill or stalling, you really need to step on the gas to get it moving. So, deficit hawks in their myopia ignore the road conditions. They concentrate on numbers that are meaningless without a context. Additionally, their fear of spending prevents the economy from realizing its potential. Either they’d have you press on the gas very gently (spend less) or brake too often (tax more), without realizing that they might be causing the car to move too slowly and by the time you’d get to the destination Prosperity – if you got there – the rest of the world was there long ago and left to even further destinations.

    The deficit hawks don’t know how the car really works. They don’t even understand that the deficit should be automatically adjusted to road conditions. Imagine if somebody told you you should never press on gas continuously without braking for more than, say, 1 mile. You’d laugh and say: this depends on where you drive and a myriad of other things!

    What MMT is saying, is that you should not be shy to press on the gas when needed, to press on the brakes when needed and to steer the wheel as needed. MMT allows you to take the full potential of the car, without imposing arbitrary constraints (such as “pressing on the gas is bad” or “pressing on the brakes is bad”). Is there a fool-proof way to get to the destination? No, there is always an risk and sometimes the driver will make a mistake and sometimes crashes can even occur because of other driver’s actions. But have you ever seen a fool-proof system?”

3 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On October 19, 2011 at 2:45 PM, PeteysTired (< 20) wrote:

Think about our economy as of a car that needs to get from where we’re now to its destination – Prosperity!

How do MMTers define prosperity?

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#2) On October 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM, constructive (99.96) wrote:

For example, when the car is going uphill or stalling, you really need to step on the gas to get it moving.

If your car stalls, hitting the gas is not going to help.  If possible you should pull off the road and wait a few minutes before restarting.

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#3) On October 19, 2011 at 3:20 PM, Frankydontfailme (29.36) wrote:

Analogy, the economy is a car. The function of a car is to drive. 

Deficit spending (money printing) is the gas pedal. Therefore, without money printing, the economy can not thrive.

Yawn. The economy is organic. It will function long after fiat money is gone, long after government's stop deficit spending. Really a terrible analogy.

While I have respect for Binve (even though I strongly disagree with his economics), I have zero respect for Cullen Roche.

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