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Activist #MMT - podcast

Jul 17, 2022

Welcome to episode 127 of Activist #MMT. Today's part three in a six-part series with Texas Christian University (TCU) economics professor and Cowboy Economist, John Harvey. The first three parts are hosted by me, the final three by MMT researcher, Texas lawyer, and my previous guest, Johnathan Wilson. Jonathan and John talk about how MMT can apply to nations outside the US, using Russia as an example, and also some of the core theoretical and ideological differences between MMTers and mainstream economists, focusing on a recent critique of MMT by Drumetz and Pfeister. (You can hear my own interview with Jonathan in episodes 106 and 107.)

(A list of the audio chapters in this episode can be found at the bottom of this post. Here's a link to part one, which contains a link to all six parts in the series. For a link to every Activist #MMT interview with John – plus the full audio of every Cowboy Economist video (!) – go here.)

Today in part three, John and I finish our conversation about his chapter in the upcoming book called Modern Monetary Theory: Key Insights, Leading Thinkers. The book will be published by the UK-based Gower Institute for Modern Money Studies, or GIMMS; it's edited by L. Randall Wray and GIMMS; and is scheduled for January 2023 release. John is one of 15 authors. John's chapter is called "Modern Monetary Theory, the UK, and pound sterling". It addresses the following criticism of MMT (this is a quote from the chapter): "MMT-inspired policies will cause high rates of price inflation which will, in turn, lower the international value of a domestic currency – perhaps catastrophically." This conversation discusses the three major false assumptions underlying this criticism.

We end on two mostly unrelated topics. The first is how, when it comes to those we directly interact with, on a day-to-day basis, mainstream economic theory is not in fact, a massive conspiracy. Therefore we should almost always err on the side of being diplomats instead of assassins. Or as I like to put it: rage against the system, be kind to individuals. Most who agree with mainstream theory genuinely believe it to be accurate. As I mention, I do believe it takes a lot of shutting out of dissenting views and of those that hold them, in order to enable this true belief. However, that filtering always occurs at the level above, starting with those who rank the economic journals and universities. Another important example relevant to my own experience, are those who moderate extremely large social media discussion groups, who prevent dissenting thought from ever appearing in the first place.

The second is the good and bad of math in economics. Basically, there's nothing wrong with math, just as there's nothing wrong with any tool. All that matters is how you use it.

If you like what you hear, then I hope you might consider becoming a monthly patron of Activist #MMT. Patrons have exclusive access to several full-length episodes, right now. A full list is here, each with a brief highlight. Patrons also get the opportunity to ask my academic guests questions, such as my recent episode with Warren Mosler, last week's episode with John, and my next interview with John Harvey. They also support the development of my large and growing collection of learn MMT resources. To become a patron, you can start by going to Every little bit helps a little bit, and it all adds up to a lot. Thanks.

And now, let's get right back to my conversation with John Harvey. Enjoy.

Audio chapters

  • 5:43 - Purchasing Power Parity
  • 10:11 - Purchasing Power Parity: Follow-ups
  • 15:47 - "Mainstream economic theory is one big conspiracy."
  • 26:17 - Hans Visser and Keynes' gloomy view
  • 27:29 - Conspiracy, rage against the system, be kind to individuals. Every higher level shuts out dissenting thought
  • 34:53 - The good and bad of math in economics
  • 45:18 - My responses
  • 50:24 - Levy summer session and goodbyes
  • 57:26 - Duplicate of introduction, but with no background music