The politics of MMT

The politics of MMT

I was prompted to remember some of my recent Macroeconomic reading as someone was asking about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). I read Reclaiming the State last year, and I picked it up again to re-read the section on International Trade. I have not yet finished it, but I remember thinking that while public finance may not be a constraint on the economy, the long term balance of trade may well be, even for a monetary sovereign. Meanwhile this article “Brexit the slippery slope of left sovereigntism from modern monetary  theory to spiked” at https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com explores the political inertia that MMT’s exponents may be riding; much of it is based on an interview with James Meadway, once John McDonnell’s economics adviser which is available, at the link below/overleaf. For Coatsey’s regular readers they will be unsurprised at his pugnacious attacks on Faizi’s endorsement of the Full Brexit and Spiked. Schneider’s musing are interesting in that he emphasises that MMT, like Keynesianism  says nothing about inequality and ownership of the means of production. (The interview also addresses the moderation in Labour’s 2017 Manifesto.) …  …

British Steel

Our minds have been distracted or mine has anyway, but British Steel became insolvent last week. Of course a huge blame game is started. Have the Chinese been ‘dumping’ steel on the rest of the world? Could the Govt. or the EU have protected it? Did the single market aid rules stop the Govt doing so?

Is China dumping? This article at the Conversation says “Yes”, big time!

This article at fullfact.org, “Is the UK calling for EU duties for Chinese steel?” deals with next three questions. The EU have raised duties but for many years the UK Government has been resisting more; they wished to avoid retaliation and for ideological reasons. There’s probably some “don’t give a shit” there too. It would seem that this is another policy area where New Labour failed to support its natural people.

The calls for renationalisation are now, rightly growing …

Creative Indusry exports or not

Over 6 months ago, I decided to see how true the proposition that Creative Industries are foreign exchange earners for the economy as claimed by British Music and the Shadow Culture team. I asked my MP to ask a written question and the replies are linked to in a comment on the above article. I asked for a broader range of industry classifications as I was interested in broader questions than just the creative industry.

I think this is validly constructed.

EMI was sold to Sony & Universal in 2012 and so their balance of trade position was reversed at that time and they were a competitively large music publisher at the time. I last looked at the structure of the global music industry a long time ago, pre-streaming, pre-Apple and pre-Spotify (which is incorporated in Sweden).

Five years out of nine, the industry was in deficit. The final year surplus is extraordinarily large, it would be good to see 2017/2018 and/or understand the reasons for this number. It is not historically true to say that the Creative industries are a net contributor to the foreign exchange account.

I should add that the aggregate trade current account deficit is run as at about minus £2.5bn /month over the period in question. …

Trade & Brexit

Trade & Brexit

A friend posted a link to Larry Elliot’s article, “Ignore the free-trade evangelists. Brexit can create a fairer economy“, suggesting its critique of international trade implied some sunny upland in a post Brexit world. The article is sub titled “Free market economics created a world fit for multinationals. But we need less frictionless trade and more local control”., using a global context argument and yet diminishing the regulatory power which we share with the rest of the EU. The EU have sanctioned Microsoft, Intel, Apple & Google. The EU killed the ACTA & TTIP trade agreements. (Although not CETA, the Canadian version of TTIP). That is local control.

In no post-Brexit world, where we will take years to join the WTO and make new agreements with the 92 countries whose agreements we will have voided, will there be a vibrant British or Sterling economy, Elliot, and his fans are with Prof Minford in permitting if not encouraging the so-called legacy manufacturing industry to off-shore.

We should note that our Balance of Payments has been in deficit for, well forever really but is current running at £100bn p.a. about the same size as the crisis debt/deficit level that the Tories, supported by both the LibDems and rump New Labour used to justify austerity.

The UK will be poorer, and this misery will not be shared evenly and people will get angry. Anyone, with their hand dirty will be blamed. …

Positive balance

The BBC are very proud of their contribution to the balance of payments through the licensing of their content. I decided today to see if they do, in fact, contribute once the rights payments to 3rd party companies is taken into account. I have asked the DDCMS but the BBC is subject to FOI questions. I need to think about how I phrase the question, but Heather Brook’s book, should help, if I can find it. …

Brexit and Labour’s 2017 Manifesto II

In my article “Brexit and Labour’s 2017 manifesto“, and on my wiki article, “Stability & Growth Pact”, I talk about the reasons supporters of Labour’s 2017 manifesto might believe that they need to leave the EU to run fiscal deficits, nationalise critical businesses and offer state aid. I had come to the conclusion that our current terms of membership allowed the UK to pursue whatever macro-economic policies it chose and to be able to pursue its nationalisations. There would seem to be some questions on state aid and some people have raised the issue of the Railway Directive and its possible impact on the single market and nationalisation. A campaigning comrade of mine, from Southampton Itchen CLP has researched these issues and produced the following report, overleaf,  which he also published on Facebook wall.

He concludes, the notion that all EU activity is driven solely by Neo-Liberal ideology is in my opinion a mistaken assumption. In many instances there are additional rationales underpinning the EU rules that go beyond mere market obsession. The EU has pressed for more open networks in telecoms and energy but open access across national energy networks is critical for renewable energy production being made viable on a grand scale. Whereas in the water sector, where it is not feasible to create overlaying pan-European services, the EU has never shown any interest in legislating for open networks.

I would not go so far as to suggest the EU does not have an over optimistic view of the market system or tend to assumptions about private sector performance vs public sector that are not sustained by the economic models relied upon and it is possible to have a good discussion about Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.

On the other hand, free market supremacy is a pretty widespread assumption in the modern western world. The victory of the Neo-Liberal ideology has been to shift public perceptions to accept the ‘private good, pubic bad’ mantra as a gospel truth. That human beings in the EU broadly accept the same mantra is not really a surprise. The challenge to us as socialists is not just to reshape the UK economy to provide for greater equality and justice but to begin to reshape the underlying assumptions about human and market behaviour that underpin much of the capitalist economic system. …

Sectoral Balance of Trade

As one does I am considering the international trade implications of copyrighted products? I wonder what the balance of trade state is, over the last five years for Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) groups J.58 broken down to 58.1 & 58.2, J.60, J.62, M.72, R.90? These are Publishing inc. computer games and other software, Programming and Broadcasting, Computer Programming and Consultancy, Scientific Research and Creative Arts and Entertainment?

It would also be good to see the balance of trade for the UK drug industry but it is no longer a single SIC and I am afraid that much as for the five SIC classes above, the real surplus/deficit will be hidden through inter-company transfers, i.e. the import is by one company that buys from a another foreign division of itself and the trade is a sterling internal market trade. …