Monday, August 26, 2013

The Ecclesian Renaissance

They say that "ideas never really die, they just get recycled" This adage has become increasingly true of macroeconomics in the modern era.

It is quite depressing to see not just economists, but government policymakers from the 1930's and 40's describing all the same realities of a fiat currency issuing government that MMTers are pushing for today. There has been such a dark age of Macroeconomics since World War Two, with the current crop of economists having been brought up in the myopic age of neoliberalism.

For example, self described conservative, Mariner Eccles was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the New Deal/WW2 era and clearly understood many thingsabout modern economic systems that current policymakers and economist are hopelessly confounded by. Various MMTers have found and disseminated some of Eccles more important documents recently, which have painfully revealed how dumb modern macro has become.

Even before Keynes published his seminal "General Theory" in 1936,  Eccles clearly and repeatedly stated that federal taxes serve not to raise revenue, but as a way to control inflation. He openly acknowledged that post gold standard, the federal government's only spending constraint was inflation, not any arbitrary dollar amount or debt/gdp ratio. He strongly advocated for lower taxes and higher spending to boost the depressed economy, and even fought FDR over the funding Social Security with payroll taxes, arguing correctly that such a "tax and savings" process was economically meaningless and counter-stimulative (sound familiar?!?!)

Godammit. There's nothing new under the Red, White and Blue. Since the name of Lord Keynes has been dragged through the mud by the right wing propaganda machines, lets call ourselves "Ecclesians". Its new and has an almost biblical sound to it. Obviously Eccles was smart enough that they named the Fed Board of Governors building in Washington, DC after him. Plus Eccles has the benefit of being an American who worked in government, and was not, to my knowledge, an "effete homosexual" as Keynes was described by the always-classy Niall Ferguson a few months ago.

We need an Ecclesian Renaissance in macroecon policymaking.

No comments: