John Quiggin: MMT:
My brief summary is that MMT pretty much coincides with traditional Keynesian views in the context of a liquidity trap, but that I reject the claim commonly made in popular presentations of MMT, that increased government spending doesn’t imply increased taxation…. MMT… is based on the idea of functional finance.…
What happens… if governments decide that an increase in public expenditure is warranted? Assuming that levels of money creation and debt issue were already set appropriately… there is no obvious reason for them to change. But then… the increase in public expenditure must translate, dollar for dollar into an increase in tax revenue. Perhaps there is an explanation for why an increase in desired public spending would change the settings of macro policy in the direction of more money creation, but if so, I haven’t seen it….
There are plenty of examples of governments trying to finance their operations through the printing press, and the outcome is always the same: inflation at first, then hyperinflation, then the end of the currency. Zimbabwe, which now has no currency of its own, is just the latest example. There are various possible mechanisms by which this outcome occurs, but the central point is that the monetary base is typically around 10 per cent of GDP…. Any substantial increase in the monetary base can be sustained only if interest rates are pushed down to low levels, ultimately to zero. And, except in crisis conditions like those of the present, zero interest rates will lead fairly rapidly to inflation in asset prices and ultimately in consumer prices….
The higher the debt ratio, the stronger the incentive for the government to default or inflate their way out of trouble, and therefore the higher the interest rates they will face. At some point the capacity to borrow runs out.