A New York Times Bestseller
The leading thinker and most visible public advocate of modern monetary theory -- the freshest and most important idea about economics in decades -- delivers a radically different, bold, new understanding for how to build a just and prosperous society.
Stephanie Kelton's brilliant exploration of modern monetary theory (MMT) dramatically changes our understanding of how we can best deal with crucial issues ranging from poverty and inequality to creating jobs, expanding health care coverage, climate change, and building resilient infrastructure. Any ambitious proposal, however, inevitably runs into the buzz saw of how to find the money to pay for it, rooted in myths about deficits that are hobbling us as a country.
Kelton busts through the myths that prevent us from taking action: that the federal government should budget like a household, that deficits will harm the next generation, crowd out private investment, and undermine long-term growth, and that entitlements are propelling us toward a grave fiscal crisis.
MMT, as Kelton shows, shifts the terrain from narrow budgetary questions to one of broader economic and social benefits. With its important new ways of understanding money, taxes, and the critical role of deficit spending, MMT redefines how to responsibly use our resources so that we can maximize our potential as a society. MMT gives us the power to imagine a new politics and a new economy and move from a narrative of scarcity to one of opportunity.
Kelton, a professor of economics at SUNY Stony Brook, debuts with an accessible introduction to modern monetary theory (MMT) and its implications for public policy. According to MMT, the American government, as monopoly issuer of the U.S. dollar, can print and spend money as it sees fit, without undue concern for runaway inflation or ballooning national debt. Lawmakers and economists who maintain that the government should operate like a household (by balancing tax revenue and spending), Kelton writes, mistake the real usage of taxes (not to fund public services, but rather to create demand for currency), and employ the "deficit myth" mainly to avoid funding projects to which they're politically opposed. She also undercuts common notions about unemployment and inflation, and argues that a new, MMT-based economy could help to mitigate climate change and eliminate trade wars. By placing a greater emphasis on "full employment," Kelton writes, the government could spend money to create meaningful jobs while also providing health care and better public education. Kelton writes clearly and directly, and does well to keep the lay reader in mind throughout. This comprehensive, lucid explanation of a much-buzzed about economic theory will resonate with progressives.
This is a readable book about the US deficit and how to think about it. MMT suggests the deft is not a boogie man, as long as the government can print money and inflation stays under control. I’ve heard prominent economists suggest MMT should not be taken seriously but the arguments seem silly (we’d become like Greece or Venezuela) or extremely technical (and hard to follow). There are big ideas in this book that are understandable to almost anyone and I’d like critics to address those ideas, also in ways accessible to the non experts like me. If the ideas in the book are on track then the central thesis, that the way to think about debt, taxes, borrowing etc. is first to imagine the kind of society you want — for example one in which caring for people is valued, ensuring adequate health care and education, addressing climate change, making sure anyone who wants a job has one — and then allocate the resources necessary to achieve it. No serious person could think market based capitalism would ever get us there. Any solution must involve government leadership, a lot of it. Our current politicians are not up to the task — both in terms of their understanding and their honesty and integrity. It’s past time to vote the current lot out and elect decent, smart people.
Most important book I’ve read in my lifetime.