–The single, most misunderstood fact in all of economics. It will blow your mind.

Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
When you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer. Congress and the President are asking, “How should we reduce the federal deficit?” The correct question is, “Should we reduce the federal deficit?” And the answer is “No.”

Sometimes, something is so simple it can be hard to understand, as though “It just couldn’t be that easy.” This is one of those times.

The media don’t understand it. The columnists don’t understand it. The Tea Party, the Republicans, the Democrats and the debt hawks don’t understand it. For sure, President Obama doesn’t understand it. The old-line economics professors do understand it, but they’re afraid to admit it, because it makes them look like boobs for not telling you, all these years.

It is the single most important equation in economics. It’s so simple as to be laughable, yet it will amaze you (unless you are among the one-in-ten-thousand who already understands it). And once you understand it, you will look at the politicians in wonderment at their incredible ignorance.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Saving

This is not a hypothesis. It’s not a theory. It’s not my opinion or anyone else’s opinion. It is an accounting fact. In a closed economy (where money exports equal money imports), your annual savings, plus my annual savings, plus everyone else’s annual savings equals annual federal deficit spending, to the penny. In such an economy, Federal Deficits = Net Private Savings.

This means, if the federal deficit is reduced $1, our combined savings will be reduced by exactly $1 — not $.99; not $1.01 — exactly $1.00.

Today, the politicians in Washington are talking about a $4 trillion (!) deficit reduction. That means our savings will be reduced by $4 trillion. There are about 310 million people in America. A deficit reduction of $4 trillion will reduce the savings of each man, woman and child in America by an average of $12,900.

That’s $12,900 out of your pocket, another $12,900 out of the pockets of your spouse, each of your children and each of your grandchildren. A four-person family will lose $51,600 in savings. If both your parents are alive, they’ll lose another $25,800 in savings.

Why do the politicians want to reduce your savings? Sheer ignorance of Monetary Sovereignty. They think “deficit” is a bad word and want to eliminate it. But a federal deficit is money in your pocket. And a federal surplus? That’s money taken out of your pocket.

How can this be? Again, simple. When federal spending exceeds federal taxes, it’s called a “deficit.” When the federal government spends, its payments for goods and services enter the economy. When you pay taxes, the money leaves the economy. So federal deficits add money to the economy, and where does that money go? Into your pocket as savings. Similarly, federal taxes take money out of your pocket.

(If you want to see a longer, more erudite explanation, you might try Deficit = Savings, or Mosler letter to the President but I think you get the picture.)

Now tell me, how much would you like the federal deficit to be reduced? That is, how much of your savings would you like to lose? Tell your Congressperson.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.


–Is NPR in league with the Tea Party, or simply clueless?

Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

It was at 11:00 AM Central time, today, that I heard a discussion on National Public Radio, station WBEZ. The participants claimed the media are hamstrung by the need to present both sides of each issue.

They lamented the fact that “fairness” required them to give equal weight to opposing opinions, even when one opinion was far more persuasive than the other — and shouldn’t the media have more leeway in exercising their judgement on this?

Aside from the fact that columnists and editorials do exercise a form of censorship (aka “judgement”), there is one other aspect to the conversation that troubled me. The specific subject was the federal deficit. Both participants agreed the deficit must be reduced, so the “two sides” were: Raise taxes or don’t raise taxes.

As readers of this blog know, those are not both sides of the deficit issue. Those “two sides” are mere details in the real issue: Increase the deficit or don’t increase the deficit.

The media, including public radio, have been derelict in not presenting the “increase the deficit” side. And its not as though they don’t know or can’t find out. They easily can access such sources as this web site, Warren Mosler’s The Center of the Universe), Bill Mitchell’s Billyblog ), almost the entire faculty at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (far ahead of traditional Nobel winners like the University of Chicago and Harvard) and many,many others, to see powerful arguments, substantiated by facts, about why the federal deficit should be increased.

Why do they never broadcast these opinions and facts? It’s yet another puzzle surrounding the entire Monetary Sovereignty subject. Because “everyone” agrees the world is flat, the media don’t consider the possibility it may be round, so nothing is said.

There is only one solution. I’m following it and I urge you to follow it: Contact your local NPR station (www.mpr.org) and ask them to do as they claim to do: Broadcast both sides of the issue – the real both sides. If enough people request it, NPR finally may realize they are missing an important part of the economics debate.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.


–What are the best recession/depression investments?

Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

It looks like Congress and the President, with the approval of the media, old-line economists and the voting public, are determined to reduce the deficit. Historically, deficit reduction has resulted in recessions and depressions. Federal deficits are the government’s method for adding money to the economy, and economic growth requires money growth.

So, we will cause ourselves a recession or a depression. I’m resigned to the fact that the vast majority doesn’t believe this, so I suppose I should enjoy the pleasant irony of seeing all the fact doubters lose their money, their jobs and their homes in the years to come.

But I don’t, partly because my own children and grandchildren will be hurt by the mess Congress is creating. I’ll be hurt, too – unless I can think of some recession-proof investments. While it seems nothing can prevent the out-of-control freight train known as “Congress” from destroying America, I’d like to protect my own family as best I can.

Many of you are investors. Some may know far more about stocks, bonds etc than I do. So I ask you this:

Given that we will have deficit reduction, which absolutely, positively will cause a recession or a depression (depending on how big the deficit reduction will be), what are the best investments to make today? Cash may be safest, but there’s no income. Treasuries are safe too, but again, there is scant income. Its a dilemma. What do you suggest?

Thank you for your help.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.


–Am I MMT? Are you?

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

People often ask me whether I am part of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory), and my answer is, “No, I agree with MMT on its factual bases, but disagree with certain areas of opinion.

For instance, it is absolute, undeniable, historical fact that in 1971, the federal government gave itself the unlimited ability to create money, i.e. to spend dollars. This point cannot be argued. And because the government has the unlimited ability to create dollars, it needs neither taxes nor borrowing to support its spending. If taxes and borrowing were zero, this would not affect by even one penny, the government’s ability to create and spend dollars, which means that taxpayers do not pay for federal spending. The federal government does not spend taxpayers’ money. This too is undeniable fact.

If every federal lender (China et al) were to demand payment for all outstanding debts tomorrow, the U.S. government simply could say, “No problem. I’ll push this computer key, which will credit your bank account for the amount of the T-securities you own. All debts will be extinguished.”

Evolving from this is the fact that the federal government cannot be forced into bankruptcy, and evolving from this is the fact that no agency of the federal government can be forced into bankruptcy – not Congress, nor the Supreme Court, nor the Department of Defense, nor the other 1,000 federal agencies, including Social Security and Medicare. All those people who tell you Social Security will be bankrupt in “X” number of years, do not understand that the federal government supports all federal agencies the same way: By federal money creation. And none can be forced into bankruptcy.

Where I depart from MMT is where facts are lacking, i.e. in matters of opinion. MMT believes:
1. Taxation is necessary to give value to money
2. Inflation should be prevented/cured by reducing the money supply.

1. Taxation

Originally, MMTers said federal taxes were necessary to give value to dollars. I pointed out if taxes were necessary, there existed. sufficient state and local taxes to do the job. That belief now has been adopted by MMT.

As I have stated elsewhere in this blog (“Ignorance: Why you will pay more taxes and receive less service in the coming years.”) I do not accept the idea that taxes are necessary for money demand. People accept dollars because:

-They are handier than barter.
-Everyone else accepts them.
-The government has made dollars legal tender in payment of all bills.
-There is no other governmentally authorized form of money.
-If you sell a product or service to the government, it will pay you in dollars.
-If you receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal benefit, you and your service providers will receive payment in dollars.
-If you receive food stamps, your grocer will be paid in dollars
-Your army pay will be in dollars
-Federal stimulus payments, to cure recessions, will be in dollars
-In 2010, the federal government spend $3.7 trillion, all in dollars. The state governments spent trillions more, also in dollars.

Then there are non-tax payments to the government:
*Fines and Fees (for instance, in court)
*Fees (for instance, garbage pickup)
*Licenses (hunting, fishing, driving)
*Services (real estate registration)

(*Admittedly, these could be eliminated by a Monetarily Sovereign government and could be considered taxes)

Millions of people in America did not pay taxes last year, but they accept dollars. Of course, taxes are not going to disappear, so in practical essence the question is moot.

2. Inflation

I believe inflation can and should be prevented/cured by raising interest rates. MMT holds that rather than curing inflation, raising interest rates actually exacerbates inflation. Their logic is: Raising interest rates, by increasing the cost of borrowing, increases the cost of production, which results in inflation. I suggest that interest payments are a minuscule part of most company’s costs, and increases in interest payments are even less important — not enough to cause significant price increases.

Instead, we should consider money to be a commodity, the value of which is determined by supply and demand. Yes, increase the supply, and the value goes down – unless you also increase the demand, which is influenced by the reward for owning money – i.e. interest. The higher the interest, the greater the demand for money. That is why, when interest rates go up, the demand for non-money (stocks, real estate) declines, while the demand for money (bank CDs, savings accounts, money market accounts) goes up.

MMT believes inflation can and should be prevented/cured by reducing the money supply, i.e by spending reductions and/or tax increases. However, history shows that every depression in U.S history, and most recessions, have coincided with reductions in debt growth or with actual reductions in debt. While recessions and depressions can stop inflation, they certainly are a bad medicine.

So in summary, I agree with the factual basis of MMT, and argue (without proof) against certain opinions held by MMT. If you want to give what I believe a name, call it “Monetary Sovereignty.” I’m not MMT. Are you?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”