Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference Report

In my last diary, I wrote about a plan to hold a Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on April 28, the day of the Peterson Foundation Deficit Summit.  The Conference took place and was a great event.  It even got covered by the Wall Street Journal's market watch, in an article entitled "Heresy! Employment matters more than deficits", here's a taste:


This real economy objective -- making sure everybody has a job -- is more important for the public good, these economists believe, than targeting arbitrary and irrelevant deficit-to-GDP or debt-to-GDP ratios. Full employment is the key to real fiscal sustainability, they say. Achieve that and the rest will take care of itself.

Now Mitchell and his colleagues at the Washington teach-in, as they modestly acknowledge, are hardly household names. The only economist aligned with this group with any name recognition is University of Texas professor James K. Galbraith, son of the legendary John Kenneth Galbraith.

The thing is, another post-Keynesian, Hyman Minsky, was also pretty marginal until all of a sudden two years ago his work on asset bubbles and financial crises seemed suddenly very relevant. At the recent annual conference in his honor in New York sponsored by the Levy Institute at Bard College -- a hotbed of post-Keynesians -- several Fed officials, including a number of regional presidents, were speakers.

So the next time a crisis comes that forces us to re-think what government deficits mean -- and it may be sooner than we think -- Bill Mitchell and his group are ready with some answers.

For those interested in learning about Modern Monetary Theory and why the deficit terrorists are wrong, the presentations (audio and powerpoint) can be found here.  It is critical that we topple the neoliberal orthodoxy that has been destroying the lives of regular Americans for the past 40 years.  To do that we must provide not only visible opposition, but an intellectual framework that sets out another way. 

The conference ended with a policy proposal called a Jobs Guarantee.  The link here is to the very brief live blog of the proposal.  The entire proposal is laid out in more detail, including how it would benefit all Americans and not just the unemployed, in the last presentation of the day.


To find out more about the conference, check out its main website.

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