What Is Modern Monetary Theory? And How Is It Being Used in Our Current Political Discourse?


Expert Pitch

Buffalo State faculty participated in a recent panel discussion titled “MMT: Mystery, Magic or Trend.”  The panel featured: Fred Floss, chair and professor of economics and finance; Bruce Fisher, director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies; Ted Schmidt, professor of economics and finance, and Joelle Leclaire, associate professor of economics and finance.

Essentially, Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT, proposes that a government that issues its own money will not fail at meeting its obligations. No matter if it’s increased military spending or universal healthcare, the government can print money to cover its obligations, and pay the bills. In fact, some say that President Donald Trump has embraced the theory, as the deficit has doubled since he’s been in office.  

Once considered a fringe and underground economic theory, MMT has recently cropped up, and is going mainstream, Schmidt said.

“The ideas have started to gain popularity,” he said.

One of the ways it’s entered the current political culture is through U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal (GND). The representative of New York's 14th congressional district has  floated MMT as a way to  fund the GND.

Leclaire is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, which is the academic home of MMT. That gives her extra insight into the theory, Schmidt said.

The downside of MMT, some economists argue, is that it could lead to various inflationary risks.

While it’s mostly progressive Democrats who are pushing the theory, Schmidt said, Republicans tend to use deficit spending similar to what MMT suggests.

“It’s a weird thing,” he said.

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