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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Initial Comments On The New MMT Macro Textbook


I have finally got my copy of the new Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) macro textbook by William Mitchell, L. Randall Wray, and Martin Watts (affiliate link). This article is just some initial comments; I may or may not write a review later. It is possible that I will just highlight interesting sections over the coming weeks.

The key thing to keep in mind that this is an undergraduate textbook -- in some senses, it is less advanced than many of my articles. For readers who are new to economics, this may make this an ideal introduction to the field of macroeconomics. For more advanced readers who want to know the details of how MMT is differentiated from other theories, the coverage of some controversial topics may not be as advanced as might be necessary. You are still stuck with needing to look into the academic literature to deal with advanced critiques. (The textbook Post-Keynesian Economics: New Foundations by Marc Lavoie offers a more advanced take on post-Keynesian economics, albeit not focused on MMT.)

(From my perspective, this leaves me a niche to write about MMT -- concise, more advanced introductory works for people with some familiarity with macro.)

That said, the coverage of topics is extremely wide-ranging. (The product page on Amazon allows you to scan the table of contents to see what is covered.) If the various critics of MMT were arguing in good faith, they would notice the breadth of the subject matter, and realise that MMT is not just a couple observations about government finance. (One could argue that most of this breadth is coming from "broad-tent post-Keynesian economics," which still leaves the criticisms of various post-Keynesians about the contributions of "MMT" versus "post-Keynesian economics." However, anyone who is familiar with post-Keynesian economics realises that there are post-Keynesians whose main output is pointless squabbling.)

Anyone who is interested in MMT and is not already familiar with the academic literature should consider this textbook as a way of getting an overview of the theory.

(c) Brian Romanchuk 2019

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