June 25, 2018

It has been said before but economists still don’t get it

Comment on Nick Rowe on ‘Hydraulic Monetarism’

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference

Nick Rowe concludes: “I’ve said all this before (and it’s all in Yeager and Clower and others). But maybe I’ve said it clearer this time.”

It has been said before: microfounded economics from utility maximization to supply-demand-equilibrium is false for 150+ years but one fraction of economists do not grasp it (= Orthodoxy) and the other fraction has never come forward with a superior alternative (= Heterodoxy). The theory of money circles in the endless loop of repetition ― except for MMT.

MMT has made the valid point that orthodox monetary theory is stuck with ridiculous barter stories and entirely misses the reality of fiat money. Fiat money does not circulate but is permanently created and destroyed. So, there is no fixed stock of money, to begin with. Let us call this lethal blunder of Orthodoxy the Moneybag Fallacy.

The Moneybag Fallacy was rectified by Wicksell and his giro system but for some reason, the news never illuminated the mental darkness of the Quantity Theory folks.

In the monetary economy, there is no direct barter, i.e. part of the stock of good 1 against part of the stock of good 2, but indirect barter, i.e. flow of labor time against the flow of goods. Money is created by wage payments and destroyed by consumption expenditures. In the most elementary case C=Yw, that is, consumption expenditures are equal to wage income, that is, money is zero at the beginning of the period under consideration, is then created and destroyed through the transactions between the business and the household sector, and is zero at the end of the period. NO moneybag there! No circulation there! NO hydraulics there!

In the elementary production-consumption economy, three configurations are logically possible: (i) consumption expenditures are equal to wage income C=Yw, (ii) C is less than Yw, (iii) C is greater than Yw.
  • In case (i) the monetary saving of the household sector Sm≡Yw−C is zero and the monetary profit of the business sector Qm≡C−Yw, too, is zero. The product market is cleared, i.e. X=O, in all three cases.
  • In case (ii) monetary saving Sm is positive and the business sector makes a loss, i.e. Qm is negative.
  • In case (iii) monetary saving Sm is negative, i.e. the household sector dissaves, and the business sector makes a profit, i.e. Qm is positive.#1
It always holds Qm≡−Sm, in other words, at the heart of the monetary economy is an identity: the business sector’s deficit (surplus) equals the household sector’s surplus (deficit). Put bluntly, loss is the counterpart of saving and profit is the counterpart of dissaving. This is the most elementary form of the macroeconomic Profit Law.

In case (ii)
  • the household sector ends up with a stock of money = deposits at the central bank and the business sector ends up with overdrafts,
  • the change of the household sector’s stock is given by ΔM=Yw−C,
  • the economy falls into recession.
In case (iii) it is just the other way round.

The household sector’s stock at the end of period t is given as the discrete numerical integral Mt=∑ΔM+M0 with M0=0.

Both the commonplace Quantity Theory and Hydraulic Monetarism is proto-scientific garbage.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Money and time

Related 'MMT: Richard Murphy’s battle-for-money hoax' and 'Nick Rowe’s soapbubbling about money' and 'Money: from silly stories to the true theory' and 'Rectification and generalization of MMT' and 'MMT sucks'.

REPLY to Nick Rowe on Jun 26

You said in the intro: “If everyone wants to increase their stock of land, and the aggregate stock of land does not increase to satisfy their desire, there is nothing they can do in aggregate, and there is nothing they can do as individuals.”

To compare money with land is as gaga as it gets. MMTers don’t get tired of shouting from every rooftop that money is produced out of nothing at almost no cost. As a matter of principle, the economy NEVER runs out of transaction money if the central bank understands what their primary task is.#1, #2

The apparatus of supply-demand-equilibrium is inapplicable to fiat money. To speak of a money “supply” is the Moneybag Fallacy all over again.

If every household “wants to increase their stock of money” they reduce their consumption expenditures. In this case, C is less than Yw and the deposits of the household sector (= money) increase and the overdrafts of the business sector increase also because the business sector makes a loss and both sides of the central bank’s balance sheet are always equal.

The same holds for a gold-coin economy. If the business sector pays the workers in gold coins and they fully spend their income, i.e. C=Yw, then the coins return to the business sector. If the households save, i.e. C less than Yw, then the household sector’s stock of coins increases until the end of the period under consideration and the business sector’s stock decreases. The business sector makes a macroeconomic loss and this triggers a recession.

In the elementary production-consumption economy, nobody can stop the households from increasing their stocks of money as long as they receive a wage income. The form of money, fiat money or gold coins, is irrelevant.

The household sector’s stock of money develops according to the discrete numerical integral Mt=∑ΔM+M0, and the business sector’s stock is the exact mirror image except for the initial stock which, however, is zero in a fiat money system.#3

Economists never got the relationship between macroeconomic flows, differences of flows, change of stocks, and stocks straight.

#1 The creation and value of money and near-monies
#2 MMT: Richard Murphy’s battle-for-money hoax
#3 Reconstructing the Quantity Theory


REPLY to Benjamin Cole, louis, Majromax, Jeremy Fox, Frank Restly, Roger Sparks on Jun 27

The history of money from the cowrie shell to bullion to coins to notes and to the credit card shows a clear tendency of progressive abstraction. The conclusion of the history of money is that money is information and that the concrete forms of monies are nothing but different data carriers. In the monetary economy of the digital age, the ultimate data carrier is the server at the central bank.

The pathetic blunder of monetary theory is the Fallacy of Insufficient Abstraction. Your idiocy consists of getting caught by the numerous outer forms of money. The abstract essence of the phenomenon is this: Money = Information. There is no ambiguity about money. Money is deposits at the central bank. Bank deposits are near money, not money.#2 And all other historical forms have to be treated as surrogates/substitutes/prefigurations of the real thing.

The theory of money is macro. Some people have realized this: “However, Post Keynesians and Circuitists both hold strongly to the view that the orthodox approach of firstly analyzing a barter economy, and then adding on money as an afterthought, is unhelpful as a foundation for any economic analysis.” (Fontana)

So, you are way behind the curve. The theory of money has to be built upon macrofoundations and not upon silly microeconomic barter or casino stories. The analytical framework is given by the ‘monetary theory of production’. (Keynes)

The remark “I have seen casino chips used for cash in Las Vegas” is not a contribution to the theory of money but proof that the representative economist has no idea about how the monetary economy works and how money functions. It is a wonder of Nature that a dead brain does not impair the faculty of blathering in the econblogosphere.

#1 Money: from silly stories to the true theory
#2 Basics of monetary theory: the two monies

REPLY to Frank Restly on Jun 28

You say: “Simplistic stripped down models can aid in understanding ― it all depends on your audience.”

Because economics is a science the primary audience is the scientific community. The scientific community never had any problems with stripped down models but with FALSE models.

The story of how Zeus threw his thunderbolt at Typhon is NOT a stripped down model of how electricity works but a false model. The same holds for all barter stories. The defining characteristic of the economy is that labor time is exchanged for IOUs/money and money is exchanged for goods. The subject matter of economics is NOT barter or barter with a money-good but the ‘monetary theory of production’ (Keynes).

So, the most simplistic stripped down model in economics has to be a macro model. The ultimate methodological blunder of economics is microfoundations.

The scientific failure of economics is due to economists clinging to microfoundations. A scientist needs to read the microeconomic axioms#1 only once and knows for sure that they are proto-scientific garbage. And methodology tells us that if the axiomatic foundations are false the whole analytical superstructure is false.

Not to see that monetary theory has to be macrofounded is the disqualifying scientific blunder of Nick Rowe. It is not the only one.#3

#1 “HC1 economic agents have preferences over outcomes; HC2 agents individually optimize subject to constraints; HC3 agent choice is manifest in interrelated markets; HC4 agents have full relevant knowledge; HC5 observable outcomes are coordinated, and must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)
#2 Buddha on the microeconomic men in the dark
#3 Nick Rowe’s soapbubbling about money
► Is Nick Rowe stupid or corrupt or both?
► I is never equal S and even Nick Rowe will eventually grasp it
► Cryptoeconomics ― the best of Nick Rowe’s spam folder
► Getting out of IS-LM = Getting out of despair
► Nick Rowe: Bury me at the end of coal-pit
► Macro poultry entrails reading
► Worthless Canadian model bricolage
► The Humpty Dumpty methodology

REPLY to Jacques René Giguère on Jul 4

You say: “Money, cowrie shells or script, was formalized when the village grew too big and exceeded the Dunbar limit.”

You confound historical storytelling with scientific theory. A historical account of the various forms of money is NO substitute for the theory of money, just as the history of the burning of Rome, London, San Francisco etcetera is no substitute for the theory of thermodynamics.

The theory of money has to be embedded in a consistent macroeconomic framework or in what Keynes called the ‘monetary theory of production’.#1, #2

The subject matter of economics is how the actual monetary economy works and NOT historical storytelling.#3

#1 The ultimate ― analytical ― origin of money
#2 How money emerges out of nothing ― the functional account
#3 It has been said before but economists still don’t get it