Two areas where there’s increasing discussion in terms of economics are the issues of monetary theory and basic income. By putting attitudes towards UBI on one axis, and attitudes towards money creation on another we can create a kind of monetary “compass”, to help us navigate this intellectual terrain.

I drew this up to visualise where various thinkers/ideas fall in relation to the three economic ideas that are most interesting to me. A simplified version of it ended up in this essay of mine Remittances From Nowhere in which I argue for a Consumer Monetary Theory style basic income at the global level.

But I still had this more detailed version in my notes so I decided to give it a bit of a polish and share it in case it’s useful to anyone else. There’s also no methodology here beyond my own guestimation, and the choices of who…


We are completely, bowleggedly, phillips-head screwed.

Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… ― La Haine

The headline popped onto my screen unasked for, in a notification from google news: Stock Market Hits New Highs on Stimulus Hopes.

Morons, I thought. They still don’t get it. They still think that the stock market (or bitcoin, or housing) is high despite the weakness of the real economy. …


The inflationary effects of a basic income would allow central banks to raise interest rates, slowing the flow of money from the financial sector into asset bubbles like stocks and, crucially, housing.

One of the most common objections raised to a basic income is that house prices and rents will simply be raised and erase all the income gains, leaving people back where they started. …


The phrase is a cliche: “We’re born alone, and we die alone”.

Some minority of people may, by mishap, despite our best efforts as a society, die alone. But mostly they are nursed in their deathbeds.

But actually, literally, absolutely no one is ever born alone. Even in the extreme case, the most isolated birth possible, the baby is still not born alone. The mother is, by definition, always there. My sister recently gave birth to twins. So there were three people involved intimately in the event, at the level of direct participation, then a circle around them of professional…


So I have been watching the Netflix doco “A Perfect Crime” which focusses on the assisination of Detlev Rohwedder, who was the head of Treuhand, the responsible for reforming the East German economy after reunification.

The context of the crime is the conflict between the needs of labour and the needs of capital. East German industry had been set up to make sure everyone had a job, and that those jobs paid well. But the firms were not efficient or competetive in the global market. …


It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. — David Graeber

The recently deceased anthropologist David Greaber’s seminal essay, followed soon after by the book, “Bullshit Jobs”, was undoubtedly one of the most impactful intellectual efforts of recent times, being translated into several languages, resonating with people across the globe and becoming a touchstone of political and economic discourse.

Graeber has no trouble identifying the what of the problem — work…


[The following was originally published on Democracy Without Borders]

Recently United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “a new alliance of democracies” aimed at confronting China. This put democratic globalists in a difficult position. If you want global democracy, then surely an alliance of democracies confronting the lone authoritarian superpower is a good thing? But US imperialism is also an obstacle to a fairer, more equal world order.

Democracy Without Borders has already published one blog about this by Sven Biscop which focuses on this second concern, asking (from an entirely eurocentric perspective) whether this would be an…


“Until your heart breaks, you are useless” — Unknown

The taxi turned off the freeway onto a lonely exit ramp.

“Don’t worry,” said the driver “he speaks Arabic”

“Give me your bag” said the man in the passenger seat, as he turned, gun in hand.

I looked into his cold, hard eyes and was flooded with relief. There was only one thing to do.

I had been unsure of myself a second before, was I being paranoid, or was the taxi really going the wrong way? Should I make a fuss? Should I argue? …


Modern Monetary Theory or “MMT” has come of age. Everywhere you look it seems there are explainers for the once controversial theory that makes the case that the government can’t run out of money. The government borrows money by selling debt to big investors in the form of interest bearing bonds. When demand for these bonds starts to wane, the Reserve Bank starts buying them up with money it creates out of nowhere. When the dance is over, the treasury ends up owing money to the Reserve Bank.

This debt, owed as it is by one part of the government…


The best things in life are free.

It’s increasingly accepted that the government can’t run out of the currency it issues. The true constraint on government spending is not the receipt of tax income or the need to “balance the budget”, but inflation. If the government spends too much money into existence, then the currency will lose value as too much demand (spending) chases too little supply (goods and services to spend it on).

A basic income, it is often claimed, would be an especially dangerous and inflationary kind of government spending, since it would allow people to opt out of productive work, while increasing spending and…

Austin G Mackell

Recovering journo. Still at war with bullshit. Cofounder of the Stone research transparency system. www.writeinstone.com

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