lunes, 17 de octubre de 2011

Deuda, déficits y Teoría Moderna del Dinero

Aquí el enlace a una entrevista que Harvard International Review le hace a Bill Mitchell sobre "Deuda, déficits y Teoría Moderna del Dinero".

Fragmento de la entrevista...

You'll hear many politicians speak of “paying down the national debt.” What do you make of this refrain?

The historical reality is that national governments very rarely run down their overall stock of debt. A debt instrument is a commitment by the national government to pay a certain principal at a specified time, and in the meantime pay some yield or interest on that debt. So governments pay back debt in that individualized context, but overall, in a macroeconomic sense, governments generally don’t run down their overall stock of debt.

There are some rare instances where governments have run down their overall stock of debt, like in Australia between 1996 and 2007. The conservative government of the period was enamored of this neoliberal idea that it would get rid of all its holdings of outstanding debt, and so it started running very large surpluses and paying back its debt. After about five years, the public bond markets became so thin—that is, there was such a small amount of debt left in the system—that the big investment banks started to protest, since they relied on government debt as a risk-free asset upon which to benchmark all other risk. Curiously, the Austrialian federal government agreed that even though it would continue to run budget surpluses, it would also continue to issue debt at a certain amount to ensure that the corporate sector would have its risk-free asset. So while the Wall Street Journal runs op-eds condemning the evils of debt, the reality is that the financial sector can’t get enough of it. This is a very beautiful example of the function of debt in modern times.

In MMT, we see public debt as private wealth and the interest payments as private income. The outstanding public debt is really just an expression of the accumulated budget deficits that have been run in the past. These budget deficits have added financial assets to the private sector, providing the demand for goods and services that have allowed us to maintain income growth. And that income growth has allowed us to save and accumulate financial assets at a far greater rate than we would have been able to without the deficits.

The only issues a progressive person might have with public debt would be the equity considerations of who owns the debt and whether there an equitable provision of private wealth coming from the deficits. There is a debate to be had about that, but there is no reason to obsess over the level of outstanding public debt. The government can always honor its debt; it can never go bankrupt. There’s no question that the debt obligations will be met. There’s no risk. What’s more, this debt provides firms, households, and others in the private sector a vehicle to park their saved wealth in a risk-free form.

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