Thomas Palley has a new paper Monetary policy after quantitative easing: The case for asset based reserve requirements (ABRR).


This paper critiques the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) exit strategy which aims to deactivate excess liquidity via higher interest rates on reserves. That is equivalent to giving banks a tax cut at the public’s expense. It also risks domestic and international financial market turmoil. The paper proposes an alternative exit strategy based on ABRR which avoids the adverse fiscal and financial market impacts of higher interest rates. ABRR also increase the number of monetary policy instruments which can permanently improve policy. This is especially beneficial for euro zone countries. Furthermore, ABRR yield fiscal benefits via increased seignorage and can shrink a financial sector that is too large.

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Keen’s Reply To Palley

by Ramanan on 8 April 2014

Steve Keen has replied to Thomas Palley’s critique of him with an article How not to win an economic argument.

All models are incomplete because they ignore many complications in order to highlight a few key concepts. In other times, a simple model is a starting point with the aim that the modeler adds more complications to make it more realistic. So it is sometimes not a good critique to point out what the models misses. But Steve Keen is making it look as if Palley’s critique is of what his models do not have.

This is diverting attention. For about two years or more, Keen has given all sorts of definitions of aggregate demand. The reason Palley’s critique is so solid is that it again points out that Keen’s definitions are wrong. Keen has repeated statements on aggregate demand and “change in debt” many times, making it sound like a universal law. Palley has shown via very straightforward arguments as quoted in my previous post Thomas Palley’s Nice Critique Of Steve Keen’s Models that the definition is incorrect. Moreover, Keen has changed his definitions as highlighted by a nice blog article by JKH. In my opinion Keen himself is confused on which definition is right and uses all of them together many times without realizing that they are different. His earlier definitions were simply incorrect on basic flow of funds accounting.

In short, there is no simple expression for changes in aggregate demand with changes in debt, a point mentioned by Nick Edmonds on his blog. Even if not, one could argue that it is useful but that is not the case because even at the theoretical level, there are conceptual issues, a lot because Keen doesn’t do his accounting right. Such things are not mere technicalities but the concepts of flow of funds is highly important to make some progress in analytic modeling.

Keen says:

My approach was to take the other side’s model, and show that if their assumptions were correct, they were right: banks could be ignored in macroeconomics, and changes in private debt had only a miniscule effect on demand.

Then I made one realistic small change, and hey presto — banks were essential to macroeconomics, and changes in private debt were the main game (but not the only one) in changing aggregate demand.

True neoclassical economists do not incorporate money and debt in their analysis but Keen has all this while given hints that Post-Keynesians themselves have not if you see his videos. Even the above quotes suggests as if nobody has done this before Keen. That coupled with the fact that Keen considers anyone having issues his models to be sinful of the loanable funds model. There is an irony here because Keen himself makes errors of the loanable funds approach when distinguishing bank debt and non-bank debt.

In my opinion Keen should completely get rid of this aggregate demand/change in debt slogan. Rejection of this does not mean debt is unimportant and all that. There are nice and realistic models such as that of Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie (G&L) in which money and credit are central to the analysis and with no need at all for Keen’s fondness of aggregate demand/change in debt. These models have a very important role for aggregate demand and credit and feedback effects and so on but there is no need for inventing new definitions.

Neither is there any need for Lebesgue integrals. If one repeats Keen’s analysis where an economic unit pays for a good with a debit card or cash instead of a credit card, then it violates his own aggregate demand/change in debt definitions.

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Profits And Borrowing

4 April 2014

I think Marshall Auerback is seriously mixing up different parts of the flow of funds accounts of an economy. He is heteredox, so it will be good if he gets these things right. In his latest, he asks Why Are US Corporations Borrowing So Much If Profits Are At A Record Percentage Of GDP?, i.e., the […]


The Phrase Money Multiplier Itself Is Inaccurate And Misleading

31 March 2014

Some people point out that the critique “there is no money multiplier” is wrong because it is a ratio whatever said. No! The phrase “money multiplier” itself is wrong because the phrase itself captures a wrong causal story. A phrase is a small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit and hence the phrase […]


Thomas Palley’s Nice Critique Of Steve Keen’s Models

31 March 2014

Thomas Palley has a new paper Effective Demand, Endogenous Money, And Debt: A Keynesian Critique Of Keen And An Alternative Theoretical Framework, which can be found on his blog. In the abstract, among other things, Palley points out that Steve Keen’s treatment of endogenous money “falls into the theoretical morass regarding the black box of velocity of […]


Nicholas Kaldor On Rational Expectations

29 March 2014

I was recently re-reading an article by Nicholas Kaldor and J. Trevithick [1] and I came across this fine description of rational expectations: The main plank of the monetarist school has hitherto been that inflation is invariably ‘demand induced’: it can result only from an excessive demand for goods which, however, can manifest itself in […]


Paradox Of Profits?, Part 2

25 March 2014

In the previous post Paradox of Profits?, I mentioned how I view the paradox of profits as the confusion between production firms’ operating surplus (as defined in the SNA such as the 2008 SNA or earlier versions) and surplus on the financial account of the system of national accounts. The paradox is highlighted by saying that at the […]


Paradox Of Profits?

22 March 2014

Post-Keynesians unnecessarily worry a lot about the paradox of profits. This post is on my thoughts on the paradox. In my view, there is no paradox at all. It is simply the case of not looking at all the parts of the system of national accounts/flow of funds. Although Post-Keynesians use Kalecki’s profit equation in […]


Reconciliation Of The Supply And Demand For Money

17 March 2014

What brings the supply and demand for money into equivalence? It is interesting that the recent Bank of England quarterly bulletin referred to an article of Peter Howells, a Post-Keynesian (also available here), although I don’t think the authors appreciate why the paper is interesting. The title of my blog post is flicked from a […]


Money Stock Determination

14 March 2014

The recent Bank of England quarterly bulletin has interested blogosphere into what goes on to determine the stock of money. Money can mean various things and here I restrict to the the monetary aggregates as defined by central banks – as in the referred publication. But whoever is interested in “money creation” also becomes interested […]