Aug 15, 2020
World-renowned economics professor and accomplished
author/podcaster/speaker Mark Blyth joins us this week to discuss
MMT, the variants of capitalism, and the current culmination of the
populist anger outlined in his new book Angrynomics,
co-authored by Eric Lonergan. The book, in brief, is a
revolutionary, yet practical solution for an economically unjust
world brought into clear focus by the Covid19 pandemic.
Mark has been a consistent ally to the progressive movement over the years, using his broad reach to advocate for economic literacy and justice. Although he hasn't fully embraced MMT as his lord and savior, he calls himself a fellow traveler with no doubt that when they round up the MMTers, he'll be thrown in the back of the van with them all. His sharp wit and finely honed sense of the absurd make his social and political observations as interesting as his economic ones.
An underlying theme the authors encountered consistently throughout the research for Angrynomics was - you guessed it - anger. It arises from the disconnect between our experience of the world and how it's explained to us. About anger, Mark says, “you assume you know what it is, but don’t necessarily think about it.” He talks about public and private anger, distinguishing righteous anger from tribal anger which is, inevitably, weaponized.
The economic portion of the discussion touches on the variants of capitalism throughout our history, and the benefits or drawbacks of each. He also focuses on how, when the government spends at the bottom through wages and public purpose spending, the wealth trickles up, but when spent at the top, it most certainly does NOT trickle down. There’s no lack of good ideas and policy prescriptions; there’s a lack of political courage to implement them.
Mark and Steve look at the social and political differences between “boomers” and the generations that came after. Mark attributes it to their incomes. The boomers’ income is asset-based, making it stable and secure, while the others rely on income drawn from wages, uncertain and insecure. These younger and poorer Americans are expected to be the shock absorbers of a volatile and unpredictable economy.
The current pandemic is revealing the gaping flaws in our economy and waking up many normally comfortable and apathetic folks to the reality millions of Americans have been living every day -- being left behind by an economy built by, for, and of the oligarchs. It’s capitalism… and the people are angry.
We cannot nudge the system back to stability. We need radical economic reform to create a bottom-up economy now.
Mark Blyth is Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of Political Science at Brown University and a Faculty Fellow at Brown's Watson Institute for International Studies. He is co-author, with Eric Lonergan, of Angrynomics, and author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea.
Check out his podcast https://watson.brown.edu/rhodes/podcasts, including a recent interview with Stephanie Kelton
@MkBlyth on Twitter