Today, there are two powerful economic theories emerging: Modern Monetary Theory and Bitcoin.
Two emerging and extreme theories are reframing the existing economic conversation as we know it. Modern Monetary Theory is the thesis and Cryptocurrency is the antithesis. However, both Bitcoin and MMT are united in their dedication to evolving the conversation beyond the intellectual prison of traditional Liberal vs. Conservative economics.
As discontent with the current political/economic spectrum grows, the extremities grow heavier- threatening to break or change the framework as we know it. And as withany topic in the Modern Age, both topics are prone to high degrees of speculation, distortion, and mass confusion. Resulting infamy and hatred by any external political tribe goes on to feed that topics popularity- and therefore power.
To add to the complexity, a Gordian knot pulls tight between the two as both MMT & BTC have tribal subsets fightingwithinto dominate primary definitions of their subjects.
In other words, both are hives of animosity andgroupthinkas a prominent MMT scholarrefers usto the original definition:
Communities of scholars working within a dominant culture, which provides its members which a sense of belonging and joint purpose but also renders them oblivious and hostile to new and superior ways of thinking.
While the common definition of Modern Monetary Theory is that A country cannot default on debt denominated in its own currency, some early proponents of MMT haverejectedthis core tenet.The problem is that many of these diverse authors proposals are fairly rational when it comes to the specifics, but a larger public dialogue metamorphizes into something unrecognizable.Bill Mitchell, another authority on MMT, goes on to claim that Modern Monetary Theory is not a revolutionary new system or drastic threat to the current establishment; it is the current establishment:
The reality is that MMT just describes the system that most countries in the world live under and have lived under since1971
MMT merely describes the Global Economy today: the existingfiat currencysystem. Mitchell also elaborates the common core tenet stating, Governments are not constrained in their spending by a need to raise revenue. Furthermore, he states a platitude that is often also an anthem of Bitcoiners by proclaiming, Currency has no intrinsic value.
The popular definition of MMT has gone on to extrapolate such core premises to extreme lengths. Governments have been steadily growing debt-to-GDP across the globe, for centuries. That ceiling is guarded poorly by various political tribes of fiscal Conservatives. In America however, the primary camps of Republicans and Democrats are united in determination to spend trillions more than revenue takes in.
By Mitchells definition, Modern Monetary Theoryalreadylays the groundwork for the Global Economy. Popular and sensationalized elements of MMT in the modern media, however, seem to want to expand the debt more rapidly than ever before, to solve more grandiose problems.
In some regard, despite two temporary and harsh crashes this century, many elements of the world economy have enjoyed two extended periods of prosperity. Ballooning government spending, in unison with Easy Central Bank policy (historically low interest rates + growing trillion $ Balance Sheets), has provided stimulus for the economic landscape we know today.
Outside of MMT, classic Austrian-style economists believe that the stimulus of loose fiscal policy in the short-term will eventually lead to horrible long-term risks:
Because at the beginning of last century, unconstrained government spending + loose central bank policy + money printing set the equation for catastrophic societal consequences. If history rhymes, then the Great Recession of this century may have merely been a foreshock if Credit continues to swell.
As the Credit leviathan of the Global Economy threatened to meltdown in 2008, governments rallied to sign a new lease on life for the Credit system, with the invention of Quantitative Easing, i.e. Money Printing. While such unconventional monetary action may have averted a GreatDepressionof the 21st century in the medium term, it may ultimately corrode the long-term viability of Capitalism.
For those fearful of such a dystopian future, a theoretical lifeboat to the Financial Crisis marked its creation with a message now hashed in digital eternum:
The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.
Bitcoins genesis hash was the beginning of Bitcoins attempted alternative to Central Banking+Government debt, creating a currency that is independent of most of the typical machines of national economic monopoly.
Unlike government debt spending, or central bank decisions impacting the flow, access, and distribution of currency across the globe, Bitcoin has programmatically restructured money as we know it:
Instead of governments arbitrarily shocking or inflating the supply of money (by spending, capital control, or central banking), Bitcoin has completely rearchitected an alternative. Also known as a distributed ledger, or blockchain, Bitcoin is founded on ideals such as:
- Predictable & programmatic money inflation schedule
- Geographically unlimited & permissionless access to the network
Ballooning government debt is historically correlated with hyperinflation and ultimate social misery. Although steady/predictable government debt growth may allow midterm prosperity, there may be a swelling risk that the system crashes harder once a real shock occurs.
In cases of hyperinflation like Venezuela today and pre-Nazi Germany in the past, populations of innocent people become economic hostages during hyperinflation. Theoretically, Bitcoin could become a universal economic escape hatch- to allow individuals insurance against local economic meltdown. Anyone with internet access can potentially access this alternative store of value to guard their wealth.
However, Bitcoin is subject to extreme volatility and is still technologically limited. While holding promise as an alternative to a possibly corrupt legacy global economy, Bitcoin has political dysfunctions of its own that sensationalizes the public.
Similar to MMT, the myth of Bitcoin can easily get out of control, and there are competing camps within the Cryptocurrency sphere vying for control of the narrative.However, predictable and permissionless digitally native currency will likely prevail as Bitcoins narrative.Past the hacks, scams, bubbles or token hyperinflation, the other elements of cryptocurrency May emerge later after Bitcoins success to further expand the scope of this new financial alternative.
It can be logically assumed that all MMT scholars, of all camps, would regard BTC as a theoretical nemesis. As opposed to MMT, BTC takes a drastically different philosophical approach to government debt. Allowing individuals an escape hatch against endless government debt may actually disable the financial monopolies that support MMTs current fiat system.
Other more logical proponents of MMT, like Bill Mitchell, may applaud Bitcoin as an independent free-market alternative actually affirming MMT as he says:
All of the imbalances in the foreign exchange market are resolved by the price of the currency fluctuating. What that means is that domestic policy instruments?-?the central bank and fiscal policy?-?are free to target domestic policy goals knowing that the exchange rate will resolve the currency imbalances arising from trade deficits, trade surpluses, et cetera.
The free-floating currency foreign exchange system of today provides an existential check and balance on MMT. Bitcoin presents another extended option.If global government debt and central banking easy money is truly a long-term threat, then the entire world economy is at incredible risk.
All of the worlds governments + central banks will be guilty in this regard. And if the world economy does face a reckoning, there will be no safe haven found amidfiat currency.So we will see what kind of refuge Bitcoin can provide in reality, if any…
The future of the world economy is being created by the evolution and divergence of both Bitcoin and Modern Monetary Theory on the fringes.
In the coming days, Modern Monetary Theory may be taken to its extreme by global politics; Bitcoin will raise an even more extreme alternative.Only time will tell which will prevail, or how the synthesis willemerge.