Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stephanie Kelton: "One Tweet At A Time"


When I was at Stony Brook, I was the head of the Student Activities Board for several years. I booked Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Doors, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Muddy Waters, The Who, The Temptations, Joni Mitchell, Ravi Shankar, Jackson Browne, Pink Floyd, The Fugs, The Byrds, Tim Buckley... to play there. I would have booked Stephanie Kelton for sure. But she was in kindergarten then. A top economist, she's now the head of Center for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice at Stony Brook. I feel like I was cheated that she was teaching when I went there. Now I get her to talk with the Blue America candidates who want a better grounding in "how do you pay for it?" and in the intricacies of Medicare-for-All, Job Guarantee and free public education right through college. Anyway, I'm glad to see someone else booked her to give a public talk:

Promoting the event Liza N. Burby noted that Kelton teaches that We’re Asking the Wrong Questions About Money.
When she’s not juggling bookings with NPR, Barron’s, Fox News, MSNBC and Bloomberg TV, Stephanie Kelton might be found picking up and dropping off her two school-aged children and the family Samoyed-- not to mention teaching classes in economics and public policy at Stony Brook University. Then there’s her book deadline.

Other days might include speaking engagements in Australia, Milan or the House of Lords in London. Also on her calendar: the Oct. 15 Presidential Lecture, “But How Will We Pay for It? Making Public Money Work for Us,” which happens to be the title of her upcoming book. In this lecture she’ll discuss why the conversation about good policy falls apart when politicians ask how government programs will be paid for.

Her husband of 14 years, Paul Kelton, a leading historian and professor and the first Gardiner Chair in American History at Stony Brook, said the family has become used to Stephanie’s schedule. After all, from 2015-2016 when they still lived in Lawrence, Kansas, Kelton had to be present in the Capitol where she was a chief economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee minority party, commuting home when she could. She then served as an economic advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The Keltons moved to Setauket [home of neo-fascist crackpot Robert Mercer] in 2017 when they were recruited to teach at Stony Brook. Michael A. Bernstein, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said this was “one of those serendipitous moments when we could undertake a dual recruitment that worked dramatically for the institution as a whole.”

...“Stephanie is the rare combination of teacher, innovator and thought leader,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, who invited Kelton to speak at his Presidential Lecture Series. “Her ideas and approach to economics are changing the game at the highest levels and so it makes perfect sense to ask her to share some of her powerful perspective with our community in this forum.”

Beltway heavyweights say Kelton-- who was named by Politico as as one of 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016”-- is a rising star not only in financial and economic circles, but political ones as well.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) said that if a Democrat is elected president in 2020, Kelton will likely be chosen as a senior advisor.

“She’s not just a brilliant thinker,” he said. “She’s going to be a force in the next 15 years in shaping economic policy.”

Senator Sanders described her as an outstanding and innovative thinker who was extremely helpful to him while they worked together.

“Stephanie is one of the leading economists in our country who is fighting to create an economy that works for all and not just the few,” he added. “We need more economists like her.”

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, also weighed in. “There are few if any economists able to jump into the fray and come up with such original and compelling ideas as Stephanie Kelton-- and able to communicate them with such clarity and aplomb. A national treasure.”

...Kelton, a macroeconomist, said her early training was conventional and included Cambridge University for her masters. Before earning her PhD at the New School in New York City-- which she selected for its diverse perspectives-- she spent a year at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy think tank. That’s when she first encountered the work of Warren Mosler, a Wall Street financier who was challenging the way economists think about money. He reached out to economists who follow Keynes, Kelton among them. She and several peers researched ideas she said had been lost in history and they pieced together Modern Monetary Theory, a burgeoning school of thought in economics.

Kelton said MMT is hard to define, but it’s “probably the greatest group project in the history of economics, a brand name that refers to the scholarship that was developed by around half a dozen people over 20-plus years.”

“It’s an enormous body of literature that has as its underpinning attention to the monetary system, the nature of money and why governments that operate with their own non-convertible fiat currencies can use their own budgets to maintain a full employment economy and low inflation,” she continued. “MMT is about pulling back the curtains so that we can see clearly what options are available instead of focusing on imagined barriers/obstructions that hamstring good policy.”

Among Kelton’s big ideas is the job guarantee, a public option that would be federally funded but locally administered-- a concept she said is at least as old as the Second Bill of Rights proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and that was part of the Civil Rights Movement and the Democratic platform until the 1980s.

“It says if you want to work and you can’t find a job anywhere else in the economy, there’s a job for you,” she explained. “The Federal Government has to pay for it and it can be housed under the Department of Labor. They can set broad parameters that all jobs have to be oriented to criteria like a care economy: caring for people, communities and the planet.”

“I’ve always considered this the unfinished business of the Democratic Party,” she said. “But now you have Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Sanders all talking in terms of finding a way to guaranteed employment, which is pretty remarkable.”

Kelton believes she is having an impact on the current policy debates, but absent the financial crisis of 2008 she’s not sure that her ideas would have gotten as much attention and respect. The blog she started in 2009 in response to the crisis was an unconventional way to get her economic ideas out into the mainstream, and she got real-time responses. By 2013 she was being invited to make the rounds of more than 100 financial planning events, and she was gaining thousands of Twitter followers. In 2017, she had opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

She continues to gain respect both nationally and abroad. Currently she’s a subject of a documentary by London-based filmmaker Paul Thomas about the MMT theory, and Netflix wants to talk to her for a documentary based on her research about the macroeconomic effects of student debt cancellation.

  “She’s still on an upward trajectory and will be for a long time,” said her colleague Robert Hockett, Edward Cornell professor of law and finance at Cornell University. “It’s not just academic economists who know who she is. People who work in the financial markets, political figures and people interested in public policy are all wild about her. All the journalists bring her on their shows so she’s becoming more well-known to the lay public as well as the specialists.”

...[S]he hopes to inspire her Stony Brook students to become future economists-- or at least get excited by the ideas.

“I love teaching courses that are policy-oriented around the economy,” Kelton said. “I like being able to bring a range of experiences that are diverse and have real-world applications that bring excitement into my classroom.”

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At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the "democrats" had any brains and courage, they would demand that the Republicans explain how they are going to pay for the military budget. That they don't indicates who is really running -and ruining- the nation.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They already 'splained it. They're going to cut sustenance programs so that the poor, sick and elderly all die... hopefully the nonwhites first.

Where ya been since 1950, 5:44??

1) In order for Kelton to make a difference in this cluster fuck of a shithole, americans would need to magically become a lot less stupid.
2) while tweets are the best way to reach more morons than any other, the limit on the size of tweets means it would take something like 10,000 tweets to do MMT any kind of justice. There would have to be another 5000 tweets to teach americans remedial math too. It would take years.
3) *IF* americans magically got smarter and Kelton could do 10.000 tweets... americans would still have to take the time to read them and make the effort to comprehend. Americans are far too lazy for that.
4) But *IF* 1, 2 and 3 were all accomplished, the fact that americans will always elect either Nazis or democraps means that all of this becomes moot. Neither party gives one flying fuck about MMT because that would prove that they've both been purposely conning American dumbfucktards for 50 years.


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