Menu Close

Differing viewpoints on the role of debt in the economy

John Hermann

The following appeared within an article in the Jul-Aug 2014 issue of the ERA Review

The respective positions of the orthodox (neoclassical) and heterodox (mainly post Keyensian and MMT) viewpoints as they pertain to the role of debt in the modern economy differ profoundly, and may be summarised as follows:

Orthodox viewpoint

  1. The economy tends towards a stable equilibrium configuration.
  2. Private borrowing, spending and saving decisions are always driven by “rational expectations”.
  3. Banking and money flows don’t affect economic performance.
  4. Private debt growth does not affect economic performance.
  5. Public debt (deficit spending) must be minimised since it leads to rising inflation and rising interest rates.

Heterodox viewpoint

  1. The economy generally operates far from equilibrium.
  2. The idea of rational expectations is a fiction unsupported by evidence.
  3. Banking and the creation of new money by banks matter because they contribute to purchasing power and economic performance.
  4. Private debt growth (relative to GDP or a genuine progress indicator) must be restrained, because if excessive it will set the economy up for a crash.
  5. Sovereign government debt (aka Treasury securities) should be allowed to rise to whatever level is required for the operation of a healthy economy.

Leave a Reply