No, I’m not writing this post over a macchiato. The title of the post has nothing to do with caffeinated beverages. Rather, it refers to the annual conference of “CofFEE”, the Centre of Full Employment and Equity, a research centre at the University of Newcastle.
The director of the center is Bill Mitchell, who may be known to Stubborn Mule readers as the author of Billy Blog. Two of Bill’s primary interests are the macroeconomics implication of the nature of money, a topic that comes up frequently here on the Mule, and the development of economic policies aimed at restoring full employment, chief among which is the idea of a “job guarantee”. For Bill these two areas are intimately linked. He argues forcefully that too much economic policy around the world today is mired in thinking that has not progressed past the days of gold standard currencies. A better understanding of the real nature of money in modern economies like Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom (but unlike those unfortunate countries struggling in the euro-zone) would release governments from baseless fear of government spending and the confusion generated by concepts like NAIRU (the idea that full employment would necessarily generate excess inflation) and empower more effective fiscal policy.
I will be attending the CofFEE conference later this week and the program reflects these twin themes of employment policy and the theory of money. Among the speakers are Marshall Auerback and Randall Wray who are both out from the United States and, along with Bill Mitchell, are well-known proponents of the “Modern Monetary Theory” approach to macroeconomics. Auerback and Wray will be sure to have some interesting perspectives on the financial crises and the failures of US policy responses to the ongoing recession over there.
I will be reporting back on highlights from the conference and, in the meantime, keep an eye out for tweets from @stubbornmule. If you have any questions you would like me to try to ask, let me know.