Stephanie Kelton Econ Archives

Economics makes sense when the economist is making sense. In this series of – usually – hour-long conversations Stephanie Kelton talks with Jay Ackroyd, digby and Gaius Publius.



Stephanie Kelton: Professor of Economics, Chair of the Economics Dept. at University of Missouri, Kansas City and proponent of Modern Monetary Theory. Listen ...


In this combined and lightly edited conversations recorded June 2012 and Feb 2013, Jay Ackroyd and Stephanie Kelton, Professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City discuss Modern Monetary Theory. In a far ranging conversation, they consider the differences between the budgets of households and sovereign states, both domestic and foreign, the platinum coin concept and the nature of fiat currency. Follow @StephanieKelton @JayAckroyd

Sept 2013 - The big lie: Digby asks economist Stephanie Kelton to explain the debt ceiling, the fallacy of national debt and the so-called Grand Bargain.



                                     Sept 2013 w/ digby

                                     Sept 2013 w/ digby

The Big Lie: Digby and Prof Kelton talk about deficit fever.

                             Oct 2013 with Jay Ackroyd

                             Oct 2013 with Jay Ackroyd

                               Jan 2014 with Gaius Publius

                               Jan 2014 with Gaius Publius




Steven Durlauf • Thomas Piketty "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"

Capital in the Twenty-First Century," video from The Graduate Center CUNY

Steven Durlauf, is the Kenneth Arrow professor of Economics at the university of Wisconsin.  He's an expert on growth theory, co-editor of the prestigious North Holland handbook series volume on economic growth and has a c.v. that weighs twenty pounds when printed out.

David Cay Johnston • Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality

May 14, 2014 – David and Jay Ackroyd discuss questions, issues raised in Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality 

Over thirty leading economists, journalists, and scholars explore the most urgent issue of our times: the upward redistribution of wealth and income in America.  Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality


One of a series of conversations about corporate  governance, monopoly, oligopoly, consumer rights


Eric Jaffe • American Cities

May 8, 2014 – City transportation & the psychology of urban life. A regular contributor to The Atlantic and Fast Company, Eric Jaffe writes about cities, transportation, history and behavioral science. The author of A Curious Madness An American Combat Psychiatrist, a Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery from World War II (2014) and The King's Best Highway (2010).  Follow @e_jaffe on Twitter.




David Margolick • "Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns"

May 1, 2014 – David Margolick – contributing editor at Vanity Fair – talks with Jay Ackroyd about "Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns." 

“A revealing biography of the brilliant, arrogant author of The Gallery (1947), a celebrated World War II novel...a wonderfully crafter (sic) portrait of a tormented homosexual writer.” - Kirkus Review

One of  series of conversations on family life, gay rIghts, WWII & U.S. history.

A long-time contributing editor at Vanity Fair, for fifteen years prior to joining Vanity Fair, David Margolick was a legal affairs reporter at The New York Times. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Stanford Law School and is the author, most recently, of Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns, which was praised in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books. His other books include Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, a study of the principal figures in the iconic photograph from the 1957 school desegregation crisis; Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink; and Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song.

Margolick is currently completing a book on Sid Caesar and his famous television program, Your Show of Shows for the “Jewish Encounters” series published by Schocken/Random House, and will soon begin a portrait of Jonas Salk for the “Jewish Lives” series published by Yale University Press. He has also written for Kindle Singles and been an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. He lives in New York.

@JayAckroyd @DavidMargolick @BNBuzz



June Carbone & Naomi Cahn • Marriage Markets & Inequality

Naomi Cahn, Professor of Law, George Washington University, and June Carbone, Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City, authors of Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family, talk with Jay Ackroyd about the economics of family life, children, marriage, and social structure. Listen.

As the co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, we often give talks about the recent rise in what’s called the “nonmarital birthrate,” or the idea that more than 40 percent of children are now born to women who aren’t married. Sometimes at our talks someone will come up to us, confess his or her encounter with single parenthood, and say something like: “When my daughter got pregnant and decided to keep the child, we were OK with that because we are Christians. When she decided not to marry the father, we were relieved because we knew he would be bad for her and the marriage would never work.”


Did the Pro-Life Movement Lead to More Single Moms?

A legacy conservatives have not grappled with.

Just Say No

Socioeconomic, cultural, and economic changes have brought white working-class women like Lily to the point where going it alone can be the wiser choice.

Jon Walker • After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy

"After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy" is a groundbreaking new book examining how legal marijuana will likely be treated in the United States 20 years from now.

According to Gallup 58% of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition, and Colorado and Washington State have already passed historic ballot initiatives to tax and regulate pot. When it comes to marijuana in the United States, it is no longer a question of when, but how it will be legalized.

After Legalization is a creative exploration of one likely future for legal marijuana that will give readers a sense of the coming battles, relevant players and political dynamics which will dominate the issue in the coming years.

But how will it happen, and what will America look like after legalization? What should be the age limit? Will we tightly restrict its sale to only a few specialty stores, or will it be allowed on the shelves at every shopping market in the country? Should we give individuals free rein to grow as much as they want, or will we limit production to a few licensed farms?

If you care about the answers to these and other questions concerning the future of marijuana policy, this is a pivotal moment to join the conversation; the decisions made now will likely define the industry for decades to come."

Maria Headley • Fact & Fiction in Journalism & Literature


In one of a series of conversation on literature, film, brain function, historiography, hagiography and memoirs, Jay Ackroyd talks with Maria Dahvana Headley about fact & fiction in journalism & literature.

Best known for the alternate historical/fantasy novel, Queen of Kings, (2011), Headly is an American novelist, memoirist and playwright. You can find her on the web at mariadahvana and on twitter @MariaHeadly

Listen here

Maria wrote a fascinating post about journalism and truth entitled SINATRA’S COLD IS CONTAGIOUS: HOSTILE SUBJECTS, VULNERABLE SOURCES & THE ETHICS OF OUTING

Stuart Zechman • Economic Growth and Inequality

One of a series of conversations exploring income inequality, economics and public policy, the 1%, plutocracy, income distribution, wealth distribution.

Stuart Zechman — Movement liberal, entrepreneur, technologist and public commentary organizer at legacy media political blogs such as TIME Magazine's Swampland; He uses Twitter as a primary communications tool and posts on occasion at Avedon’s Other Weblog and Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism. • Follow @stuart_zechman

From Studio Audience

Patrick Coffey • American Arsenal • VS with Jay Ackroyd

One of a series of conversations exploring war, weapons, national security, and state terror with Jay Ackroyd. Listen

American Arsenal: A Century of Waging War

  • Covers every conflict in which America played an active role in the 20th century
  • Each chapter deals with a separate weapon and inventor, allowing them to be read individually or sequentially
  • Dispells simplistic ideas espoused by politicians and pundits on both sides, allowing the reader to understand the complexity of America's military development

Science historian Patrick Coffey writes for Salon. is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. A chemist by training, he founded several companies that produced chemical instrumentation or software. In addition to American Arsenal, he is the author of Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry






Masaccio • Markets & Regulation • VS with Jay Ackroyd

One of a series of conversations exploring income inequality, economics and public policy, the 1%, plutocracy, income distribution, and wealth distribution with Jay Ackroyd.



Ed Walker blogs at Firedoglake as Masaccio, writing about economics,finance and other issues.



I put this chart up a while ago, part of the  NBER President's presentation at the annual economists' conference. The NYT went into some detail on the subject yesterday., including additional charts.

Before WWI, once you reached 65, your life expectancy was pretty much the same regardless of your earnings.  Today, if you're in the bottom  half, on average you live to 81, vs 86 in the top half. The SSA data used for this study doesn't allow a comparison of the top to the bottom decile, but one would expect the gap to grow.


Isaac Martin • Rich People's Movements • VS with Jay Ackroyd

March 6, 2014 – Jay talks with Isaac Martin; sociologist and author of Rich People's Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent. One of a series of conversations exploring wealth, privilege and corruption with Jay Ackroyd.

Links will appear here


"Professor Martin's contributions to fiscal sociology include several historical and comparative studies of tax protest. His book The Permanent Tax Revolt (Stanford, 2008) has been described as 'the definitive history of the property tax revolt,' and as 'a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the true origins of the fiscal crisis of the United States.'

He also edited After the Tax Revolt (with Jack Citrin; Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2009), which assembled experts to examine the legacy of California's property tax limitation, and The New Fiscal Sociology (with Ajay K. Mehrotra and Monica Prasad; Cambridge, 2009), which brought together leading scholars of public finance and society to offer a definitive overview of the field."

Susie Madrak • VS with Jay Ackroyd

One of a series of conversations about income inequality, economics and public policy, the 1%, plutocracy, income distribution, wealth distribution. With Jay Ackroyd.

"Keeping an eye on the corporate elite."

"Keeping an eye on the corporate elite."

Feb 27, 2014 Living poor in the US. Susie & Jay discuss why it's expensive being poor. Susie Madrak is Managing Editor at Crooks and Liars. Her Suburban Guerrilla has been a bulwark of the blogosphere since there was a blogosphere.  She also posts at Crooks and Liars. Follow @SusieMadrak Listen

Poor as folk


Americans are the outliers

Links from this episode:

Jay and Lynn Stout discuss her book The Shareholder Value Myth


David O. Atkins • VS with Jay Ackroyd

Efficiency, Inequality and Growth

David O. Atkins is the Chairman of Ventura County CA Democrats, and a contributor to DIgby's Hullabaloo.  His last visit to Virtually Speaking was focused on participation in local politics and policy. This week, we talk about recent discussions of the impact of income and wealth distribution on the US economy. 

Listen! Feb 6, 9pm EST or later

Listen! Feb 6, 9pm EST or later

For the last 30 years the United States has been engaged in an economic experiment, testing a widely held theoretical view that a country's growth rate depends on two elements, technical change and the rate of capital accumulation.  The highest long term growth rate takes place when market forces set interest rates and, equivalently, the return on capital investment.  Such an allocation is called "efficient," and will lead to the highest long term economic growth rate. 


However,  efficiency is not the only criterion in a capitalist policy regime. A policy maker may prefer to sacrifice some efficiency, accept a lower rate of growth, in order to attain a more equal income distribution.  In  practice, this means establishing progressive tax structures and economic assistance for the bottom quintile of earners.  This trade-off is said to be inevitable.  Growing the pie as fast as possible by letting the market alone set the income distribution would lead to unacceptable social outcomes, so some moderation in growth rate would have to be tolerated to ensure a bare minimum for everyone. The classic presentation of this argument can be found in Arthur Okun's Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff

This view was (and is) widely held. The usual metaphor is a pie--market outcomes grow the pie fastest, but the proportional size of the bottom two quintiles shrink in the absence of intervention.

Liberals believe in preserving the size of the slices with strong social insurance programs for the general populace, as well as programs for the indigent.  Conservatives don't object to redistribution in principle.In their view, personal responsibility comes first, and only those truly in need should receive assistance.  Public social insurance programs are needlessly inefficient, and should be replaced by private insurance plans, such as Health Savings Accounts rather than Medicare and a privatized pension system rather than social security.  But everybody agrees that the fastest growth is associated with market allocations of capital, markets regulated to prevent fraud and the emergence of trusts.

A recent book by Thomas Picketty, Capital in the 21st Century, (French, translation available in March) challenges this consensus. He argues that in the absence of confiscatory tax policy on high income and wealth individuals, growth is suppressed. The market efficient allocation of capital leads to a concentration of income and wealth that so suppresses aggregate demand that puts the economy on a reduced long run growth path. Market allocations of capital grow the pie more slowly than a more egalitarian wealth distribution: (pdf)

There is an extended discussion of this presentation in a Tom Edsall post at the NYT.

In a timely fashion, David Cay Johnston notes that the Founders, writing before the neoclassical synthesis came to be, were deeply opposed to the concentration of wealth in the nascent United States, citing material from The Citizen's Share.

From David, posted in Hullabaloo

Wages versus Assets

The failure of neoliberalism

How the Right cannot cope with 21st century economics

And this article from the Economist on mechanization:

Allan Friedman & Marcy Wheeler • VS with Jay Ackroyd

Allan Friedman is a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University, and coauthor of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar (What Everyone Needs to Know). Marcy Wheeler, author of Anatomy of Deceit  is one of America's leading investigative journalists, specializing in national security and civil liberties issues. 

The discussion – one of a series exporing security, NSA, CIA, security state, intelligence, terrorism, cyber terrorism – centers on the President's national security speech to the nation, and on the nature, and risks of, cyberwar.

Marcy has been covering the speech and its implications ever since the speech was delivered. A good place to start is her fisking of the speech.

On January 23, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released a damning report. The lead in Charlie Savage's piece in the NYTimes:


 An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

And, also today, we learned that the contractors who watch the contractors aren't doing a very good job of security clearances. 

Allan Friedman • VS with Jay Ackroyd

Allan Friedman is a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University, and coauthor of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar (What Everyone Needs to Know). He and Jay discuss the nature of internet security in the modern world.


Links from the studio audience chat log

Password strength. it doesn't have to be hard to remember!

A good primer on secure practices

Ian Welsh • VS with Jay Ackroyd

One of a series of conversations exploring climate change, security state, revolution,

Rerun Jan 2, 2014 - Ian's been raising a bit of ruckus these days. You can read about his history of the failure of the netroots to influence Democratic politics and therefore US policy makers, which engendered a number of reactions.  This week, though, we discuss the issues embodied in three of Ian's recent posts:



Baseline Predictions for the next sixty years

A New Ideology 

How to Create a Viable Ideology

The most disturbing part of this discussion for most people is the hard reality that the way we live in the OECD right now is not sustainable.  While you often hear people say that, it's said in the spirit of the Poland Springs'  initiative of smaller caps on the half liter bottles of water they sell by the case. Ian on the next 60 years:

Climate change will continue to show up as more and worse extreme weather events, like the nasty hurricanes we’ve been seeing hitting further and further north.  We are going to also see changes in rainfall patterns, these will continue to devastate agriculture.
Aquifers are being drained dry, in ways that permanently damage them.  This is happening in China, the US, India and other places. This water will not come back.  Large areas that are currently agriculturally productive will not be, independent of climate change.
We will see huge dust bowls form, including in India, China and the US.
There will be widespread hunger, because agriculture is going to fail.  Period.  Right now hunger is due to distribution issues: we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, we just don’t care about feeding everyone.  In twenty to thirty years this will not be the case: we will just not have enough food.
Water will be as precious as hydrocarbons, which is, in part, because creating hydrocarbons requires water.  Expect much of the world not just to be hungry but thirsty.
All of this is baked into the cake: we are past the decision points on all of these items—they will happen, they can no longer be stopped.  Even if you take the most optimistic scenarios we would need to act radically, right now, and we aren’t going to.

Facing this is hard.  But we do so, in this discussion.  

Ian also reminds us that actually having competitive market requires strong government intervention, and that business people abhor free markets: 

What is oddest about modern ideology is what is oddest about virtually all ideologies: it contradicts itself.  We do not have either free or competitive markets, and not one in a hundred free market ideologues could define a competitive market, nor would they want one if they could, since an actual competitive market reduces profits to nearly nothing.  Free markets cannot exist without government coercion, yet we have come to assume that it is government which makes markets unfree, which is a half truth at best: governments often make markets most unfree when markets make governments unfree by buying government, and the first thing any good capitalist does upon winning a market is try to eliminate the free market, since an actual free market threatens a monopolist or oligpolist.

It's particularly weird to the finance sector commanding so much of the proceeds of the nation's economic activity. Finance is supposed to be transparent,with competitive pressures driving margins down, lubrication rather than parasitism.

Stephanie Kelton • VS with Jay Ackroyd

Policy Regimes:  MMT vs Keynes  

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Stephanie Kelton, Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Missouri, Kansas City,  joins us to discuss Modern Monetary Theory and how MMT policy recommendations compare to those of Keynesians, Monetarists and Real Business Cycle advocates. 

Stephanie appeared on Up with Chris last January, ostensibly to talk about the trillion dollar coin, but didn't really get a chance to explain why it's actually not a crazy idea. 



We do a little introduction to MMT, and then use the trillion dollar coin to illustrate the principles. MMT and Keynesianism are united in their policy recommendations at the zero lower bound.  Brad DeLong remarked on this a while ago:



When will our deficits and debt accumulation start the process of beginning to create real financial risk we need to guard against? We don't know. But we do know that the bond market will be very happy to tell us when the process starts.
Until then, Uncle Warren [Mosler] is right.

What we face here is what I call fiat currency cognitive dissonance syndrome. It makes people a little crazy when Stephanie says things like "$1 trillion? Make it 100 trillion. it doesn't matter unless Congress appropriates funds."   Ironically, she echoes the Monetarists and the RBCers when she says we have to look at the real economy. If there is idle capacity and widespread unemployment, choosing to not spend money to bring that capacity online is perverse. The ability of the US to issue a fiat currency that is treated as the world's reserve currency doesn't depend on the  bookkeeping the Fed does in approving monetary expansion through the creation of reserves or, yes, a trillion dollar coin. The dollar is the world's reserve currency because it is backed by the enormous physical and human capital that drive the real US economy.