Modern Monetary Theory: Cautionary Tales from Latin America

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April 2019
Paper author(s): 
Sebastian Edwards
Macroeconomics - Economic growth - Monetary Policy

According to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) it is possible to use expansive monetary policy – money creation by the central bank (i.e. the Federal Reserve) – to finance large fiscal deficits that will ensure full employment and good jobs for everyone, through a “jobs guarantee” program. In this paper I analyze some of Latin America’s historical episodes with MMT-type policies (Chile, Peru. Argentina, and Venezuela). The analysis uses the framework developed by Dornbusch and Edwards (1990, 1991) for studying macroeconomic populism. The four experiments studied in this paper ended up badly, with runaway inflation, huge currency devaluations, and precipitous real wage declines. These experiences offer a cautionary tale for MMT enthusiasts.


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