In a very real way, MMT is already here.
By Chris Martensen of Peak Propserity.
Sure, it’s not admitting to this. And it’s using several technical jinks and jives to offer a pretense that things are otherwise.
But it’s not terribly difficult to predict what’s going to happen next: the Federal Reserve will drop the secrecy and start buying US debt openly.
At a time, mind you, when US fiscal deficits are exploding and foreign buyers are heading for the exits.
How It’s Supposed to Work
Here’s how it’s supposed to work when the US government issues new debt:
- If the US Treasury needs to raise new funds, it announces an upcoming auction of US Treasury bills/notes/bonds.
- A date for the auction is set.
- Various participants bid for those bills/notes/bonds (including ‘regular folks’ like you and me if we’re using the government’s Treasury Direct program). This is the ‘auction date.’
- A few days after the auction, the actual bills are “issued” which is when the money actually changes hands and the bills are live in the market.
- At a later date, the Fed can buy those US Treasury bills/notes/bonds. The various holders of that debt submit offers to sell, and the Fed (presumably) selects the best offers on the best terms.
The Federal Reserve, under no conditions, buys Treasury paper directly. The Federal Reserve’s own website still maintains that this is the case:
There are two important claims plus one assertion I’ve highlighted in there, each in a different color:
- Yellow: Treasury securities may “only be bought and sold in the open market.”
- Blue: doing otherwise might compromise the independence of the Fed.
- Purple: the Fed mostly buys “old” securities.
So according to the Fed: it’s independent, it follows the rules set forth in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and it mostly buys “old” Treasury paper that the market has already properly priced in a free and fair system.
But that’s not really what’s going on…