Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT, has been in the headlines quite a bit recently, but Blackrock CEO Larry Fink isn’t a fan. In fact, he says it’s “garbage.”
MMT is a macroeconomic theory that says a government able to borrow in its own currency need not worry about deficits or debt because that government can just print more money. Ideas rooted in this approach are gaining popularity, particularly among the far left (because of course).
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has MMT ideas incorporated in her “Green New Deal,” because how else would you pay for something that will reportedly cost between $51 trillion to $93 trillion?
Just print more money, they say! What could go wrong?
“That’s garbage,” Fink said in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television Thursday. “I’m a big believer that deficits do matter. I’m a big believer that deficits are going to be driving interest rates much higher and it could drive them to an unsustainable level.”
MMT economists argue that because the U.S. borrows in its own currency, it can print dollars to cover its obligations, and can’t go broke. The theory has won converts among freshman Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a way to finance such social policies as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All.
The U.S. deficit is on course to top $1 trillion in the coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell described that school of thought as “wrong,” while economists like Larry Summers and Paul Krugman have also denounced it.
But not everyone is so dismissive: Paul McCulley, former chief economist at Pacific Investment Management Co., says that he has a lot of sympathy for the doctrine, although he’s “not a card-carrying MMTer.”
Fink said, “the theory is that until we see deficits harm, that will tell us deficits are too high. To me, as a parent, that’s like watching your children have bad behavior and you just watch and watch and watch until that behavior becomes monumental. I think that’s not a good approach.”
Other comments from Fink in the interview include:
- We’re in a “Goldilocks moment” for global economies. It’s not so bad or so good.
- If there’s a comprehensive trade agreement with China, that may reduce China’s need to buy Treasuries. “This is going to be a big issue,” he said.
- Rising populism continues to be a concern and there’s a need to create more “inclusive capitalism.”