Rohan Grey and Nathan Tankus join Money on the Left to discuss the flurry of debate about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) arising out of the Coronavirus crisis. We focus, in particular, on the Modern Money Network’s multi-pronged efforts to illuminate and remedy the resulting economic devastation. At the center of our conversation is Rohan’s contribution to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s “Automatic BOOST Act.” Known by the popular hashtag #MintTheCoin, Tlaib’s proposal calls on the U.S. Treasury to mint two trillion dollar platinum coins in order to deliver direly-need cash assistance via preloaded public debit cards for all—no exceptions. In response to dismissive critiques of the proposal as a gratuitous “gimmick,” we affirm #MintTheCoin’s political significance as a gimmick—whether as a critical parody of sound finance trickery or as a meaningful pedagogical ritual that makes public money creation visible. Along the way, we delve into Nathan’s now widely-hailed Substack newsletter: “Notes on the Crises: The Pandemic-Induced Depression from a Monetary Political Economy Perspective.” We reflect upon the inadequacy of Congressional action, paradigm-smashing moves by the Federal Reserve, and MMT’s strategic importance for the future of leftist struggle, both in the near- and long-term.
Theme music by Hillbilly Motobike.
The following was transcribed by Richard Farrell and has been lightly edited for clarity.
William Saas: So we’re recording this–and I want to say in the middle–but at some point in the COVID-19 crisis. Between the five of us, we represent a significant portion of the Modern Money Network, and it seems like MMN has been quite active over the last couple of weeks. Could I ask one or both of you to kind of comment on the role that you see MMN having played and continuing to play throughout this crisis?
Rohan Grey: Yeah, sure. We set up MMN as a student-driven learning network, but part of our goal was always to try to provide technical support and assistance to social movements and to provide analysis and strategic framing and policy ideas that would be helpful to the Left and the progressive movement. And I think this crisis has been a good example of why we are useful and why we are relevant. I’ve been working with Congresswoman Tlaib on various proposals. Nathan has been providing some of the most cutting edge analysis on the various programs that have come out of congress to provide relief. Raúl Carrillo continues to work down in DC on Libra related issues. Other members of MMN have been working with various congressional candidates in primary races in their private capacity and also working with groups like DSA and Sunrise to provide training materials as well as writing op-eds and other interventions in the public discourse. So hopefully this is an example of how MMT’s analysis and MMN’s framework is not just old hat or just repeating the old classics, but is staying up to date and being very useful for people as they’re trying to work their way through particular problems.
Nathan Tankus: Yeah, I would echo that what Rohan has been working on in his personal capacity with Congresswoman Tlaib has been very inspiring. And you always hope that there’s more where that came from. In terms of me, there was a certain point I reached in the crisis, about 11 days ago, where I felt like we needed pretty immediate commentary and that I wasn’t really seeing the consistent coverage on the basic building blocks of what’s happening. I decided to just take it upon myself and start writing about it, using a website service called Substack. And the response I’ve gotten, which has been incredible and overwhelming, I think has been a signal of how much people feel like they are missing a bread and butter analysis of what’s happening.
Scott Ferguson: So maybe we can start by diving into your Substack, in particular. What kinds of reportage were you seeing in financial journalism on the Left about what we might call the political economic dimensions of the crisis? And what seems to be either off track or desperately missing?
Nathan Tankus: A long term trend that MMN itself has been responding to is there are two tracks in the understanding of financial matters and especially central banking. There is a technical financial journalistic track, some of which has a middling understanding of what’s going on, while some has a great understanding of what’s going on, but has the assumptions of that small coterie of people and don’t question obvious things that would be professionally embarrassing to question. On the other hand, there are people who want to comment on things, who want to point out injustices of what’s going on, but they haven’t spent very much time in central banking spaces or with the materials that central bankers produce for each other to understand the world. And so, things just become playing on the way non-financial journalists report on financial things, talking about big headlines, like “The Fed is providing $1.5 trillion” or whatever it is. What occurred to me and all of us for many years is that we need a bridging of those two.
Around ten days ago, I started writing about the basics of whether we were heading into a recession anyway and does that mean the Coronavirus isn’t a huge deal? How much support do households need to make rent and pay their utilities and be financially whole over the next however many months? The thing that’s probably been the most popular is a day by day announcement or dissection of what exactly the Federal Reserve has been doing, what it has announced it’s been doing, and what the unknowns of what it’s going to do in the future are. That basic point by point analysis has been the thing that people both inside and outside of financial markets have felt like they’ve been missing. Based on the response, it seems like the newsletter is filling that hole. While this is done in my independent capacity, the larger intellectual frame of reference in which I constructed the Substack runs through all sorts of work.
Maxximilian Seijo: That’s a point that I wanted to bring what Ro said together with your Substack, Nathan, which is the MMN perspective actually takes a very technically specific and astute analysis of the institutions themselves. And so, it’s more than just MMT. I think there’s something about really parsing institutional information and mechanics that both you and Ro share and that we in MMN necessarily leverage. To that end, could you dig in a little bit with regards to essentially what the Fed is doing and what the Fed has done thus far to address this crisis?
Scott Ferguson: And what it is not doing, right?
Nathan Tankus: I think the broad headline things that it has been doing is dealing with the payment system. There were all sorts of long standing problems with the payment system that they were trying to adjust and fix without moving back on other goals of certain regulatory rules that they’ve had–specifically with regard to rules around liquidity regulations, regulations that require financial institutions to hold a certain amount of liquid assets in proportion to the payments that they need to make on a daily basis. One way to understand that is to look at the studies coming around recently showing that the median restaurant only has 16 days of cash on hand to meet their expenses if they have no revenue coming in. Basically, these kinds of rules that they’ve implemented serve the role of making sure that financial institutions always have at least 30 days of cash on hand. They’ve kind of just swept all of that stuff aside.
When push comes to shove, the payment system and its stability is the Federal Reserve’s priority far above trying to tweak with financial regulation and how the system operates. So they’ve put that stuff aside. The discount window, which was direct borrowing from the Federal Reserve since 2008, has been extremely stigmatized in the sense that financial institutions have been worried that they’ll be tagged with the label of getting another bailout if they tap it. That’s obviously worlds of hurt in terms of PR or legislative hits to their profitability. Basically, you’d more or less get fired if you screwed up enough to have to use the discount window in a really significant or unexpected way. But they’ve basically suspended the stigma of the discount window and lowered its interest rate to the interest rate that banks borrow from each other on the “inner bank loan market,” as it’s called. We’re kind of going all hands on deck. They’re buying government guaranteed securities to make it absolutely clear that these are as liquid as they possibly need. And that’s sort of the sweeping away of the problems that were starting to fester during good times when the Fed didn’t feel an urgency to really respond quickly to deal with problems. They slowly and methodically spent months thinking about very small changes.
Rohan Grey: If they could have done everything through the discount window, it would have been probably a lot simpler, at least maybe 90% of what they’re doing, but because of the reasons around what Nathan is saying, they had to create 25 different facilities to achieve functions that are largely, substandardly close to what the discount window is doing.
Nathan Tankus: And that’s what I get into. They dealt with these technical works in the banking system, but that’s not fixing our financial system, especially since so many of the problems are with nonfinancial businesses’ access to finance or access to any income at all. And so, they’ve gone back to the 2008 idea of launching a set of facilities, and they don’t have the technical, legal authority to do what they’ve been doing with these facilities. They’ve literally just gone to the most basic kind of legal engineering you could do as a financial institution which is to create what’s called a special purpose vehicle. You give money to that special purpose vehicle and then they do all the stuff that you technically can’t do. This is what’s important to them–to such an extent that the Trump administration managed to convince Congress that $454 billion of the stimulus bill coming out of Congress needs to be devoted to giving money to the special purpose vehicles.
Rohan Grey: It’s ironic, they spent years criticizing shadow banking and then they turn around and just engage in shadow central banking.
Nathan Tankus: Now, the problem isn’t when it’s central. As long as anything is central banking, you can do it and it’s fine. The problem is when it’s that vanilla sort of banking. If they could synthetically create an SPV that was a central bank, then all of the problems with the shadow banking system would disappear.
Scott Ferguson: Just to bring this back to some broader political and ideological points, like in every crisis, it seems to me that the liberal and neoliberal finance and economics Right likes to imagine independent banks, independent entrepreneurs, and independent firms, all competing out there autonomously. But what historical crises–and this is no exception–brings to the fore is that everybody in the system is dependent on this hierarchy of money or hierarchy of governance and law. And so, if previously the discount window was sort of pooh-poohed because it rendered you some kind of welfare queen, then in the middle of a crisis, everyone’s a welfare queen, so it doesn’t matter.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, to maybe go to a point that you guys brought up on the previous retrospective episode of Money on the Left, there’s this tendency when you’re in an idea space to consider a lot of different ideas to be in competition with each other and policy entrepreneurs and idea entrepreneurs. But I think one thing that we’ve tried to do at MMN is to think of it as a bit more like the building of the cathedral model–like every brick is being added to a larger vision. And so, when it comes time to think about the responses to this crisis, it’s one thing to say, “Well, we were right all along.” We knew that these kinds of responses would be necessary, and I think that’s true. We deserve a chance to take a victory lap on that, even in these circumstances. But I think the other point is to say, the reason that we were right was because we didn’t develop our organization and our strategy in terms of just coming up with various ideas that are good in one month and put out another paper the next month, and there’s no cohesion to vision, there’s no strategy for why we’re focusing on these things and not other things. To think about what are going to be the major fault lines or weaknesses defining policy agenda issues and how they fit together, what kind of coherent narrative and framework you would need to develop and the more that you build that framework, the more it becomes a general purpose tool to help you address any particular issue that comes along, you still need to evolve and add to it and be reflexive. And that’s what we’re seeing in this crisis.
Everything from #MintTheCoin, to understanding these discount windows, to the importance of the Green New Deal and the Job Guarantee and remobilizing: they’re not just separate things that we might have happened to write a paper about one time. They’re all housed under the same entity. They actually have a strategic core and unity to them. And I think one thing that I’m pretty proud of amongst all of us is that you can speak to us, and we all probably have a pretty good idea of the relative weight and importance of these issues, how they fit together, and why we chose to focus on this next issue compared to a different one. And not to draw too much of a blunt analogy or metaphor, but that’s the sort of central planning, coordinated approach to how we are doing these things. And rather than waiting for everything to come to us in a crisis and being purely reactive as a lot of the analysis that Nathan was referring to earlier is, or simply saying it’s all class conflict and I don’t need to read anything new about the world or any institution since the mid-nineties as some Marxists think, what we’re trying to do is show that you can develop a kind of inductive theory of where the fault lines are and the more you understand that in an evolving sense, the better prepared you’ll be for the next problem that comes down the road. And every issue you fight on gets absorbed back into the general momentum and the general thrust.
Nathan Tankus: Just to piggyback on that comment about people who feel like they don’t need to update their analysis since the nineties, and this is something I haven’t wrote about yet but I’m planning to write about this week, is just this whole narrative forming around this crisis as a big corporate bailout. When I look at the details of what’s going on, it doesn’t seem to me that way. The $454 billion in what people call like the Treasury’s slush fund is devoted specifically to capitalizing these Federal Reserve programs, which is essentially an accounting gimmick. The Federal Reserve can do the 13(3) emergency lending that they want to do, whether or not there’s capitalization. There’s nothing anywhere that says the Federal Reserve has to have a positive net worth, or even that necessarily taking losses will stop it from having a positive net worth. This is purely an accounting gimmick. And when you realize that, you realize that the stimulus bill, which is a bad framing anyway, barely has any money for big corporations at all. And that’s an interesting question of why.
It has the airline bailout. It has a little here and there of associated money and obviously furloughed workers qualifying for unemployment is helpful to a lot of big businesses. But by and large, the funding so far has been pretty bupkis for corporate America, and we’ll see how the Federal Reserve facilities play out, but as of right now it seems like all they’re doing is preventing corporate borrowing costs from spiraling out of control and keeping it at even spread, meaning the difference between those interest rates and the interest rate on government securities, or overnight bank lending interest rates. And that’s definitely a benefit. It’s definitely a subsidy. It points to how large corporations are a necessary critical infrastructure in the United States and thus aren’t gonna be allowed to go down, especially all at once. But it’s not like the tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars that corporations might get in another circumstance. For instance, the Trump tax cuts at this point seem to me to be a much bigger bailout than anything that’s on the scale right now for big corporations, and yet people’s instinct that, “Oh, the Fed is getting involved and they’re buying corporate bonds so that means there’s a big bailout happening,” obscures the difference between a subsidy or a safety net for a necessary public infrastructure in actual transfers of cash into people’s pockets.
Scott Ferguson: Do you have any thoughts about why that is?
Nathan Tankus: Why it’s happening or the narrative around it?
Scott Ferguson: The tepid response.
Nathan Tankus: I think that no one has thought about what this Treasury facility is. For Congresspeople, it’s all about pay-fors and how much money you’re getting for your own constituents. They focus on dollar amounts a lot more than they focus on the distinction between loans and grants. Even though, obviously, if you talk to a business person, they say what I want is income, I don’t want a loan. All that matters is that there’s a dollar number in the bill that you can count up. In this $2.2 trillion number, $454 billion of it is this accounting gimmick, another $350 billion at least is going to small business loans. I think there’s other loans or even delays on when you have to pay your taxes or whatever. Altogether, in terms of actual spending or grants or even tax cuts, and I’m gonna want to do the exact math this week and post, but I think it’s barely like a trillion dollars out there that is actually going to spending or grants to anyone, and only like $650 billion going to households. We’re talking about numbers that are actually very small, especially in comparison to the size of the problem. But Congresspeople are able to add those numbers to the hill with all these kinds of loans. It’s sort of the opposite of the other side of the pay-for debate, since everything is about big dollar numbers, but instead suddenly everyone wants big dollar numbers to go out the door–well, you count up all the things and you can exaggerate how big you’re going.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, Trump said on TV the other day $6.2 trillion. He said it’s $2 trillion and then $4 trillion in loans. He likes to say it was a $6 trillion bailout or $6 trillion stimulus or relief package. And of course, the exchange stabilized fund that Nathan’s talking about, this slush fund, is $430 billion of Treasury money that is then being leveraged a 10 to 1 by the Fed to make $4 trillion in loans. But also one of the things as Nathan was saying, one of the lessons that the politicians learned from 2008 is it’s great when they can say the stimulus loans were paid back. It’s a way for them to avoid accountability for the subsidies that do go to corporations and banks in this minute. They can say, “Look, we didn’t give them money, we lent the money and they paid us back with interest. What are you complaining about? We actually made money for the government, we actually made a profit on these loans over time.” And of course, as Nathan said, there’s a huge difference between income and credit.
But one thing that’s really related to what we’ve been working on with the “Mint The Coin” proposal, and just an example of what I was saying about this sort of coordinated strategy or coordinated framework, is that when we proposed to Mint The Coin, the most sophisticated critics, people like George Selgin of the Libertarian Cato Institute, they didn’t say it would be inflationary because they know better. Even Paul Krugman didn’t say it would be inflationary. But to the extent that they have a problem, what they say is that it would cause unnecessary entanglement between the Treasury and the Fed. It would potentially undermine Fed independence because the Treasury would be able to essentially fund its own spending with a zero-interest instrument. But then, if the Fed later wanted to raise interest rates again, it would have to pay the interest cost. Normally, the Fed buys Treasury debt, it earns interest from the Treasury. It does whatever it does and then gives the net profits back to the Treasury. And, as Nathan said, that’s a total accounting gimmick. You can do it however you want, but it allows the Fed to have this perception of budget independence and that it’s not sort of borrowing from the public fisc or it’s not playing with public money. It’s playing with its own balance sheet and as long as it runs a profit, what are you complaining about? Don’t look over my shoulder. Leave me alone. Aren’t you grateful that I’m a profit center in the government, sort of like the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is the only profitable branch in the whole of the company.
Even if Michael Scott’s an idiot, everybody looks the other way as long as it keeps giving profit back. But the reality is, of course, that these decisions, and Nathan’s written about swap lines today–central bank swap lines and the question of which corporate debt to buy and whether to support corporations or municipal and state bonds or state government budgets–these are all incredibly political distributional questions. Rather than take responsibility for that at the Treasury level, the Treasury can sort of say, “Okay, we’re gonna put $400 billion in this fund and we’ll get to take some credit for that as a result.” But all the difficult decisions will be made by the Fed and independent central bankers under this lending framework where hopefully it’ll get paid back at the end. And that avoids that question of saying, “Well, where’s my swap line? Where’s my credit relief? Where’s my subsidy for cheap interest?” People are still refinancing their homes at higher percentage rates than corporations are borrowing, and state and local governments are still waiting for their relief while all the money for the corporations has gone out the door.
So I think that, as Nathan said, on one hand, it’s a bit of a nothing burger in overall amount, but on the other hand, we are repeating and reinforcing this framework of central bank independence even in the middle of a crisis that is making a mockery of that independence. Because, the Treasury is giving $400 billion to the Fed, as Nathan said, not because it’s needed, but so that any losses, if they do experience losses, will be borne by the Treasury. So the Treasury is saying: “Here’s our money. You do what you want to do. And if you fuck up, we’ll take the first hit and somehow that’s supposed to be central bank independence.” That’s supposed to be preserving a separation between the two. But God forbid that the Treasury fund itself with a coin. And so, these issues are seemingly quite unrelated, talking about the Fed stimulus on one hand or Fed lending and talking about the proposal to Mint The Coin, but on the other hand, actually, there’s this larger institutional vision of putting out the ongoing hypocrisy and fictions underlying these narratives about the institutional structure and political economy of fiscal and monetary policy and Treasury and central bank operation.
William Saas: So we have, essentially, a tale of two gimmicks, which the Fed presents as spectacular, but is really nothing too spectacular. And then, in the trillion dollar coin proposal, something that could be truly spectacular in a bunch of ways and maybe make a more lasting and immediate difference in people’s lives in this difficult time. And I think, Rohan, we spoke with you in November 2018 which was I guess ten years ago now?
Rohan Grey: I had a lot more hair on my head than I do now.
William Saas: Back then we spoke with you and the interview went a little long, and we cut about 20 minutes of material on the trillion dollar coin. But at that point, you had been working on a paper about the trillion dollar coin and that paper recently came out not too long ago. And from that you were able to adapt and work with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to develop the Mint The Coin proposal, which we would definitely suggest that readers and listeners, if you haven’t already, go read that. There are some pretty critical differences between the context and reception for Mint The Coin this time around and it last time around. And so, I wanted to ask, as you’ve been in the thick of it, to reflect on your experience or recollection of 2011-2013 and the debt ceiling and the Mint The Coin being proposed then versus what you’re seeing now in terms of uptake in response.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, it’s been fascinating. The major difference is, and some people are still sort of struggling to get this nuance in the way that it’s talked about today. Back then, the proposal was for the Treasury to use this existing statute on the books, section 5112(K) of the Coinage Act of the US Code, which authorizes the Treasury secretary to mint and issue a platinum proof coin of whatever denomination they wish, to use that to deal with the situation where there was a debt ceiling crisis– otherwise, if they didn’t use the coin, to either essentially blow through the debt ceiling, or unilaterally cut spending or raise taxes. And serious constitutional scholars and others proposed at the time: well, if you have that trilemma, if you’re faced with those three impossible options, the obvious solution is to blow through the debt ceiling because spending and taxing are core fiscal powers, core congressional powers. It’s the essence of the power of the purse and the separation of the executive branch, and the legislative branch really needs to keep that power of the purse within the hands of the legislature. Whereas the debt ceiling is sort of an accounting gimmick, another accounting gimmick, a financing gimmick that was originally created to give the executive more discretion over how it chooses to finance.
Imagine if you’ve got a bunch of different budget approvals for groceries and then, for your rent and gas bill, someone says, “Tell you what, here is a general credit card. Spend it how you need, keep it under a limit, and this will actually give you more flexibility.” That was the original idea with the debt ceiling. But the idea with the coin was to say, actually, there’s this fourth option, and the fourth option is on the books. And if the choice is to violate the Constitution and the separation of powers or to use this existing law in a way that it might not have been originally fully anticipated, then the coin option is far more legally robust. And serious scholars responded to this saying, “Look, it might be arguably more legal, but it would reveal to the public the way that money works, and that would be a huge problem. It would cause anarchy in the streets and there would be rioting, and we would undermine the very myth of money’s neutrality, which is necessary to keep it stable.” And it really bugged me at the time as a student and then later as a scholar because what they were saying–these are academics, these are public educators–we need to lie to the public and if we don’t lie to the public, then the world will fall apart and we need to the lie to the public so badly that we need to violate the Constitution. I mean, if that’s a theory of an informed electorate, I don’t know what the point of committing to democracy is at all if we have to just keep telling them lies. Because if they knew the truth, they might stop us from violating the laws that we have committed to uphold.
But this time around, the proposal was to actually pass a new piece of legislation. A representative in Congress was proposing this, and Congress would pass a bill directing the Treasury to mint a coin and direct the Fed to accept it. So, a lot of the interesting legal issues that kept lawyers entertained of the first coin proposal are not really relevant here because, whatever the potential legal grey area of the Treasury doing this on their own, there’s pretty much no legal grey area if Congress passes a law. Congress has very clear constitutional authority to coin money, regulate its value, provide for the common welfare, and appropriate funds. If Congress said to fund this with a coin, then the Fed and the Treasury would say yes, sir, how high do you want me to jump? And this time around, of course, the idea that we’re telling the public that we’ve got unlimited money in the banana stand, that fiction is already blown out of the water. Even Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the House of Financial Services Committee, who is no MMTer by any stretch, she used the term “money financed fiscal policy” with the central bankers putting $4 trillion of liquidity out there. So, the idea that we can’t tell the truth about where the money comes from is a much weaker claim this time around then it was the first time around.
William Saas: I think there was some word in The Washington Post in like 2013 that the Obama administration actually considered the proposal, but then they worried that the Fed would not actually cooperate.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, again, this is the idea of Fed independence. We often often hear it in public discourse, and this is a success of the neoliberal ideological project I would say, but it’s often framed in public discourse, as we can’t trust our politicians to spend money, that the central bank exists to control the purse strings and take away the punch bowl before the party gets too rowdy. But the actual historical origins of central bank independence, which again is something Nathan I have done research on and it’s part of MMN’s research agenda, going back to the 1951 Treasury-Fed accord, the origins of central bank independence were between the central bank and the elected part of the executive branch. The idea was that the Treasury and the president wanted interest rates to stay low because it was easier for them to finance their fiscal spending at a lower interest rate when the Fed kept interest rates low. And the Fed said no, we want to be able to control interest rates to manage inflation. Nathan’s working on a credit report right now that talks about other ways to control inflation, which the Treasury and the president wanted to consider at the time, using direct credit regulation and things–what we might now understand in some way as macroprudential regulation. But the idea of central bank independence then was between the president and the central bank. That’s why people say Donald Trump criticizing Powell for wanting to raise interest rates is a violation of Fed independence.
So, in that respect, Obama trying to use the coin without additional direction for Congress could have been said to be an encroachment on central bank independence. I didn’t think that was the case, but that was the argument at the time. Now, actually what happened is the Obama administration got a legal memo in the White House about this–it’s not publicly available yet–but they didn’t want to pursue the coin option, not because they actually necessarily thought it couldn’t be done. I think if the president and the Treasury had tried to do this, the Fed actually probably wouldn’t have denied it. They probably would have claimed to deny it in the outset to try and stop it from happening because it would make them look like a joke to their serious central banker friends at the next international meetup. But the reason that the president didn’t want to do this is because the president wanted to win the political fight with the Republicans.
And the best way that they thought to do that was to say to the public and to the Republicans: “If you don’t negotiate with us, if you don’t sit down at the table with us, the US economy is gonna come to a crashing halt. We’re gonna have a government shutdown. We’re not gonna send Social Security checks out.” So basically, Obama put a gun to the head of the American economy and said: “If you don’t negotiate, I’ll pull the trigger.” And from my point of view, that’s very dangerous to give a president the power to take options off the table, to keep Congress’ spending commitments from flowing just to score those kinds of political points. I obviously don’t like the Republicans. I didn’t want them to win that fight with Obama, but I think the fact that he would rather lie about what options are on the table and gamble with the lives of people who would have been affected by the shutdown and been affected by spending not going out, rather than to say “Look, I’d love it if they came to the table, but of course the spending is gonna keep happening, e can always finance it.” That was a purely cynical political decision. It wasn’t about the legality of the coin.
William Saas: Another critical difference between back then and now is that there’s a ready audience for #MintTheCoin on social media and things. It seemed to develop over time between 2011-2013 and now and people were just ready and excited to see it. I don’t know if you have any thoughts on the aesthetic representations of the Mint The Coin proposal or what people are saying today or how they’re envisioning it versus back then? I remember from 2011-2013, the House Republicans said that in order to mint a trillion dollar platinum coin, you would have to amass enough platinum to sink the Titanic, and there seems to be a little bit of that this time around. But I don’t know, what do you think of the memes, Rohan?
Rohan Grey: Yeah, just to keep going back to the central theme we started with, this is also an example of MMN strategy, and that’s not to say we’re the only ones who have ever thought of this, but I think we put a lot of effort into outreach to the financial journalism community, on building relationships there and making sure that these ideas are in front of the people who write about them so that they understand how to think about them the right way. And some of that was already happening. We certainly can’t take all of the credit for that. But if you look at the way that the Mint The Coin discourse has evolved at the time, part of that was these ideas, people who weren’t that familiar with them, we’re confronted with this better framing and better analysis of it. And so, over time they then reported in a better way. I remember one of the very first interviews that Stephanie Kelton did on Chris Hayes’ show was with another journalist from The Guardian named Heidi Moore, and she repeated this idea about platinum and its absolute bullshit. There’s nothing in the law that says it has to be the bullion value of platinum. It was just a bad reading of the law and this time around we’ve got people who understand that. It’s sort of that “first time is tragedy, second time is farce” thing, where the word farce really means stuffing and feathers. What might have caused a strong emotional response the first time you heard it, the second time’s a little bit more passe, and you can get past that shock value and actually talk about it the right way.
Even average people had heard about the coin a little bit through Jon Stewart or something. So, this time it’s like, “Oh yeah, I remember hearing about that before. What’s that again?” And this time they read it and it’s not necessarily the same ridiculousness at first impression. But I think the other part of it is that we’ve got a Left audience now over the last four years in particular and before that that understands the MMT community has something important to say that’s worth listening to even when they disagree, or that they can’t afford to ignore it if they want to, and that these ideas are not crazy. The other meme that you’re seeing this time around along with #MintTheCoin is “Money Printer Go Brrr.” And it’s very funny on one hand, but it also reflects the fact that a lot of serious people, both leftists and journalists, are sick off these bullshit narratives that are corroding public debate and being like, “I’m just not gonna take it seriously anymore. You can’t say that! You can’t just print money! Everything will go crazy!” Hahaha, I am saying that. It’s a kind of thumbs up to the serious discourse in reflection of how bad the serious discourse has failed us until now to say, “Look, if you’re gonna call me an idiot and juvenile, then fine, I’ll just lean into it.” I’ll lean into the main.
And respect to Representative Tlaib: she represents the poorest district in the country. This is something that may make certain people wanna laugh, but it’s much more honest. And she’s telling the truth to her constituents and not talking down to them or condescending to them or lying to them because she thinks they can’t handle the truth. I have a lot of respect for the courage it took to just say it this way. And I think the journalists can sort of soak it in irony with these memes “Her Money Printed Go Brrr,” and it’s funny. But when you’re a Congressperson, who is actually responsible for fixing these problems, you don’t have the luxury of irony. You have to be earnest, and in this context, the earnestness is that we can afford this. We’re not gonna deal with this bullshit anymore. The Treasury has the power to do it. I can explain this to an eight year old, not because it’s stupid, but because sometimes good things are good, the right way to do things is the right way to do things, and when a nine year old says, “Mommy, can’t we just print more money?” the answer sometimes is: Yes, we can.
Scott Ferguson: We’ve been fielding questions from left, right, and center about the coin and one of the big ones is: “Why bother with a coin? It’s just a gimmick.” This word has been coming up again and again, and I think we’ve all had various responses to it. One that really got me thinking was Nathan’s point, which you kind of referenced earlier, about the latest bill creating what is essentially a Treasury slush fund is itself a gimmick. It got me thinking about the politics and aesthetics of the gimmick and, as you said Ro, about the value of the hashtag leaning into the gimmick. I’m wondering if maybe Nathan has any more thoughts about that?
Nathan Tankus: Yeah, it’s been interesting. I’ve been thinking about this too. The way gimmicks and especially accounting gimmicks get used in discourse. Like all the same people who say the coin is an accounting gimmick are like absolutely, one hundred percent, talking about the absolute seriousness and importance of capitalizing these special purpose vehicles. Like if you listen to them, you’d think that our top five goals are flattening the curve to prevent over capacity of the hospitals, getting emergency resources to health care workers, supporting frontline workers, capitalizing special purpose vehicles, and then, like helping people make rent or whatever.
One of the most critically important things to be happening right now is this [special purpose vehicle] accounting gimmick, which is just a total gimmick. Even if you wanna die on the hill that you absolutely do need to capitalize these special purpose vehicles to indemnify the Federal Reserve against losses, it’s still an accounting gimmick that is part of the dollar amount that people are counting as stimulus to the private account. And yeah, the 10 to 1 ratio–you could talk a little bit more about Rohan–but literally the reason everyone thinks that there’s a $4 trillion plus corporate bailout coming is like, “Well, we need a dollar of equity for every $10 of assets. That’s a rule, right? It’s not a law or anything that anyone follows, but that’s a thing, right? I’ve heard of it. You just said it. People are saying this.” In the Trump administration way, it’s very much like, “Many people are saying this.” It’s literally spread like that through the intellectual ecosystem where “many people are saying this.” And now it’s gonna be $4 trillion plus in lending because $10 of lending for every $1 of equity. It’s childish in the most fundamental ways.
Scott Ferguson: Right, and it’s childishness serving the dominant power structure, the dominant ideology, which is not helping the people that need the help. And I think the gambit of the coin is to make a spectacle out of really any financial instrument that is backed by the government and its franchisees. Not that I would read #MintTheCoin as purely making a mockery because I think it has positive value and significance as a way of galvanizing political movements. So, I don’t want to say it’s just parodic, but I think it’s important to point out the parodic dimension of the gesture because it exposes the fact that any legal instrument like this is something like a gimmick.
Nathan Tankus: I would say the difference between the coin and the special purpose vehicles plus the fund for capitalizing the special purpose vehicles is that all that stuff is a child’s idea of what serious thinking and serious analysis of adults would be like. Like, “They must be doing something with their finance stuff and with their corporations. One thing’s going one way and one things going the other.” Whereas, the platinum coin is the child’s idea of how public finance should work. Like, “Why don’t we just mint a coin in a huge denomination and that way we’ll pay all our bills!” And they hate it because it’s how a child would go about it. But the thing they’re missing is the key element that a child has: an imagination unbounded by how adults construct the world. Whereas the child’s idea of what adult behavior, adult analysis, and adult policy is not having a full grasp of what’s going on in the adult world, but seeing how circumscribed, closed in, and unimaginative adults are.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, I mean, John Kenneth Galbraith had this line that “the essence of conservatism is the search for an endlessly superior justification for selfishness.” And when you have children who say, “Mommy, why are there poor people in the world?” Maybe they’ll say because there are shitty people out there who are in control or maybe they’ll say, “Well, I took an Econ 101 class at Harvard with Greg Mankiw. Let me explain to you trade-offs and preferences and why certain people have to be poor and how that’s actually a good thing for prosperity and for markets.” It’s that idea that it has to be more complicated than just sometimes there are bad people who do bad things. I think what Nathan was saying about child’s play works perfectly. I come from a background in early childhood, and there’s a great quote by Carl Orrf, a music educator, who said, “If you teach kids that play is learning, then when the time comes to learn they’ll realize that it’s child’s play.”
If you think about the coin and these other things, we’ve been using the term gimmick and that sometimes has negative connotations, and I’m down for reclaiming that term, but how about we replace it just for now with the word “ritual” or the word “theater,” or even the word “liturgy.” I came from an Anglican school. We did a lot of high Anglican liturgy. Even though it wasn’t the Catholic Church there were still cossacks and robes. There was a cathedral and there was music in between the sermon and the hymns and the prayers. The real question is: who are the high priests here? If you think about the way the Olympic flame gets run into the stadium, it’s this big moment, and it’s usually some culturally important figure, I could give a child the trillion dollar coin and ask them to walk for a moment to the Fed and say, “Hey, we’re doing this on behalf of every child who needs to get paid.” You can’t imagine a child pressing a button to sell the Treasury auction bid to a series of primary dealers at an interest rate that fits the spread between the repo and reverse repo rate that the Fed has set.
To Nathan’s point that this is a kid’s idea of what an adult sounds like, I think another way to frame that is also, this is what an insecure person’s idea of what sophistication sounds like. My father was a scientist. He likes to joke that he remembers someone who got a mathematics PhD for a proof that was like four lines long and that was their whole dissertation. Whereas in legal academia, the people who edit the law reviews are usually law students, and they’re usually very insecure about their own legal knowledge. And I’ve had this experience myself, both as an editor and then as a writer trying to publish things. I’ve written something like, the last 10 years has been characterized by the aftermath of the global financial crisis and climate change, and someone said, “Well, do you have a citation to prove that?” I said, “What do you mean?” They said, “Do you have a citation to prove that the last 10 years has been characterized by the aftermath of the global financial crisis?” I said, “What possible proof could I have that isn’t just someone else saying that, that I was there referring to them saying that?” And they said, “Well, you’re not an expert. You need to have someone who is an expert who said that.” I said, “I am an expert. I’m as much of an expert as the next person on this issue.” And then they said, “Okay, we didn’t realize you were that much of an expert, so we’ll allow you to say this on your own terms.”
And no disrespect to those students. That’s just the milieu in which they’re operating it. But the idea there is: I can’t possibly sign off on this as a judgment call. I need to rely on some external validation and some external reference to buttress this, unless it’s seen as being so obvious, like water is wet–do you have a citation for that? I think that that’s one of the elements here. The idea is that we actually have public legal authority, we have the public power of the purse and the coin’s value is just because we say so–it’s fiat. “Well, no, do you have a central bank balance sheet, do you have a primary dealer that’s bought this, do you have evidence that the future cash flow discounted by net present inflation expectations is gonna be sufficient?” Blah, blah, blah. No. I don’t need that citation. The coin is its own citation. And that’s all we need.
Maxximilian Seijo: Just to this point, why this strawman, gimmick talk is so pernicious is because to what we’ve been saying, all of society is an accounting gimmick, which is not to denigrate accounting gimmicks. It’s just to say that we need the right kind of accounting gimmicks that take care of everyone. That’s, I think, what the coin sort of represents.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, and to go back to this idea of liturgy, there’s one kind of liturgy that tells children these priests are 12 feet tall and they’re in communion with God, and they’re basically living representatives of God and this church is 80 feet high because it’s supposed to be something you’re afraid of and in or of. And don’t you dare question us when we’re standing on the pulpit, telling you want to do. And then there’s another kind of church that says, like a primary school classroom, we’re gonna sit on the floor cross legged because I’m the same size as a child and we’re all talking to each other as equals in a circle. And if you want to speak, you put your hand up and it’s your turn to speak. And then when I want to speak, it’s my turn. It’s not that I’m the priest and I have 40 minutes. And that the cathedral is a beautiful building that we built for children to play in and learn and to play beautiful music in and that’s the point of the building.
And so, we can think about a liturgy or a ritual that is designed to empower the participants in it. But we can also think of a liturgy that’s designed to disempower everybody but those in control. And you don’t have to go back to Martin Luther to make that point. I think the point of the coin is that it radically empowers average people. And in the same way as in 2013, the reason we couldn’t use the coin was because it would tell people that we can create money, this time, even as we’re literally creating money and even as the Fed is literally entangling itself with the Treasury, we can’t use the coin because to do so would show people that actually, all that complicated banking BS is unnecessary and that the power to do fiscal policy, as simple as it is, exists in something as mundane and almost a joke as the mint. Kids can go to the mint and take a public tour and they leave with a little coin. It’s actually something that you could imagine an eight year old going into and not kind of falling asleep when they meet Ben Bernanke.
William Saas: Thinking about it in dramatic terms, both sort of make a spectacle of the fiscal authority, but the SPVs and stimulus is much more in tragic good vs evil, serious vs unserious binary terms and the trillion dollar coin leans into that irony, and irony itself is about a deeper pulling back to see the bigger picture and context and paying less attention to heroes and villains, and more to shared interdependence and humanity.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, one of the movies that I love is Moonrise Kingdom. As a youth advocate, I represented kids in family court. I was an early childhood teacher. It takes seriously, and in a simultaneously ironic way, the feelings and intensity of childrens’ worldview. And in addition to the star crossed lovers, there’s this beautiful background of music. There’s Noye’ “Fludde.” There’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” by Benjamin Britten. I’ve played a lot of these pieces in educational orchestras and they’re by serious composers–Purcell and Tchaikovsky, whether it’s “Peter and the Wolf” for Britten, or whoever else. But one of the beautiful things about these pieces of music is they don’t talk down to kids in the same way as Leonard Bernstein popularized public music education where he brought kids to the orchestra and talked to them about all these beautiful pieces of classical music. They are constructed in a way to be accessible to kids. They’re not condescending. They don’t dumb it down. But they do make the music accessible in a way that is acknowledging kids where they are. I think that if we really cared about democracy and designing legal institutions, we would think about them in a way to make them simple on the other side of complexity so that we can empower average people and average children to understand what’s going on without making them feel stupid, and that only smart people and serious people and sophisticated people deserve to have an opinion on these things. Whether it’s classical music or high finance, I think it’s the same.
Nathan Tankus: I want to say one thing on that. Another way to frame that is the goal of policy making should be to make it impossible to suddenly launch a blog or whatever and get attention from tens of thousands of people by describing what a central bank is like. That should be something that is impossible because the pedagogical level at which we design our institutions for stabilizing financial systems and for making sure that people can make rent is simple enough that people would ask: Why would we be listening to you? There’s not some technical high-in-the-sky knowledge. We all have our civics class where we talk about money and we know what’s going on. So, fucking screw off.
Maxximilian Seijo: This whole conversation so far makes me think of what has been my hobby horse online since the crisis started–and this came up with the coin itself and also with the discount window conversation that we had before, and this is something that we’ve actively been themetizing on this show for a good part of a year now–which is that neoliberalism and the technocratic core of Fed independence has been in crisis. It’s been in crisis since the financial crisis, and it’s been this slow, agonizing death. And I did a thread about this on Twitter recently, but COVID is going to be known for what killed neoliberalism. At least on my reading, it put the final nail in the coffin of Fed independence, and I think Nathan’s Substack has really demonstrated this. But the responses to this thread was: “No, we have to wait and see. We have to see what the system does.” And it’s always premised on the fact that we first believe neoliberalism for what it is. We believe the Fed when they say they’re independent before we then act. But what it seems like all of the work that we’re doing here at the Modern Money Network, and especially technically speaking what you Rohan and Nathan have been doing since the crisis started, which is to say: No, we don’t have to believe you anymore, neoliberalism. We’re going to make the next paradigm and finally put this technocratic, unjust paradigm in the grave.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, I was not a particularly great student in high school. I mean, I was a good student in terms of grades, but I wasn’t a particularly respectful student when I felt that teachers were not particularly respectful. But one of the things I always remember was, you could tell the difference when you had substitute teachers–I’m sure most people have this experience–not necessarily on how much they taught you, because very rarely does a substitute teacher really kind of teach you something about the subject matter that was assigned the day before they turned up, but you could tell the difference between substitute teachers that wanted to make the experience one where they respected you and the classroom and ones where they just wanted to have control of you. For that latter group, at least to me, the only real accurate response was contempt. To come into a classroom that they didn’t know, with students they didn’t know, to try and teach in a context that wasn’t conducive to long term learning and then to do so in a way that was arrogant and imperious, the only proper response was to tell them to go fuck themselves. And I think that in this context, as you say, the worst thing that we can continue to do is validate as legitimate things that are embarrassingly self preservationist and very little else. And I think the “Money Printer Go Brrr” is a good example of that because these kinds of tearing your hair out in appeals to normalcy and respectability, they don’t deserve the paper that it takes to respond to them or the time. They deserve to be laughed at from the back of the room and have a spitball shot into their face. And what MMT does in the right way, in the kind of Good Will Hunting way, is to be able to back that up to show that it isn’t just a covering of insecurity for weakness. It’s born of the strength of not taking your enemy’s framework of the world as a legitimate starting point, but rather to say, “I know enough to know you’re full of shit.”
Maxximilian Seijo: Yep.
Nathan Tankus: I would say from my point of view, one of the elements that I’ve always straddled when talking to financial markets people, especially through business journalists, and shout to Joe Wiesenthal who has been a stalwart supporter of the coin for many years, but more generally that crisis you’re talking about, which largely reflected is an intellectual crisis of the people who operate in the financial world, whether as journalists or private market participants or regulators, that is where the crisis is. And I would say that’s definitely my experience with this Substack. I can tell you there has been a wave of financial market professionals that have been interested in what I have to say and sign up for emails. There’s also been some government officials and there has been a wave of reporters, and not just like reporters on the periphery but in like the most important financial journalism sources. And I think that reflects, first, wanting to feel like you’re understanding the crisis, but also reflects a respect of people that they otherwise know are leftists and a respect of the knowledge and recognition that that knowledge is now everywhere and influencing what’s written across the board in the financial press. Just today, The Wall Street Journal columnist Mike Bird had a piece out on how there’s been talk about having businesses save more, and the central framing of the piece is sectoral balances, accounting identities, and for every deficit there must be a surplus. And he’s just casually using this as the centerpiece of his piece, and he can use it because it’s already like a shorthand that the consumers of this kind of media already grasps to criticize the idea that this isn’t about businesses and households saving more.
And I might have criticisms of where he was going, but you could never expect that kind of analysis would just be casually thrown out there by a columnist at a place like The Wall Street Journal. Yet now it’s so common that I don’t think any other MMTer has really picked up on it. I haven’t seen anyone else really tweet about this piece. It used to be we were so starved for any coverage of any aspect of our ideas that we would fawn over something like that for a week. And now there’s an ocean of it and we barely even notice 80% of it. But it’s a media environment that has completely changed. And it’s that environment in which now the next step is having the public understand what’s now very well understood within a rarefied financial press.
Scott Ferguson: Yeah, absolutely. The thing that’s so striking to me when it comes to the struggle for the hegemony over ideas and framing is just how much of the discourse has changed, and then specifically, that MMT has arisen as a key signifier within the discourse of this pandemic. You do a casual internet search and you’ll see headlines like “Coronavirus Markets: Is it time for Modern Monetary Theory?” or “The huge Coronavirus bailouts will need to be paid back…Or will they?” And then the first line of the story is about MMT. Another one that I just pulled up is: “Prepare for a Test of Economic Principles,” and then MMT is the first thing they are talking about. They’re not talking about how now it’s anybody’s game, maybe the post-Keynesians were right or maybe the Austrians have something to teach us. No, this crisis has made MMT a kind of central term of debate and I think that that’s an extraordinary thing.
Rohan Grey: I feel like the Austrians, some liquidation of human beings and entire cities is probably necessary for the course correction. I think Peter Schiff has finally come to his moment with hyperinflation.
Nathan Tankus: Keynesianism has the model for you!
Rohan Grey: I mean, to go to your point, some people, even some prominent MMTers, they’re saying to declare victory at this point. Like everybody is sort of an MMTer now when MSNBC is saying, “Ich bin ein MMTer.” But I see that public pedagogical point to still be very important. I think the fact that central bankers are faced with their own lies in this moment isn’t enough to me. Maybe I’m just pressing the advantage and want to keep pushing for the full loaf, but I see the fact that the coin is not necessary to finance any spending, the fact that there is still an objection to it that is strong, the fact that it’s still able to be laughed out the room, suggests to me we haven’t done the public educational part completely yet or there’s still work to be done. Of course, any big idea, especially a complicated one, is not gonna get into everybody’s head. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t read the news, it’s not gonna get to you necessarily. But I think that this is a moment to take our winnings and press further and not to step back and say, “OK, everybody is monetizing deficits.” Not that that’s necessarily implementing MMT or the fact that we’re talking about inflation constraints not budget constraints is proof that we’ve won. I don’t think that’s true, because I don’t think that we’re going to see this logic applied the next day in the same way.
We’re not providing support to state and local governments as much as we could, which if people did understand MMT’s analysis, would know that that was necessary. We’re not using money financed deficits or using this moment to deal with long term interest rate considerations about monetary policy or anything like that. There’s more to be done and the point is to press our advantage. One of the reasons I like the coin is, even in this moment, even as everybody is accepting so much of the basic MMT insights about fiscal policy, it is pushing that advantage. And the response people are getting is: Really? You want to fight this fight now? Do we need to do this? And of course, these are the same people that didn’t want to do anything until they were forced to do something. So yeah, we do need to do it because if you had your way, we wouldn’t have done anything. And we’re gonna keep pushing until we get over the finish line once and for all.
Scott Ferguson: And because people’s lives are at stake.
Rohan Grey: This is one thing we haven’t talked about yet, and I talked about it elsewhere, but we saw after 2009 a backlash. History moves in big swings and reactions. We saw a backlash to the stimulus spending where it was austerity, it was the tea party, and it was the Simpson-Bowles commission. What I think we need to be preparing an understanding now at the end of this crisis is not just the national debt hysteria and the deficits in these big numbers, which are gonna be thrown around to scare people about their grandchildren–I’ve talked about that elsewhere. But I think one thing that Money on the Left has talked about a lot in the past as well is how crisis moments also engender the broader social conception of scarcity. And I worry now, we’re going to see closed borders, we’re going to see a rise of xenophobia, and we’re gonna see average people trusting each other a little bit less. And anything that fuels that fire, whether it’s economic or budgetary or whatever, any little bit of hook that gives people an excuse to be that little bit less human to each other has to be fought with every ounce we’ve got because we just saw Viktor Orban today in Hungary declare himself bloody dictator indefinitely and suspend Parliament. And we’ve seen the rise of surveillance technologies in relation to the crisis, people monitoring where people’s phones go in the name of promoting social distancing and things. So we’re going to see a huge backlash to the very frail fibers of social decency that were hanging on before this. And I think that the idea, as you guys like to say, emphasizing the boundless and infinite center, the public utility of money, is even more crucial now, even as we are more successful than we’ve been in the past.
Maxximilian Seijo: This point brings us precisely back to the beginnings, which is that since the financial crisis and various iterations, the Modern Money Network and we as a collective have been doing the work to be prepared for the intellectual crisis that we could all see coming in some form or fashion, obviously not in the form that it came. And so it’s crucially important that we–
Rohan Grey: Yeah, I don’t think I had my money on a virus.
Nathan Tankus: Well, even if this comes out on Monthly Review, I got to give a shout out to a book that I meant to review a couple years ago but failed to, which is Rob Wallace’s Big Farms Make Big Flu. And it’s definitely something to get into more in future Money on the Left episodes, but part of a globalized infrastructure of production is the increased virulence and transferability of viruses. And then, industrial farming going along with it and incubating those kinds of diseases in animals and increasing their capacity to spread everywhere.
Maxximilian Seijo: Yeah, that’s an interesting point. And I want to get back to conclude this point, which is to say, pressing our advantage means necessarily using this intellectual head start to completely and totally push and shape the discourse as we can at all fronts, whether that’s online, on the ground with people, with the public, with the so called technocrats in closed room, singular conversations and push and push and push and push. And we’re doing that, but just to call it out I think is crucially important for this project going forward.
William Saas: And a lot easier to do with a network, right? I know that I’ve been dealing with this crisis 100 different ways, not all of them very good, but talking to you all and seeing the work in front of us as we’re talking is inspiring in a lot of ways.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, and people like to say that the mark of a politician is they can hold multiple contradictory ideas in their head at the same time. And certainly I’ve heard of that used to describe lawyers before. But I think one of the benefits of this network approach, even more than just one think tank where everything gets published with one name at the top and everything goes through one common filtering mechanism, is that some of these strategies are going to have internal tensions with each other. Some of this work is going to sound more populist, and some of it’s gonna sound more technocratic. Some of it’s going to sound more ameliorationist and some of it’s gonna sound more fire and pitchfork-y. Some of it’s going to be speaking to die hard leftists, and some of it’s gonna be speaking to more ideologically mild or non-radicalized segments of the population. To be able to keep an underlying unity of the vision and of the goals, even as the various wings and the various projects go in directions that occasionally pit themselves in ostensible tension with each other requires trust and relationships and some level of community. And I think that’s what we’re hoping to do with the network. It’s that kind of nudge in a wink. We’re all on the same page at some deep level, even when we find ourselves at odds in certain arenas.
William Saas: With no Hayek yelling down at us from the top of the mountain.
Rohan Grey: Yeah, of course.Scott Ferguson: Well, Rohan and Nathan, thanks so much for joining us. We hope you’re both safe and well in this time of crisis and carry on.
* Thanks to the Money on the Left production team: Alex Williams (audio engineering), Richard Farrell (transcription) & Meghan Saas (graphic art).