Bill Mitchell (economist)

Last updated

Bill Mitchell
Bill Mitchell wiki photo.jpg
BornMarch 1952
Glen Huntly, Australia
Institution University of Newcastle, Australia
Field Modern Monetary Theory; Political economy; Econometrics
School or
Post-Keynesian economics
Influences Karl Marx [1]  · Michael Kalecki [1]  · Arthur Okun [2]

William Francis Mitchell (born March 1952) is a professor of economics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia and a notable proponent of Modern Monetary Theory.

Economics Social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Modern Monetary Theory or Modern Money Theory (MMT) is a heterodox macroeconomic theory that describes currency as a public monopoly for the government, and unemployment as evidence that a currency monopolist is overly restricting the supply of the financial assets needed to pay taxes and satisfy savings desires. MMT is seen as an evolution of chartalism and is sometimes referred to as neo-chartalism.


Early life

Mitchell was born to working class parents in Glen Huntly, Australia, in March 1952. The family moved to Ashwood, a new Housing Commission suburb in Melbourne, soon after. He attended Ashwood Primary School (1957–1963) and Ashwood High School (1964–1969).

Glen Huntly, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Glen Huntly is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 11 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district. Its local government area is the City of Glen Eira. At the 2016 Census, Glen Huntly had a population of 5040.

Ashwood, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Ashwood is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 14 km south-east from Melbourne's central business district. Its local government area is the City of Monash. At the 2016 Census, Ashwood had a population of 6,886.

Housing Commission of Victoria

The Housing Commission of Victoria was a Victorian State Government body responsible for public housing in Victoria, Australia. It was established in 1938, and was abolished in 1984.


Mitchell holds the following degrees: PhD in Economics, University of Newcastle, 1998; Bachelor of Commerce, Deakin University, 1977; and Master of Economics Monash University, 1982. He completed a Master's Preliminary at the University of Melbourne in 1978 (with first-class honours). [3]

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

Deakin University university in Victoria, Australia

Deakin University is a public university in Victoria, Australia. Established in 1974 with the passage of the Deakin University Act 1974, the university was named after the second Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.



Since 1990, Mitchell is a professor at University of Newcastle, New South Wales. He also holds the position of Docent Professor in Global Political Economy, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.

University of Helsinki public university in Helsinki, Finland

The University of Helsinki is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Åbo, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Around 36,500 students are currently enrolled in the degree programs of the university spread across 11 faculties and 11 research institutes.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.


Mitchell works to promote active government economic policies and the use of fiscal deficits as a tool to enhance well-being and environmental sustainability. He is Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), a non-profit, research organisation at the University of Newcastle. Its mission statement is to advance research and policies that can restore full employment and achieve a society that "delivers equitable outcomes for all".

Centre of Full Employment and Equity organization

The Centre of Full Employment and Equity or CofFEE is an official research centre of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, and has operated since 1998. CofFEE's membership is drawn from the disciplines of economics, politics, sociology and geography.

Mitchell participates in various public and community activities, on issues of politics, economics, fiscal sustainability, [4] and the environment. [5] He is a regular editorialist and commentator on labour markets and relations in the national radio and press media of Australia.

Fiscal sustainability, or public finance sustainability, is the ability of a government to sustain its current spending, tax and other policies in the long run without threatening government solvency or defaulting on some of its liabilities or promised expenditures. There is no consensus among economists on a precise operational definition for fiscal sustainability, rather different studies use their own, often similar, definitions. However, the European Commission defines public finance sustainability as: the ability of a government to sustain its current spending, tax and other policies in the long run without threatening the government's solvency or without defaulting on some of the government's liabilities or promised expenditures. Many countries and research institutes have published reports which assess the sustainability of fiscal policies based on long-run projections of country's public finances. These assessments attempt to determine whether an adjustment to current fiscal policies that is required to reconcile projected revenues with projected expenditures. The size of the required adjustment is given with measures such as the Fiscal gap.

Mitchell is active in the public opposition of neo-liberal economic theories and practices and disputes the "revisionism" of History ostensibly perpetrated by mainstream or conservative economists, especially in relation to the policies of the New Deal. [6] He has often been called to appear as an expert witness in industrial matters in state and federal tribunals in Australia, as well as in various government enquiries. [7] His work in childcare industrial cases in Victoria and New South Wales influenced the realignments in the relevant State and Federal Awards in that sector.


Mitchell coined the term, "Modern Monetary Theory", also known as, "MMT". He coined the term in reference to John Maynard Keynes' claim that for at least 4,000 years money has been "a creature of the state". [8] He is a prominent promoter of MMT in macroeconomics. [9]

He has written extensively in the fields of macroeconomics, econometrics and public policy. [10] He has published widely in refereed academic journals and books and regularly gives conference presentations abroad. [3]


His latest book Macroeconomics (Macmillan, March 2019), co-written with L. Randall Wray and Martin Watts, is a textbook that "encourages students to take a more critical approach to the prevalent assumptions around the subject of macroeconomics, by comparing and contrasting heterodox and orthodox approaches to theory and policy ... based on the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)". [11]

Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World

His 2017 book Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (September, 2017), co-written with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi, "reconceptualises the nation state as a vehicle for progressive change. They show how despite the ravages of neoliberalism, the state still contains resources for democratic control of a nation's economy and finances. The populist turn provides an opening to develop an ambitious but feasible left political strategy. It offers an urgent, provocative and prescient political analysis of our current predicament, and lays out a comprehensive strategy for revitalising progressive economics in the 21st century." [12]

Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale

His book Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale (May 2015), provides "a critical history and analysis from the perspective of Modern Monetary Theory of the European economic crisis that started in 2009." [13]

Full Employment Abandoned

Full Employment Abandoned: Shifting Sands and Policy Failures (2008), co-written with Joan Muysken of Maastricht University, traces the theoretical analysis of the nature and causes of unemployment over the last 150 years and argue that the shift from involuntary to so-called "natural rate" concepts of unemployment are behind an "ideological backlash" against state intervention as notably advocated, within the frame of the free economy, by Keynes in the 1930s. The authors further contend that unemployment is a reflection of systemic policy failures, rather than an "individual problem". They present a theoretical and empirical critique of the neo-liberal approach and suggest that the reinstatement of full employment, along with price stability, is a viable policy goal, achievable through an activist fiscal policy.

The notion of job guarantee is introduced, whereby the government would guarantee a job to every willing and able adult individual, paying a wage that would become society's minimum wage, and would be expression of the aspiration of the society of the lowest acceptable standard of living. [14]


Mitchell is an accomplished musician who has played guitar professionally in various bands over the years. [15] Mitchell currently plays with Pressure Drop, a Melbourne-based reggae-dub band, originally popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. The band reformed in 2010. [16]

Mitchell often refers to the economics discipline, and especially the academia, in disparaging terms, [17] stating, only half-jokingly, that his work as a musician does less damage to people. "I think my economics profession is very dangerous," he says. [16]

Personal life

Mitchell is a "passionate" cyclist. [18] He was an "active bike racer" [19] when, in 1995, he founded the website, which was sold in 1999 [18] to the Australian media company Knapp Communications. It was subsequently bought in 2007 [19] by Future plc.

See also

Related Research Articles

Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies. Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, national income, price indices, and the interrelations among the different sectors of the economy to better understand how the whole economy functions. They also develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, saving, investment, energy, international trade, and international finance.

Post-Keynesian economics is a school of economic thought with its origins in The General Theory of John Maynard Keynes, with subsequent development influenced to a large degree by Michał Kalecki, Joan Robinson, Nicholas Kaldor, Sidney Weintraub, Paul Davidson, Piero Sraffa and Jan Kregel. Historian Robert Skidelsky argues that the post-Keynesian school has remained closest to the spirit of Keynes' original work. It is a heterodox approach to economics.

Neo-Keynesian economics is a school of macroeconomic thought that was developed in the post-war period from the writings of John Maynard Keynes. A group of economists, attempted to interpret and formalize Keynes' writings and to synthesize it with the neo-classical models of economics. Their work has become known as the neo-classical synthesis and created the models that formed the core ideas of neo-Keynesian economics. These ideas dominated mainstream economics in the post-war period and formed the mainstream of macroeconomic thought in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Michał Kalecki Polish economist

Michał Kalecki was a Polish economist. Over the course of his life, Kalecki worked at the London School of Economics, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Warsaw School of Economics and was an economic advisor to the governments of Poland, France, Cuba, Israel, Mexico and India. He also served as the deputy director of the United Nations Economic Department in New York City.

Structuralist economics is an approach to economics that emphasizes the importance of taking into account structural features (typically) when undertaking economic analysis. The approach originated with the work of the Economic Commission for Latin America and is primarily associated with its director Raúl Prebisch and Brazilian economist Celso Furtado. Prebisch began with arguments that economic inequality and distorted development was an inherent structural feature of the global system exchange. As such, early structuralist models emphasised both internal and external disequilibria arising from the productive structure and its interactions with the dependent relationship developing countries had with the developed world. Prebisch himself helped provide the rationale for the idea of Import substitution industrialization, in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II. The alleged declining terms of trade of the developing countries, the Singer–Prebisch hypothesis, played a key role in this.

A job guarantee (JG) is an economic policy proposal aimed at providing a sustainable solution to the dual problems of inflation and unemployment. Its aim is to create full employment and price stability, by having the state promise to hire unemployed workers as an employer of last resort (ELR).

NAIRU is an acronym for non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, and refers to a theoretical level of unemployment below which inflation would be expected to rise. It was first introduced as NIRU by Franco Modigliani and Lucas Papademos in 1975, as an improvement over the "natural rate of unemployment" concept, which was proposed earlier by Milton Friedman.

Jared Bernstein American economist

Jared Bernstein is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. He was considered to be a progressive and "a strong advocate for workers."

History of macroeconomic thought

Macroeconomic theory has its origins in the study of business cycles and monetary theory. In general, early theorists believed monetary factors could not affect real factors such as real output. John Maynard Keynes attacked some of these "classical" theories and produced a general theory that described the whole economy in terms of aggregates rather than individual, microeconomic parts. Attempting to explain unemployment and recessions, he noticed the tendency for people and businesses to hoard cash and avoid investment during a recession. He argued that this invalidated the assumptions of classical economists who thought that markets always clear, leaving no surplus of goods and no willing labor left idle.

Robert Wayne Clower was an American economist. He is credited with having largely created the field of stock-flow analysis in economics and with seminal works on the microfoundations of monetary theory and macroeconomics.

Joan Muysken Dutch economist (1948)

Joan Muysken is a Dutch professor emeritus of Economics at the Maastricht University.

L. Randall Wray American economist associated with Modern Monetary Theory

Larry Randall Wray is a professor of Economics at Bard College and Senior Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute. Previously, he was a professor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, whose faculty he joined in August 1999. Before UMKC, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Rome, Italy, the University of Paris, France, and the UNAM, in Mexico City. From 1994 to 1995 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bologna. From 2015 he is a Visiting professor at the University of Bergamo.

In macroeconomics, chartalism is a theory of money which argues that money originated with states' attempts to direct economic activity rather than as a spontaneous solution to the problems with barter or as a means with which to tokenize debt, and that fiat currency has value in exchange because of sovereign power to levy taxes on economic activity payable in the currency they issue.

<i>Full Employment Abandoned</i> 2008 book by William Mitchell & Joan Muysken

Full Employment Abandoned: Shifting Sands and Policy Failures is a book on macroeconomic issues, written by economists William Mitchell & Joan Muysken and first published in 2008.

Stephanie Kelton American economist & academic

Stephanie Kelton is an American economist and Professor of Public Policy and Economics at Stony Brook University. She was formerly Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, Chief Economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee 2015 minority party staff and an Economic Advisor to Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. She is founder and editor-in-chief of the blog New Economic Perspectives. She is a leading proponent of Modern Monetary Theory, was named in Current Affairs as a possible future secretary of the treasury, and was named one of Politico's 50 "thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016."

Pavlina R. Tcherneva American economist

Pavlina R. Tcherneva is an American economist, of Bulgarian descent, working as associate professor and director of the Economics program at Bard College. She is also a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute and expert at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Australian Workers Party

The Australian Workers Party (AWP) is an Australian political party which registered with the Australian Electoral Commission in February 2017.

NAIBER is an acronym for non-accelerating inflation buffer employment ratio and refers to a systemic proposal for an in-built inflation control mechanism devised by economists Bill Mitchell and Warren Mosler, and advocated by Modern Money Theory as replacement for NAIRU. The concept of NAIBER is related to the idea of a Job Guarantee aimed to create full employment and price stability, by having the state promise to hire unemployed workers as an employer of last resort (ELR).


  1. 1 2 "The Political Aspects of Full Employment": "I have often indicated that my economic roots come from Marx through Kalecki. Kalecki was a Marxist economist. Marx was the first to really get to grips with the idea of effective demand – that is, spending backed by cash. Kalecki understood this intrinsically." Mitchell, 12 August 2010
  2. "Knowlegable economic commentary still exists": "Arthur of my favourite economists...". Mitchell, 1 September 2009; "They have been smoking some doobies": "the late Arthur Okun, the doyen of applied economics...". Mitchell, 1 November 2010
  3. 1 2 Qualifications Newcastle University biography
  4. "What is Fiscal Sustainability?", Counter-Conference on Fiscal Sustainability, 28 April 2010, Washington, DC, USA
  5. Climate Action Newcastle event information, 2008
  6. "The conservative reconstruction of history" Mitchell, 25 June 2010
  7. "Public Debt management and Australia’s macroeconomic priorities" by Mitchell & Mosler, presentation to the Review of the Commonwealth Government Securities Market, 2002
  8. Matthews, Dylan (18 February 2012). "Modern Monetary Theory is an unconventional take on economic strategy". Washington Post . Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  9. "Debt, Deficits, and Modern Monetary Theory: An Interview with Bill Mitchell" Archived 19 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine , Harvard International Review , 16 October 2011
  10. List of publications
  11. Macroeconomics, Macmillan Publishers, March 2019, ISBN   9781137610669
  12. Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World, Pluto Press, September 2017, ISBN   9780745337326
  13. Eurozone Dystopia - Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale, Edward Elgar Publishing, 29 May 2015, ISBN   9781784716653
  14. "When is a job guarantee a Job Guarantee?" Mitchell, 17 April 2009
  15. Personal information Bill Mitchell's website
  16. 1 2 "The real rock-start economist", Business Review Weekly , 17 May 2012
  17. "The economics profession is a disgrace" Mitchell, 3 March 2011
  18. 1 2 "It's been quite a climb, and now it's really time to ride" by Gerard Knapp, 4 July 2007
  19. 1 2 About us Archived 3 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine ,

Additional sources