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Mershon Center Speaker Series
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Aaron James
"Modern Money and Sovereign Obligations"
Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Raphaelle Branche

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Professor of philosophy at the University of California-Irvine, Aaron James has worked on rationalism and the foundations of moral and practical judgment, with particular interest in constructivism (what it is, how it might explain objectivity, and whether it could provide a foundational theory).

In political philosophy, he has written a book on fairness in the global economy, from a social contract perspective Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy (Oxford, 2012). James has also written about John Rawls's constructive method, its neglected realist and interpretive aspects, and its application to social structures within and across major domestic institutions (such as international trade).

He is planning a book on the morality and political economy of distribution for a world of increasing ecological scarcity and lower growth rates (at least in the advanced world). James is especially interested in international sources of inequality and the future of social insurance.

In moral theory he has an ongoing interest in contractualism, especially in view of risk. .


Modern Money Theory (MMT) emphasizes that a sovereign government that issues its own money has remarkable powers: it can buy any goods or labor for sale in its own money simply by deciding to -- by so many Central bank keystrokes. If it also borrows its own money, it can equally repay any loans by creating new money and so has zero risk of default. As long as inflation can also managed, monetary policy might thereby pay for social insurance improvements such as a job guarantee or basic income and climate mitigation -- or indeed any policy -- without controversial taxes and regulations (or perhaps while cutting taxes). But such new uses of monetary policy may also have significant and potentially adverse consequences for other trade partner countries. In that case domestic money creation should be appropriately constrained or regulated. This talk considers a practice-based justification of the rights and obligations of sovereigns with respect to money issuance and what follows for international monetary cooperation and banking institutions.


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