My previous post generated healthy and serious discussion on SA. Here are a few more related points that arose from my discussions there. (Naturally, this post is again 100% leaning towards MMT.)
When GDP is growing while government debt is going down, it might be that the private sector is increasing debt. If private sector debt isn't growing either, then the country is likely incurring a trade surplus; therefore, its savings are being funded by some other country's government spending or private sector debt.
In any case, the question to always ask is: Where is the money to grow the GDP coming from? It has to come from someplace. Always, someone has to be spending more than saving for there to be more spending going on in the aggregate economy. This statement is alluding to to the macro, where all money has to come from somewhere. If funds are borrowed from someone who is already wealthy, his wealth must have come from somewhere. To put it another way, someone spent money that gave him wealth in the first place.
One commenter said: "People sold us things because we had to buy things to continue our existence."
Where do you get the money you use to buy your stuff? And where did the guy who gave you the money get his money? Where did all this money going around the economy come from? Somebody is willing to spend to buy someone else's service. Where did that first buyer's wealth come from? If he's Bill Gates, he earned it selling software. Now where did the people who bought his software get their money from? Surely, a hundred years ago, there wasn't enough money going around the economy to pay for all the software that Bill Gates and company have sold and are still selling us. Where is all this new money coming from? Who is creating this? A hundred years ago, there was just enough money going around as needed, give or take, a few million people going hungry. Now, we have billions of people, and trillions of dollars circulating around the world economy.
If you say from banks giving credit, you are almost there. But given that banks do not lend to anyone they don't think will pay them back, where does the bank think its borrowers will get their repayment money from? Don't they get afraid that money will eventually run out, and all their borrowers will default? How is it that the economy, after growing into the trillions, still hasn't melted down completely? If all this new money is debt-based, isn't it inevitable that we get back to the size of the world economy 200 years ago, or some point when most people and businesses did not have debt?
Yes, this growing money base is backed by a growing productivity base, but the demand for this productivity base can disappear all of a sudden. If most of the financing for this growing productivity base was debt, a key sector withdrawing its demand can cascade to more demand disappearing from its proximate sectors as well. Don't you think a rising government spending should accompany a rising private debt so at least some of that debt has an adequate backing of stable demand? In the demand-deficient economy, government should spend it on people who will readily turn around and buy services from others in the economy. This means government buying services from the individuals who would have otherwise had no income because of those hoarding their income.
Another commenter said: "Those skills and talents were leveraged by our employer in conjunction with the skills and talents of other employees to produce profitable product for which there was a demand."
Again, if all the money your employer paid you came from his credit line, or the credit of his customers, don't you think everything would eventually come crashing down? Don't you think at least some of that demand for your company (which probably did not exist 100 years ago) is due to new spending that did not actually result from someone getting into debt?
A third commenter said: "Wealth is created by human labor and innovation, not debt.Let's say I start growing crops. I work my butt off for hours a day every day. After a few months, I have enough crops grown that I can feed my family. Who went into debt for that? Nobody. Was wealth created? Yes, I created enough wealth to feed a family for a year."
Let's say you grew crops. You fed your family. Is that wealth for you? Yes. Did it grow the GDP? No -- you did not sell it to anyone, so no one is counting that. But if you sell that to someone in exchange for money, that person probably borrowed it. If he didn't, then someone who paid his income probably did. Or probably government originally spent that money into existence.
This is not an ideological position, but a practical one. For those who think otherwise, I have a real world question. Given that all of us need to save to pay down our debts, how does anybody get to sell anything in our current economic arrangement? Remember that the basis of all business is to make money. And the basis of all jobs is to support a business' objectives. Given that all of us are trying to be net sellers and avoid being net buyers, since as a commenter said "we postpone gratification and avoid borrowing," how does any one of us still earn what we need to -- and, as he also said, "satisfy our needs and the needs of those who are hurting around us"?