Malcolm Roberts

While we have repeatedly noted that Treasury Secretary John Fraser hails from the John Stone prehistoric era of that department and regularly talks like it, even he was thrown when One Nation’s Wingnut-in-Chief Malcolm Roberts raided the monetarist history books to ask about “M3” yesterday.

For those who have forgotten their Year 9 Commerce lessons, M3 is a money supply definition that includes liquid assets as well as the cash and easily convertible financial instruments and deposits that make up M1 and M2. In the 1970s and 1980s, M3 was a matter of near-obsession for the monetarist-minded economic policy elite, but has long since faded from relevance as monetarism lost its grip. The Federal Reserve actually stopped bothering to calculate M3 over a decade ago.

But then — they would, wouldn’t they? Wake up, sheeple.

The Fed’s decision to stop calculating M3 was, according to right-wing conspiracy theorists, a plot to disguise the fact that it was pumping money into the US economy and M3 would have given the game away. The Fed’s M3 decision launched a thousand conspiracy blogs about its plot to destroy the value of money and cover up the evidence, with libertarian congressman Ron Paul leading the charge. The smart conspiracy theorist, of course, buys gold and silver and stores their wealth in that, rather than mere “fiat money”, because they know that “privately owned central banks”, in league with international financiers, want to undermine the value of money as part of their quest for global control.

Enter Malcolm Roberts, a dedicated fan of a variety of conspiracy theories, to question Fraser at estimates yesterday. Roberts — who owns several thousand dollars worth of gold and silver bullion — was all over it. “Does the Australian government or the Treasury or the Reserve Bank have a transparent quantitative easing policy?” he asked. “No,” replied Fraser, briefly and accurately. Roberts was undeterred. “What I’ve seen of the M3 money supply figures, there seems to be some quantitative easing going on. Is that aimed at boosting nominal GDP?”

[Malcolm Roberts: the One Nation climate denier too out there for Andrew Bolt]

Fraser decided to launch into a lengthy schooling of Roberts but evidently decided halfway through that he couldn’t be bothered. He told Roberts “the focus on M3, which was a clear focus in the mid-80s … I’ve hardly heard the term senator since I’ve returned to this fair country (Fraser worked abroad until appointed by Tony Abbott to Treasury) and when you look around the world, one of the interesting things is that with all the quantitative easing it’s fed into remarkable cash base growth, but it hasn’t translated into measures of M3 and M6. But that’s said, it’s just not a focus of monetary policy.”

Roberts then wanted to know if “the increase in M3 money supply — I know you haven’t heard the term recently — is it aimed at artificially reducing nominal government debt?”

It’s not clear whether Roberts thought that, confronted with someone citing M3, Fraser would raise his hands and ‘fess up to being part of the global international financier plot to undermine the value of money, but it didn’t happen. “No,” Fraser replied.

What’s sad about Roberts is that he can’t even offer his own conspiracy theories, but has to import them by the container load from overseas: the global climate science cabal, the pernicious influence of the Rothschilds, “privately owned central banks”, the UN’s Agenda 21, M3 and the destruction of money (all in aid, of course, of a nebulous cabal with “international financiers” at the centre).

Surely a patriotic Aussie like Roberts would be proudly offering some homegrown conspiracy theories. OK, Australia can’t compete with the world’s biggest countries when it comes to manufacturing conspiracies but surely, with a little government assistance for this strategic industry, we can offer some high quality, value-added theories that would be highly competitive at the top end of the international conspiracy market? Harold Holt and the Chinese sub? The framing of Schapelle Corby? The UFO base under Bass Strait (or is it Pine Gap)? The vanishing of the moderate Malcolm Turnbull?

Why isn’t Roberts, consistent with One Nation’s economically populist principles, getting behind local Aussie conspiracies?

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now