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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Is the deficit too small? A growing consensus is forming that the answer might be yes — despite the fact that it hit an all-time high in February.

What's happening: Warren Buffett has learned to stop worrying about the deficit, as have many economists on both sides of the political spectrum.

What we're reading: The NYT's Patricia Cohen reports on how a long list of Wall Street heavyweights is embracing Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT. Quoted in her article: Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs; Paul McCulley, former chief economist at Pimco; Mohamed El-Erian, former Pimco CEO; Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates; Richard C. Koo, chief economist at Nomura; and Dan Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital.

While none of the Wall Streeters can be considered doctrinaire adherents of MMT, they all find it useful in terms of understanding the point at which government spending stops being a productive investment in the economy and starts risking harmful levels of inflation. None of them think we're anywhere near that point today.

  • Their message: For the time being, the government should keep on spending, even it doesn't raise taxes. The economy — and the market — will only benefit as a result.
"For me an economic approach must help me understand the world, and provide me with some useful insights (preferably about my day job — investing). On those measures let me assure you that MMT thrashes neoclassical economics, hands down."
James Montier, strategist at GMO

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.