Speaking to an investors’ conference early this month, historian Niall Ferguson was asked what John Maynard Keynes meant by his famous statement that “in the long run, we are all dead.” In an ad lib response, Ferguson suggested that Keynes’s philosophy reflected the fact that the “effete” economist was gay and childless, and therefore did not care much about the fate of future generations.
The audience reportedly went quiet at the remark, but once the comments became public, the backlash was anything but quiet. After undergoing heavy criticism online from economists and historians — many of whom pointed out that Keynes wrote a famous essay titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” in 1930 — Ferguson issued an “unqualifiedContinue reading...
The Chávez Way
| Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I remember the exact date of my visit to Venezuela. I was sunbathing by the pool on the roof of the Caracas Hilton. A waiter came up to me and mumbled something about a bomb attack in New York. I rushed to my room and saw the news footage, endlessly replayed, of two airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center.
I was in Venezuela on September 11, 2001, to attend a conference on the “Third Way.” Hugo Chávez was very interested in the Third Way – a modus vivendi between American-style capitalism and state socialism – as had been Tony Blair a few years earlier. Chávez himself, dressed in fatigues, briefly graced the meeting with his presence, receiving a heavy volume of Marxist texts from an elderly professor.
A day earlier, I had hadContinue reading...
Vince Cable has responded to Robert Skidelsky's September 2012 article on the economy, 'Go left, go right… go downhill'.
You can read Cable's article here at the New Statesman website:
And Robert Skidelsky's original piece, here:
The rise of the robots
| Wednesday, February 20, 2013
What impact will automation – the so-called “rise of the robots” – have on wages and employment over the coming decades? Nowadays, this question crops up whenever unemployment rises.
In the early nineteenth century, David Ricardo considered the possibility that machines would replace labor; Karl Marx followed him. Around the same time, the Luddites smashed the textile machinery that they saw as taking their jobs.
Then the fear of machines died away. New jobs – at higher wages, in easier conditions, and for more people – were soon created and readily found. But that does not mean that the initial fear was wrong. On the contrary, it must be right in the very long run: sooner or later, we will run out of jobs.
For some countries, thisContinue reading...
As one who spoke and voted for Lord Puttnam's amendments to the Defamation Bill passed in the Lords on February 6, may I say that Matthew Parris's attack on the amendments misses the point. The Puttnam amendments remedy two major omissions from the Bill: its failure to deal with the question of costs and its failure to prevent the publication of things which may be true, but whose publication has no sufficient reason.
What is the point of new libel laws if less than 1 per cent of the population can afford them? Legal aid has never been available for libel, and it was essential to incorporate Lord Justice Leveson's arbitral system into the Bill to give those whose rights have been infringed free access to justice.
The arbitral systemContinue reading...