Historians and economists see the world in a different way. Economists tend to see progress in terms of the linear ascent of reason. Historians tend to see progress as an ascent through disaster.
This year's theme of EPS is the avoidance of a second cold war. It's a very urgent and necessary topic, for on its achievement rest our hopes for peace and security in the post-communist era.
And by peace -to bring in an economic consideration -I mean a peace dividend -the end of the insane expenditure on armaments, which is the only exception our rulers allow to fiscal austerity.
It is wicked to be appropriating hundreds of billions of dollars to guard against largely imaginary dangers while starving our healthcare, education and welfareContinue reading...
A couple of months ago, at Sochi on the Black Sea, I put the following question to Vladimir Putin:
Would you not accept that your biggest failure since you became President in 2000 has been your failure to diversify the Russian economy? Russia has dismantled the old Soviet industrial system without finding a hard currency replacement. Its economy is dependent on oil exports and is dangerously vulnerable to any fall in the oil price. What do you propose to do to make Russia an attractive place for Russians to invest in and not buy up real estate in London, sending house prices to insane levels?
Putin gave a long reply, in which he reeled off a lot of positive statistics but evaded the question. I faced no sinister visitationsContinue reading...
I want to make three points, assertively, in the five minutes I have.
My first point is that Anglo-American rhetoric over events in the Ukraine is becoming increasingly hysterical & remote from reality.
1. ‘INSATIABLE’ was the title of the Economist’s first leader last week, echoing its front cover picture of a great bear gobbling up a small country. The leader rammed home the message. ‘If the West does not face up to Putin now, it may find him at its door’.
This is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense. Yet the doctrine of Russian insatiability is close to becoming the official view in Washington and London, accepted by most of the foreign policy community.
It is much more accurate to say that the one truly insatiable power inContinue reading...
Keynes, Hobson, Marx
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
President Lyndon Johnson asked John Kenneth Galbraith to write him a speech on economic policy. After glancing at it LBJ said 'You know Ken, the trouble with economics is it's like peeing in your pants. It feels hot to you, but leaves everyone else cold'.
I felt a lot of sympathy with LBJ this afternoon when I listened to a couple of clever mathematicians having a lot of fun with their equations. I thought they were having too much fun – as economists! Good economists should not enjoy maths too much. Whenever they are tempted to show off, they should ask themselves: ‘Is this really necessary? Does it help tell the story I want to tell?’
I also very much agreed with Jamie Galbraith that the story we tell has to go beyond Keynes.
Keynes for the 21st century
| Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Vienna, 18th March 2011
I am deeply honoured by the invitation of the Renner Institute to address you this evening at the conclusion of the conference on Austro-Keynesianism.
‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’ Keynes is supposed to have said, but almost certainly didn’t. This is a good text for my own sermon.
What changed my mind was the great recession of 2007-9, which stopped a few months short of becoming another Great Depression.
As Keynes’s biographer I never completely abandoned my faith in Keynes. But there was a clear hedging of bets in the last sentence of that biography, written in 2002: ’Keynes’s ideas will live so long as the world has need for them’. Well yes, but does it?
The extentContinue reading...