Con­fer­ence of Econ­o­mists Pre­sen­ta­tion

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I’m pre­sent­ing this talk to the Aus­tralian Con­fer­ence of Econ­o­mists this morn­ing (at 11 am). If you’d like to see the slideshow, right click on the link to save it to your PC (a sim­ple click may bring it up in Google Docs where you lose the ani­ma­tions and some of the for­mat­ting).

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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  • Jack, and that is what they are doing and with the cur­rency as well. Con­fu­cious say for­tu­itous meet­ing where well man­aged money speaks in turn, politely!

  • Jason Mur­phy

    What is the sign­f­i­cance of a sub­scripted let­ter fol­low­ing a nor­mally posi­tioned let­ter — does is just indi­cate a fur­ther word labelling the dis­crete math­e­mat­i­cal entity in a way that avoids con­fu­sion i.e. “TH” for “Top Hat” would with­out sub­script­ing of the “H” raise con­fu­sion as to whether or not we were say­ing value T times value H or a sin­gle value TH?

  • Jason Mur­phy

    Exam­in­ing the for­mu­las as a whole (a) it seems that the let­ter r is a place­holder for the word “Rate” on all occa­sions how­ever (b) it appears sub­scripted to “Y” in the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the label “Level of out­put”. Is “(a)” above cor­rect? I guess a rate can be at a par­tic­u­lar level?

  • Jason Mur­phy

    In the for­mu­las in slide “Mod­el­ling Min­sky — The full sys­tem we have the fol­low­ing char­ac­ters:

    1. BC -> Bank Capi­tol
    2. BPL -> Bank Profit/Loss
    3. FD -> Firm Deposit
    4. FL -> Firm Loan
    5. WD -> Worker Deposit
    6. Yr -> Level of out­put
    7. L -> Employ­ment
    8. (pi)r -> Rate of Profit
    9. (lambda) -> Rate of employ­ment
    10. g -> Rate of eco­nomic growth
    11. W -> Rate of change of wages
    12. PC -> Rate of change of prices
    13. Kr -> Rate of change of capi­tol stock
    14. a -> Rate of growth of pop­u­la­tion
    15. N -> Rate of growht of pro­duc­tiv­ity

    Not defined but in for­mu­las:
    16. v
    17. RL
    18. LC
    19. (tau)B
    20. (tau)W
    21. Inv
    22. alpha
    23. beta
    24. delta
    25. Ph
    26. omega
    27. s

    What are 16 to 27?

  • Hi Jason,

    You’d be bet­ter off read­ing about the model in a paper (linked here), but to answer your ques­tions:

    yes, gen­er­ally r is a place holder for rate- rL the rate of inter­est on loans, rD on deposits (suit­ably sub­scripted). Yr stands for real out­put, ver­sus Y alone which is nom­i­nal out­put.

    The greek let­ter tau stands for a time con­stant in the sys­tem tau_RL and tau_LC refer to the rate at which firms repay loans and at which banks relend exist­ing money respec­tively. tau_B is the time lag in bankers’ con­sump­tion and tau_W the time lag in work­ers’ con­sump­tion.

    v is the cap­i­tal to out­put ratio (this is a com­mon term in eco­nom­ics), Inv is an invest­ment func­tion (based on the rate of profit), alpha is the rate of change of labor pro­duc­tiv­ity, beta the rate of pop­u­la­tion growth, delta the rate of depre­ci­a­tion, Ph is a “Phillips curve” rela­tion­ship between the employ­ment rate and the rate of change of money wages, s is the share of sur­plus going to cap­i­tal­ists (with work­ers get­ting [1-s]).

  • bryan­wisk

    UBS Rec­om­mends Boost­ing Equi­ties, Cut­ting Bonds and Cash 15:51 [10/01/10]
    UBS rec­om­mends rais­ing hold­ings in equi­ties to 47% of model port­fo­lio from 45%, while reduc­ing cor­po­rate bonds to 11% from 12%, cash to 1.75% from 2.75%.
    A ‘re-lever­ag­ing cycle’ last­ing sev­eral years should boost PE mul­ti­ples even while earn­ings growth slows; equi­ties should out­per­form gov­ern­ment bonds and corp credit.”

    …that’s it I give up, I can’t take this non­sense any­more

  • sj

    Mr Steve Keen is it time to tell these econ­o­mists at the con­fer­ence to read more his­tory and under­stand extreme credit is unsta­ble.
    Our edu­ca­tion sys­tem needs to be more open,honest with strong crit­i­cal think­ing.
    These books need to be read by all these elite econ­o­mists and uni­ver­sity edu­cated blog­gers.

    Man­ics Pan­ics and Crashes by Charles Kindle­berger.
    How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins
    Extra Ordi­nary Pop­u­lar Delu­sions and Mad­ness of Crowds.
    Full House by Stephen Gould.
    Mobs Mes­si­ahs and Mar­ket by William Bon­ner.
    True Believer by Eric Hof­fer.
    Com­mon Stocks and Uncom­mon prof­its by Philip Fisher.
    Fooled by Ran­dom­ness by Nas­sim Taleb.
    Con­quer the Crash by Robert Prechter.
    Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Dia­mond.
    10 best and 10 worst deci­sions by Robert Got­tlieb­sen.
    Built To Last by Jim Collins.
    The Psy­cholgy Influ­ence of Per­sua­sion by Robert Cial­dini.
    Empire of Debt by Bill Bon­ner.
    The Crowd A Study of the Pop­u­lar Mind by Gus­tave Le Bon.
    Work­ing with Mon­sters by John Clarke.
    Irra­tional Exu­ber­ance by Robert Shiller.
    The Road to Serf­dom by Hayek.

    95% of the blog­gers on this web­site are Uni­ver­sity edu­cated and 5% are self edu­cated.
    5% who do com­ment are hum­ble by Mr Mar­ket and are still suc­cess­ful because they read what they like.
    Not like the other 95% who are forced to read stuff they know is total poor crap.
    That’s why Mr Keen you have nasty com­ments some­times because the other 95% are fus­trated don’t have any idea how the mar­ket really works.
    In unsta­ble extreme credit expan­sion you will even­tu­ally have defla­tion and pain.
    Accept the pain now or face worst melt­downs in the future.
    You will notice most of these books are about herd failure,fraud, moral hatred against large unsus­tain­able debt and incom­pe­tent large cen­tral gov­ern­ment plan­ning.

  • Thanks sj,

    I agree with those read­ing recommendations–though I’d sug­gest bal­anc­ing the Road to Serf­dom with Minsky’s “Can It Hap­pen Again?”.

  • glu­bilee

    What is true, sta­ble demand and what is per­verse, counter-pro­duc­tive faux demand that is bound fade? Cleary debt gives false sig­nals but if I look at US hous­ing, I’m vexed by chicken/egg thing. We built more houses than we had house­holds, true enough, so it was a ponzi scheme fueled by easy debt that would even­tu­ally end when there were no addi­tional suck­ers to draw into scheme. Debt hid the fact that US wages were falling. 

    But there was a time when I was in HS in a white work­ing class neigh­bor­hood, where the guys could walk out of HS with no col­lege degree, get a fac­tory job, buy a new truck, in a few short years, buy a house and raise a fam­ily of four on his salary alone. A lot my class­mates dads had work­ing class jobs, owned decent houses in decent neigh­bor­hoods and they often owned a cabin up north. This was true for even large catholic fam­i­lies, with 4–7 kids, dad worked at a fac­tory as reg­u­lar guy (not an exec­u­tive, not a bril­liant enter­peneur, not a guy that worked 60–70 hours a week) nad had a hosue and cabin and well fed kids. Two house on one income, and houses were likely paid for in 25–35 years, houses always, slowly increased in value, and that same guy could look for­ward to a good pen­sion when he retired. In 2005, to have same lifestyle, debt was needed even for two income fam­ily, no way one work­ing class guy could pay for all that and many two-income fam­i­lies with two houses, or even just one, are under­wa­ter with their mort­gages now. Wages rel­a­tive to cost of hous­ing were way way way down.

    So what’s the real demand, one was debt fueled in 2005, but a sim­i­lar lifestyle and num­ber of houses was obtain­able with­out a over­bur­den­ing of debt in 1970, due to higher rel­a­tive wages?

  • mahaish

    good list sj,

    let me add a few to the list

    the third chimpanse”,by jarred dia­mond, since its the inner chim­panse and all the char­ac­ter flaws that go with it, that we have dragged along with us for thou­sands upon thou­sands of years, that gets us into strife from time time.

    blood in the streets” , by william reese mogg, since its the geo polit­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal dog that wags the eco­nomic tail. the british lost there empire and for­tune, when the colo­nials got there hands on british tech­nol­ogy and turned it against them. the same fate awaits the amer­i­cans per­haps.

    inven­tions and their pro­pri­etel con­trol allow the cap­ture of sig­nif­i­cant chunks of global gdp

    prin­ci­ple cen­tred lead­er­ship”, by stephen covey, since moral courage and lead­er­ship has been sin­gu­larly lack­ing by our polit­i­cal lead­ers as we race towards a poten­tial abyse 

    and off­course any­thing writ­ten by our kind host,

    i will fin­ish with a quote from henry david thoreau

    All this worldly wis­dom was once the unami­able heresy of some wise man”

  • For other con­trar­ian (pre-crash) views, I liked Mandelbrot’s The Mis­be­hav­ior of Mar­kets, Taleb’s The Black Swan, and Rebonato’s The Plight of the For­tune Tellers. (I don’t agree with every­thing in these, by any means, but they’re all easy to read and present a crit­i­cal per­spec­tive on some com­mon assump­tions.)

  • sir­ius

    glu­bilee @34

    Good to see you post­ing here again. (I like the way you write).

    Here’s some­thing that may inter­est you…

    The fol­low­ing (“free trade” wage arbi­trage and pol­lu­tion arbi­trage).

    Please note though that I dis­agree 100% with some of the things that Den­ninger says.

    I get the impres­sion you are a rea­son­able man who can think for him­self. On that basis I will take a risk and write the fol­low­ing words…

    I have come more and more to con­sider that our gen­eral under­stand­ing about what a mon­e­tary based econ­omy is all about is wrong.

    Peo­ple think (myself included until fairly recently) that it was about buy­ing things at cheaper and cheaper prices and for­get the rest.

    It appears to me that this is very far from the truth.

    I think the USA has had it “too good” for too long. By “too long” I mean decades. The more this goes on, the more it is “expected”. Please realise that I also talk about the UK here as well as other places.

    I present an extract from a poster on another blog…

    “Feel free to scape­goat the West­ern finan­cial sys­tem for allow­ing Chi­nese peas­ants to work 18 hours a day for 2 bowls of rice in order to sell us cheap goods but please don’t expect those of us who have watched this incu­bate over the last 40 years to swal­low the same mother’s eyes.

    Dur­ing that time the rich have got pro­por­tion­ally richer, the mid­dle class have got and more debt and the “peo­ple across the waters” (our new slaves) have got on aggre­gate even poorer and have been fur­ther taken advan­tage of by our­selves.

    I think that decades ago, peo­ple in the devel­oped coun­tries shared their wealth more uni­for­maly amongst their pop­u­la­tions (whilst peo­ple of the under­de­vel­oped nations still suf­fered at our hands).

    We have a sys­tem that cre­ated so much for con­sump­tion today and left lit­tle need for things to be pro­duced tom­mor­row.

    What ben­e­fit is there to a man who can earn 100,000 dol­lars for 3 years if dur­ing the next 3 years he will have no job or a much reduced income?

    The answer is none.

    With mass pro­duc­tion and the finan­cial sys­tem we for­got that “the price” should have been used to limit the sys­tem in such as way to spread the ben­e­fits (more) equally and still leave demand for tom­mor­row and the years after.

    In so doing peo­ple could then enjoy a rea­son­able level of retire­ment as the younger hands that took their place were passed on the infra­struc­ture and cul­tural her­itage that was built and main­tained by those who retired. (A mon­e­tary based con­tract linked to real wealth).

    Back to our con­sump­tive lifestyle of today.…In order to con­tinue that lifestyle, greater and ever increas­ing amounts of energy (oil) were needed, since with­out oil pro­duc­tion could not have occurred on the scale that we had, and peo­ple could not drive the huge dis­tances in their cars with­out con­sid­er­a­tion as to how much energy was being wasted.

    In spite of the dimin­ish­ing oil “reserves” in the USA the USA sought to import more rather than reg­u­late that which really needed to be reg­u­lated. The con­tract between peo­ple and nature for a sus­tain­able sys­tem th did not have huge exter­nal depen­den­cies (upon what appears to be a yet another dwin­dling resource).

    Man may have desire for an unlim­ited amounts of “things” but he can­not break the phys­i­cal laws that man him­self did not cre­ate.

    Nonethe­less the USA (and oth­ers) con­tin­ued to demand more and more.

    So much so that those soci­eties are now drunk on energy.

    It is the com­bi­na­tion of all these things that are com­ing together to haunt the USA at this time. (The USA sit­u­a­tion is most evi­dent).

    I have read many (if not all) of your posts and I get a real impres­sion that you are sane and car­ing human being. (My words are meant to help diag­nose the prob­lems so that a long-term solu­tion can be devel­oped).

    I have wished the USA would extri­cate itself from this mess and “do the right thing” for itself and other peo­ples.

    In all hon­esty I have pretty much given up try­ing to talk to peo­ple as I have attempted “com­mu­ni­ca­tion” with other Amer­i­cans I received a response which pretty well said “go away”.

    Fair enough.

    More recently I have read about greater and greater fraud.

    Take Alan Grayson who seems to me “to be a good guy”…

    Yet I hear other Amer­i­cans vil­lify him for rea­sons that are not spec­i­fied.

    So I really don’t under­stand.

    I prob­a­bly have not done a very good job of express­ing that I wished to com­mu­ni­cate here.

    (I hope that I can improve upon this).

    Best wishes go to all rea­son­able and “human” USA cit­i­zens.

  • soho44


    Speak­ing as one of the “sane and rea­son­able” peo­ple in the States, here are a few extra thoughts to add to your post.

    Despite every­thing that’s going on right now, what’s one key that con­tin­ues? The haves keep grab­bing all they can get. The have nots strug­gle to hang onto what they do have. In addi­tion, the mass apa­thy and refusal to see the obvi­ous con­tin­ues.

    Why? Con­sider Alan Hart’s point re: the States (I’m para­phras­ing a lit­tle). “Not all but many of the peo­ple in the States are the most igno­rant and gullible peo­ple on the face of the Earth”.

    Can any­one seri­ously dis­pute that?

    One rea­son this con­tin­ues? It’s the old thing of being in a crowded room and nobody does any­thing. Every­one knows what the prob­lems are and what needs to be done. But nobody moves until some­one else takes the “risk” and then oth­ers see that and the con­se­quences of it.

    Is this human nature or mass apa­thy? I could write a book with a title like that. But do we really need another “in-depth analy­sis” book? 

    For many of the have nots, they’re lit­er­ally burned out. Keep in mind that here in the States (IMO), weak­ness isn’t tol­er­ated. It’s a 24/7 dog-eat-dog or you’re screwed men­tal­ity. 23 years ago the first Wall Street film came out. Was Micheal Dou­glas smart enough to trade­mark “greed is good” and make bil­lions of it? Prob­a­bly not. Yet, more impor­tantly, what’s improved in that time?

    Wall Street II comes out. To his credit, Dou­glas is involved in lots of worth­while causes (ex., Ploughshares for Peace). He gives a talk at the U.N. and then a press con­fer­ence. Does any­one in the cor­po­rate MSM take him seri­ously as being an informed celebrity try­ing to bet­ter the world? Of course not. Instead, it’s end­less idi­otic Gor­don Gekko jokes. The longer they went on the more pissed off he became.

    Frankly, many peo­ple at the top have no lim­its for money or power. If you dis­agree with that, can you name one CEO that’s ever said no to a bonus or a golden para­chute? I can’t. Why do these peo­ple even more megamil­lions, homes, cars, pri­vate jets and all the rest of it? Because they’re “enti­tled” to it.
    I’m the only per­son in the world that can do my incred­i­bly demand­ing and com­plex job. There­fore, I deserve all I can get.

    Is this “respon­si­ble” cap­i­tal­ism? No it’s not. But even in other places like the U.K., “reg­u­la­tion” to many in power means “social­ism”.

    How many times have you heard bankers in Lon­don, Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong or else­where essen­tially say, you don’t have the guts to mess with us. Reg­u­late us and we’re leav­ing. What will you do then? Where will you get your tax rev­enue? It can’t all come from the usual sources (alco­hol, cig­a­rettes, etc.)?

    The govt. won’t touch them. The MSM con­tin­ues to write books about this and make money off it. Which means that almost every­body has a vested finan­cial inter­est to see this rub­bish con­tinue.

    What are some results of this? More is being out­sourced. In the U.K., the govt. is ask­ing new cops to work for free for 18 months before join­ing the force. Would you risk your life every day for free for 18 months? In return, the police agree to give up their over­time and bonuses for the right to strike.

    Imag­ine if cops in the States or Aus­tralia went on strike.

    If the rich and pow­er­ful see a threat to their money and power, they will do lit­er­ally any­thing to stop it. If you can’t see that, you’re not pay­ing atten­tion.

  • sir­ius

    soho44 @38

    First of all thank you for your reply. It was greatly appre­ci­ated (more than you prob­a­bly would realise).

    “Frankly, many peo­ple at the top have no lim­its for money or power. If you dis­agree with that,””

    I don’t dis­agree.

    “How many times have you heard bankers in Lon­don, Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong or else­where essen­tially say, you don’t have the guts to mess with us. Reg­u­late us and we’re leav­ing.””

    I per­son­ally have no expe­ri­ences but Alis­dair Dar­ling has reported that “the bankers” have said that to him on sev­eral occa­sions.

    “The govt. won’t touch them.””

    That is very clear. But as a retort why would I expect the govt. to touch them? One only needs to look back in his­tory to where the roots of the govt. come from to realise this.

    Fur­ther­more why would I expect the govt. to touch “them” (the bankers) when in fact the major­ity of the UK pop­u­la­tion are “happy” with the sta­tus quo ?

    The short answer is that I do not.

    Unless (suf­fi­cient) peo­ple demand to put a stop to it and are will­ing to behave respon­si­bly them­selves and to oth­ers, then the vot­ers have given the govt. con­sent (or we at least merit the govt. we have got).

    You may find this lat­ter part “reac­tionary” but it is the con­clu­sion that I reached if you are pre­pared to be “hon­est with one­self”.

    From where I am stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion just looks a lot worse in the USA from the point of fraud and law-break­ing that appears to be tak­ing place. I appre­ci­ate that it is always dan­ger­ous to assume some­thing when one is not actu­ally there.

    How­ever I felt there would have been some seri­ous protest­ing by now and it sim­ply has not hap­pened.

    We all get pro­poganda. One hears of the “Amer­i­can dream” still on the tele­vi­sion. I just still find it hard to believe that the appar­ently huge dis­con­nect between “the image” and real­ity. I think also that “one does not want to believe it”. 

    His­tor­i­cally speak­ing it does not bode well.

    How­ever, things have a strange way of work­ing out. I can­not say if things will get bet­ter or worse in the longer term. The path that the Devel­oped nations were fol­low­ing were unsus­tain­able based upon the researches that I have con­ducted.

    Fur­ther­more, it has been my per­sonal expe­ri­ence that a “shock to one’s sys­tem” can result in a very pos­i­tive out­come.

    And maybe that is the point — it is time for a change whether we like it or not.

    Your reply has enlight­ened me. I shall just have to accept things as best as I can and look for­ward to a change that I feel must inevitably come.

  • glu­bilee

    sir­ius, I have not read your links but to your com­ments,… I hold no illu­sions about how much US lifestyle has been depen­dent on get­ting cheap labor and resources from rest of world and hor­rors our regime have com­mit­ted in the anme of US cit­i­zens. Some of major­ity or some­thing close to that have sup­ported, at least at first, like Iraq war 2, Viet­nam and many things refu­lar US peo­ple have no clue about, like how the CIA took out Mossadeq in Iran and replac­ing him with the repres­sive Shah. 

    In my view, US essen­tially inher­ited Britain’s and some of Japan’s colony after world war 2 and had the most intact indus­trial base after war, so every­one was our cus­tomer of man­u­fac­tured goods while we got resourses on the cheap. Plus after a decade of default, we had delever­aged, so we scored on a global eco­nomic tim­ing basis and were off and run­ning for 30–40 years, and then another 20 of very nice thank you, even tho declin­ing.

    And while China, India, Brazil some other parts of South Amer­ica, some of mid­dle east have gain as US has delined, I don’t see it directly as US worker wealth trans­fer­ing to to worker wealth in rest of world. Then I would feel bet­ter. But here in US, wealth and income equal­ity have balooned, I get the sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that most of the reg­u­lar folks wages and demand have sim­ply gone to super rich.

  • bb

    glu­bilee @ 40

    I get the sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that most of the reg­u­lar folks wages and demand have sim­ply gone to super rich.”

    Too true.

    I found this incred­i­ble stat yesterday…I had heard it many times before, but this seems to quan­tify it.

    Real US wages have del­cined by 18% since 1972! I think this is why your post @ 34. The decline in real incomes was sub­sti­tuted by increased pri­vate debt (so that lifestyle remain unchanged). 2007 became the tip­ping point. I think this incred­i­ble income inequal­ity is one of the main rea­sons the US is strug­gling to recover.

    Just my 2c.

  • Philip


    You’re quite right here. For the bot­tom 80% of income earn­ers, wages have actu­ally decreased since 1973, adjusted for infla­tion in the U.S. For those within the 11% — 20% bracket, wages have stag­nated, but it is the top 10%, espe­cially the top 1% who have cap­tured (monop­o­lized) the pro­duc­tiv­ity gains.

    It is out­ra­geous to think that work­ers who are approx­i­mately 45% more pro­duc­tive since 1973 have had to put up with declin­ing wages.

    This is why the U.S. is resem­bling a sec­ond world coun­try: islands of incom­pa­ra­ble wealth sur­rounded by a sea of mis­ery and poverty.

    The poli­cies that have caused this have been imple­mented quite con­sciously, rely­ing upon the eco­nomic ratio­nal­ist pro­gram: state pro­tec­tion and sub­sidy for the rich, and freer mar­kets for every­one else, ludi­crously and falsely called free mar­ket enter­prise.

  • sir­ius

    @glubilee, Philip, bb

    Thank you for your replies. They are in har­mony with my think­ing.

    The huge imbal­ance in wealth dis­tri­b­u­tion was a topic in Chris Martenson’s “Crash Course”. (Well worth watch­ing IMO).

    I came across another one of his arti­cles last evening…

    (I sug­gest that like most things don’t expect 100% agree­ment with one’s own thoughts).

    For me it’s “back to basics”.

  • bryan­wisk

    sj, way to go includ­ing cialdini’s “influ­ence” on your list, also id put “con­fes­sions of an eco­nomic hit man” by Perkins on there as well as the fol­low-up col­lec­tion of essays “a game as old as empire” for another take on why debt is ‘over-looked’ by econ­o­mists, ie over-indebt­ed­ness as a tool to ensure default is much more effec­tive tool for extract­ing resources from devel­op­ing coun­tries than a colo­nial army.

  • sir­ius

    Mr Den­ninger is iter­at­ing what I am say­ing as well…

    (He also men­tions Jimmy Carter — clearly he could not suceed with­out back­ing from those around him — back­ing which he would not get — let alone from the pop­u­la­tion of the USA).

    “Here Come The Fear­mon­gers (Luskin)””

    “James E. Carter 1077–81

    Jimmy Carter later said of him­self:
    “I was not part of the Wall Street busi­ness Estab­lish­ment, the Wash­ing­ton polit­i­cal Estab­lish­ment or the Hol­ly­wood enter­tain­ment Estab­lish­ment. I was not part of the Estab­lish­ment in any way. I was a South­ern peanut farmer, pop­ulist type”””

    Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter — “Cri­sis of Con­fi­dence” Speech

    The truth is the truth whether we “like it” or not. Per­son­ally I do not see a prob­lem to liv­ing with our “energy means” but this seems to be a ver­ti­cal cliff to every­body else that I talk to !

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