Sponsorship & the Debtwatch Manifesto

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Debt­watch began in March 2007 as a way of dis­trib­ut­ing my month­ly newslet­ter on the eco­nom­ic cri­sis I expect­ed to soon erupt, and about which I had been warn­ing in media inter­views since Decem­ber 2005.

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Fig­ure 1: Excerpt from the 1st Debt­watch Report in Novem­ber 2006

From hum­ble begin­nings, the blog has grown like Top­sy to have over 12,500 sub­scribers, about 60,000 unique vis­i­tors, amost one mil­lion page views and six mil­lion hits per month.

Fig­ure 2: Debt­watch read­er­ship stats for 2011


Unique vis­i­tors

Num­ber of vis­its




Jan 2011





762.99 GB

Feb 2011





626.80 GB

Mar 2011





697.79 GB

Apr 2011





459.78 GB

May 2011





430.63 GB

Jun 2011





1084.37 GB

Jul 2011





711.63 GB

Aug 2011





527.67 GB

Sep 2011





500.04 GB

Oct 2011





1344.37 GB

Nov 2011





992.02 GB

The read­er­ship is inter­na­tion­al. The major­i­ty of read­ers are Amer­i­can, with my home coun­try of Aus­tralia sec­ond, and the UK third.

Fig­ure 3: Top ten coun­tries by page views in Decem­ber 2011 (till Decem­ber 18th)




Unit­ed States






Great Britain












New Zealand



Euro­pean coun­try









The audi­ence is also high­ly edu­cat­ed, both in gen­er­al and in com­par­i­son to sites of promi­nent media out­lets.

Fig­ure 4: Alexa demo­graph­ic data on Debt­watch

Iron­i­cal­ly, giv­en that my sym­pa­thies are firm­ly with “the 99%”, and that my objec­tives include dras­ti­cal­ly reduc­ing the pow­er and size of the finan­cial sec­tor, this blog is pop­u­lar with both the well-paid and the finan­cial sec­tor.

Fig­ure 5: Alexa income lev­el data

In fact, my blog is now so pop­u­lar with the finance sec­tor that I am being approached by funds that are inter­est­ed in spon­sor­ing both Debt­watch and the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic Sta­bil­i­ty.

So I am now pre­sent­ed with a para­dox: my objec­tives are to dras­ti­cal­ly reduce the size and pow­er of the finan­cial sector—hedge funds included—and yet organ­i­sa­tions with­in that sec­tor now want to spon­sor my work.

The moti­va­tions behind such offers of finan­cial sup­port undoubt­ed­ly range from sim­ply want­i­ng to have a cor­po­rate logo appear in front of blog read­ers’ eye­balls at one extreme, to shar­ing some of the same objec­tives I have at the other—as George Soros clear­ly does in his fund­ing of the Insti­tute for New Eco­nom­ic Think­ing.

I cer­tain­ly need fund­ing to be able to achieve my own aims. I can’t do the work need­ed to over­throw neo­clas­si­cal eco­nom­ics and devel­op a real­is­tic alter­na­tive on my own, and the work involved in main­tain­ing this blog and han­dling cor­re­spon­dence from the pub­lic means I now spend far more time work­ing out the intri­ca­cies of the inter­net and answer­ing emails than I spend doing orig­i­nal research. So fund­ing is nec­es­sary, which is the main rea­son I insti­tut­ed a mem­ber­ship scheme on Debt­watch: to raise suf­fi­cient funds to employ assis­tants who can take those tasks off my hands, so that I can focus on that research.

That fund rais­ing has been mild­ly successful—about $18,500 has been raised since mem­ber­ship schemes for Debt­watch and CfE­SI com­menced in Sep­tem­ber 2011, of which about $10,000 is recur­ring fund­ing.

Fig­ure 6: Recur­ring Fund­ing for Debt­watch as of mid-Decem­ber 2011

Mem­ber­ship Lev­el Num­ber of Mem­bers Annu­al Pay­ment Total
Sup­port­er 183 $2 $366
Keen 107 $10 $1,070
Schum­peter 12 $50 $600
Min­sky 11 $100 $1,100
Keen+ 4 $200 $800
Schum­peter+ 1 $500 $500
Min­sky+ 0 $1,000 0
Keen­Schum­peter­Min­sky 0 $10,000 0
TOTALS 318 $4,436


Fig­ure 7: One-off Fund­ing for Debt­watch as of mid-Decem­ber 2011

Mem­ber­ship Lev­el Num­ber of Mem­bers Pay­ment Total
KeenOnce 32 $200 $6,400
Schum­peterOnce 3 $500 $1,500
Min­sky­Once 1 $1,000 $1,000
Keen­Schum­peter­Min­sky­Once 0 $10,000 $0
TOTALS 36 $8,900

Fig­ure 8: Recur­ring fund­ing for CfE­SI as of mid-Dec­cem­ber 2011

Mem­ber­ship Lev­el Num­ber of Mem­bers Pay­ment Total
Asso­ciate 57 13 741
Fel­low 44 78 3432
Part­ner 6 260 1560
TOTALS 107 5733

This fund­ing has been useful—amongst oth­er activ­i­ties, it fund­ed my trips to Lon­don to launch Debunk­ing Eco­nom­ics II and to be inter­viewed by the BBC—but at this rate it will be decades before I can afford to hire staff as well. I haven’t got that long.

So I will accept cor­po­rate sponsorship—including, but cer­tain­ly not lim­it­ed to, spon­sor­ship from the FIRE sector—but only on my terms. These are spelt out in The Debt­watch Man­i­festo, which is now a per­ma­nent page of this blog. Any cor­po­rate spon­sor has to accept that those are the aims to which spon­sor­ship will be put.

There are at least two rea­sons for stat­ing my objec­tives in this man­ner.

First­ly, I am aware of the dan­ger of let­ting com­mer­cial spon­sor­ship alter one’s mes­sage, and I want to make it clear that I will not let that hap­pen to me. As some­one who has spent 40 years oppos­ing the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom in eco­nom­ics, I’m not about to let spon­sor­ship per­suade me to do oth­er­wise, or to resile from pol­i­cy posi­tions that I believe are jus­ti­fied by good analy­sis and empir­i­cal data. For that rea­son I’m putting my objec­tives on pub­lic view before spon­sor­ship becomes an impor­tant source of rev­enue for my work.

Sec­ond­ly, I know that this is in the inter­ests of those who might spon­sor me—even if some of what I hope to achieve works against those inter­ests. I have devel­oped the fol­low­ing I now have because of my empir­i­cal­ly-ori­ent­ed ana­lyt­ic real­ism. I would be doing a dis­ser­vice not only to myself, but to spon­sors them­selves if I let spon­sor­ship affect my analy­sis or my views.

Levels of sponsorship

There are 3 lev­els of spon­sor­ship:

Fig­ure 9: Spon­sor­ship Lev­els

Lev­el Pay­ment
Spon­sor US$125,000 p.a.
Foun­da­tion Spon­sor US$250,000 p.a.
Prin­ci­pal Spon­sor US$500,000 p.a.

Spon­sor­ship fund­ing is allo­cat­ed between my blog Debt­watch and CfE­SI. If you are inter­est­ed in spon­sor­ship, please con­tact me at Prof­Steve­Keen AT gmail DOT com.

First Sponsor

The first Foun­da­tion Spon­sor for Debt­watch and CfE­SI is Sabre­tooth Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, whose logo now appears on both sites.

Benefits of sponsorship

The pri­ma­ry ben­e­fit is an altru­is­tic one: by spon­sor­ship, you con­tribute to my efforts to build a new real­is­tic the­o­ry of eco­nom­ics to replace the myths of neo­clas­si­cal eco­nom­ics that have played such a major role in caus­ing the cri­sis we are now in.

The fund­ing will make it eas­i­er for me to devote my time and ener­gies to devel­op­ing the the­o­ret­i­cal and empir­i­cal analy­sis that made this blog influ­en­tial in the first place, but which today receives so lit­tle of my per­son­al time because of the sheer work­load that my suc­cess has gen­er­at­ed.

Oth­er ben­e­fits include:

  • Acknowl­edge­ment of your sup­port on Debt­watch & CfE­SI (if required; I have been con­tact­ed about spon­sor­ship by some insti­tu­tions that do not want their sup­port pub­licly acknowl­edged);
  • An annu­al sem­i­nar by me on eco­nom­ics for your staff or cus­tomers, as request­ed;
  • Ear­ly access to my analy­sis (but not exclu­sive access—I am com­mit­ted to inform­ing the pub­lic about real­is­tic eco­nom­ics, and this is not going to change);
  • Infor­mal access for analy­sis and data (but not con­sult­ing unless sep­a­rate­ly arranged; I am loathe to under­take con­sult­ing, giv­en that this takes time away from fun­da­men­tal analy­sis);
    • By doing this I am not offer­ing finan­cial advice. Apart from the legal restric­tions on offer­ing finan­cial advice in Australia—for which I am not licenced—giving finan­cial advice involves hav­ing knowl­edge of a cus­tomer’s finan­cial sit­u­a­tion and needs, which I do not have and will not seek; and
  • Signed copies of my lat­est book (cur­rent­ly Debunk­ing Eco­nom­ics: the naked emper­or dethroned)—2 dozen, 4 dozen and 10 dozen copies respec­tive­ly for each lev­el of mem­ber­ship.

How Sponsorship will be used

Part will go to my income. I did­n’t start the blog to make mon­ey, but to warn about its destruc­tion on a glob­al scale. How­ev­er, now that I have suc­ceed­ed in that aim, I want to be able to con­tin­ue work­ing on devel­op­ing an alter­na­tive eco­nom­ics full-time, with­out hav­ing to con­sid­er my finan­cial secu­ri­ty while I do it.

Well before I reach that lev­el of fund­ing, spon­sor­ship will enable me to reduce my teach­ing com­mit­ments and focus on writ­ing Finance and Eco­nom­ic Break­down, with the hope that it can be pub­lished in 2014.

I need to hire staff for a range of pur­pos­es. Major pri­or­i­ties are a per­son­al assis­tant, a web­mas­ter to take over main­te­nance of Debt­watch (three cheers for WordPress—as a com­put­er ama­teur, I could­n’t have reached the audi­ence I have with­out this bril­liant Open Source program—but the blog itself des­per­ate­ly needs a pro­fes­sion­al makeover), a research assis­tant to pop­u­late Econ­o­da­ta, and a sta­tis­ti­cian to help with the design of lead­ing indi­ca­tors and the empir­i­cal ver­i­fi­ca­tion of my dynam­ic mod­els. The devel­op­ment of the Min­sky soft­ware pro­gram will be on-going, and with suf­fi­cient fund­ing full-time programmer(s) will be hired for this pur­pose.

The fund­ing to date has most­ly been expend­ed on trav­el, com­put­er hard­ware and soft­ware. Once suf­fi­cient funds, stan­dard ancil­lary expens­es like office rental will also arise.

Changes to the blog

There will be some changes to the blog in com­ing months. Some of these are long over­due cos­met­ic changes, which I can now final­ly afford to hire a pro­fes­sion­al design­er to under­take. Oth­ers will be designed to increase the rev­enue gen­er­at­ed by the blog.

This may include requir­ing browsers to reg­is­ter to read, but it will not include restrict­ing read­er­ship to pay­ing sub­scribers (as, for exam­ple, Nouriel Roubi­ni has done). My pri­ma­ry objec­tive will always be devel­op­ing a real­is­tic the­o­ry of eco­nom­ics, and pub­lic knowl­edge of both the flaws in neo­clas­si­cal analy­sis and the exis­tence of alter­na­tives is vital to that objec­tive. That’s why my cur­rent mem­ber­ship scheme is a “Clay­ton’s” one, where the only restric­tion is on down­load­ing doc­u­ments.

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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.