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.

Click here for this post in PDF

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

Month

Unique vis­i­tors

Num­ber of vis­its

Pages

Hits

Band­width

Jan 2011

54,007

213,979

1,178,465

5,755,277

762.99 GB

Feb 2011

44,146

190,016

724,556

3,456,678

626.80 GB

Mar 2011

49,623

216,183

672,231

4,364,184

697.79 GB

Apr 2011

48,297

208,923

608,629

6,040,060

459.78 GB

May 2011

48,046

213,571

651,215

6,011,869

430.63 GB

Jun 2011

51,167

215,396

718,569

4,886,530

1084.37 GB

Jul 2011

49,721

214,755

606,315

3,792,248

711.63 GB

Aug 2011

67,387

261,520

778,592

6,040,035

527.67 GB

Sep 2011

53,820

233,337

821,232

4,929,737

500.04 GB

Oct 2011

56,484

224,704

907,002

5,201,679

1344.37 GB

Nov 2011

58,761

210,423

907,440

5,613,472

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)

Coun­try

Pages

Hits

United States

236,314

1,029,507

Aus­tralia

151,676

1,044,075

Great Britain

45,939

363,924

Canada

19,365

129,093

Ger­many

14,839

50,996

Nether­lands

7,422

28,566

New Zealand

6,208

39,197

Euro­pean coun­try

5,689

34,678

France

5,434

28,010

Spain

5,106

19,242

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.

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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  • sir­ius

    Last post — but Den­ninger has a chart that shows “change in debt” and result­ing “change in GDP”. It is not pos­si­ble to grow debt more than gdp indef­i­nitely. This is math­e­mat­ics. No great under­stand­ing of math­e­mat­ics is required to appre­ci­ate this.

    As Den­ninger repeat­dely points out

    dur­ing this entire period, from 1980 for­ward until the crash, we did not have one three month period where eco­nomic growth occurred at a faster gross dol­lar amount than did new debt.

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=200348

    Nuff said?

    Did you now that dou­bling mort­gage inter­est rate overnight would effec­tively halve the sell­ing price of any future sales almost overnight ?

    Seeem­ple.

    The game is sim­ple to explain.

  • Hi Robert,

    that was code for avoid­ing auto­mated spam­mers! What it was meant to tell peo­ple to do was… (sigh, brace self for spam) to email me at ProfSteveKeen@gmail.com

  • Matthew K

    Ruh-roh!

  • End­less

    Steve,

    Con­grats on get­ting spon­sor­ship, I’m glad you can now devote your time more effi­ciently. In some ways this is a move towards the main steam, which is, I think, an inevitable con­se­quence of wider expo­sure and, hope­fully, wider accep­tance of your hypoth­e­sis.

    Con­trar­i­an­ism (or inde­pen­dence) can, of course, be as self serv­ing as sell­ing out to the vested inter­est of the Finan­cial Sec­tor. There are pit­falls and pot­holes all over the places eth­i­cally, morally, what­ever the cir­cum­stances.

    If you wanted to sell out (by this I mean pan­der to the finan­cial sec­tor and the com­forts afforded to those adopt­ing the sta­tus quo), you would have had ample oppor­tu­nity in your career to date. Don’t see why you would sud­denly do so now, despite pos­si­bly more temp­ta­tions arriv­ing with more spon­sors.

    If a con­trar­ian is right, at some point he/she must cease only to be a con­trar­ian and find way to sway the masses, this requires, to some extent, for one to cease sound­ing like a con­trar­ian!

    Good Luck

  • alain­ton

    Mr Keen

    On behalf of ‘Italys biggest bank’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9006027/Mafia-is-Italys-biggest-business.html
    We would like to make you an offer you cant refuse.

    We make an esti­mated annual profit of €100bn – about 7pc of Italy’s GDP — but now our esti­mated returns from our con­ven­tional banks and busi­nesses are ‘swim­ming with the fishes’

    With the seiz­ing up of our non shad­owy bank­ing col­leagues in Italy we are now pro­vid­ing an essen­tial ser­vice in pro­vi­sion of loan shark­ing and usury, and we think your mod­els could be of great ben­e­fit to us.

    Did you ever stop to think what you’d look like with a lily in your hand?

    C.N.

  • Robert K

    Alain­ton:

    It’s a shame that com­pe­ti­tion has been reduced to just Cosa Nos­tra, Camorra and “Ndrengheta, or “The Big Three” as they are known. Reminds one of accoun­tancy
    and the NRSRO’s (Moodys, S and P, Fitch) here in the good old US of A. They are
    to be com­mended for hav­ing got­ten as far as they have with­out a for­mal the­ory
    to guide their actions. They prob­a­bly can con­tinue that way.…

  • royle­fam­ily

    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.”

    Mad­ness, don’t do it!

  • sj

    Mr Keen
    Some blog­gers are aware of how money influ­ences inde­pen­dent thought.

    Pretty naive not to think George Soros does not want some­thing for his $125,000 grant?

    The num­ber one pol­icy of George Soros and the elite is at all costs no high debt indi­vid­ual must be held account­able for bad rot­ten debts.

    We must have a debt jubilee to save the world from another hitler, how dra­matic and naive.

    The naive masses includ­ing occupy wall street are a George Soros funded idea whats the num­ber one pol­icy a debt jubilee.

    You will find it pretty hard to get sub­scrip­tion money from savers,manufacturing work­ers and share investors.

    Since your pol­icy of can­celling shares, increas­ing wages with­out pro­duc­tion tar­gets and super low inter­est rates will cause hyper­in­fla­tion and mas­sive unem­ploy­ment exam­ples are many air­lines and steel com­pa­nies with high wages in Aus­tralian.