Infrastructure conference in Westminster Tuesday 24th

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A new organisation called NEKS (for “New Economic Knowledge Services”, see is holding its inaugural conference on the economics of infrastructure In Westminster on Tuesday January 24th, and you should attend.

Why NEKS, and why Infrastructure? The economic importance of infrastructure is obvious, but the actual performance of infrastructure often differs radically from what is predicted when it is being planned. Three forms of delusion make many infrastructure projects far less beneficial than expected by their proponents: the complexity of execution is underestimated, the benefits are overestimated, and benefits are also calculated poorly using dodgy economic theory.

These are precisely the sort of issues that NEKS was formed to address. NEKS’s objective with this conference is to provide a real understanding of how complexity and uncertainty—including the impact of actual human behaviour and institutions—affect large public infrastructure projects. These issues are simply not adequately considered by the current “cost-benefit” method of evaluating projects, which relies heavily on mainstream economic concepts of marginal cost and marginal utility.

For example, HM Treasury’s supplement to The Green Book (the bible for evaluating government projects) talks about the need to consider ‘non-marginal economic impacts’ (which is almost the whole point of infrastructure investment), and to take into account ‘endogenous preferences’ (the fact that people change their micro behaviour when the macro world changes around them). This supplement followed the debacle over HS2, when the purported strategic case based on transforming northern economies was totally divorced from the evaluation of economic benefits, which were based mainly on trying to quantify the increased utility experienced by lots of people saving bits of time travelling.

Both Trump and May are portraying themselves as “infrastructure leaders”, but they will only prove to be so if their projects work and deliver on time. The chances that they will instead be White Elephants, delivered too late with inadequate or even negative returns, are high unless the real-world complexities of developing and delivering infrastructure are properly considered.

NEKS’s conference at the premium County Hall venue in Westminster will take a real-world look at the UK’s infrastructure plans. Vince Cable, the lead minister for industrial strategy in the Coalition Government and an advocate for new economic thinking, will kick off the conference. A Minister should speak about infrastructure and the Government’s freshly minted industrial strategy Green Paper. Ann Pettifor, who successfully led the Jubilee 2000 campaign to forgive the debts of the world’s poorest countries, will speak about the financing implications of infrastructure.  Bridget Rosewell, a National Infrastructure Commissioner and definitely a new economic thinker, will be giving a keynote.  The ever controversial hedge fund manager and Hayek fan, Crispin Odey, will add contrarian spice to proceedings (he was one of the few people who saw the Crash coming….. and shorted it).

There will be an interesting combination of creative, strategic and analytical thinkers attending from many areas of life to discuss these issues with.

If you’ll pardon the pun, I am keen that as many of you that follow this blog and understand the need for new economic thinking, are there and I’ve persuaded NEKS to offer a 50% discount on the cost of the conference. Go here to get more information. I will definitely be there from 2pm onwards (teaching responsibilities prevent me attending for the whole day). I hope to see you there.


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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32 Responses to Infrastructure conference in Westminster Tuesday 24th

  1. Bhaskara II says:

    The basic income is a big idea with a pedigree. It owes its roots to Thomas Paine, the 18th-century radical, who in 1797 proposed paying all 21-year-olds a £15 grant funded through a tax on landowners. Since then it has captured the imagination of many a philosopher, but until the past couple of years never gained much political traction beyond the fringes.”

  2. Bhaskara II says:

    Professor Keen,

    Are you, or would you be in the market for a really cool sundial for 12 or 20 euros? This is one of the finest designs I have seen. It is quite accurate and reads off normal clock time with minimum error. No, 15 minute error due to earth’s elliptical orbit. {I read on twitter your giving up apple watches.}

    Function: The projected sun spot rests on the map’s place on earth that the sun is above, And, the normal clock time is read using the figure 8 hour marks, called analemmas.* The date is read on the parallel lines. The sun enters the open circle and projects to opposite side.,48916#tab_bar_2_select

    The small surmountable problem is a dial should often be designed for it’s location’s latitude and longitude. **

    Looking at the photo this one can be adapted for London quite well. And, it is inexpensive. To you, the map on it should be right side up, but reflected! By the 12 noon mark it looks like it might be one hour different than London.

    I don’t know who the original manufacture is.** But, I think it is in Germany. If it could be found you could get one for your spot. Maybe a custom model can be obtained at the link below for 13 euros. This one is above is 20 euros, so it is a good price. I think they used to be 100 euros custom for the location. The beauty of the design allows inexpensive printing manufacture.

    To adapt the one above: It should be in the same exact orientation in (3d space) in its new location on the planet as the orientation it would be at the location it is designed for. (Earth rotate.) It’s pole should be aligned with the north pole and the time adjusted turning it on the earth’s pole axis (twist on Polaris axis) it to the proper time. I could put more thought or research into the correction, to do it easily. It could also be rested in a sand box or on a bean bag. If adjusted right one might resin the sand under it. Or, a base with screws. I was thinking a north south wedge might be good enough but not perfect for an hour difference unless one just added the difference of an hour. Once adjusted the bottom could be ground to the correct angle (difficult to get right without experience).

    In its designed location one would set it on a level surface and twist it to the correct time and date. The pole should then match the earth’s. And it would work all the time.

    google images: analemma sundial

    Time zone map:

    ** This blue one might be custom printed for the customer’s location and it is only 12 euros. Don’t know if the photo is just a sample photo.

  3. Bhaskara II says:

    Here are two examples of dials that read clock time, with out the map.

    They both gives the celestial zodiac dates. Strait line in the middle is equinox, and the outside hyperbolas are winter and summer solstices.

  4. Bhaskara II says:

    Professor Keen,

    The sundial can be easily adjusted for Kingston by sticking a spacer to the bottom of it to tilt it toward the center of Germany.

    It was designed for the center of Germany and the instructions give the adjusting procedure for other parts of Germany. It can be extended to London. It will then read the timezone in Germany and stickers can used to make time match the London time zone by changing the hour numbers. Temporary stickers are better for testing.

    Basically, it is tipped toward the center of Germany by the angular distance it is away. The direction (azimuth) and the of angle of tilt to the center of Germany can be gotten from a great circle calculator online. If one gets a nautical mile distance divide by 60 nmi/degree to get the central angle of the arc. which = degrees tilt. It will then be in the same orientation as one in Germany.

    Its a little dinky thing 50mm. The design location is marked on it.

    Manual p. 11~13:—–Anleitungen—–/43.4000_g.pdf—–Anleitungen—–%2F43.4000_g.pdf&edit-text=

  5. Bhaskara II says:

    The following will make it easier to orient and an extra check but is not necessary at all. As the instructions tell if one has date and time it orients to north. And, if you have north and date you get time. But, if you have no watch and north and the rough date it will give time. As per instructions.

    If you order one and it is easy add a cheapo tiny compass to stick to it. And, a cheapo circular bubble level for the mounting surface.

  6. Bhaskara II says:

    Professor Keen or Londoners:
    Conclusion Sundial for London:

    This accurate 50mm x 43mm sundial will work in London quite well if adjusted for the angular difference with Germany. The dial should read clock time accurately. A spacer needs to be stuck to the bottom; to tip it 6.81 degrees toward the center of Germany where it is designed for. As per, the dial’s instructions.

    It is inexpensive and the adjustment procedure for London has been provided. I was trying to figure out the adjustment above but here is the final method.

    The adjustment is to stick a spacer on the bottom. This is to tip it toward the center Germany, 6.81 degrees in the 89.33 degrees direction from the map’s North. This is almost due East. Its map will read correctly, And, the time will be German time. But, it has two time scales, so, one scale will work in London part of the year. This is the exact procedure in the sundial’s adjustment instructions for the time adjustment in Germany extended for London’s distance.

    It will then be aligned in space, as if in Germany, as London is tipped away from Germany on the Earth.

    The center of the map of Germany is seen in photo linked. Third circle is marked 3° degrees from center of Germany, where it is designed for. This map with angles from the center of Germany is for adjustment for the cities marked. (London is 6.81 degrees.)

    One time scale will be correct during daylight savings time’s, “fall back”, scale in the summer in London. (It has two sets of hours one will be correct for London for part of the year, the other set will need to be corrected. Use tape or stickers at first for a few months. It is easy to make a mistake.)

    The instructions of the sundial and it’s translation are linked above. If the translation looks overwritten on your screen too, copy the text to a word processor and it will be clear.

    Calculation work shown (for partial credit):

    Accurate sundials are designed for their position on earth.

    You do not need to recalculate unless you want to do it or want to do it for the part of the design position marked on the dial and not in the photo (If my assumed latitude differs a lot). (Lower right.) I got the longitude from the dial photo. Time is more time sensitive to longitude than latitude. My assumed latitude is from what google gives of as the center of Germany, as the dials design latitude specification is not in the photo. My calculation should work pretty well. Using the latitude (not pictured) from the actual sundial and it should work perfectly.

    Angle of London from Germany computed by great circle route. Divide nautical mile distance by 60 to get degrees.

    408.3 NM Kingston from Germany
    89.33° Map heading toward Germany

    408.3 NM /60 [°/NM] = 6.81 great circle degrees from Germany

    51.4031134, -0.306125 Kingston U., London
    51.0778516, 10.5 Germany

    Positions obtained from google maps and photo of sundial.
    lat1=51.4031134 lon1=-0.306125 Kingston
    lat2=50.9825233 lon2=10.5 Sundial design location

    Positions are entered into section, “Calculate the great circle distance between two points” of the following link:

    Distance button is clicked then the draw map buttion is clicked.

    Spare check of calculation using other calculator:

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