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.

My Speech at Occupy Sydney Five Years Ago

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Appar­ent­ly it’s the fifth anniver­sary of the day I gave this talk, to the Occu­py move­ment in Syd­ney, in Mar­tin Place, right out­side the offices of the Reserve Bank of Aus­tralia. The day after, the site was shut down by the police. It seems I was jinxed, because the same thing hap­pened in New York, the day after I sim­ply dropped off a cou­ple of copies of my book Debunk­ing Eco­nom­ics. The speech holds up pret­ty well, though I’ve devel­oped my tech­ni­cal argu­ments a lot since then.

Olivier Blanchard, Equilibrium, Complexity, And The Future Of Macroeconomics

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I have observed and appre­ci­at­ed Olivi­er Blanchard’s intel­lec­tu­al jour­ney over the last decade. It began in August 2008, with what must be regard­ed as one of the worst-timed papers in the his­to­ry of eco­nom­ics. In a sur­vey of macro­eco­nom­ics enti­tled “The State of Macro”, he con­clud­ed, one year after the finan­cial cri­sis began, that “The state of Macro is good” (Blan­chard, 2008). How­ev­er, Blan­chard did not remain locked into that posi­tion, and he had the rare intel­lec­tu­al courage to say so in pub­lic and in aca­d­e­m­ic papers. His most recent post, before the one I am respond­ing to today (“Fur­ther Thoughts on DSGE Mod­els: What we agree on and what we do not”), stat­ed that, far from the state of macro being good:

Incorporating energy into production functions

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In my last post on my Debt­watch blog, I fin­ished by say­ing that the Phys­iocrats were the only School of eco­nom­ics to prop­er­ly con­sid­er the role of ener­gy in pro­duc­tion. They ascribed it sole­ly to agri­cul­ture exploit­ing the free ener­gy of the Sun, and specif­i­cal­ly to land, which absorbed this free ener­gy and stored it in agri­cul­tur­al prod­ucts. As Richard Can­til­lon put it in 1730:

The Land is the Source or Mat­ter from whence all Wealth is pro­duced. The Labour of man is the Form which pro­duces it: and Wealth in itself is noth­ing but the Main­te­nance, Con­ve­nien­cies, and Super­fluities of Life. (Can­til­lon, Essai sur la Nature du Com­merce in Général (Essay on the Nature of Trade in Gen­er­al)

BBC Hardtalk on reforming economics

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This inter­view, which was just record­ed today, will go to air tomor­row. The broad­cast details are:

BBC News Chan­nel: 02.30 BST, 04.30 BST and 20.30 BST Tues­day 16th August 2016, and 00.30 BST Wednes­day 17th August 2016

HardTalkPromo

And from the 04.30 TX it will then be avail­able with­in the UK on BBC iPlay­er for one year.

BBC World News Chan­nel: 03.30 GMT; 08.30 GMT; 14.30 GMT and 19.30 GMT Tues­day 16th August 2016

It will also go out at numer­ous times­lots on Fri­day on the BBC World Ser­vice.

The need for pluralism in economics

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For decades, main­stream econ­o­mists have react­ed to crit­i­cism of their method­ol­o­gy main­ly by dis­miss­ing it, rather than engag­ing with it. And the cus­tom­ary form that dis­missal has tak­en is to argue that crit­ics and pur­vey­ors of alter­na­tive approach­es to eco­nom­ics sim­ply aren’t capa­ble of under­stand­ing the math­e­mat­ics the main­stream uses. The lat­est instal­ment of this slant on non-main­stream eco­nom­ic the­o­ry appeared in Noah Smith’s col­umn in Bloomberg View: “Eco­nom­ics With­out Math Is Trendy, But It Does­n’t Add Up”.

Fig­ure 1: Noah’s tweet announc­ing his blog post

Inequality, Debt and Credit Stagnation

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This was my keynote speech at the French Asso­ci­a­tion for Polit­i­cal Econ­o­my (AFEP) annu­al con­fer­ence in Mul­house, France (the oth­er keynote was given–in French–by my good friend Marc Lavoie, who is now based at the Uni­ver­si­ty de Paris 13). In this pre­sen­ta­tion, I:

What next after Brexit?

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A cliché—“Expect the Unexpected”—has hap­pened. As I not­ed in “The Divi­sive Brex­it Vote”, though I favoured Brex­it, I took the opin­ion polls at face val­ue, and expect­ed that Britain as a whole would vote to remain in the EU. Instead, in the largest elec­toral turnout in twen­ty years, the UK vot­ed 52:48 in favour of leav­ing the EU.

I’ll leave a post-mortem of the vote itself for lat­er; the main inter­est now is what will hap­pen because of it. Many pun­dits from the Cen­ter, Left and Right opposed Brex­it in the belief that eco­nom­ic Armaged­don for Britain and the globe would flow from it; we’ll now see how real­is­tic their fears were. I regard them as seri­ous­ly overblown, for a num­ber of rea­sons.

The Divisive Vote Over Brexit

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Andrew Watt has writ­ten a pas­sion­ate cri­tique of my sup­port for Brex­it (“Pro­gres­sive econ­o­mists should sup­port Remain not Brex­it – a response to Steve Keen”), and it high­lights a key fea­ture of this pecu­liar ref­er­en­dum: peo­ple who nor­mal­ly find them­selves on the same side in most eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal debates have been divid­ed by this ref­er­en­dum.

Andrew com­ments that he broad­ly agrees with my eco­nom­ic analy­sis on most issues, but vehe­ment­ly oppos­es me here. Like­wise, good friends like the het­ero­dox econ­o­mist Geof­frey Hogdg­son; Ann Pet­ti­for, who led the suc­cess­ful Jubilee 2000 cam­paign to can­cel the debt of the world’s poor­est nations; and Yanis Varo­ufakis, who knows a thing or two about the EU, all strong­ly sup­port Remain.

There has to be a better way

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Note: This was published as my last column on Business Spectator on April 6th, but it’s now gone missing after News Ltd merged BS with its own in-house stable and changed all the URLs. Given the election and Elizabeth Farrelly’s excellent thought piece in the Sydney Morning Herald “The great tragedy of Malcolm Turnbull”, I thought it was a good time to revive it.

One of the dis­ad­van­tages of grow­ing up is find­ing in your old age that peo­ple you nev­er took seri­ous­ly in your youth are now run­ning your coun­try.

CERN Discovers New Particle Called The FERIR

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CERN has just announced the dis­cov­ery of a new par­ti­cle, called the “FERIR”.

This is not a fun­da­men­tal par­ti­cle of mat­ter like the Hig­gs Boson, but an inven­tion of econ­o­mists. CERN in this instance stands not for the famous par­ti­cle accel­er­a­tor strad­dling the French and Swiss bor­ders, but for an eco­nom­ic research lab at MIT—whose ini­tials are coin­ci­den­tal­ly the same as those of its far more famous cousin.

Despite its rel­a­tive anonymi­ty, MIT’s CERN is far more impor­tant than its phys­i­cal name­sake. The lat­ter mere­ly informs us about the fun­da­men­tal nature of the uni­verse. MIT’s CERN, on the oth­er hand, shapes our lives today, because the dis­cov­er­ies it makes dra­mat­i­cal­ly affect eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy.