The Greek Vote

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There is an adage in politics that you should never put anything to the vote unless you are sure of the outcome beforehand. On that front, the referendum Greeks will vote in this Sunday is a mistake, because the vote could go either way. If the majority votes No, as Syriza hopes, then it—hopefully—will strengthen its hand in future negotiations with the Troika. But if the majority votes Yes, then Syriza will have to capitulate to the Troika and accept its unbending policy of austerity.

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Bureaucrazies Versus Democracy

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The most recent of the almost daily “Greek Crises” has made one thing clear: the Troika of the IMF, the EU and the ECB is out to break the government of Greece. There is no other way to interpret their refusal to accept the Greek’s latest proposal, which accepted huge government surpluses of 1% of GDP in 2015 and 2% in 2016, imposed VAT increases, and further cut pensions which are already below the poverty line for almost half of Greece’s pensioners. Instead, though the Greeks offered cuts effectively worth €8 billion, they wanted different cuts worth €11 billion.

Are Surpluses Normal?

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England’s Chancellor George Osborne took the Conservative Party’s claim to fiscal responsibility one step higher last week when he announced that they will enact a law which will require British governments to run surpluses “in normal times”:

“in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.” (“Mansion House 2015: Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer”)

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How rising debt causes inequality and crisis

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In a (for me!) brief presentation with 7 slides, I explain why rising private debt necessarily causes increased inequality, and leads to an economic crisis when the rate of growth of debt exceeds the rate of decline of wages as a share of national income. Crucially, the actual breakdown is preceded by an apparent period of tranquility–a “Great Moderation”.

This was a short talk to a public audience at ESCP Europe in Paris, which was presented in English and also translated into French by Gael Giraud, Chief Economist of the French Development Agency and the translator of Debunking Economics (so the soundtrack is in both English and French).

2 new positions at Kingston University London

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We are hiring two new staff at Kingston University: one permanent position at Associate Professor level, and one short-term contract to cover an absent colleague.

If you’d like to work at one of the few pluralist-friendly economics departments in the world, and you’re suitably qualified, please follow the links below for more details and to submit your application. Or if they don’t work–as a correspondent has told me–send an email to jobs@kingston.ac.uk asking for details.

Associate Professor position

Short-term lecturer position

The deadline for applications is tight: they are due by June 26.

 

What Is Neoclassical Economics & an Alternative Monetary Macroeconomics

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This is a talk I gave in Tel Aviv, Israel at the invitation of the Rethinking Economics Student Forum there (which is a member of the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics), and at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute in Ramallah, Palestine. I cover the defining features of Neoclassical Economics, contrast these with Post Keynesian Economics, and simulate a debt deflation using the Open Source modelling program Minsky.

The naivety of the UK economic debate

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I was interviewed by Chris Menon from Every Investor last week and asked to comment on the economic policies of the two major parties in the UK election. Chris’s introduction to the interview is below; click here to see the interview itself.

In an exclusive interview with Every Investor, Professor Steve Keen from Kingston University has warned that politicians who promote austerity economics are naïve.

The economist, who was one of the few who predicted the Great Recession, warned last year that the US and UK economies wouldn’t make a sustainable recovery due to the problem of high levels of private debt – public debt being more a symptom than a cause of this economic malaise.

Keep It Simple And Complex, Stupid

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My last post supporting the use of nonlinear models (“You Do Need A Weatherman”) generated some thoughtful responses, mainly along the lines of this post by Ari Andricopoulos entitled “A View on the Economic Model Debate from a Non-economist (but someone who builds models for a living)”. The basic argument is that a full nonlinear model of any significant economic process would be too complicated, and that it was better therefore to stick with tractable linear models, while keeping in mind that the real world is nonlinear:

You Do Need A Weatherman

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I’ve just come back from the annual Institute for New Economic Thinking conference in Paris, where the President of INET Rob Johnson is infamous for opening every session he chairs with an apt set of lyrics from the 1960s. I’ve aped Rob here by misquoting one of Bob Dylan’s great lines “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”. In fact, you do.

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