Debtwatch No 41, December 2009: 4 Years of Calling the GFC

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I first realised that the world faced a seri­ous finan­cial cri­sis in the very near future in Decem­ber 2005, as I pre­pared an Expert Wit­ness Report for the NSW Legal Aid Com­mis­sion on the sub­ject of preda­tory lending.

My brief was to talk about the impact of such con­tracts on third par­ties, since one ground to over­turn a loan con­tract was that it had dele­te­ri­ous impacts on peo­ple who were not sig­na­to­ries to the con­tract itself. I was approached because the solic­i­tor in the case had heard of my aca­d­e­mic work on Hyman Minsky’s “Finan­cial Insta­bil­ity Hypothesis”.

Helsinki Economics and Politics Seminar

[video src="http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/talks/HelsinkiEcoPolSemOpening-Keen.flv" width="500" height="400" ][video src="http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/talks/HelsinkiEcoPolKeen-Ulrike.flv" width="500" height="400" ][video src="http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/talks/HelsinkiEcoPolSemUlrike-End.flv" width="500" height="400" ]

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The Depart­ments of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and of Eco­nom­ics at the Uni­ver­sity of Helsinki recently held a sem­i­nar enti­tled “Eco­nom­ics: Chal­lenges for Polit­i­cal, Philo­soph­i­cal and His­tor­i­cal Research”. The moti­va­tion was a reor­gan­i­sa­tion of the Uni­ver­sity that will com­bine these two Depart­ments. The flyer for the sem­i­nar adver­tised it in the fol­low­ing manner:

This sem­i­nar, orga­nized jointly by the Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence, Depart­ment of Eco­nom­ics and Cen­tre of Excel­lence on Global Gov­er­nance Research, will start with reflec­tions on the role of eco­nom­ics and eco­nomic studies.

  • Can we com­bine eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics through polit­i­cal economy?
  • Have polit­i­cal and eco­nomic stud­ies neglected history?

Michael Hudson Talk & Green New Deal Discussion

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Michael Hud­son was a recent and wel­come vis­i­tor to Aus­tralia, and I helped arrange a talk by him at Cus­toms House that many peo­ple on this blog sup­ported finan­cially, and quite a few attended. My own attempt to record the speech was unsuccessful–the sound qual­ity was just too low–but another record­ing of  the event (by Sean Reynolds from Pol­i­tics in the Pub) was more suc­cess­ful than mine. Here it is below. My apolo­gies for tak­ing so long to post it, but I’ve been even busier than usual recently and I sim­ply didn’t have the time to do so until now.

My Per Capita Talk on Debt

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I haven’t yet had time to post Michael Hudson’s talk at Cus­toms House–hopefully I’ll man­age that this weekend–but in the mean­time here is the talk I gave a cou­ple of days ear­lier at Per Capita’s Pol­icy Exchange 2009 Con­fer­ence in Can­berra on Octo­ber 21st 2009. The good folk at SlowTV put this together, and this is the link to the video on their site.

It’s the leverage, stupid

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So I’m walk­ing to Kosciusko–now that the ABS Estab­lished House Price Index has cracked its Sep­tem­ber 2008 peak of 131 to reach an all-time high of 134.4 (as of Sep­tem­ber one year later). This renewed bub­ble reversed the trend of falling nom­i­nal house prices that had dropped the index to a low of 123.8 in March 2009.

This level of price volatility–down 5.5% in 6 months, only to rise 8.5% in the sub­se­quent six months–almost matches the stock market’s manic-depressive performance.

Debtwatch No. 40 November 2009: Have we dodged the Iceberg?

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Part 1: The USA

The most recent “unex­pect­edly good” growth fig­ures for the USA appear to indi­cate that what will still be the worst down­turn since the Great Depres­sion is finally over.

How­ever this is not your usual down­turn. Not only is it acknowl­edged as the most severe since the Great Depres­sion, it has also evoked the most remark­able gov­ern­ment eco­nomic stim­u­lus ever seen. It would be bizarre if this had not had an effect on the data.

Whether a recov­ery is truly under­way in the pri­vate sec­tor there­fore depends on how the econ­omy is likely to per­form after the stim­u­lus is withdrawn.

Happy Anniversary Wall Street

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If I was asked to nom­i­nate the wis­est apho­rism of all time, Mark Twain’s “His­tory doesn’t repeat, but it sure does rhyme” would def­i­nitely be one of my top two candidates.

On song, today Wall Street is replay­ing the 1930s, but to a slightly dif­fer­ent meter. With the 80th anniver­sary of  the Great Crash of 1929 falling on Octo­ber 29th of this year, Wall Street is cel­e­brat­ing in char­ac­ter­is­tic style–with a euphoria-led bub­ble that now appears to be crash­ing up against eco­nomic reality.

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Excellent post on $A Carry Trade in SMH, Age

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Ken­neth David­son has been one of the most con­sis­tent voices for sen­si­ble eco­nomic analy­sis in the Aus­tralian media for decades now (another I’d give a sim­i­lar acco­lade to is Brian Toohey), and he’s writ­ten a bril­liant piece in The Age and The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald on the specual­tive bub­ble that is the Aus­tralian dollar.

David­son lays out the causes and prob­a­ble effects superbly in the length of a news­pa­per fea­ture. The causes are that:

  • The bailout funds in the USA and UK in par­tic­u­lar have cashed up finan­cial insti­tu­tions that don’t want to lend any more to mort­gages (and have long ago for­got­ten how to lend to fund pro­duc­tive enter­prises), so they’re look­ing for short term hot money gains;

An anniversary approaches

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As I’ve noted here ear­lier, the blog newsfrom1930 per­forms a very valu­able “real­ity check” for today by each day pub­lish­ing a sum­mary of the Wall Street Jour­nal from the same day in 1930. The over­whelm­ing flavour of reports from that time is that the Depres­sion was over and recov­ery was immi­nent. Plus la change…

This week it’s offer­ing another service–publishing sum­maries of news reports from one year ear­lier: 1929. The rea­son, of course, is that we are approach­ing the 80th anniver­sary of “Black Tues­day”: the day in 1929 when the Dow Jones fell for more than 10 per­cent for a sec­ond day in a row, bring­ing to an emphatic end the bull mar­ket of 1929 and ush­er­ing in the Great Depression.