Tuesday, December 01, 2009

and on...

there's something of contribution in it - the quality of measurement that makes it meaningful, and valuable

It needs to contain the totality of human contribution in it.

It needs to be more than a physical object, or not reduced to that either by sloppy mathematical handling.

It needs to represent value - my will and how it is associated with the entirety of all wills.

Objects will then follow, but in more pleasing streams.

Contributing to each other and us, as we begin to identify what we share here on Earth. But the objects are now serving us - people, communities, animals, nature - not dictating how we go about our business - as they have hereftofore done too much.

Martin Buber knew: [quote to follow]

The definition of a values-based economy

Interesting - as one thought follows another - that the measurement of value question should bring back into the fold another concept I have toyed with: the values-based economy.

It seems to me, in these times of unfolding consciousness worldwide - that we are better able to appreciate our place in the world; the objects we use day to day and their place in the world ; the relationships we have; and the place they have in our lives too and yes, co-mingling across the world as well.

You see now the purpose of an economy?

To allow these to flourish to the full and to - serve each other.

The values -based economy to which I have referred is therefore an economy whose participants understand increasingly the relation of objects and people as well as the thoughts and feelings that constitute the same and reflect these values in the choices they make.

Hence - the rise of organic, fair trade, worldwide peace and environment movements - which small fry in themselves constitute a shift of realisation of who we are.

And it is not who we thought.

Peace - maximally,


Measuring value

It's been quite a time away from these walls since I last professed an aim to weave together that will produce the economic models.

This is not surprising, I get easily distracted and have found a variety of projects with which to busy myself.

The ideas, however, are flowing again: much inspired by chance events and the reading of the Economics of Happiness by Mark Anielski

It seems vitally important, after years railing against the conspet of measurement, that we go ahead and do it, but do it right.

The case against measurement is easy- it describes in certain limitations what is really going on. A lot needs to happen before it is illuminating, both in the mind of the observer and the person producing the study.

One of the problems of our age - if I can be so grandiloquent as to name one* - is that measurements dictate our moves and it pains us to admit we have become slaves of the machine:

to produce to specifications, not dreamed by a scientist, philosopher or our own good sense.

But by other numbers. And it is pulling our planet, our society and great civilisations apart.

The rumble you have heard or experienced this last economic year is barely a whisper.

But enough of that. We are people of progress, advancement and resolution on the face of the quake, and the fluffy economist is nothing but an optimist.

So - the measurement chink of light that I saw is that we make our measurements better - so they circumscribe more juicy stats to give us an idea not just of material, nor reduce genuine feelingness or knowingness to a material base.

What is required are measurements that reflect 'real value' of us as beings in the world and our rightful place in it.

It requires a certain trust of our fellow and their impressions and it needs more than soundbite surveys, but questions that listen.

Dear Reader, my thoughts have not got further than this. The next question is:

What qualities does a measurement need in order to reflect real value?

I have an idea the answer will blow apart the question.

Comments please!


* as well as so grandiloquent as to say 'grandiloqient'**
** and then use grandiloquent twice in the same sentence***
***I'll stop there

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The new Europe

Hear well, good people of Earth - the EU has now shifted decisively out of the hands of the its people. We demand a fully elected commission, president, foreign minister and Parliament before matters are taken out of our hands.

Here - the people have spoken. This is what is happening.

The European Union formally appointed Herman Van Rempuy and Baroness Cathy Ashton as respectively president and high representative of the EU. Critically, the appointments were made via recommendation from the Parliament and not democratically elected heads of Europe (see the Economist). While the EU parliament is elected its workings are still remote and its effectiveness as an elected body - ie the quality of representation it provides - are questionable.

It is vital that the EU represents its people and is governed by directly represented individuals, responsible to the people and not heads of state - it's another layer removed from our hands and subject to more manipulation.

There are those who argue that no democracy is truly in the hands of the people, but which would you rather have? Some say or no say? Exactly. Please get writing to MPs and especially foreign ministers. This is moving extremely fast and the constitution being cemented now - for it will swiftly be followed up - will have an impact for decades and centuries.

I love Europe. I feel as a continent we have a lot to offer ourselves and the world. Not in an imperial sense - which Europe's trade behaviour tries to impose - but in a benevolent way of encouraging development and promotion of well-being.

But we are asleep. In resisting a super state we run the risk that now it is formin of having no say in how this collaboration occurs. So please, use whatever channels of representation you have to urge the discourse in the direction you feel most appropriate. We do have power, and must use it for the good of all.

To sit aside deprives us of responsibility, and finally freedom.

Fluffy out.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hollywood, my love

Hollywood, my love

For you to weep

Is the tragedy of forgotten wishing

My love, my love

For you to weep

Is the sorrow of Civilisation dying.

The better for tomorrow

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A letter to the tragic man

Dear Gordon Brown,

Thank you.

You have displayed vanity and carelessness in dealing with the press, not great sins by any measure, but ones punishable by a great deal of booing.

I like you. Your policies have been fair and well thought out except for the bit when you kept spending during boom time, mortgaged off our public services and introduced redistributive policies that buried more than they lifted out - this was was not the point:

You did your thinking, followed procedure, cracked a few skulls and finally your hour came.

Except it didn't. Sitting on your chancellery toilet you could not have dreamt of the power you would actually wield, over health care, academics, the press, minor niches of world important events. We were finally to get the sensitive philosopher king we had asked for. Except he came with big clumping fists and a strange propensity to open his mouth after every sentence, perhaps drawing breath, perhaps waiting medium-like for the ghost of William Ewart Gladstone to speak through him and save you from your next verbal thud.

You succeeded a magician. A nasty one, a callous one and to all intents and purposes a shit and while we know you got him where he is today by graciously stepping aside, a magician he remained. Whirling you in circles and wowing the World except for his whoopsy in Iraq.

He left you with a seething pile of electorate who were ready to take the scalp of anyone who came after him. We need you, the great grey man, a man of extraordinary abilities but not enough vim and polish to make you the final article. You are so painfully one of us - the Great British nearly man - we just have to tear you down. Blair took us away from ourselves - poof to all that talk of driving Europe and dancing on the world stage - and in bringing us back it's necessary that we torture you mercilessly with all our own self-revulsion.

You are therapy. Please don't take it personally and commit suicide.

We just would not know what to do.

Yours Sincerely,

The Fluffy Economist

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Narrowness of Greenspan

I find Greenspan's view so narrow. The idea of regulation is to admit human nature and guard against it with appropriate systems, doing this well and with balance is of course not easy, but he's essentially putting his hands up and saying "We're all greedy bastards so let's go fuck ourselves again. With chainsaws. And why not up the ass?"

One aspect of regulation is that it limits the role of speculation in the economy. This is healthy. Why should 35 year olds looking after the interests of the quality of their next family holiday determine how so much of resources are allocated. Economics, after all, is about incentives and the current (soon to be former) system gives these guys too much of a strong play. It's such an imbalance, I find it amazing that Greenspan continues to support anti-regulation. He's no doubt a man with exceptional qualities but his restricted view speaks of precisely the fuck up that maybe not individually him, but his generation presided over.

It's so good they're on their way.

Friday, July 31, 2009

An article by Naomi Klein

John Bricks was the slipper on the lap dog of a puppy when economic ruin came and savaged his last gasp of heper winter. $250 billion dollars have caught this last gasp of chumzy weasle and left a hapless sergeant with choking gasp of pain.

Governmental corporations built the sway side and no one was left to breath in Tanzania, Frurtania and other classless objectifiers given by society, the Queen and all her kin. We've been rosy-topped and shallied along and meanwhile there a throat hold on the 10.22 at Doncaster that 7,000,000 boat holders are going to miss off the coast of Gambia.

This can only point to one thing: the government owns you and you lazy son of a bitch are too stupid to follow all the words in my column.


Friday, May 08, 2009

A BIG deal

In time of economic, social and environmental disintegration the openness for exploring new ideas has never been more fertile. One of these, the basic income guarantee (BIG), has yet to make an impact on public stage and this article is an attempt to bring it and its benefits to a greater light. My own experience with BIG was as an undergraduate, where it formed the basis of my thesis in Economics. My studies convinced me of the power, simplicity and benefits that implementation of a BIG would bring to the UK and the global economy and from the basis of a more equitable and just society.

What is a BIG?

A Basic Income Guarantee, known variously as Universal Basic Income, Negative Income Tax and Citizen’s Basic Income, is a monthly grant given to every person in society regardless of age, income, employment status or nationality. It would replace, fully or partially, current benefit systems and paid at the household or individual level. Its aim is to provide a certain level of income below which a civilised does not tolerate. As such it forms the basis of economic and social freedom that current systems of redistribution lack. Obviously, a BIG requires a greater contribution from the richer sections of society.

The current UK system

The current benefits system in the UK is based on tax credits, transfers which depend on the beneficiaries current state of income and/or social and economic arrangements, such as single parents and those out of work. Its flaw lies in its division of the deserving and the non-deserving poor, the administrative tangle this produces and the way repayments are made.
Dividing between deserving and non-deserving poor requires definitions most of which are hangovers from the 19th century. Workers and single mothers are favoured while those out of work or non-nationals are believed to be less worthy of society’s support. In practice, these definitions mean that many people fall through the gaps and rather than being a tool of supportive integration, the benefit system fuels stigma of those who receive benefits and marginalisation of those who don’t.

In part stemming from these divisions, the administration of tax credits is cumbersome. Over and underpayments are frequent and the system of means testing adds confusion, complication and exclusion.

Finally, beneficiaries are required to pay back tax credits as their income rises on a sliding scale, so for a one pound increase in income, 35p of credit is withdrawn. In theory this sounds pragmatic but in practice households receiving a number of tax credits, for example working tax credit and child tax credit, often have a repayment rate of over £1 per extra £1 earned. This punitive so-called Effective Marginal Tax Rate contributes to just the sort of poverty traps tax credits are supposed to eliminate.

Justification for BIG

Proponents of the BIG come from a broad church. Free marketeers – most notably Milton Friedman, prominent Keynesians and the UK Green Party support it as a way to compensate and create a income floor below which none should fall.
The current free market paradigm contains a paternalist instinct that economic expansion requires people to be looked after but chiefly holds to the idea that we earn the incomes we deserve. An alternative view, and one that justifies BIG, is that the market system inadequately represents the interdependent way in which income is generated. Structural deficiencies define that bankers are the most deserving in society, whilst nurses, teachers and creative class less so. A BIG is an acknowledgement that whatever one’s role in society your contribution is equally valued.

BIG benefits

The most striking feature of the BIG is its simplicity. Society designs an income floor below which no one should fall and pays this to each individual or household regardless of social and economic status. Economic poverty would cease to exist and the dependency on the material as a definition of well-being would vanish. BIG’s simplicity would also solve the current administrative miasma and give economic recognition to each and every member of the population.

The economic freedom generated by a BIG would allow society to focus more on its social problems and give people space to pursue activities that are less economically motivated. As a result, communities and social projects would be given a solid basis to thrive as people defocused from purely economic activity.

Employment impact

One of the criticisms most quickly levelled at a BIG is that people it would be a boon for the unemployed and lazy. There’s no doubt that having a bit of extra income would decrease people’s desire to work but as described above, this is in itself desirable. What a BIG will not remove is the human need to create, have purpose and also find social inclusion in work. The criticism stems from the outdated and mistaken idea that the poor are lazy rather than the victims of an unjust socio-economic apparatus. One of BIG’s benefits is that the socio-economic stigma created by the current benefits system will be removed, allowing the poor to make a greater contribution to society.

Practical attempts

One of the most forward leaning attempts at implementing a BIG comes from the Nixon administration in the 1970s, who conducted a series of experiments on a negative income tax, ironically involving Donald Rumsfeld. Apart from the economic benefits the NIT gave experiments participants was the change in behaviour. A permanent rise in income meant that rather than splurge on colour TVs, participants spent their extra money on welfare improving items such as better accommodation and labour saving devices. Around the edges of the experiment were also noted substantial improvements in school test scores and better nutrition. The holistic improvements of NIT were therefore verified.

The NIT was at one point given serious consideration by Nixon but academics are still at a loss to explain its lack of progress beyond experimentation and the speed at which it dropped from the agenda. We can only guess that the tax required to make NIT/BIG worthwhile was found at the time to be appalling.

The state of Alaska redistributes its oil wealth as a $1,500 grant to each household each year. While an ideal BIG would be higher, the grant is said to contribute to Alaska’s status as the most egalitarian state in the US and gives households a much needed boost to spend on winter coats and heating, ensuring a basic standard of living for everyone to cope with the harsh winter.


A UK BIG would realistically be about £50 per week or £2500 per year for each individual. Calculations by some highly regarded economists in 2002 found this level could be funded by a flat tax of 33%, which would also provide for all other commitments in the then current budget. The calculations showed that a BIG is not only affordable but could lead to a better deal for richer members of society. A progressive taxation system is not only more desirable from an equity point of view but could also increase the BIG’s affordability.

What would need to change for the UK to accept a BIG? Firstly, outdated stigma attached to redistribution policy that brands the poor as undeserving or worthy of only our small change and secondly, an adjustment of how we view activities in purely economic terms.
A BIG would have a direct social and economic impact in the UK and, by removing our dependency on the material justification, could well unleash creative and community-based activity would no doubt produce its own favourable economic consequences, albeit nested in a more inclusive, supportive and just environment than is currently the case.

Those interested in following the BIG debate could take a look at US BIG Network and Citizen's Income in the UK.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Carbon capitualtion

This is no new victory.

We see a repeated retreat from wrong-headed thinking and advance again with more wrong-headed thinking.

The Earth is being plundered, we've dug too much of it up so now we think it's a fantastic idea to bury our carbon. A solution, certainly, a postponement of tough decisions, though in itself something of great damage.

To pump gas into disused oil and gas fields. Has anyone considered the tectonic impact?
Or the fact that poison is now being pumped underground? Will other gases from coal be released or pumped underground too and, wait up a second - we're still using coal, still digging from underground things that should have lain there for centuries.

This Earth is a strange and complex thing. It's built in ways we're not given to understand. One thing is sure, it doesn't like the digging. Another is, it won't enjoy having poison pumped into it.

Don't come with these cries of "But what else can we do?". Plenty. Technological priorities should be carbin free not carbon captured or scrubbed. We can be fossil free in fifty years, we just need to keep moving, keep researching and stop piling effort and energies into half-answers that leave us with a greater problem.

I've written previously that carbon is not the issue, but a shoe-horning of a much wider substantial debate about where we are going, how we want to live.

This by the way, extends to carbon trading, something I'll write on again. That a problem which has commoditisation at its root is solved by further commoditisation - of the air, people, of the air! - shows similar wrong-headedness as that described above. Clutching at straws while the whole ship goes down.

You think I'm dramatic? Take a look around!

Radicalism has never been more necessary. The time for free-thinking is come.

(There's some here)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A sober post

There was funny time when Britain was doing really well, the economy was singing and Public Borrowing was still at 3.5%. This was about 2 years ago.

I would like to see some figures on how much of the deficit is going where. A lot must be from falling tax receipts and rising benefits and there are some job creation schemes but a huge chunk of the rest must be from bank subsidies.

This is entirely the wrong channel to go through, although I accpet this wasn't easy to see three months ago. Banks are moving from the central mechanism of the economy to one of its servants and filling them with cash is like piling bricks under the high side of the leaning tower of Pisa.

There's got to be a more decentralised way of getting money into the hands of people and easing the massive structural shift the economy is experiencing.

Oh wait, there is.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


"The G20 agreed to allow the IMF to create $250bn of Special Drawing Rights, its own currency, comprising dollars, euros, yen and sterling, boosting the foreign exchange reserves of every country. Most of this will go to the big economies, but poorer countries facing budgetary strains will gain new cash." [link]

From the same article:

"Only about $80bn will be going to all the middle-income and poor countries combined [of the $250bn]"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fluffy's take on the financial descent

We're really falling now - yet to hit the bottom and this frightens the life out of policy makers.

SURELY they must do something. SURELY!!!!

They scream and so do the followers and counter-arguers and media. Oh the media! Whipping up a storm over a single gilt bond auction that was only slightly undersold and THEN the UK government reacts and backs away. Timid and uncertain.

It's no problem being uncertain - the last ten years we've gotten away with kidding ourselves that we can be even as species, climate and food sources are knocked away beneath us.

Being timid, however, can only further the panic.

So what would Fluffy do?

Nothing - hold fire for the time. Money is moving in ways that no one alive has a clue about. Repeated stimuli will only have the effect of pouring money into the sink - and by sink I mean that referred to by chaos theory, the energy that literally goes to nowhere. It will induce stagflation and saddle us with debt for years to come.

This is infuriating for governments, press and practically the whole conversation. BUT we can't DO NOTHING!!!

But you did do something and it did nothing so now you're only tempting a bigger nothing than you've earned before. And if you think the world economy is bottoming out - haha!! - you're wrong.

The structural change that's underway is harking back at LEAST to the creation of the inter-related market mechanism, typically set in the 17th century. If that's the case we've got a whole lot more cleaning out to do. the more apocolyptic and mystical trace its origins to Babylon, when man first looked at the Earth and saw a competitor not a jewel.

The economy - the set of inter-relating structures that channels goods and services - is moving to another footing. More in keeping with the time and mood of the people and these people have become a little less greedy.

The current system is set up for greed - for infinite accumulation and one that's out of touch with the needs of the planet, its creatures and the people that walk on it.

Some folk began to realise this and spend their money differently. It's only so long that the old system, which went beyond a joke with Reagan/Thatcher, could keep up with conscience-driven demand. Its rails simply run the wrong way. One day I'll get round to describing how this is actually done but hopefully the concept is well-drawn enough to be understood.

Once the shift occurs in people's actions (and it's more of a trend whose consequences are now becoming fully known) it's only so long before the structures that were built to house people's previous actions become obsolete and crumble. Evolution is possible but if the previous actions were well set, it's crumbling that occurs. (This is Schumpeter's thinking who, like Darwin, hit upon a theory far more powerful than even his galactic brain could surmise)

The current system is built on greed and therefore banking. Banking depends on infinite creation of money and people to whom to lend to. The latter are charged for the money they borrow - ostensibly to cover risk - but the effect is that the banking system charges cash-strapped people for their credit and enrich themselves beyond the dreams of avarice.

For this reason 250 families own 45% or the world's wealth. Not income. not the golden breeze that flutters by, but long standing, ill-liquid, stuff that survives for generations wealth. These people make Bill Gates and Warren Buffett look like minnows. It's also the reason the creation of perpetually unevenly rewarding system goes back to the founding of the banking system itself - again a 17th century phenomenon.

What's peculiar about our time is that the dream began to believe itself. The bankers actually thought they could deceive and create money our of leaves. A little bit of borrowings OK but the extent of self-delusion - and I genuinely think they thought they could away with it - that led to our globally over-leveraged economy is staggering, frightening even to the level of being humorous.

So the banks are based on greed and the people no longer wish to be greedy - banks must therefore fail and they know it and are therefore holding on to every last scrap they can. Opening their books to each other now would reveal such failure to make the current situation seem like a haven. They are all in the shit, for now they struggle on alone.

So what would Fluffy do?

Restore money to the people. If the economy's moving along new lines there's no point the government or banks deciding for us which way that's going to be. Have some faith in the people and let them spend or save as they wish. Allow them to set up community savings trusts and invest in local initiatives. Support them in this with a light touch.

The idea is that people are waking up quicker than the media-phased government is allowing them to. Give the responsibility of their own decisons. Give them a sustained increase in their income for the next four years and see what they do.

It doesn't need to be much - maybe 40 pounds per month, though the higher the better and should be in the form of a lump sum not a tax cut, which disproportinately rewards the better off.

The first effect would be to limit timidity. The second would be creative redistribution as the generally unselfish people - who have long been thought to be otherwise - invest in their communities and not wars and over-extensive surveillance systems.

Also give them a vote on how government money should be spent. Health, education or war. make the each of these more representative and less conglomerate and...

for fuck's sake de-privatise education, health and other public projects. Stop the mockery of a belief that in an intention-driven universe (and it is my purpose to let the cosmic influence my thinking, it does anway so let's wise up to it) it is possible to build the best possible health or education when the primary intention is to make a profit.

It's such a dim view of humanity we have shovelled down our throats when we told we're profit hungry soldiers marching to the drum of the banks. It's bullshit and they know it - time we knew it too.

Put money in our pockets, let us show you the way we're going to go. Don't be scared we voted for you.

Shame you're too blind and stuck up your own arse to see clear as day your tired thinking is over. Time for the creatives to step in and wipe the floor with you. This shift is bigger than even old Karl could predict. All that is solid really is turning to air to the extent that even the socialists could not build structures to support and sustain it.

Let the people be creative and above all trust them.

It's the last thing you haven't tried.

How about it?

Love and inspiration,


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dear Dr Greenspan

Dear Dr Greenspan,

Thank you so much for your sincere and elegant autobiography, or rather your autobiography that shows you to be so elegant and sincere.

Having studied Economics I had read a lot about you and drawn a number of conclusions, some of them perhaps not altogether savoury due to idealistic bias. Reading your book has taught me how often we project onto prominent characters those problems we find most dissatisfying. How easy to put the world’s problems down to a Greenspan or a Bush rather than seek how we could better them ourselves. As a young man, this is a lesson I’m slow to learn.

Reading your book was an eye opener. I was inspired by your life, your industry and integrity. I remember when you received an Honorary PhD from Edinburgh University – the university at which I studied - you compared the good economist to Sherlock Holmes, hunting for as many clues as you can but drawing no firmer conclusions than that which the evidence presents. It was inspiring to read that this was the method of your own economic research.

I also found that we treat prominent figures as if they have just stepped out from behind a curtain, into the glare of public spotlight, rather than grant them the respect of people in their position, having worked hard to get there and doing the best they can under the circumstances. Reading your book has given me a deeper respect for public people as they operate in their positions – although I don’t discount that a certain amount of guile and sharpness of elbows has helped to get them there.

In this context, it was interesting to see how ideology often melted away in the context of the situation. While you no doubt have strong principles about how the world should be run, these were often secondary to your analysis of the situation. The public debate would have it that having a Republican or Democrat in office is most important but when faced with decisions it seems to be character that is most instructive.

My own economic thinking has nothing of the erudition or practical experience of yours – a four year undergraduate degree and a lay interest in public affairs – but I would like to pick you up on a few points in your book – chiefly because they touch on problems I have been thinking about for some time.

Firstly, your devotion to the market principle. From what I understand, markets are exceptional traders of information. That a cement works in Kazakhstan can attract finance from New York or London is a testament to this efficiency and of obvious material benefit to both the financiers and workers in Kazakhstan. However, the quality of information and the way it is transformed into action owes a great deal to the institutions that govern, control and surround the market. You point to this when looking at Russia. If the pursuit of material interest contravenes what we believe to be human it makes sense to calm it and align it accordingly.

In a globalised world these contraventions are more often carried out through ignorance rather than deliberate malfeasance further increasing the need for strong and credible institutions all over the world.

Regulation can be thought of as presenting to the market information it would not otherwise admit. Whether laws, taxes or regulatory authorities such measures are essential to humanise market forces which are far stronger than the social or political structures they prevail upon (I’m thinking now of large corporations and financiers with respect to small, newly formed states).
As a student I was most profoundly influenced by Karl Polanyi, a Hungarian who lived in Vienna and then London before becoming a teacher of General Economic History at Colombia University (forgive me if I’m insulting your intelligence with this detail). The brilliance of Polanyi was that he understood the dynamic interplay between economy and society. In fact, he saw that you really could not separate the two – one runs along the lines of the other in differing orders of ascendency. He described the economy as becoming disembedded from society. Whereas before it had run along social and political lines, the rise of the market meant that the economy was being run for its own sake and the needs of people – such as the self-esteem you so rightly point to – were put in second place.

This no doubt was the purpose of the Enlightenment thinkers. They saw society as such a constraining factor and, as anyone who attends family reunions knows, social ties are just such a blessing and a curse. They constrain creativity and ingenuity, but also support it.
What is clear is that people need buffers between themselves and economic disturbance. Economic forces worldwide are now so great that the socialist ideas of keeping the economy fixed to protect society no longer apply. That argument has surely been won.

But what if there was a way to protect people in a dynamic way. That funds be diverted to protect populations and allow them to create their own defences. I’m talking here about community initiatives - that space and infrastructure be allocated to allow communities to better flourish. Just as the market allows entrepreneurs to receive great rewards, so is infrastructure created to allow space for social entrepreneurs. It would be a way for society to strengthen itself through its own ingenuity and not top down, centralised systems, developed far from their centres of impact.

The economy running at the expense of society is like an engine running on petrol and no oil and in Anglo economies I fear we’re seeing precisely that – economic strength is bought at the expense of societal degradation. Keynes recognised this clearly but his solutions were so of their time that I do not think they are readily applicable today.

For developing economies the situation is worse. Economic forces generated in foreign countries and able to be contained by those countries institutions, land on foreign soil where institutions are under-adapted. The result, as you recognise, is social dislocation at a pace that does not justify the economic rewards it brings, or certainly not in such a short time frame.
For this reason I disagree with your assertion that freeing markets makes economic sense. In the long run it promotes societal collapse, which tempts greater strictures on economic freedom. Indeed, writing in 1944, Karl Polanyi attributed the rise of fascism to the unconstrained market forces of the 19th century.

If legislation and taxes can be used to slow the pace of economic development in order that society has time to adapt, then it should do so.

I would be most grateful of you saw fit to answer this letter; I hope you have found it interesting. There may be numerous positions attributed to you that are not actually your, but such are the limitations of a letter. Once again, thank you for your book, it stimulated discussions in me that have remained dormant for some time.

With very best regards,

The Fluffy Economist

This letter appears as part of the forthcoming series Letters to Important Men, currently available online.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brown moaning

This is strange

In the same press conference Gordon Brown paints the consumer as the victim of irresponsible usury and the next as a desperate suckling in need of banks aid.

Opening up the books is a punishment for previous naughtiness.

Do banks operate in a vacuum?

Or are the actions and desperate grabbing hands also to blame for the current crisis.

Credit cards don't spend themselves.

The banks greed certainly got out of hand but let's stop divorcing this crisis from our own responsibility. We spent too much - especially you GB - and now pay the price.

I'm not a pre-Keynesian or neoclassicist. But get pissed off with the bitching that it's all someone else's fault. GB is making political capital out of a situation that he presided over as Chancellor.

In what way can he credibly separate himself from it now?

It makes his solutions a little harder to swallow.
Related Posts with Thumbnails