My verdict on Ed Balls’ conference speech – apologies are not enough

Published in the Guardian Cif alongside responses from Jonathon Freedland and Sheila Lawlor:

Ed Balls said sorry for Labour’s record on ultra-light-touch financial regulation, and that must be acknowledged.

But apologies are just not enough. He and Ed Miliband must stop attacking his electoral base, “hardworking families”, many of whom are trades unionists.

As Balls recognises, unless urgent action is taken, this may be the gravest economic crisis in history – given the global integration of finance and the growth of world population.

So Balls must go further.

First, he must declare loudly and forcefully that Labour will never again be captive to neoliberal central bankers like Alan Greenspan; or private bankers like Sir Fred Goodwin of RSB.

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Why Krugman’s ‘Keynesianism’ is controversial

Some of our friends were irked by my observation this week that Paul Krugman is:

“an extremely controversial figure for Keynes scholars. He champions a mainstream interpretation of Keynes’s work known as the neo-classical synthesis”

Many rightly applaud him for using his platform at the New York Times to defend further fiscal stimulus in the US – against a hostile political crowd, not to mention the downright opposition of neo-liberal economists – and we commend him for that.

However, because he has such an important platform, it matters more that he lacks a proper understanding of the nature of credit. Our beef with him – and the vast array of neo-liberal economists –  is well expressed, and evidenced by Steve Keen in his latest blog: “Dude! Where’s my recovery?” Namely that:

“Neoclassical economists ignore the level of private debt, on the basis of the a priori argument that “one man’s liability is another man’s asset”, so that the aggregate level of debt has no macroeconomic impact. They reason that the increase in the debtor’s spending power is offset by the fall in the lender’s spending power, and there is therefore no change to aggregate demand.

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Faux optimism & flawed economics

December 1st, 2009

There was much huffing and puffing by the cheerleaders for premature economic recovery when the Office for National Statistics revealed that the UK was still in recession last week. These same ‘pied pipers’ tried to discredit the ONS’s previous factual announcements. Now the CBI has reported an ‘unexpected’ dip in sales in the service sector and then there was a ‘surprise’ dip in manufacturing during November.

No surprise to those of us living in the real world – with no vested interest in talking up stocks and shares.

And no surprise to those of us watching thousands of jobs disappear as companies as varied as Borders, First Quench (Threshers and other drinks outlets) and General Motors in Luton – cut back, or close down.

And no surprise to the millions of workers whose compensation has fallen for five straight quarters on an annual basis.  I am grateful to Graham Turner of GFC Economics for the chart below – and strongly recommend his latest book ‘No Way to Run an Economy’

How globalisation ends: Debtonation Day, plus two

From Open Democracy: August 13, 2009

“A single day, 9 August 2007, will go down in history as ‘Debtonation Day’ – the beginning of the end of the deregulation and privatisation of finance that marks the era of globalisation.”

I wrote these words on 13 August 2007, in anticipation that the great stock-market collapse of four days earlier presaged the end of the era of neo-liberal globalisation.

So it has proved.

Read Open Democracy article>

Iceland – a country of proud, indebted people

Ann Pettifor – 12th May 2009

Have just returned from a flying visit to Iceland, where I was mightily impressed by the warmth and strength of the Icelandic character. Also struck by the pride Icelanders have in the way the financial crisis deepened and strengthened their democracy – leading to the ousting of a corrupt government, and the election of a progressive coalition.

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A debt spiral we could have avoided

24th October, 2008

The NS has published a short piece this week: “Economists simply would not accept that their model could fail“.  An introductory sentence is not mine: “Who would have predicted..that prudent Gordon Brown (would)  breach the EU cap on government spending?” Am writing to the NS to ask for a correction to be published.

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Central Bankers Add to the Economic Malaise…

22nd October, 2008.

I am dictating this piece down the phone from Budapest in Hungary where I have just arrived to deliver a lecture to the Ybl Club. My hosts were in a state of shock on arrival because the central bank of Hungary has just raised interest rates from 8.5% to 11.5%…

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