Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page
Looking at the euro crisis today, I get the feeling that translating Keynes’ classic work for this contemporary crisis might be interesting. Keynes predicted that there would be hell to pay for extracting the pound of flesh from Germany, which lacked the capacity to pay its reparations. Germany produced a monster, but one who was effectively able to channel the anger which had welled up in the country. How will the present European anger play out?
It is probably fitting that I am in Greece now, given that Procrustes was central figure in my Invisible Handcuffs. He is presently had at work, removing the extremities, if not the organs of the Greek economy. I was fortunate in getting to meet two of the three economists I wanted to meet in Greece. Yanis Varifoukas was unable to connect with me although we had some very good exchanges over the web. John Milios and Nicholas Theocarakis were very generous with their time, perhaps too generous, since I am not used to staying up nearly as late as they do.
I am leaving for the airport soon, so I will not supply the details. Instead, I can only say that the corruption and disfunctionality of the government goes well beyond anything I could imagine.
Istanbul was my initial destination. The Chamber of Engineers, a shockingly radical organization, hosted a conference on Veblen. With the exception of Michael Hudson, I only knew Sabri Oncu and his brother Ahmed beforehand. However, many of the others also taught me a lot.
To make things worse for workers, the new transportation bill allows companies to base their contributions to their pensions on the basis of the last 25 rather than 2 years. By assuming a higher discount rate, they have less need to fund their pensions, assuming a high rate of return. For pensions to survive they must aim at a higher rate of return to compensate for lower contributions, creating an incentive to invest in high risk junk sold by the financial system — a recipe for disaster.
I recently attended an outstanding symposium on Thorstein Veblen in Istanbul, hosted by the Chamber of Engineers, an amazingly radicalized group.
Here is the introduction to the paper I presented there: Comments and Questions always appreciated.
Given his insight and his style, Thorstein Veblen has become more relevant than ever, given current conditions. Neoliberalism in both economics and politics is enjoying a stranglehold on society. Its arrogant supporters blithely dismiss any information that might contradict their rigid dogma and treat all who would challenge them with contempt. To make matters worse, the neoliberals also dominate the media and academia, making respectful or even intelligent debate virtually impossible.
Vincent Portillio and I are hard at work putting together our new book provisionally entitled: The Matrix: The Intersection of War, Economic Theory, and the Economy. We are going to post the ms. on line as we go along. Here is our first installment, which will probably change in light of comments that you might make.
Thanks for your interest. I hope you enjoy it.
I have added a pdf version for those who prefer that format.