Thursday is my last day in Helsinki and I have a lot of travelling to do later in the afternoon after I finish teaching. So I am posting this in the early hours of Thursday (Oz time), even though I am still in Helsinki. The new Post Graduate program in Global Political Economy, which we have launched at the University of Helsinki is a great development. I have been conducting lectures in a subject – From Modern Money Theory to Global Political Economy and Revival of Classical Political Economy. The class is largely made up of non-economics students and so the challenge has been to develop a set of conceptual and analytical tools fairly quickly and apply them to the major debates of the day. I think the time I have spent working out how to do that will be of great use when we launch programs under the MMT University banner later in the year. After my trip to Barcelona last weekend, we are hoping to introduce a similar type of course into the University there as part of an expanding network where students will be able to learn the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and apply them to real world problems. More later on other developments.
I am now in Europe (just) and will be here for the next two weeks. Next weekend, I will be speaking at some events in Barcelona and I will circulate details when I know more. This week I am giving three lectures at the University of Helsinki as part of a new postgraduate course they are offering. Tomorrow through Thursday, I will publish a three-part blog post series on The New Keynesian fiscal rules that mislead British Labour. I am examining the input from the academy that has clearly influenced decisions taken by the British Labour Party leadership in recent years. It is influence that they should have ignored. The fundamental principles that underpin the New Keynesian approach to macroeconomics do not form a suitable basis for a progressive socio-economic policy agenda. While that approach concedes that in the short-run fiscal policy can be used to ‘stabilise’ a recessionary situation, the overall advice is that austerity then has to be imposed to ‘smooth’ tax burdens on future generations and minimise public debt. The tax burdens arise because they claim taxes fund government spending and the public debt oscillations arise because they claim the government relies on debt issuance to fund the deficits that are required to meet short-term emergencies (war, recession etc). It is a jumble of gobbledygook hiding behind the precision of some simple mathematics. The latter, though, while held out as a rigourous ‘authority’ to back up the policy claims, is, in fact, incapable of providing definitive determinations of what is best for Society. It is an elaborate sham my profession inflicts on the debate. Anyway, a three-part series is coming up.
It is Wednesday, so only a few snippets only today, while I am working on six lectures I have to give in Helsinki over the next two weeks. The first of those lectures will be a public event. And looking at the weather I am about to undergo around a 45 degree Celsius turnaround from where I am today in Australia to where I will be next week! That is what happens when you go to Finland in the early part of the year. Anyway, here are some items of interest I hope.
It is Wednesday, so only a snippet of a blog about a few things that caught my interest recently. Words have meaning and concepts have meaning. That is, until you are a social democratic politician in Europe. Then meaning goes out the window as does mission – unless the mission is power at all costs. Social democratic values and views do not resemble neoliberal economic or right-wing social agendas at all. Yet in the hurly burly of European and British politics that is what has been happening. Across three nations (Sweden, Germany and Britain) we have seen this trend in the last few days. The claim is that it is clever politics to shift into the ‘centre’ and take back voters from the conservatives. The problem is that the centre moved significantly to the right over this neoliberal era. Now we have so-called progressive politicians who three decades ago would have looked like conservative right-wingers. It is not clever politics at all. They just lock themselves into positions that make it very hard to pursue true progressive policies. Meanwhile, the people they claim to care about are forced to endure damaging economic policies. Stupid all round.
This is my Wednesday no blog day. I am working on various written pieces today. But I did stray on some anti-Brexit material overnight (thanks to all who sent it through), which shows how far the British Labour Party has to go before they can even pretend to be a progressive voice in politics. They are sounding very much like a European social democrat/socialist party on this issue and we know what happened to that lot across various elections over the last year. I have a few words to say about that in what follows.
My Wednesday commitment not to write a detailed blog remains. But given the sad news yesterday from South Africa I thought some nice music should be shared and some news from the French press. So not really a blog but some music to listen to while I work today.
Today is Wednesday (my newly declared blog free (almost) day this year) and I am writing up material relating to the neoliberal trend to replace jobs with volunteers and then extol the virtues of the same. Hideous. I am also listening to some post-minimalist orchestral music. Fun day even if the subject matter is rather bleak.
AS I noted yesterday, I am no longer going to publish a detailed blog each Wednesday. I will cover the major Wednesday data releases (for example, Australian National Accounts) when they come out or if I have a surfeit of research material that I want to put out (like a multi-part blog series that needs daily exposure for continuity). I am going to spend the time that I would have used to write the Wednesday blog on developing the MMT University from concept into reality as well as other writing projects I want to advance. This is what I am listening to as I work today ….
I am travelling for a fair part of today and am reading a John le Carré novel – tracing the George Smiley series. I am also working on my next book. But it is a new year so all the best for 2018, although the dark clouds that are cast over the world do not make for very optimistic forecasting. I will be back tomorrow as usual. Some music that I have been listening to while flying is overleaf including an interesting story about the motivation of the composer.
The blog is on holiday until Wednesday, December 27, 2017. All the best from my local beach. Music hints if you click on …