Its my Friday lay day blog where I plan to write less here and more elsewhere. Today, a brief discussion of two interesting articles that I read recently. The blog title – Faut-il donc haïr l’Allemagne? (must we hate Germany?) – was the question posed recently by the French economist – Jacques Sapir – as a reaction to the way Germany (particularly its Finance Minister) handled the Greek request for less austerity and more flexibility in the recent Eurogroup encounters. His February 20, 2015 article (in French) – Haïr l’Allemagne? – concludes that the actions of Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble towards Greece have “repeated the sins” (“Les péchés répétés”) of the past and opened up old wounds that will further undermine the democracy in Europe. Sapir concludes that “Alors, disons-le, cette Allemagne là est haïssable”. What does that mean?
Its my Friday lay day blog which is designed to divert my attention elsewhere. I have now had a chance to read the 170-page – Intergenerational Myth Report 2015, issued by the Australian Treasury yesterday. The whole nation has become caught up in the doom and gloom that the conservatives are putting out about the projected deficits for the next 40 years. Not a fiscal surplus in sight. But at the same time, all this is based (using their own logic) that we will be back in a steady inflation, full employment Australia within 5 years and sustain that state for the projection period out to 2054-55. Question: What would be so wrong with that? Of course, that statement just assumes their own logic. The projections however are not mutually consistent and there is insufficient information about net export trends for us to understand whether a fiscal deficit of 6 per cent of GDP in 2054-55 (on current legislation) is suitable or not. But again, if that size deficit is producing full employment and price stability why all the ‘sky is about to fall in’ unless we produce fiscal surpluses as quickly as possible? Answer: this is a nonsensical political exercise and has little to do with economics.
Its the Friday lay day blog and today I briefly discuss economists. What a topic! There is an interesting article just published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives that examines the way economists think of themselves and other social science disciplines. It is a horror story really. Having been immersed in the profession for many years now, I sometimes forget how bad it is. Here is what the study found. The title is a deliberate double entendre. It is more about the way economists think they are superior rather than any absolute finding of superiority.
Its the Friday lay day blog and I have a day ahead full of meetings with research partners, other parties and related matters. So I am glad I told myself I wouldn’t write much today. But we have to mention the discussions in Brussels yesterday – extraordinary on all sides. Late last night I read the letter the Greek Minister of Finance wrote to his suited confrères on the Eurogroup committee. I had to read it more than once and convince myself that I was reading it correctly rather than being duped by the hour of the evening and the flight I had taken to where I am today. I read it and read it. Each time I concluded cave in! Sure the words were still a bit like those that a proud, independent people might write to international partners. But once you cut through the defence of self-esteem to the substance the conclusion resonated strongly – the Greek government, for all their talk and bluster, have caved in. Then I read the memo from the German Ministry of Finance in all its Teutonic clarity – Fuck off, we want you to get down on your knees when you cave in not stand there without your ties and suits smiling about it. Amazing really, on all sides.
Its the Friday lay day blog – where I roam free. This week we have had three damning reports released which provide more than enough evidence that the federal government of Australia is way out of its league as visionary leaders of the nation. On three major fronts they have demonstrated their incapacity to lead the nation: the labour market (yesterday, the unemployment rate rose to its highest value in 14 years and is biased upwards; indigenous affairs – the release of the – Closing the Gap 2015, and the release by the Australian Human Rights Commission report – The Forgotten Children – on children in our immigration prisons (so-called detention). Unfortunately, the national election is still 18 or so months away, although the Opposition Labor Party is going to need that time to abandon its own neo-liberal ways. These three reports this week indict them as much as the conservative government in power!
Its my Friday Lay Day blog, which was meant to mean a smaller writing commitment but sometimes doesn’t turn out that way. But today I plan to stick to that ‘pledge’. I have just arrived back from 2 weeks working in Sri Lanka and have things to catch up on back here. I read an interesting book a few years ago – Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances – by Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane (2011), which studies “the consequences of rising in- equality for America’s education”. While there are national differences, the dynamics uncovered in that book apply to most nations (that I know of). I am currently engaged in a project on equity and opportunity and the link that this has with income inequality. We are now well informed about the rising income inequality that has occurred over the last 20-30 years. But we are less informed on how this is reinforced and reinforces itself by a stark inequality in opportunity.
Its my Friday lay day – which means I don’t write as much as I usually do and perhaps focus on different issues to my normal considerations. Remember back to 2007. In March 2007, an Australian citizen named David Hicks pleaded guilty to charges that he intentionally provided material support or resources to an international terrorist organisation engaged in hostilities against the United States. It set in place his return to Australia after he was illegally detained by the US, tortured and incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay gulag without trial for more than five years, and deprived of his rights as an Australian citizen by the very government that is entrusted with defending our rights – our own Federal government. Upon his return to Australia he was incarcerated for a period of 9 months before being finally released. Today, the ABC news report (January 23, 2015) – US agrees David Hicks is innocent, lawyer says – reported that the US government has admitted that David Hicks was not guilty of any crime and a full pardon will be forthcoming. Why is this important?
Its my Friday lay day blog. I am in Sri Lanka at present and will have some reports about that over the next 14 odd days. I was amazed overnight by the comments from IMF boss Lagarde who made overt political statements in an upcoming election year by claiming that David Cameron had shown “eloquent and convincing” leadership in the global recovery. She said they were a model for the European Union. When asked why the IMF had criticised Britain in 2012 for “playing with fire” by invoking fiscal austerity, she said the IMF had “got it wrong” (Source). Hmm. No recognition that Britain cannot be a model for most of the EU nations, given the latter surrendered their currency sovereignty, imposed fiscal rules that prevent growth, and have a central bank that will not act as a responsible currency issuer. Further, it was a false admission of failure. In fact, the IMF got it right and Britain didn’t implement the austerity that it had initially planned and has kept a relative large fiscal deficit that has helped support growth.
Its my Friday lay day blog and today I have been working on social psychology and group dynamics today. I am trying to dig into how economic ideas forms and how they are reinforced by language, media, and the educational system. Many people have researched topics like this but we are aiming to bring it all together into a coherent framework with the added aim of developing a progressive language guide to advance the conceptual ideas that I research and write about. The events in the last few days in Paris have also given me cause for thought within this overall research agenda, given the obvious link with a particularly zealous interpretation of a religious script and the role of economic disadvantage and austerity in fostering what some might call medieval, at best, behaviour. The role of language and conceptualisation is also implicated. I don’t intend to write about the events though. I am not professionally qualified to provide any meaningful input and as an individual I have mixed views on it. I certainly wouldn’t be perpetuating the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ campaign but that doesn’t mean I excuse the behaviour of the barbarians. But barbarism has many forms as does terrorism, and one could easily argue that the sort of austerity that has been inflicted on nations like Greece and France has created a responsive form of terrorism that is more random and very dangerous.
Its my Friday lay day and a shorter blog day than usual. Today, it was revealed that one of the Australian government’s premier measures to combat unemployment has failed. Not just a small failure. Rather, the data just released shows the plan is a disaster. It was always going to be. The supply-side measure to provide wage subsidies to firms to take on unemployed workers who were above 50 years of age and were enduring entrenched unemployment failed because it doesn’t address the problem. Mass unemployment arises not because wages are too high relative to productivity (the mainstream myth) but because there is not enough sales to justify firms putting on extra workers. The lagging sales are because there is deficient total spending. Firms will not employ more workers if they cannot sell the extra output, no matter how cheaply the workforce becomes. The data we were apprised of today categorically supports that view. The data accompanying such programs always supports the view that demand is the problem not supply.