The current conflict in France, while multidimensional, is a reflection that the neoliberal austerity system is not working for ordinary people. All sorts of cross currents feed in to this discontent, some of which (for example, distaste for foreigners/migrants) are clearly not to be encouraged. Most of the claims of the Gilets Jaunes are about the alienation, exclusion and poverty that they feel living in the neoliberal, corporatist EU world. A lot of so-called progressives are out there claiming this is a right-wing ruse advancing climate denial and anti-migrant sentiment. But I consider that to be a typical elite response to any EU discontent to avoid discussion of exit and the paint the critics as being stupid and/or racist. A replay of the Brexit accusations from the Remainers. But the writing is on the wall for the Eurozone countries. People will only tolerate being put down and oppressed for so long. And all is not well elsewhere. Even when a nation has its own currency and has the capacity to avoid the sort of stagnation that many European nations are now wallowing in, the universality of the neoliberal austerity bias is making life hard for not only the low-income cohorts, but, increasingly for the lower tiers of the ‘middle class’ (defined in income terms). Australian workers are feeling that pinch in the land of plenty.
For those who take a feed from my blog - you will note some ‘new’ posts that seem to date back to 2004 and 2005. I am currently integrating (slowly) my initial blog (which was in a different database) into…
Today’s blog post is about sleep and reading. I am travelling from London to Sydney today via Hong Kong so I will not write anything more than a few lines. I will be back in writing mode on Tuesday I should think. For the next 24 hours I have a lot of reading to do. I also provide some advice for those who pack running shoes when travelling.
There will be no blog post today other than what follows. I am travelling to the US for The Second International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory in New York. I hope to see a lot of you there. From there I will be heading to Ireland, then London, then Lisbon, then London, then Frankfurt (and environs) for a sequence of speaking commitments. A full itinerary of public events is below. The quiz will still be available tomorrow but this is it until Monday, whence I will report on the MMT Conference (probably).
I am travelling most of today and into remote regions to do some fieldwork so I do not have time to write anything substantial. I am researching various issues while in transit and will resume normal services tomorrow when I discuss minimum wages. Then, next Monday’s blog post will discuss the issue of bond spreads, which has been in the news in the last few weeks with the Italian situation. Further, there have been claims that the ECB is deliberately manipulating Italian bond purchases to drive up the spread against the German bund and thus place further pressure on the Italian political mess. Some have argued that by fomenting a sense of crisis in Italy (the rising bond spreads), the ECB has been supporting conservative forces horrified at the prospect of a Euro-skeptic government. It is a little more complex than that but I will write about that in detail next Monday.
Today is a public holiday (ANZAC Day) where we remember the efforts of our past generations who fought in wars. I am not very enamoured by the hype that surrounds these days – commercialisation reigns and the black/white nature of the narrative (we were good they were evil) obscures the reality of war and the political machinations that typically accompany it. In Australia’s case our involvement in several wars has been the product of unnecessary colonial master-servant type arrangements (us being the servant) and/or ridiculous alliances with the war mongering US. But the soldiers certainly did it tough and I have sympathy with that – and personal association with my grandparents and parents. Some history to follow as a reflection and some music that I was listening to on the plane as I winged North today.
The blog is on holiday today (Easter Monday) and will return with Part 3 (and final) of my response to a German critic tomorrow (Tuesday, April 3, 2018). I have been travelling a lot today and decided to spend the rest of the free time on some writing and other things. You might want to spend your free time today playing the new Google – Where’s Wally? – game, which has some really nice drawings available. Go to Google maps and test yourself out. Music accompaniment if you click on …
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.
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.