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.
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 …