Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump’s Inauguration Speech

Here:



All in all, it wasn’t a typical conservative Republican speech: it was anti-elitist, protectionist, populist, anti-globalisation, and economically nationalist.

In particular, there was the economic populism: the attack on free trade, outsourcing and the de-industrialisation of America.

I imagine this went down well with the working class and even middle class victims of these neoliberal policies.

But of course now we come to the crunch: although his rhetoric is good, Trump must deliver.

If he goes back to the disgusting, worthless free market program of the loser Republicans – of austerity, free trade, H-1B visas, Neoconservatism, and open borders – it’s all over for the Republican party and for Trump.

And maybe Trump will be a massive disappointment; or maybe he might surprise.

In any case, it’s time to give him a chance and see what happens.

Friday, January 20, 2017

My Posts on the US Recession of 1920–1921 (Updated)

The US recession of 1920–1921 is employed by Austrians and libertarians endlessly to bolster their economic theories, but careful study of this recession shows that libertarians misunderstand it badly, and that they have created a number of myths about it.

This can be seen in my updated list of posts below:
“The US Recession of 1920–1921: Some Austrian Myths,” October 23, 2010.

“There was no US Recovery in 1921 under Austrian Trade Cycle Theory!,” June 25, 2011.

“The Depression of 1920–1921: An Austrian Myth,” December 9, 2011.

“A Video on the US Recession of 1920-1921: Debunking the Libertarian Narrative,” February 5, 2012.

“The Recovery from the US Recession of 1920–1921 and Open Market Operations,” October 4, 2012.

“Rothbard on the Recession of 1920–1921,” October 6, 2012.

“The Recession of 1920–1921 versus the Depression of 1929–1933,” February 2, 2014.

“Debt Deflation: 1920–1921 versus 1929–1933,” February 3, 2014.

“US Wages in 1920–1921,” February 10, 2014.

“The Causes of the Recession of 1920–1921,” February 11, 2014.

“The ‘Depression’ of 1920–1921: The Libertarian Myth that Won’t Die,” October 31, 2014.

“US Monetary Policy and the Recession of 1920–1921,” December 5, 2014.

“Did Austrian Libertarians Read The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself Properly?,” March 12, 2015.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Has the Left in Britain Finally Turned against Open Borders?

See these articles:
Rob Merrick, “Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch dubbed ‘day of chaos’ after climbdowns on immigration and high pay,” Independent, 11 January 2017.

Anushka Asthana, “Corbyn on Brexit: UK can be better off out of the EU,” The Guardian, 10 January 2017.

Paul Mason, “We can Escape Brexit Doom with one Small Tweak to Free Movement,” The Guardian, 17 January 2017.
In short, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech in Peterborough in which he stated that Labour was not “wedded to free movement” of people – but then seemed to backtrack and leave everyone in a state of confusion over what Labour’s policy really is.

See a recent interview of Corbyn here from 13.44:



Even now Jeremy Corbyn seems wedded to the dying European Union as some idealistic institution, when the EU is the most dangerous force to the economies and social cohesion of Europe. But I predict the EU will be dead in a few years, and Britain should demand an end to free movement and reject all attempts to impose it from Brussels.

Curiously, in contrast to Corbyn’s confusing stances, Paul Mason in a Guardian article here does call for an end to free movement.
There are some truly remarkable developments in this Guardian article: Mason can say that “Labour has recognised that free movement is not a basic principle of socialism.” If we are talking about the non-Marxist socialist, Social Democratic parties and trade union movements, this is true.

This is precisely what I said here and here.

Mason also says that:
“Free movement does not just suppress wage growth at the low end. It says to people with strong cultural traditions, a strong sense of place and community (sometimes all they have left from the industrial era) that ‘your past does not matter’. It promotes the ideal worker as a rootless person with no attachment to place or community, and with limited political rights; whose citizenship resides in their ability to work alone. In case you haven’t noticed, shouting, ‘Don’t be racist!’ at the Labour voters who backed Brexit, isn’t working. That’s because most of them are not racist.”
Paul Mason, “We can Escape Brexit Doom with one Small Tweak to Free Movement,” The Guardian, 17 January 2017.
Well, indeed. But we need to go further than this: our culture and social cohesion matter a great deal, and we in the West cannot continue this mad, failed experiment in open borders and multiculturalism.

This is, more or less, precisely what the ex-Marxist Bob Rowthorn said years ago as I noted here.

But until recently anybody saying that culture matters and mass immigration is bad for social cohesion would have been viciously condemned as a “racist” or “xenophobe” by hordes of smug liberals and cultural leftists.

How times are changing.

In reality, the cultural leftists and Marxist internationalists demanding open borders and huge mass immigration are deranged cultists who do not speak for the majority of the people nor for the working class. These leftists are – whether they know it or not – sinister allies of the worst aspects of the failed ideology of neoliberal capitalism.

The cultural leftists and Marxists make the same demand made by libertarians and free market fanatics: they want a world of free movement of people, which is the logical free market corollary of free movement of capital and free trade in goods.

However, if we look at the past of the (non-internationalist, non-Marxist) Left, we can see that hostility to open borders and mass immigration has a long and very strong history before the 1960s (again, see here). I have no doubt that the Old (non-Marxist) Left would have understood the dangers of capitalist open borders and the reality that people need social cohesion, and that they – including the working class – have national and cultural feelings that are undermined by mass immigration of people with different and incompatible cultures.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dave Rubin interviews Yanis Varoufakis

Below. Interview begins at 4.20:



This interview is embarrassing, and embarrassing because of Varoufakis’ nonsense.

That Yanis Varoufakis thinks that his arguments as former Greek finance minister against EU demands for austerity and a budget surplus in Greece were “Reaganite” is simply bizarre. Wasn’t Yanis in favour of Keynesian stimulus and debt restructuring?

And, even worse, Varoufakis now says the influences on his economic thinking include Hayek and Mises, as much as Marx.

And he still defends the European Union – and thinks that rotten, dangerous corporate tyranny should be defended from pro-independence political movements in Europe. Varoufakis still clings to his mad Marxist internationalist fantasy that the EU can be transformed into some kind of “socialist” institution. His analogy with the United States is utterly misplaced: the US has a degree of linguistic and cultural homogeneity that Europe utterly lacks. There will be no United States of Europe any time soon, given the huge linguistic, ethnic and cultural differences that divide Europe.

In reality, it is far more likely that Europe will shift to the populist right and perhaps – if things get bad enough – to fascism, if the EU is allowed to continue with its program of unending neoliberalism and open borders.

At one point, Varoufakis even lauds Mises and Hayek, as if their business cycle theories and pro-free market theology have some profound role to play in modern economic science.

He is also wrong that there was no theory of the business cycle before Marx. Oh, really? What about the ideas of the Birmingham School? And the late Classical economists? Even the latter did have a real, if not robust, theory of the business cycle.

Varoufakis is also wrong that Marx deserves no blame or moral responsibility for the terrors of authoritarian Marxist states like the Soviet Union. See here. The Soviet Union was certainly the sort of revolutionary transitional state envisaged by Marx and Engels.

If there is proof of how worthless the type of politics being peddled by Varoufakis really is, we now have that from his own words: we have a former Marxist (Varoufakis) who describes himself as a “libertarian Marxist” influenced by Austrian economics – a political program combining the two most extreme and cult-like ideologies of the past 160 years.

The final insult is that Dave Rubin misinterprets what happened in Greece as a vindication of right-wing economics, and is hardly even challenged by Varoufakis for this nonsensical view.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Steve Keen on Global Economics in 2017

Steve Keen in an, umm, “unconventional” interview:



I am fascinated to hear that Keen is predicting the breakup of the Eurozone by 2021. Also, that Trump will implement a huge stimulus.

Thank god, Steve Keen does not fall for the anti-Putin and anti-Russian insanity so prevalent at the moment in the media.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Alt Left Links

Sick of the modern cultural left? Sick of the regressive left? Sick of leftist political correctness, identity politics, and SJW insanity, but you still think of yourself as left-wing?

Well, there’s no need to become a conservative, because there’s now an Alternative Left / Alt Left, with a small but growing internet presence.

I identify with what I would call the “Realist Left,” but I am happy for this to be seen as within a broad “Alt Left” movement.

Here is an updated list of sites:
Alt Left Links
Realist Left:
Realist Left on Facebook
Realist Left on Twitter @realistleft
Social Democracy for the 21st Century: A Realist Alternative to the Modern Left
Lord Keynes on Twitter
Realist Left on YouTube
Realist Left on Reddit
Realist Left Blog

Alternative Left:
Alternative Left on Facebook
Alt-Left on Google+
Samizdat Broadcasts YouTube Channel
Samizdat: For the Freedom Loving Leftist
Alt-Left Closed Facebook Group
Beyond Highbrow: Robert Lindsay
Prince of Queens YouTube Channel
Prince of Queens on Twitter
If there are sites I’m not aware of, please let me know.

So what does the Alt Left stand for?

I reproduce the following program I suggested last year:
Economics
(1) the objectives of economic policy are full employment by government fiscal policy and public investment, high wages, a tendency for real wages to rise with productivity growth, strong aggregate demand, and, ideally, a dynamic economy based on manufacturing. Though a basic universal income might be a good idea, nevertheless basic universal income without full employment is a recipe for social disaster.

(2) as in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the Alt Left should reject the myth that taxes are required to finance government spending (see the discussions here and here). Governments with their own central banks and fiat currencies are always solvent in their own currency, and there is even a case for limited Overt Monetary Financing (OMF) (or what is commonly called central bank “money printing” to finance some government spending).

(3) a fundamentally important policy to attain full employment is an MMT Job Guarantee. This is a program in which the government will offer employment to anyone ready and willing to work (but unable to find a private sector job) at a socially-acceptable minimum wage to ensure real full employment at all times.

(4) governments should generally pursue sensible protectionism and industrial policy, not only to protect their manufacturing sectors from the disaster of free trade under absolute advantage, but as the best strategy to ensure future economic growth and economic independence.

(5) governments should reject privatisation of social services and infrastructure. Instead, these sectors should be nationalised or run as public utilities and maintained by high government investment, e.g., in healthcare, education, scientific and technological R&D, infrastructure, etc. There is now even a case for limited nationalisation of certain key industries as an industrial policy.

(6) foreign ownership of public assets, infrastructure, key industries and large-scale foreign ownership of real estate should also be strongly rejected, and instead these sectors should be owned by private domestic citizens and things like infrastructure owned by governments.

(7) the banking and financial sector should be subject to severe regulation and prevented from destabilizing the economy, given its tendency to create asset bubbles and inflating the level of private debt to catastrophic levels. There is now a case for nationalisation of the commercial banking sector. For many nations, there is a case for discretionary capital controls (see here).

(8) the taxation system should be progressive, but particularly concerned with taxing parasitic rent seeking and destabilising speculative activity.
Social and Cultural Issues
(1) The Alt Left should support reasonable and sensible civil and equity women’s rights and gay rights, but strongly reject French Poststructuralism, Postmodernism, truth relativism, cultural relativism, moral relativism, SJW cults, divisive and extreme identity politics, Third Wave Feminism, and endless cults of victimology from identity politics. The combination of all these ideas has created a toxic wing of the modern left called the “regressive left,” which needs to be totally rejected.

The Alt Left should also reject extreme social constructivism and the “blank slate” view of human beings, because this is not supported by science.

(2) the Alt Left should strongly defend free speech and freedom of expression from its enemies on the right, the regressive left, and from religious conservatives.

(3) the Alt Left should support a secular state and separation of church and state, but not alienate liberal religious people.

(4) the Alt Left should continue the anti-imperialist tradition of the left, and be largely non-interventionist on foreign policy, but not isolationist.

(5) the Alt Left should oppose regressive and illiberal Islamism and religious fundamentalism, and promote the assimilation of immigrants in the West.

(6) the Alt Left needs a sane and pragmatic policy on immigration. It needs to reject mass immigration and open borders on economic, social and cultural grounds, and support sensible limits on immigration. It also needs to recognise that promoting “diversity” is not necessarily a good thing in and of itself, and that multiculturalism has serious problems (see here).

(7) the Alt Left should consider the importance of the nuclear family, promote pro-nuclear family policies and – at the very least – be open to serious and rational discussion of the breakdown of the nuclear family in the Western world, and what harm this may have done to our societies, but with humane policies free from right-wing viciousness or free market economics.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Deirdre McCloskey on Liberalism, Trump and Free Trade

She is interviewed by Dave Rubin here:



I have to admit that I don’t know much about Deirdre McCloskey, but on the basis of this interview, she strikes me as an absurd pro-free market ideologue.

Let’s take a couple of the points raised in this video:
(1) she claims that the original arguments in favour of the minimum wage were to exclude blacks, immigrants and women from the labour force. I have no idea if this is correct, but let’s assume it is. She then jumps to a pathetic non sequitur: she implies that the modern policy of a minimum age must therefore be immoral, because the justifications given for it in the past were immoral. This is so stupid. The modern case for a minimum wage has long had its own independent justification, which is very different from the justification that was supposedly given for it a century ago.

(2) McCloskey apparently thinks labour is a commodity just like soft drinks. This is an idiotic notion. She then invokes the law of demand to argue that minimum wage rises will necessarily decrease demand for labour and hence decrease employment. Of course, the problem with this is that the law of demand (as in neoclassical economics) is an empty tautology, and does not necessarily tell us anything certain about what will happen in the real world. The law of demand, as currently formulated, is an anti-empirical, analytic a priori statement.

In the case of modest minimum wage rises, labour is not like other commodities, since income to labour also provides a major part of the aggregate demand that sustains capitalist economies. Whatever actually happens in a real world economy when a minimum wage is set or raised will depend on all sorts of factors. If the economy is steered by strong Keynesian macroeconomic management, whatever negative effects caused by minimum wage rises (if any) will most likely be swamped by other positive demand effects.

(3) and it turns out (as can be seen from 8.55), McCloskey is a free trade fanatic and cultist. If free trade has been so good for the “poor of the world,” then how come, after much of the world liberalised from the 1970s and turned to globalisation, neoliberalism and free trade, growth rates slumped? See the GDP data here:
Average Per Capita GDP Growth Rates 1960–2010
Region | 1960–1980 | 1980–2010

sub-Saharan Africa | 2.0% | 0.2%
Latin America and the Caribbean | 3.1% | 0.8%
Middle East and North Africa | 2.5% | 1.3%
East Asia and Pacific | 5.3% | 7%
Developed Nations | 3.2% | 1.8%
(cited in Chang 2015: 25–26).
The area where growth rates were better post-1980 was East Asia, but that was not caused by neoliberal free trade and laissez faire ideology, as can be seen here. While market access to the Western world was an important element of the East Asian success story, the industrialisation of East Asia was pursued by intense industrial policy and various forms of protectionism.

(4) the point where McCloskey says that the purpose of an economy is not to provide jobs, but only to increase output is the point where we may as well have entered the Twilight Zone. The important point about the fate of American manufacturing after 1980 is not just the loss of jobs, but also the increasing outsourcing of production and parallel rise in the trade deficit and the collapse of all the related industries and services that provided factor inputs for manufacturing. We have to factor in the jobs lost by the latter closures too and the devastating social costs of this unemployment.

For my posts against free trade and in support of infant industry protectionism, see here:
“Industrial Policy in Meiji Japan,” December 28, 2016.

“More Bibliography on Protectionism and Economic Growth,” December 27, 2016.

Peter Navarro’s “Death by China” Documentary, November 1, 2016.

“Bill Mitchell on Free Trade, Part 4,” December 1, 2016.

“Kaldor’s Growth Laws and Verdoorn’s Law: An Overview and Bibliography,” October 8, 2016.

“Thirlwall’s Law: An Overview and Bibliography,” October 7, 2016.

“Ha-Joon Chang on the History of Protectionism,” August 14, 2016.

“Robert Murphy’s Debate on Free Trade,” August 7, 2016.

“The Cult of Free Trade in a Nutshell,” July 4, 2016.

“Ricardo’s Argument for Free Trade by Comparative Advantage,” July 5, 2016.

“Erik Reinert versus Ricardo on Free Trade,” July 5, 2016.

“Ha-Joon Chang on Wage Determination in First World Nations,” July 6, 2016.

“A Heterodox and Post Keynesian Bibliography on Trade Theory,” July 7, 2016.

“Erik S. Reinert on Heterodox Development Economics,” July 9, 2016.

“Britain’s Protectionism against Indian Cotton Textiles,” July 12, 2016.

“Those Free Trading British Cotton Textile Manufacturers,” July 13, 2016.

“Friedrich List on English Free Trade and the Colonisation of Germany,” July 22, 2016.

“Mises on the Ricardian Law of Association: The Flaws of Praxeology,” January 25, 2011.

“The Early British Industrial Revolution and Infant Industry Protectionism: The Case of Cotton Textiles,” June 22, 2010.

“Protectionism and US Economic History,” June 8, 2014.

“A Short Bibliography on Protectionism and Industrial Policy,” April 30, 2016.
All in all, I sense that this new found love of “Classical Liberalism” amongst former progressive liberals who have tired of the cultural left will lead to these people degenerating into some type of libertarians.

But that is a dead end. These people will just be more free market crackpots, peddling their exhausted and bankrupt laissez faire cult.

Finally, do any left heterodox economists take Deirdre McCloskey seriously?

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Chang, Ha-Joon. 2015. “The Failure of Neoliberalism and the Future of Capitalism,” in Satoshi Fujii (ed.), Beyond Global Capitalism. Springer, Tokyo. 19–34.

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I’m on Twitter:
Lord Keynes @Lord_Keynes2
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Friday, January 6, 2017

L. Randall Wray on Taxes

L. Randall Wray, an MMT economist, gives a very interesting perspective on taxes:



Certainly raising taxes in the midst of a depression, recession or period of weak aggregate demand and large-scale unemployment is a bad idea. But it is fascinating indeed to hear L. Randall Wray give the left heterodox case for lowering corporate taxes and payroll taxes. If I am not mistaken, some of these ideas on taxes discussed here are derived from the thinking of Hyman Minsky.

While this is not quite an endorsement of Trump’s tax policies, there is at least a left heterodox case for tax cuts and a reformed tax system, which shifts the burden of taxes to certain types of income tax, property tax, financial transactions, banks, and other anti-social behaviour. Cuts to corporate taxes, if properly done, could be part of broader industrial policy to shift manufacturing back to the United States, and to other Western nations.

Realist Left
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Realist Left on Twitter @realistleft
Realist Left on Reddit
Realist Left Blog
Realist Left on YouTube
Lord Keynes on Facebook
Social Democracy for the 21st Century: A Realist Alternative to the Modern Left

Alt Left on the Internet:
Alternative Left on Facebook
Alt-Left on Google+
Samizdat Broadcasts YouTube Channel
Samizdat: For the Freedom Loving Leftist

I’m on Twitter:
Lord Keynes @Lord_Keynes2
https://twitter.com/Lord_Keynes2

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Realist Left replies to Robert Lindsay

Robert Lindsay has an interesting post here on the Alt Left.

Realist Left (whose Twitter account is here) posted an excellent reply to this on the Alternative Left Facebook page, especially on the question of Marxism/Communism in the Alt Left:
“A not-so-brief reply to Robert Lindsay, with regards to the role of Communists, Anarchists, Marxists, the ‘Left wing of the Alt-Right’, conservatives, etc. within the ‘Realist Left’ and ‘Alt Left’ in general (to the extent that we and I are a part of it).

I agree and yet also respectfully disagree.

To me, the anti-Regressive Left, anti-SJW, anti-post-structuralism/PoMo in many ways is the bait. People are sick of it from across the board, and if that means that Libertarians (cultural or ideological), populist-conservatives, moderates, or even the Left wing of the Alt Right get attracted to it, all the better for us, because that gives us a platform to listen to our economic views, which in popular discourse has been completely neglected. Ultimately though, our ‘base’ will be ‘liberal’, ‘center-left’, and the non-Marxist ‘Left’.

In my experience, Communists, Anarchists, modern Marxists, etc. are a lot more trouble than it’s worth. They’re tiny, and yet they’re incredibly divisive, prone to conflict, and moreover give off a terrible message to anyone else given their cataclysmic human rights and economic failures. We (or I at least) don’t want them around or to be influential, or to be the ones holding up the microphone for our groups (or at least mine). I especially don’t want them in any position of power or influence within our groups. They’re welcome to join, listen in. There's even some room for Marxian analysis here or there when it's interesting (and especially when it comes from those who are the most interesting and prescient, i.e. Kalecki, Baran & Sweezy). But I don’t want to hear about ‘bourgeosie’, neo-imperialism, labor theory of value or any other buzz-words and simplistic forms of analysis. It doesn’t matter too much anyways, since most Marxists/Commies/Anarchists are themselves Regressives as well. So when the opportunity comes around to distance ourselves from Communists/Marxists/Anarchists, I’ll gladly do so. Castro is terrible, Stalin is far worse. The theory concerning the Falling rate of profit is wrong, and no the Revolution is not coming.

(clearly, I do not put Ryan England/Agent Commie in this group. He, unlike many Marxists, has actually read Capital and articulates its good points. And, of course, he's not really a Marxist/Commie as we all know).

Same thing goes for the ‘Left wing of the Alt Right’ – you’re welcome to hang around, bash Regressive Leftists et al, but I don’t want to hear about proactive white identity politics, minority bashing, Jooish Conspiracy, etc. There is NO place for that here. Period.

I DO want more conservatives to read things like the Realist Left / Alternative Left, or at least a certain type of them. I will always be against the Religious Right (of which the Reg-Left seems like the new moral puritans), against neo-conservative hawkery, and I will of course always be against ‘neo-liberalism’ or worse, libertarianism and corporatism, that’s found within modern ‘Conservative’ movements. But you have to realize, ‘Conservatism’ is a VERY maleable concept. 150-200 years ago, Conservatism was busy trying to keep the last vestiges of feudalism, monarchy and agrarianism alive and even included protectionism and industrial policies. 40-60 years ago, we had ‘Tory Keynesianism’ and Nixon’s ‘We are all Keynesian now’. I’d like Conservatism to go back to being more sensible on economic policy, and perhaps better on foreign policy too as they were. They may be more socially conservative or religious than we are, but that's okay. Conservatism will always be around, so let's try to make the best of it, instead of ceding it to the worst forces possible.

One extremely important thing is we absolutely cannot become another mirror image of ourself. We cannot become the Alt Right to the Regressive Left. We cannot become the Communists to the Fascists. We’re basically somewhere between the center and left, and we’re non-dogmatic about what the ‘truth’ is; rather we’d prefer to intellectually be in pursuit of the ‘truth’. Let’s not become another religion or ideology as has befallen so many of the others (Marxism, Intersectionality Feminism, Libertarianism, neo-liberalism, Alt-Right and Fascism).”
Realist Left, comment at https://www.facebook.com/alternativeleft/posts/353069965086027
Yes, this more or less nails it.

In my experience, a lot of Communists/Marxists and Anarchists are already utterly indoctrinated in cultural leftism and the SJWism, and so are doubly wrong – both on their cult-like Marxist ideology and regressive leftism.

There is something of value in Marx’s economic thought, as I have pointed out here, but you can strip out the insightful points and reject Marxism as a political ideology.

My own final thought in this is: we need to *reclaim* the centre. The political centre – at the moment – isn’t much to boast about. It’s mainly neoliberalism and cultural leftism-lite.

Realist Left
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Social Democracy for the 21st Century: A Realist Alternative to the Modern Left

Alt Left on the Internet:
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Samizdat Broadcasts YouTube Channel
Samizdat: For the Freedom Loving Leftist

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Lord Keynes @Lord_Keynes2
https://twitter.com/Lord_Keynes2

Steve Keen on “Teaching Economics the Pluralist Way”

Steve Keen gives a talk below on “Teaching Economics the Pluralist Way,” which was given to the Amsterdam Rethinking Economics students in the Netherlands:



Realist Left
Realist Left on Facebook
Realist Left on Twitter @realistleft
Realist Left on Reddit
Realist Left Blog
Realist Left on YouTube
Lord Keynes on Facebook
Social Democracy for the 21st Century: A Realist Alternative to the Modern Left

Alt Left on the Internet:
Alternative Left on Facebook
Alt-Left on Google+
Samizdat Broadcasts YouTube Channel
Samizdat: For the Freedom Loving Leftist

I’m on Twitter:
Lord Keynes @Lord_Keynes2
https://twitter.com/Lord_Keynes2

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Chronology of Keynes’ Life from 1925–1929

To complement my post here, there is a year-by-year chronology of important events in Keynes’ life from 1925 to 1929, along with some other major political or cultural events of the time.
Chronology of Keynes’ Life from 1925–1929
1925
3 January 1925 – Mussolini gives a speech in the Italian Chamber of Deputies; this marks the beginning of fascist dictatorship in Italy

12 March 1925 – death of Sun Yat-sen (Premier of the Kuomintang of China 10 October 1919–12 March 1925), which leaves a vacuum in the Kuomintang

13 May 1925 – the UK Gold Standard Act of 1925 passed

20 May 1925 – C. S. Lewis elected to a fellowship in Magdalen College, Oxford

4 August 1925 – Keynes marries Lydia Lopokova at St Pancreas registry office; they take Oatlands house, near Iford for the summer

summer 1925 – Ludwig Wittgenstein visits England and stays with Keynes in Cambridge and Eccles in Manchester

August 1925 – Keynes publishes The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill.

September 1925 – Keynes and Lydia Lopokova visited Russia for two weeks, and they went to Leningrad and Moscow. When they returned to England, they lived at 46 Gordon Square, Keynes’ London home.

October 1925 – Keynes decides to rent Tilton house near Lewes

October 1925 – J. R. R. Tolkien appointed Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship at Pembroke College, Oxford

December 1925 – Keynes published A Short View of Russia

10 December 1925 – George Bernard Shaw awarded Nobel Prize

1926
1926 – Frank Plumpton Ramsey becomes university lecturer in mathematics at King’s College, Cambridge; later he becomes Director of Studies in mathematics

1926 – from 1926 Ludwig Wittgenstein takes part in discussions of the Vienna Circle

January 1926 – Dennis H. Robertson publishes Banking Policy and the Price Level: An Essay in the Theory of the Trade Cycle

9 February 1926 – Keynes gives a speech at the Manchester Reform Club on “Liberalism and Labour,” in which he urged Liberals and Labour party politicians to forge a new alliance (later published in The Nation and Athenaeum on 20 February, 1926)

19 March 1926 – Keynes has lunch with Beatrice Webb and Bernard Shaw, and later stricks up a new-found friendship with them

20 March 1926 – the Canton Coup (or Zhongshan Incident), the purge of Communists in the Chinese Nationalist army in Guangzhou by Chiang Kai-shek

3 March 1926 – Keynes took possession of Tilton house, South Downs near Lewes, which he had rented on a 21 year lease. In future years, Keynes and Lydia would spend their Christmas and Easter holidays and two and a half months during the summer

April 1926 – Keynes takes a holiday in AndalucĂ­a, Spain

4–13 May 1926 – the 1926 general strike in the United Kingdom, called by the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) opposing the British government’s wage reduction for 1.2 million locked-out coal miners

summer 1926 – Keynes at Cambridge; Ludwig Lachmann visits the University of Zurich and becomes interested in Austrian economics

5 June 1926 – Chiang Kai-shek named commander-in-chief of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army

June 1926 – Keynes visited Berlin and gave a lecture at the University of Berlin

6–7 June 1926 – Keynes and Lydia visit David Lloyd George for the weekend at Churt, Surrey

July 1926 – Hogarth Press publishes The End of Laissez-Faire by John Maynard Keynes

7 August 1926 – John Maynard Keynes gives a speech to the ILP Summer School on the “The Future Balance of British Industry”

25 September 1926 – Keynes and fourteen others meet with David Lloyd George at Churt to discuss a new radical Liberal program, as part of Lloyd George’s attempt to revive the dying Liberal party

October 1926 – Anthony Blunt arrives at Cambridge

8 November 1926 – arrest of Antonio Gramsci by Italian fascists

22 November 1926 – Keynes visited Manchester by invitation of the Short-Time Committee of the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners

December 1926 – Piero Sraffa publishes “The Laws of Returns under Competitive Conditions” in the Economic Journal (vol. 36, 1926).

1927
5 January 1927 – Keynes gives a speech to the National Liberal Club on “Liberalism and Industry,” describing his research into British industrial decline

7 January 1927 – the first transatlantic telephone call from New York City to London

10 January 1927 – release date of the German expressionist science fiction film Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang

February 1927 – Keynes resigns from the University Council of Cambridge but was still bursar and was very much involved with College affairs

April 1927 – Nicholas Kaldor arrived in London to study at the LSE; Kaldor enrols for a BSc. in economics from October 1927

May 1927 – Lydia Lopokova, the wife of Keynes, possibly suffers a miscarriage

20–21 May 1927 – Charles Lindbergh makes the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in the monoplane Spirit of St. Louis

July 1927 – Keynes oversees the Liberal Summer School at Cambridge, which was attended by David Lloyd George, who was now the leading figure in the Liberal party

July 1927 – the Italian economist Piero Sraffa arrives in London after fleeing Italy. Sraffa accepted an offer by Keynes to take a lectureship at Cambridge university

1 August 1927–22 December 1936 – first phase of Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China (CPC)

autumn 1927 – Richard Kahn was attending lectures at Cambridge and became Keynes’ student

September 1927 – Bertrand Russell and Dora Russell (Dora Black) rent Telegraph House at Harting near Petersfield in Hampshire; they set up an experimental school at Beacon Hill; Russell involved from 1927 to 1932

6 October 1927 – the release date of The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized sound, directed by Alan Crosland and produced by Warner Bros

1928
15 February 1928 – death of Herbert Henry Asquith, a friend of Keynes

22 February 1928 – the Liberal Industrial Inquiry had published the report called Britain’s Industrial Future in five books; Keynes had contributed to Books 2 and 5

7 March – beginning of the Shakhty Trial in the Soviet Union; Soviet police arrest engineers in the town of Shakhty, who are accused of sabotaging the Soviet economy

27 March 1928 – Keynes gives a speech at the National Liberal Federation endorsing Lloyd George’s public works plan

3 May–11 May 1928 – the Jinan incident, armed conflict between the Japanese Army (with Northern Chinese warlords) and the Kuomintang’s southern army in Jinan, the capital of Shandong

May 1928 – Anthony Blunt elected to the Cambridge Apostles

July 1928 – Joan Robinson arrives in London from India

31 July 1928 – Keynes continues to support Lloyd George in an opinion piece in the Evening Standard

27 August 1928 – the Kellogg–Briand Pact (or Pact of Paris) is signed by Germany, France, and the United States, a treaty that outlaws aggressive warfare

1 October 1928 – Stalin announces the First Five Year Plan

10 October 1928 – Chiang Kai-shek becomes director of the Chinese State Council

16 October 1928 – Keynes gives a speech at the Cambridge Union

6 November 1928 – the US presidential election of 1928, between the Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover (Republican) and New York Governor Al Smith (Democratic)

1929
1929–1931 – the Untouchables under Eliot Ness work to end crimes of Al Capone by enforcing Prohibition laws

January 1929 – Ludwig Wittgenstein returned to Cambridge

February 1929 – Trotsky deported from the Soviet Union; he lives in Turkey from 1929 to 1933; in France from 1933 to 1935; in Norway from 1935 to 1936; in Mexico from 1936 to 1940

14 February 1929 – the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago

4 March 1929 – Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as 31st President of the United States (president from 4 March 1929–4 March 1933)

7 March 1929 – Keynes visits the UK Treasury and recommends raising the bank rate to attract more capital from abroad

10 May 1929 – Hubert Henderson and John Maynard Keynes publish Can Lloyd George do it?, a pamphlet in support of the Liberal program of deficit spending urged by David Lloyd George

16 May 1929 – the 1st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for the best films of 1927 and 1928, held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California

30 May 1929 – 1929 United Kingdom general election was held; Winston Churchill stands as MP for Unionists. The results:
Party | Leader | Seats Won
Conservative | Stanley Baldwin | 260
Labour | Ramsay MacDonald | 287
Liberal | David Lloyd George | 59.
The UK Labour Party under Ramsay MacDonald wins 287 seats, the most seats

June 1929 – Ludwig Wittgenstein submits his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (published in 1921) at Cambridge for a PhD

5 June 1929–7 June 1935 – Ramsay MacDonald is British Prime Minister

7 June 1929 – a Committee headed by American industrialist Owen D. Young submits its first report with the Young Plan, a program for settling German reparations debts after World War I

August 1929–March 1933 – the contractionary phase of the US Great Depression

October 1929 – Kim Philby goes to Trinity College, Cambridge to read History and Economics

October 1929 – Winston Churchill in New York

October 1929 – A. J. Ayer goes up to Christ Church College, Oxford

October 1929 – Joan Robinson and Austin Robinson return to Cambridge; from 1929–1930 Joan Robinson attends Piero Sraffa’s lectures

24 October 1929 – “Black Thursday” on the New York stock exchange, the beginning of the US Stock Market Crash of 1929

29 October 1929 – “Black Tuesday” on the New York stock exchange, the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
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Monday, January 2, 2017

Keynes’ Life from 1926–1928

I’m currently reading biographies of John Maynard Keynes, and based on my readings I give an account below of interesting biographical details about the life of John Maynard Keynes from 1926 to 1928. My sources are Moggridge (1992) and Skidelsky (1992).

This post is very much a work in progress, which I may update and expand in the future.

1926
By the mid-1920s, Keynes had become an international celebrity and had married Lydia Lopokova on 4 August 1925.

On 9 February 1926, Keynes gave a speech at the Manchester Reform Club on “Liberalism and Labour,” in which he urged Liberals and Labour party politicians to forge a new alliance and put aside their ideological differences. This was later published in The Nation and Athenaeum on 20 February, 1926, and Keynes struck up a new-found friendship with Beatrice Webb after a lunch with her and Bernard Shaw on 19 March, 1926 (Skidelsky 1992: 247).

On 3 March 1926, Keynes took possession of Tilton house, South Downs near Lewes, which he had rented on a 21 year lease (Skidelsky 1992: 214). In future years, it was in Tilton house that Keynes and Lydia would spend their Christmas and Easter holidays and two and a half months during the summer (Skidelsky 1992: 217). Keynes made various improvement to the house including the addition of a library with an Italianate terrace, in which he wrote much of A Treatise on Money (1930) and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) (Skidelsky 1992: 215).

After renting Tilton, Keynes’ normal weekly schedule from 1926 to 1937 was as follows:
(1) during the Cambridge term, he spent the middle of the week in London and the weekend and Monday in Cambridge;

(2) university vacations were spent in Tilton or London (Moggridge 1992: 403).
From 1924 to 1929, Keynes had developed a new-found hostility to 19th century laissez-faire economics, well before he had fully worked out his later critique in The General Theory, and the basis of this was the idea that 19th century laissez-faire policies – to the extent that they had worked – had been based on historically-specific conditions that had ceased to exist by the 1920s (Skidelsky 1992: 219). Although these conditions had started to break down before 1914, the Frist World War had utterly shattered them, and the solution, Keynes thought, was a different set of policies, to address problems of population, money, and the balance between domestic saving and investment (Skidelsky 1992: 221).

In short, Keynes believed that
(1) in order for capitalism to work properly, it required different economic and institutional policies in different stages of development and

(2) economic prosperity is the foundation of a liberal political order (or liberal freedom), and – contrary to the ideas of Classical liberals like Hayek – not the other way round (Skidelsky 1992: 221).
And Keynes saw his new set of interventionist policies as an alternative to the protectionism of conservatives and the redistributionist socialism of the left (whether Marxists or other socialists), and in the late 1920s was deeply involved in trying to reform the political and economic thinking of the British Liberal party (Skidelsky 1992: 222), although he had hopes that the British Labour party would take up his ideas (Skidelsky 1992: 232).

This reformed Liberalism advocated by Keynes had obvious similarities to the pre-1914 “New Liberalism” but also differences, since Keynes went much further and supported macroeconomic intervention by governments and a managerial state rather than just mere welfare or redistributionism; moreover, Keynes was always concerned with the state of business confidence and expectations (Skidelsky 1992: 223–224).

The major venues for this activism within British Liberal circles by Keynes were the following:
(1) the Liberal Summer Schools which met alternately in Oxford and Cambridge from 1922 onwards;

(2) the weekly publication the Nation, and

(3) the Liberal Industrial Inquiry, financed by ex-Prime Minister David Lloyd George, which published a report in 1928 called Britain’s Industrial Future (Skidelsky 1992: 222).
An important intellectual contribution to this was Keynes’ book The End of Laissez-Faire, published in July 1926, and derived from the Sidney Ball lecture he had given at Oxford university on 6 November 1924 (Skidelsky 1992: 225).

On 13 May 1925, the UK had adopted the Gold Standard Act, which returned the UK to pre-WWI parity between gold and the pound. This disastrous measure, championed by Winston Churchill, imposed a severe need for nominal wage reductions in the UK, which were difficult to achieve because of downwards nominal rigidity.

By 1926, this was causing labour disputes, especially when the subsidy to the coal industry, temporarily allowed by the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin to avoid labour conflict, was due to expire on 30 April 1926. From 4–13 May 1926, the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) organised a general strike in the United Kingdom.

News footage of the general strike of 1926 can be seen in the videos below:





Keynes was sympathetic to the strikers. He was also opposed both to the Gold Standard and to the wage reductions (Skidelsky 1992: 242), and shifted his support within the Liberal party to Lloyd George (Skidelsky 1992: 249), who agreed with these positions.

In June 1926, Keynes visited Berlin and gave a lecture at the University of Berlin.

On 25 September 1926, Keynes and fourteen others met with David Lloyd George at Churt to discuss a new radical Liberal program, as part of Lloyd George’s attempt to revive the dying Liberal party (Skidelsky 1992: 258). Some months before this, the Liberal Summer School Committee, of which Keynes was a member, had established a Liberal Industrial Inquiry, to examine the economic problems relating to British industry (Skidelsky 1992: 258). Keynes served on the “Industrial and Financial Organisation,” one of the five committees, and studied the declining coal and textile industries as affected by the return to the gold standard (Skidelsky 1992: 258). Keynes’ experiences with the problems of the cotton industry in Manchester helped to shift his ideas from corporatist solutions (such as cartels and restricting output to raise prices) to demand-side policies (Skidelsky 1992: 263).

1927
On 5 January 1927, Keynes gave a speech to the National Liberal Club on “Liberalism and Industry,” describing his research into British industrial decline, and he continued his work on the Liberal Industrial Inquiry throughout 1927 until the report was published as Britain’s Industrial Future on 22 February 1928 (Skidelsky 1992: 264).

In February 1927 Keynes resigned from the University Council of Cambridge but was still bursar and was very much involved with College affairs (Skidelsky 1992: 285–286). In these years, Arthur Cecil Pigou had become remote from university affairs owing to heart problems (Skidelsky 1992: 287).

In July 1927, Keynes oversaw the Liberal Summer School at Cambridge, which was attended by David Lloyd George, who was now the leading figure in the Liberal party (Skidelsky 1992: 264). In that same July, the Italian economist Piero Sraffa had arrived in London after fleeing Italy. Sraffa accepted an offer by Keynes to take a lectureship at Cambridge university. In autumn 1927, Richard Kahn was attending lectures at Cambridge and became Keynes’ student (Skidelsky 1992: 288).

Throughout 1927, Keynes was occupied in writing A Treatise on Money, and work continued into the summer of 1928 and 1929.

1928
On 22 February 1928, the Liberal Industrial Inquiry had published the report called Britain’s Industrial Future, in five books, and Keynes had contributed to Books 2 and 5 (Skidelsky 1992: 265). This report essentially advocated a system very close to the social democratic Keynesian mixed economy of the 1950s and 1960s (Skidelsky 1992: 265), and at one point in the sections Keynes had contributed to the report he recommended a national investment board to stabilise capital investment (Skidelsky 1992: 267). As Skidelsky points out, Keynes’ view in the 1920s seems to have been that wage and price rigidities and other institutional changes in the 20th century had rendered the Marshallian neoclassical assumption of a tendency to equilibrium in market economies obsolete (Skidelsky 1992: 270–271), even though, Keynes thought, this tendency to equilibrium may have been true for the 19th century. Keynes therefore advocated state intervention in the 1920s but had not yet proceeded to a critique of neoclassical equilibrium theory itself as fundamentally empirically flawed.

In these years, Keynes’ economic ideas were similar to and influenced by Hubert D. Henderson (20 October 1890–22 February 1952) and Hubert Henderson and Dennis H. Robertson (23 May 1890–21 April 1963), though Keynes and Robertson’s ideas began to diverge from 1931 (Skidelsky 1992: 272). As a point of interest, in earlier years Robertson had developed a “real” theory of the business cycle in A Study of Industrial Fluctuation (1913).

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Hattersley, Roy. 2012. David Lloyd George: The Great Outsider. Abacus, London.

Moggridge, D. E. 1992. Maynard Keynes: An Economist’s Biography. Routledge, London and New York.

Skidelsky, Robert. 1992. John Maynard Keynes. Volume Two. The Economist as Saviour 1920–1937. Macmillan, London.

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