Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Keynesian Call to Arms

Here are the seven steps identified by James Galbraith in his keynote lecture at the 5th annual “Dijon” conference on Post Keynesian economics, meeting at Roskilde University near Copenhagen, Denmark on May 13, 2011. The following is from the transcript made available by selise at FireDogLake:
So it’s our task, it seems to me, against the odds, to build a new line of resistance. And I’ll wind up by saying that I think that line must have at least the following elements in it:

First, an understanding of the money accounting relationships, that pertain within societies and between them, so that we cannot be panicked by mere financial ratios into self-destructive social policies or condemn ourselves to lives of economic stagnation and human waste. And in particular I should add, since it’s important in Denmark at the moment, to the destruction of social welfare systems and pension systems which provided the foundation of a decent life for a large part of the population for decades.

Second, an effective analysis of the ongoing debt deflation, the banking debacle and the inadequate fiscal and illusory monetary policy responses so far. In America and in Europe, this is a crisis primarily of banks not of governments and it’s for us to call attention to this fact.

Third, a full analysis of the criminal activity that destroyed the banking sector, including its technological foundation, so as to quell the illusion that these markets can effectively be restored to anything like their form of 4 or 5 years ago. As part of this, obviously, it would be useful to have a renewed commitment to expose crime, to punish the guilty, and enforce the laws. Post Keynesian Economists for a More Effective FBI, I think is a splinter organization I would be happy to sponsor and solicit your membership in.

Fourth, an understanding of the way in which financial markets interact with the changing geophysics of energy, especially oil, with the commodity markets to choke off economic recovery unless the energy problem is addressed squarely. I think that’s something that we’re seeing happening now.

Fifth, a new strategic direction to redesign and rebuild our societies for the challenges of aging, infrastructure, energy, climate change and shared development which we all face. And to create the institutions required to make this happen. That requires, I think, from an intellectual point of view, a merger of the Keynesian, Post-Keynesian and the Institutionalists traditions which is, in fact, something that is already underway.

Sixth, to achieve these goals by mobilizing human brains and muscles to overcome unemployment and to assure a widely-shared, decent, and reasonably egalitarian society according to the most successful and enduring social models, by which I mean a commitment to the deepest policy principles that Keynes himself held and also an understanding that we should use history as a guide to what has worked and what does not.

And seventh, the reconstruction of the instruments of public power — the power to spend, the power to tax, the money power and the power to regulate — so as to effectively pursue these goals with democratic checks and balances to prevent the capture of new state institutions by predatory forces.
That is a wonderful list of what needs to be done. It goes directly against the idiot policies of the Republican party, the party of the top 1%. And it goes against the do-nothing president Obama who is more slyly enthralled to the top 1%.

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