Posts

Showing posts from December, 2017

The terrible price of austerity

Image
In August 2014, I wrote this post arguing that harsh austerity during the Depression caused Hitler's rise to power. At the time, my argument seemed controversial, at least in Germany. There, it is not the austerity of 1930-32 that is blamed, but the debt-driven hyperinflation of a decade earlier. Germans remain terrified of both inflation and debt to this day.

I am certainly not the only person to identify a causative link between austerity and Hitler. Here is Paul Krugman slapping down Eduardo Porter in 2015, for example:
Yes, there was a hyperinflation in 1923, which may have helped radicalize German politics. But the proximate factor in Hitler's rise to power was the great deflation of the 1930s, brought on by a disastrous attempt to stay on gold.  Disastrously staying on gold might of course have been due to the recent experience of hyperinflation. In 2014, when Bulgaria was unable to pay insured depositors for six months after a bank failure, the central bank refused to …

Thirty-three flawed Theses

Image
Five hundred years ago, so legend has it, a dissident priest called Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 "theses" to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. His action launched the Protestant Reformation. 
Last week, the dissident economist Steve Keen "nailed" a list of 33 Theses to the door of the London School of Economics. His aim was to launch a Reformation in economics as significant as the religious Reformation that Luther started. It was a bold gesture.

But for such a movement to take hold, there has to be substance in the criticisms. And as I read the 33 Theses, my heart sank. For these are in no way like the 95 Theses.

Luther's 95 Theses are a brilliantly argued academic case against the (then) Roman Catholic doctrine of indulgences, which was a clerical scheme for fleecing people of their money by promising them salvation. The money was supposed to go to the poor, but almost never did. Instead, it went to enrich both the sellers of indulgences and …

Demolishing a straw man

Image
This is David Hencke's response to my comment on his blog. You can find the Coppola Comment version of my comment here.

For the record while not replying to all your points.

1. I cover a wide range of topics on my blog – child sex abuse, domestic violence, bad treatment of the disabled, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, dodgy privatisations, institutional racism etc.

2. Given the government has to write to everyone telling them when their pension is due, it is not beyond the wit of man or woman to tell everyone personally when the change came into effect.

3 your main point seems to be that pensions are not a right but a benefit that presumably could be means tested. I am afraid they are not marketed like that – with all the qualifying rules for NI to get one for a start. they are still a universal benefit and therefore I am drawing one at the moment and long may it continue.

4. You seem to fall into the trap that many other well off people do ( I am not saying you are well off yourself) that…

Never mind WASPI, just look at Back to 60

Image
The Back to 60 Campaign is attracting the attention of some high-profile people. Michael Mansfield QC has publicly endorsed it. And now the journalist David Hencke has written a blogpost about the campaign.

The sole source of Hencke's information about the campaign appears to be this video, in which a number of women complain about the effect that not receiving state pension at 60 has had on them and their families. As is all too often the case with 1950s women's pensions campaign material, the video is littered with gross factual errors, such as the talk of "earned dues" being wilfully withheld, and the notion that the government is in breach of contract. There are also some frankly ridiculous claims, such as Yvette Greenway's assertion that "millions of women....are basically left destitute, I mean literally destitute, and that's not an exaggeration". You're right, Yvette. It's not exaggeration, it is fiction.

Nonetheless, Hencke was conv…

Currency manipulation is a really bad idea

Image
If there is one industry Brexit has stimulated, it is the production of daft ideas for regenerating the UK economy after its exit from the EU. Many of the offerings have been from people who really like the idea of Britain becoming a European version of Singapore. But the left wing is not short of silly schemes either. This one, from businessman and self-styled economist John Mills, is one of the silliest I have seen.

John Mills is chairman of John Mills Limited (JML). On his biography, he describes this as “a consumer goods company specialising in selling products requiring audio-visual promotion at the point of sale, based in the UK but with sales throughout the world.” Emphasis is mine, for reasons which will shortly become apparent.

John Mills is also a long-standing supporter of Brexit. Like many left-wing Brexiters, Mills thinks that leaving the EU will create an opportunity to rebalance Britain’s economy away from finance and other service industries and towards manufacturin…