Can we avoid another financial crisis? Steve Keen’s latest book

Professor Steve Keen is an economist working in the post-Keynesian tradition at Kingston University here in the UK. He is well-known as a critic of mainstream economics (see his excellent and wide-ranging book Debunking Economics) and its failure to predict or satisfactorily explain the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) and recession, which he did some years before it occurred. His latest book is Can we avoid another financial crisis?a 130-page polemic aimed at the intelligent layman.

Keen’s central thesis is that mainstream economics failed because it ignores the role of private debt creation by the financial system, known in the jargon as ‘endogenous money’. This grew unsustainably in many countries in the decades prior to the crisis and drove a boom in the real economy and, even moreso, in asset prices (stock markets and housing). Credit expansion in economies such as the US and UK started growing consistently more rapidly than GDP in the 1980s, following the deregulation of the financial sector. Although it was subject to cycles, the trend in private debt as a share of GDP was upward. When its growth slowed or even went into reverse, the result was a severe recession and the aftermath is still with us both economically and politically. Continue reading

It’s the private debt, stupid

An eleven-minute interview with post-Keynesian economist Steve Keen, which begins one minute into the video. He discusses the huge accumulation of private debt in the US and how it is to blame for the Great Recession and the aftermath of sluggish growth. This story has been repeated in many countries across the world. In my view this is only part of the story, but it is an essential part. He usefully counters the hysteria over public debt and the ignorance over levels of private debt with some lessons from history.

Economists ignore one of capitalism’s biggest problems – by Steve Keen

By Steve Keen | Evonomics I like Joe Stiglitz, both professionally and personally. His Globalization and its Discontents was virtually the only work by a Nobel Laureate economist that I cited favourably in my Debunking Economics, because he had the courage to challenge the professional orthodoxy on the “Washington Consensus”. Far more than most in […]

via Economists Ignore One of Capitalism’s Biggest Problems — INCOMESCO

When and how will UK trade rebalance?

In my previous post, I suggested that for UK public (and private) debt to fall sustainably would require a dramatic shift in the current account from deficit to surplus, which would need to be maintained for a number of years. I also suggested that this seemed an unlikely scenario in the medium term. The UK current account deficit hit 6% of GDP in the third quarter of 2014 and has averaged over 5% for more than a year. Continue reading

How the UK economy can reduce its public and private sector debt

The UK’s current account deficit recently made the economic headlines, hitting 6% of GDP in the third quarter of 2014. Indeed, the BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston has been worrying about it for some time and commented on this statistic in his last blog before Christmas. As he says, the UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne and the Prime Minister David Cameron, publicly obsess about the public sector deficit, claiming that it is the UK economy’s major problem, but choose not to mention the current account deficit, which has been over 5% of GDP for 15 months. Continue reading