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Keynes vs Hayek debate at the London School of Economics

Written By: - Date published: 12:28 am, August 6th, 2011 - 25 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, economy, Economy, Keynes, monetary policy, uncategorized - Tags:

BBC Radio 4 in the UK has a very interesting debate pitting followers of Keynes vs those of Hayek available at:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Being the LSE there are quite a few Hayekians in the audience for riposte. The debater’s arguments from both sides are stimulating – but I must agree with the point which Skidelsky makes over and again that the Hayekian argument for getting out of a recession is to let society fail is unacceptable.

Chair: BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason

For Keynes:
Robert Skidelsky
Duncan Whelden

For Hayek:
George Selgin
Jamie White

If you haven’t had a chance Skidelsky’s latest book on Keynes it is well worth a read.

25 comments on “Keynes vs Hayek debate at the London School of Economics”

  1. Carol 1

    When I click the play button, I get “file not found”.

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    A seagull flying over my garden and defecating would be a lot more valuable than listening to economists debate: at least the seagull would provide some nutrient to the soil. The economists would churn a lot of hot air containing nothing of value whatsoever -idiotic statements based on bizarre theories that are conpletely unrelated to anything happening in the real world.

    The entire economic system is a fraud, since the money system is based on fraud and economists take no account of the crucial role of energy in making things happen. Nor do they take any account of the increasing effect of pollution on the ability of human societies to function. GDP is a hopeless (fraudulent) measure of the well-being of societies, and in practice increasing GDP equates with generally worsening conditions throughout the world. Modern economics is officially sanctioned looting of the planet we live on and its convesion into waste.

    Fortunately, the peaking of the oil supply is in the process of demolishing global economic arrangements and demonstrating that the vast majority of economists don’t know what they are talking about.

    Unfortunately, economists still have a strangehold on socieety and most people are going to suffer horribly over the next few years as a consequence of the peaking of the oil supply and the abject failure of economists to estabish sane economic arrangements.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      …and economists take no account of the crucial role of energy in making things happen.

      Despite the fact that economics is supposed to be about the study and distribution of scarce resources they fail to take any of them and their effect upon the environment into account. All they focus on is money and how to make a profit from it. This, of course, means that they fail to understand the real economy which is about the availability and distribution of resources in a sustainable way.

      Modern economics is officially sanctioned looting of the planet we live on and its convesion into waste.

      Or, as I’ve described it before, Capitalism is nothing but legalised theft.

    • But is this truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth AFKT?
      A question about what seems to be your basic assumption – capitalism based on fraud.
      What is the basis of this fraud? Is it the theft of value in the production process, or the pretence that money must always represent value?
      If the latter I can see that you hold out hope that capitalism can be managed, provided the fraudsters are kicked out (by whom?).
      If the former, then money and economists are not the real problem, but symptoms of a much deeper problem in capitalism that cannot be corrected short of overthrowing it.

      • KJT 2.2.1

        A mixed economy with a democratically regulated capitalist market and democratic control to prevent the dishonest and greedy from crowding out the market has delivered the most successful, equitable and stable economies ever.

        The mixed economies of Northern Europe are stable and prosperous. They are even beginning to address AGW. South American countries which have headed in this direction recently are also doing fine. Look at Argentina’s per capita GDP before and after they told the banks to get F–ked.

        Unfortunately the voodoo economics and neo-liberal meanness that has destroyed the USA, UK, Greece, Ireland, and, soon NZ, are getting a foot hold even there. Supported by the rich propagandists, and authoritarian followers, who have taken us for a ride already.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          One step further is required. A significant percentage of the capital in society needs to exist in worker owned organisations, organisations which may be for profit or not for profit.

          Workers will also be the owners and managers of their workplaces.

          Mutual organisations, unions, credit unions, co-ops and other collective enterprises (some for profit, some not for profit) should be established and supported as part of this theme.

          In this way a standard capitalist system can be harnessed and transformed into democratic socialism.

          Therefore, the power of highly capitalist highly wealth concentrated corporates would be severely curtailed using market mechanisms.

          • KJT 2.2.1.1.1

            Could work. Need a source of capital though.

            Government spending capital into various types of business.

            No reason why Government cannot add zero’s to the money supply.
            Instead of overseas lenders who require a premium to do so.

            This is only inflationary if competing for resources already utilised.
            With our level of underemployment that is unlikely.

            A DFC. Like Singapore, perhaps.

            Applications assessed by an expert panel?

            The underlying problem though is we are ran by a minority of people for the benefit of a minority. Real democracy is harder for the wealthy to subvert.

            • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1.1.1

              A-ha, now you’re thinking!

              A Government venture capital/development fund for instance. Perhaps set up as an SOE. Staffed with experts and entrepreneurs. Gives existing companies and new startups a helping hand in becoming and staying worker owned, in growing and becoming more successful. The Government might own a small stake in each firm too.

              Important: this is about creating a collectively owned mutualistic economy, not a centrally planned one. Market mechanisms will still reward success and stimulate innovation and creativity.

              Its just that the owners of the firms will be worker-owners, they will proft from the hard work, not some hands-off fat cat shareholder in Sydney or LA.

              • Draco T Bastard

                A Government venture capital/development fund for instance. Perhaps set up as an SOE. Staffed with experts and entrepreneurs. Gives existing companies and new startups a helping hand in becoming and staying worker owned, in growing and becoming more successful. The Government might own a small stake in each firm too.

                Government prints money, gives it to a start up, start up fails or is successful. Neither outcome is detrimental to the economy. If it succeeds then the cost will be recuperated through taxes and if it fails then the cost is spent into the economy maintaining it until those costs are recuperated through taxes.

                The only real difference is that the benefit of that business will go through to the entire community rather than a single individual as what happens under present capitalism.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1.1.2

              Instead of overseas lenders who require a premium to do so.

              This is only inflationary if competing for resources already utilised.
              With our level of underemployment that is unlikely.

              Incorrect. Inflation is almost solely due to the banks printing money. Cancel that privilege and the government could easily print as much money as needed as long as they taxed highly enough to remove it as well.

  3. aerobubble 3

    Listening to the Climate Change denier on TV, know they believe in greenhouse gas warming and that humans create them, so a credible debater would know better that to let the denier off, and pull up their past historical error of the denial community. Not out tv overloads.

    But worse, then the interviewer lets the denier demand he has the answer, the free market will solve – adapt and we don’t need government intervention to mitigate climate change. Whoops, the US government just intervened again to shore up the financial markets!!! Who do they take us for?

    But worse, the market *is* mitigating the greenhouse gas problem by crashing, by wiping off billions of estimated worth because peak oil has arrived and the valuation were on ongoing cheap oil being plentiful. So the joke being this right wing denier claiming the free market will adapt, when the free market is mitigating the problem by losing billions of value to those who – well- are in climate denial!!!

    The denier makes the claim that we can adapt to the car crash, when the climate disaster isn’t so predictable, or some time off, in fact the north polar sea ice is disappearing face and the3 market is rushing in to pump out any oil there! some adapting hey!

    No, our disaster is more like a baby thrown out with the bath water because dumb interviewers give rightwing jerks untrampled time to speak nonsense, a baby that is even as we speak falling down a steep cliff getting its bones broken and making recover all the harder.

    Yes, you guessed right, another lets not do anything, the right have this idiot savant who knows the free market will save us all.

    Jesus freaks and right wingers there’s a reason they seek each other out, misery loves company.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 3.1

      Bet the dinosaurs were pissed that they did not have the free market to correct for the asteroid 65 million years ago. Having a AAA credit rating and no net debt might have helped them too.

  4. Oligarkey 4

    Pretty much agreeing with AFKTT here. The Federal Reserve scam is at the heart of the rot in US capitalism. It is the biggest and most profoundly hypocritical fraud operation i can think of. All glossed over by the MSM of course. No wonder the system is so sick, when at its core, is a legally-sanctioned counterfeiting operation.

    http://www.themoneymasters.com/

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Glass Steagall needs to be put back in place, and if possible strengthened. Heh the original was only 10 pages long to start with, brilliant work from the 1930’s, not the thousand page loop hole filled monstrosities Congress now pushes through.

      • Oligarkey 4.1.1

        Agreed – if the value of money is based on nothing but the collective confidence, or lack of, in the world of finance, then there will always be boom and bust. That’s not a sustainable model, nor even remotely desirable one.

        There must be a holistic system, that is tied to something real. Even a gold standard is preferable. But Nixon did away with that, claiming it was “limiting growth”. Like the world can sustain the 4% annual growth of the 1960s …. which was based on 4% annual growth in hydrocarbon consumption … not going to happen any more.

  5. Oligarkey 5

    John Key, coming from the New York banking circuit, is no doubt well-aware of how the scam operates, and is also in a great amount of debt to it, given his rapid ascension in the heart of the beast. Time for a new PM here, but most preferable, would be a global economic system that isn’t based on trillions of dollars of private banking fraud. Come on America!

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    Replying to Dave. The economic system is full of frauds and distortions.

    The first fraud is the manner in which money is created out of thin air via fractional reserve banking.

    The second fraud is the charging of interest on [most] loans when the money required for interest payments is not created at the time of the loan.

    The third fraud is the use of GDP, which is a false measure of economic activity and counts negative factors as positive.

    The fourth fraud is transferring resources from one part of the world (where they have a low value) to another part of the world (where they have a higher value) using energy which is grossly undervalued., e.g. one tank of petrol/diesel is equivalent to six weeks hard labour, yet is ‘worth’ around $60. Who would do hard labout for $10 a week? That is massive distortion, as is the undervalued Yuan, which is undervalued by around 500%.

    The frauds and distortions go on and on…..at least another ten inherent in the system I could list, but I don’t want to bore you.

    • AFKTT. I thought so, all of these are ‘frauds’ are potentially reformable by getting rid of those who perpetrate these unequal exchanges. What you are saying is that some elites manage (rent rort) the system by buying cheap and selling dear. All we need is some reform in the system to equalise exchange i.e. value for value.

      For Marx however, unequal exchange is a secondary phenomenon that affects the prices of commodities around their value. It bears on production of value by cheapening inputs but its essentially theft.

      Capitalism got its start by theft (primitive accumulation), and grew by sucking slave and unpaid labour into its system. But it developed as a highly productive system only when it reached a minimum wage to sustain life and began applying new machinery to increase labour productivity. This reduced necessary labour time and brought down the value of commodities.

      However, capitalism still uses unequal exchange (theft) at the margins in the neo-colonies and semi-colonies (like NZ) to boost profits especially when labour’s historic gains prevent devaluation of living standards.

      But the basic point is that the system does not function by buying cheap and selling dear except at the margins. At the centre of all the big capitalist powers is highly developed industry that sets the value of commodities by the real wage or the value of the labour power expended in production at a level set by a historic compromise between labour and capital.

      The inherent crisis of capitalism is that it cannot extract enough value in the process of production to maintain sufficient profits over all the capital in existence so that excess capital is the result.

      This is where Keynesian state intervention comes in, substituting for capitalists who want to hoard their excess capital or these days engage in casino capitalism betting on future prices of existing commodities or buying future prices of commodities that do not yet exist, so to stimulate demand and therefore productive investment. But the fact is that the capitalists control the state and make sure that they receive the bailouts to cover their debts and finance a return to hoarding and speculation rather than invest productively.

      It follows that both the banks and corporates have to be socialised, but not by a state that consists of corrupt capitalist cronies, but a state that represents the interests of the working class that produces the wealth. Only such a workers state can make sure that capital is socialised and invested in production to meet needs rather than profits.

      The market is a total handicap to this so no mixed system is feasible. Moreover the crisis of capitalism is now a crisis of human survival so the stakes are high – for workers to survive, capitalism must die.

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    Dave I think you are only getting part of the picture.

    Capitalism only became ‘really successful’ after steam engines were perfected.

    Steam engines converted the ancient sunlight stored in coal into energy that could be used to modify the environment, shift raw materials and goods etc. Coal amounted to a huge and more or less continuous subsidy to industrialised nations.

    The transition to use of oil reduced costs and increased the capacity to modify the environment (chop down trees, strip the oceans of fish etc.) Use of oil amounted to an even bigger subsidy to industrial nations.

    For most of the 20th century energy was extracted from places like the US, Azerbaijan, Persia (later Iran), Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela etc. The energy required to extract oil was around 1/100th of the energy obtained. And in most cases very little royalties were paid to the nations from which the oil was effectively stolen. Capitalism thrived on stolen energy that fed machinery.

    Well that game is almost over. The extraction of conventioanl oil peaked around 2005. The huge energy subsidy most developed nations have enjoyed for the past 150 -200 years is disappearing fast, and all the complex systems that are dependent of cheap, abundant energy will disintegrate over the coming years.

    Although the present global crisis is couched in terms of finance, it is actually an energy-resources crisis. Without energy nothing happens: ignoring that reality is a major flaw of mainstream economic theory.

    .

    • No I get the picture. Capitalism depends on drawing down nature’s bounty which includes the labour power of its workers. Its fucked. We have little time to smash capitalism and rescue humanity and the rest of nature. We can only do that by uniting workers all around the world. I look to the Chinese working class to lead the way. China is caught in the most powerful contradiction, impelled by a form of state capitalism to grow rapidly or implode, at the cost of exhausting nature and bringing ecological catastrophe not only to China and its territories, but to other parts of the world. Just look at the recent response to the derailing of the rapid rail. Chinese workers are seething at the pace of the destruction of their society and they are undefeated and pacified by a century of acclimatisation to capitalism. They hold their government to account and are too big to suppress. That is the big picture.

  8. The full unedited podcast is now available permanently on the LSE public lectures podcast channel –

    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=1107

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