Steve Keen, the Australian economist, gave a brilliant 30 minute speech last week that can be watched in its entirety below.
We are in agreement that debt levels have likely peaked relative to economic activity and that the likely course forward is an unwinding of this debt back to historical norms. I discussed this at length in my last post, "Missing the Forest for the Trees."
edit: the embedded video led to a repetitiously agonizing 16 second trailer for Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story." The actual speech can be found at the following link:
Full Speech Here
Although Professor Keen and I would likely agree on more than we would disagree, I have doubts that he would endorse the solutions I proposed in that post. He does not believe, it seems, in the benefits of mutual voluntary exchange, instead electing to cling to the absurd Marxist notion of 'capitalist exploitation' over susceptibly 'irrational' actors. To this extent, he is dead wrong. Keen fails to understand the difference between the neoclassical "rational expectations" thesis (that underpins the EMH) and the more Austrian "rational action." Rational expectations, we would agree, are impossible. To be able to foresee exactly how any action will result, one must operate with perfect information, or in other words, omniscience. This is absurd. No individual or group of individuals can make a claim to this ability - government central planners especially. But rational action is something else completely.
Rational action implies that at the time of decision making the actor will always elect something that he/she believes to be beneficial. Otherwise, no action would be taken. For example, if I were sitting on my couch feeling hungry, I may find the idea of expending energy and money to walk around the corner for a hamburger. Upon my completion of this task, whether I found the result of my action satisfying or not, my thought process was rational. It could have been insufficient and given me a tummy ache. I would then have experienced loss on this transaction. But my action was still rational. Rational action can lead to either profit or loss - two necessary potential outcomes for any action.
It seems that modern economics has been consumed by a utopian desire to eliminate "loss" from the realm of possible outcomes in voluntary exchange. To do this, the central planners seek to minimize our ability to engage in voluntary exchange, making more and more exchange involuntary. The justification for this is that people suffer from irrationality and require decisions to be made for them.
No greater folly has poisoned the minds of humankind.
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