A Sobering Dose of Reality from Economist Steve Keen

inoculatedinvestor's picture

Tired of the same old US-based bears such as Nouriel Roubini, Peter Schiff and Doug Kass? Sick of hearing the US is in deep trouble argument from Marc Faber and ex-pat Jim Rogers? Then, for those of you who are not familiar with the most outspoken Australian Nostradamus, let me introduce you to economist Steve Keen. Keen is one person who can legitimately contend that he saw the crisis coming and even warned about the potential impacts extensively on his website. Keen’s writings serve as another example of how nonsensical the claim is that “no one could have seen this coming;” a refrain that you hear from politicians around the world who want to remain blameless for the current economic calamity. Keen is a straight shooter who pulls no punches in his criticisms of other economists, political leaders, and central bankers all over the globe.  The reason it is important to listen to him now is that he is still pounding the table about the debt overhang that is plaguing the Anglo-Saxon world. Unlike the bubble-perpetuating pundits you see on CNBC, Keen does not believe economies can recover from the implosion of a debt bubble by printing money or through just the passage of time. As such, he happens to believe that both the US and Australia are on an unsustainable path that may lead to an even larger crash.

I have embedded a video below of a must watch presentation from Keen. Here is a preview of some of the topics covered and associated commentary:

·         Amusing and condescending explanation of the fact that Milton Friedman was not a Keynesian economist (as some professor named Joshua Gans had stated the day before)

o    In fact, according to Keen calling Friedman a Keynesian is like calling the devil one of God’s angels

§  Calling Friedman a Keynesian is an insult to real Keynesians such as Minsky

·         Discussion of the delusional theories espoused by Friedman and the other neo-classical economists who completely missed the crisis and whose ideas do not share anything in common with reality

o    Neo-classical models cannot endogenously produce a financial crisis

§  Need a meteor strike or something

o    Inability of the neo-classical models to reflect actual market conditions

·         Commentary on the prescience of Minsky and how his theories on instability, banking, and crises are essential to understanding what the global economy is facing

o    Minsky’s idea of the euphoric economy that leads to instability

o    Ponzi financiers failure when the bubble bursts

§  Darlings of the stock market one day and in jail the next

·         Reminder of the fact that there were in fact 2 bubbles in the US, a stock market and a housing bubble, both of which were driven by excess debt

o    US Debt to GDP before the Great Depression: 170%

o    Current US debt to GDP: 300%

§  Same dynamics that existed before the Great Depression are exaggerated now

o    Failure to attack the underlying problem (too much debt) and only focusing on the symptoms (limited liquidity) by printing money and enacting stimulus will only prolong the day of reckoning

§  Can’t just paper over the debt overhang that is nothing like we have seen in history

·         France is the only country that did not have a debt crisis and that is why it has shown growth

·         Foolishness of the Kangaroo Theory of Economics that believes that Australia is different and  is not facing a crisis

o    But if there is any correlation between excess debt and impending crises the situation in Australia is not as stable as people assume

o    Just because Australia’s debt to GDP is less than that of the US does not mean the country is out of the woods

·         Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s ignoring of Minsky’s ideas in favor of the idea of the rational investor in his writings

o    How scary is that a man who believes that human beings act rationally under uncertainty is the one trying to navigate the US out of this mess?

o    Bernanke’s lack of understanding of the credit system and money creation

·         Step by step explanation of how money is created by banks

o    Suggestion that is better to give money to debtors than banks that just hold money as reserves

·         Need for deleveraging in the Australia and in the US

o    In Australia, 8% debt reduction occurred in the 1930s

§  Took a world war to get debt levels down

§  Would cause a 12% reduction in GDP if that rate were reached again

§  4% debt reduction occurred in the 1890s during that depression

·         Would take 30 years to get back to 1980 levels at this rate

o    America’s problem is even worse due to larger debt load

§  Unemployment is being driven by deleveraging

·         $2.5 trillion rate of deleveraging in US this year

o    In 2006 the US was adding $4.5 trillion dollars in private debt

o    Total demand was $18.5 trillion ($14 trillion in GDP+ $4.5 trillion in debt) so US demand was close to 25% debt driven

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athenal's picture

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JR's picture

IMO, the Keynesian philosphers who call themselve economists, are driving our economy to ruin. As states’ economies fall like dominoes – Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, California, South Carolina, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey…the Keynesians march in unison: Two steps forward, two steps back.

One of the year’s outstanding Keynesian voices belongs to Professor Nouriel Roubini.  He’s a dramatic showman, whose startling forecasts raised the hair on the back of your neck but his prognostications are not nearly as frightening has his solutions.  Case in point:  His weekend horror forecast for 11 percent unemployment lasting two years or more, and "increasing the risk of a double dip recession," is driving down all the hopes that the Fed gang is espousing.  So hammering the nails in the economy’s coffin with the spreading liquidity that only looks like tightening, what is the Professor’s solution? Let’s get more hammers and nails:

“There's really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation…

“This is very bad news but we must face facts. Many of the lost jobs are gone forever, including construction jobs, finance jobs and manufacturing jobs. Recent studies suggest that a quarter of U.S. jobs are fully out-sourceable over time to other countries…

“As a result of these terribly weak labor markets, we can expect weak recovery of consumption and economic growth; larger budget deficits; greater delinquencies in residential and commercial real estate and greater fall in home and commercial real estate prices; greater losses for banks and financial institutions on residential and commercial real estate mortgages, and in credit cards, auto loans and student loans and thus a greater rate of failures of banks; and greater protectionist pressures.

“The damage will be extensive and severe unless bold policy action is undertaken now.”

Ah, more central planning. Maybe this time we’ll get lucky!


JR's picture

Keynesian economist Paul Krugman in his recent book The Return of DEPRESSION ECONOMICS  and the Crisis of 2008 says: “Depression economics…is the study of situations where there is a free lunch, if we can only figure out how to get our hands on it…”

But Vin Suprynowicz’s review of the works of Henry Hazlitt in a recent article, And They Call it ‘Change,’ refutes Krugman and his analysis of Keynes and the Great Depression.  Hazlitt, of course, was not some obscure gadfly.  Says Suprynowicz, “He was arguably the nation’s best-known and best-respected financial writer and commentator, regularly holding forth in the mainstream – even left-of-center – The New York Times and (from 1946 to 1966) every week in Newsweek.”

Here’s an excerpt from Suprynowicz:

[W]riting in the Christian Science Monitor, Ludwig von Mises himself said of Henry Hazlitt’s The Failure of the New Economics, 1959, reprinted 1973,  “Hazlitt has entirely demolished the Keynesian misconceptions…”

The book does precisely what they say it does.

In brief, Keynesianism – as set forth by John Maynard Keynes 73 years ago in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money– holds that the twin answers to unemployment and economic downturns are massive government deficit spending and “cheap money” – the artificial driving down of interest rates to “free up more credit.”

This is relevant because this precisely describes the massive and inherently inflationary market interventions that have been brewed up in Washington... sponsored as enthusiastically by Republicrats as Demopublicans – despite the fact that Mr. Hazlitt, way back in 1959, demonstrated not only that these Keynesian remedies did not work, but that they often had precisely the OPPOSITE effect of that intended!

To “remedy” high unemployment, business failures and other symptoms of economic maladjustment, Keynes prescribed massive government deficit spending designed to keep wages and prices high, and the propping up of enterprises that would otherwise collapse in a heap of dust.

It’s never worked…

[W]e cite here just the most succinct of Mr. Hazlitt’s conclusions:

"In Keynesian policy, unemployment is never to be corrected by any reduction of money-wage-rates,” Mr. Hazlitt summarizes. “Keynes recommends two main remedies. One is deficit spending (sometimes euphemistically called government ‘investment’). How good is this remedy? It was tried in the United States (partly because of Keynes’ recommendations) for a full decade. What were the results? Here are the deficit in the Federal budget, the numbers of unemployed, and the percentage of unemployed to the total labor force, year by year in that decade. All the figures are from official sources:” (Chart follows.) …

“The central and decisive fact is that heavy deficits were accompanied by mass unemployment…

“The other main Keynesian remedy for unemployment is low interest rates, artificially produced by ‘the Monetary Authority.’ Keynes incidentally admits … that such artificially low interest rates can only be produced by printing more money, i.e. by deliberate inflation… The question immediately before us is: Did low interest rates prevent mass unemployment? …” (Another chart, measuring the commercial paper rate against the unemployment rate for the years 1920 through 1940, follows.)

“In sum, over this period of a dozen years low interest rates did NOT eliminate unemployment. On the contrary, unemployment actually INCREASED as interest rates went down. In the seven-year period from 1934 to 1940, when the cheap money policy was pushed to an average infra-low rate below 1 percent (.77 of 1 per cent) an average of more than 17 in every 100 persons in the labor force were unemployed.”

Hazlitt proceeds to demonstrate that from 1949 to 1958, when the same policy of artificially pushing down interest rates was tried, “the relationship of unemployment to interest rates is almost the exact opposite of that suggested by Keynesian theory.”

How could Keynes have gotten it so wrong?

Easy. Hazlitt shows again and again that Keynes pronounced his theories ex cathedra, without substantial statistics to back them up. Then, if actual statistics were produced that seemed to show results opposite to what his theories had predicted, he simply challenged the statistics! (all emphases mine)

Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of The Black Arrow.

Pat Hand's picture

G Marx, have you read Posner's article?


Keynes is important.  The postwar so-called Keynesians diverge significantly from the Keynes->Minsky->Keen version


To say that "Keynes has been discredited" says more about your parochial viewpoint than it does about Keynes.

Anonymous's picture

Fist Steve Keen told us that housing would collapse by 40% by 2009, and then he told us in 2008 to brace for a severe recession in the coming months...we are pushing 2010 and his time line is out of date for the 2008 recession...and housing...and the stock market...can soemone tell me WHY we should listen to Keen?

Are you sure we should be herded into following this guy?
Damage to those following his predictions were:
1. Loss of appreciation up to 10 -30% on their houses
2. Sitting out the market bear rally on ASX
4. Keep in mind, house loans here are not subprime, full recourse loans and 20 percent deposit required...Banks will sell all your assets to recover loan losses.

Banks have about 20% deposit on almost all houses in Australia...now what????

I would look more to China its health when it comes to PREDICTING housing etc in Australia. I think Keen is barking up the wrong tree and has certainly cost a lot of people money and heartache. He is not regarded in so much high esteem here.

Lateline Business - 04/08/2008: Brace yourselves for recession, says Steve Keen


Anonymous's picture

I think Steve makes a lot of good points and his methodology is understandable - he also isn't afraid to admit mistakes - very rare for someone in the economics profession.

Having said that, economists live and die by predictions and can fall in love with their models. Sometimes they forget that fundamentals can be trumped by politics for a while (never forever). Roubini whiffed a few before he hit his home run.

Steve may have his timing off - but I think (unfortunately) his predictions will come to bear on Australia.

Anonymous's picture

Unemployment has risen for 13 consecutive months in Australia (though I admit the rate has not). The reason Australia avoided a technical recession was through reckless and massive government debt-based spending and modifying the way GDP is calculated (as was the case for Q2 2009).

Keen's weakness was misunderestimating the size of government irresponsibility in fulfilling their self-interests. That is the major reason why his timing has been wrong. I still believe his call of 40% real house price falls will come to fruition because I believe it will be closer to 50-70% from peak to trough.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, we can fall into the bias trap of rationalising and making excuses for those we hope to trust and lead us out of this mess, but that said, Keen led many into a big , financial disaster and made a joke of himself and profession that the media will not let him live down. Economists should not be giving invest advise ie, sell your house NOW, sell your sharesNOW, in my opinion.

Keen really did cause harm. Maybe that is why he is at a Jr College type outfit in the outer suburbs of Sydney...I notice he is not at ANU, Melbourne uni or Sydney Uni....

One thing I will say about Keen, at least he put a time frame on his prediction, which most lily livered economists won't do!

By Keens own admission, he has already been wrong...peak to trough! Good on him for admitting that and moving on quietly. Academics are best left to their navel gazing theories...Dr. Bernakke is quite a shining example of how when theories and real world collide, ....oil and water!

Renfield's picture

PS: The rate HAS risen. (Or did you mean 'rate'?) It's just a bit disguised when the Aus government conveniently counts one hour in a week as 'employed' and DOESN'T count anyone unemployed for more than a year (errr, 'discouraged'). Unemployment is actually closer to 7.5% and, factoring in 'underemployment', our rate would be more like 15%.

See this (the Billy Blog):


this (Henry Thornton blog):


this (Community Net):


these (2 mainstream news articles):



and especially this (Roy Morgan Research):


to debunk the Government 'official' propaganda. 

Anonymous's picture


Where is the University of Western Sydney?
What is the ranking of that University?
It is akin to a good Junior College in a large city...imo

Renfield's picture

Right, b/c if he'd gone to Harvard, THEN he would have had some credibility.

Oh, wait...

Anonymous's picture

Does not have to be Harvard, but a Jr College?

Anonymous's picture

As per Trav777's post,

All economic schools of thought, whatever Keen's is, included, suffers from a complete blackout on the essential condition of "boundary conditions".

Anonymous's picture


The Sydney academic will do the walk wearing a tee-shirt saying: “I was hopelessly wrong on home prices! Ask me how.”

Steve Keen concedes
According to Bloomberg...
Nov 2 2009 2:03:34
Macquarie’s Robertson Wins Mountain Bet on Australian Houses
By Jacob Greber
Nov. 2 (Bloomberg)

An Australian academic who predicted a collapse in house prices concedes he lost a bet with Macquarie Group Ltd. economist Rory Robertson that commits the loser to walk from Canberra to the top of the nation’s highest mountain.

Steve Keen, 56, plans to start in April the 230-kilometer (143-mile) hike from the Australian capital to Mount Kosciuszko, a 2,228-meter peak that is snowcapped for much of the year, the University of Western Sydney associate professor said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News today.

The concession follows a report published earlier today showing Australia’s house prices jumped 6.2 percent in the 12 months through Sept. 30, shattering Keen’s forecast a year ago that the housing market would collapse by 40 percent. Robertson, 43, challenged Keen to hike Mount Kosciuszko if values fell by less than 20 percent. “Keen could scarcely have been more wrong,” Macquarie’s Robertson said today in Sydney. “I wish Dr. Keen well on his long walk.”

Anonymous's picture

Before the Keen love-in gets to rooted in one sided vision, be sure to take care in calling him a good predictor.

Keen himself admits to being wrong on several fronts.

He grossly mispredicted a housing collapse on timing.

I am in Australia and used to follow him. He urged people to sell their homes,( some did and lost out on huge capital gains) stocks etc and he lost a huge a debate about a depression and housing collapse here.

He also lost a bet with another leading economist about the plunge in house prices, this sees KEEN running/walking 200KMs up a mountain wearing a T-Shirt which says,
I WAS WRONG ABOUT THE Economy: Ask me why...

Please read his predictions and timelines before selling your house or stocks based on his writings!

"AN ECONOMIST known as the "Merchant of Gloom" will have to walk from Canberra to the top of Australia's highest mountain after losing a bet about the resiliency of Australian house prices.

Last November, University of Western Sydney associate professor of economics and finance Steve Keen made a high-profile bet with Macquarie Group interest rate strategist Rory Robertson.

The two parts of the bet were that house prices would tank by the end of 2009 and that house prices would fall 40 per cent from their all-time high within 15 years...."

BHP and Rio agree, Steve Keen is wrong.
by Michael Pascoe
posted on Oct 23 09:24am

Economists can occasionally be dangerous things when radical or simply wrong ideas fall on fertile ground.

Economists can occasionally be dangerous things when radical or simply wrong ideas fall on fertile ground. Karl Marx, for example, never personally hurt anyone that I know of, but some of his ideas eventually helped cause incredible suffering and death.

Domestically, an associate professor at the University of Western Sydney, Steve Keen, is currently scaring the easily-frightened with especially dire forecasts about the Australian economy. Keen's predictions aren't taken very seriously by most economists, but he's still enjoyed plenty of media attention, much of it unquestioning. Some of my media colleagues are happy to search out the most extreme and alarmist views - they make bigger headlines.

Keen is predicting the economic equivalent of the earth splitting open, spewing forth fire, toads and serpents, the seas turning to blood, the Four Riders of the Apocalypse loping off random heads and limbs and so on. He represents a tiny minority of economic opinion.

(Part of Keen's appeal to populist media is that he has put his unit on the market, claiming housing prices are going to crash. As Rory Robertson, Macquarie Bank's respected interest rate strategist, observed, Keen would have more credibility as a housing forecaster if he had sold his unit last year.)

Renfield's picture

Right, but always examine the reasons...and the outcomes.

Keen expected a deflation event that WAS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN, had it not been that the GOVERNMENT stepped in to prop up asset prices. Wayne Swan has already confessed that were it not for government spending, Aus would not have this economic 'growth' now.

If you or anyone considers government spending 'growth', then there's no point criticising Obambi and Bermonkey, is there?

The result of this stupidity, which Rudd himself railed against in his campaign then turned around and did, is that Aus household debt-to-income ratio is among the highest in the world: $1.60 of debt for $1.00 of income (thanx, Who Crashed the Economy blog).

We are a country of peasants consigned a lifetime of going to work to pay debt, on houses that our banks own. Inflation is taking off now, on food petrol and pretty much everything we need...no deflation in sight except on cheap consumer discretionary goods and of course wages. Our future is fucking bleak if the markets don't fall soon. We will be working for Chinese wages, renting from the banks. Thanks heaps, Rudd. If Americans and the English have quit 'buying' big-ass mortgages, then we and the Canadians are in a contest for the stupidest citizenry in the world.

Thank God for the RBA raising rates. I'm afraid to hope that they will stick to their guns and continue to do this.

And speaking of the banks, check out their derivative exposure, second-tier toxic 'assets' and shaky balance sheets on ozrisk.net...it is only a matter of time for them. They are filled to the gills with bad debts to a population transparently unable to service them.

Keen was wrong in the short-term, but I believe he suffered from right-but-early syndrome.

I'm sure as hell not stupid enough to 'buy' a house...sorry, buy a mortgage...here at the top of a government-propped market. Sorry about that, Westpac, NAB, ANZ, CBA, and fat fugly Macpiggie (whose appropriate logo is a bland white zero).

Anonymous's picture

My houses are paid for in full, but I had a mortgage once upon a time. I have made pretty good money trading Banks here in OZ! My point about KEEN was he has put himself out there as financial advisor cum prognosticator and has done great damage to some and great embarrassment to himself, I could care less about his economic theism! But I do care when Keen is posted on the front page of SMH screaming house on fire! At least WAIT until first sign of smoke to try to appeal to masses to sell out!

Mark Twain:
A man who goes around with a prophecy-gun ought never to get discouraged. If he will keep his heart and fire at everything he sees he is bound to hit something by and by.

Me: I predict that one the Sun will expire worthless...I WILL be right, I am just early!

lookma's picture


This "Keen expected a deflation event that WAS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN, had it not been that the GOVERNMENT stepped in to prop up asset prices." is not an excuse or defense of Keen, it is exhibit A of why he is dead wrong.

He's a broken record like Mish about credit collapse, largely ignoring currency considerations.  He, like Mish, thinks for some reason fiat currency can't be printed sufficiently to offset this.  He is a broken record of OMG credit collapse.

Itulip implicitly pwned him in an interview from 2008 - lolaments at Steve Keen:

J: That’s a very interesting point. It’s long been the iTulip hypothesis – we came up with theory called the Ka-Poom Theory which presumes the US government will eventually have to inflate fiscal and household debt away, that is, both the private sector and public sector debt, and the mechanism of this would be depreciating the currency which would be self reinforcing with respect to the response of US creditors.

I’m not so certain they’ll do that. That’s a policy guess.

J: Yes. That’s a policy guess, of course. But doesn’t it appear that is exactly what they are doing?

K: I definitely agree with the idea of the “Greenspan Put” and that’s obviously been a deliberate policy throughout the past 20 years, that whenever the financial system, the Wall Street system, gets itself in dire trouble the Fed will come in and effectively negate the mistakes it’s made at whatever cost that might involve. But it also simultaneously been on top of consumer price inflation; when they come in and validate what Wall Street’s doing, they’re validating asset price inflation and in fact as a result, they’ve driven the gap between asset prices and consumer prices to historically unprecedented levels and that, from a Minskian point of view, means that realignment of those prices is going to also be historically unprecedented in scale.






Renfield's picture

Comparing him to Mish is about right.

Having said that (and I personally believe that we are in an inflationary global currency collapse, which will end with a 'reset' to asset backing), I 100% agree with Keen (and Mish) that our governments/corporates are relying on exponentially-expanding debt that CANNOT be serviced by income stream or by any realistic projection.

And yes a deflationary outcome would have a cleansing effect on the economy.

That this is unlikely to happen, is where I believe Mish & Keen are in error.

We are much more likely to get an inflationary outcome. Australia in particular seems hellbent on raising the prices of everything to catch up to housing, rather than allowing housing to drop to a level with everything else, gladly sacrificing its peasantry for a handful of banks with NO popular opposition whatsoever. This will result in an even worse result than in the US, since wages here are stagnant to dropping. I'm sure I don't need to draw a picture of what rampant price inflation coupled with low wages will do (and has done) here. This country has become almost unlivable.

I read blogs skeptically for certain reasons, not b/c they corner 'the whole' truth. Keen does a brilliant job of exposing the REALITY of private debt levels in Australia.

I give him credit for that, as our corporate-owned media propaganda has near-universal popular credibility here (and, apparently, with foreign observers who somehow lose all skepticism when it comes to Aus government figures and 'lucky country' rhetoric). Hardly anyone in this country has heard of Keen, NOR do most people here have any idea of how private debt is literally destroying this country. Believe it or not, people here tend to be horribly uninformed and STILL BELIEVE that house prices rise forever and our banks are 'well capitalised'.

IF our economy survives, it will be b/c either the bond market or a high interest rate burden on a poverty-stricken population, forces our government to stop propping asset prices. Why do you think the RBA is raising rates? To keep foreign idiots buying our bonds, no doubt. At some point these private debt levels will meet these rising interest rates, and then Keen may well be proved right, although I doubt it. But as to the specifics of the problem itself, he's dead-on.

Anonymous's picture

France? Strikes, bureaucracies and stagnation. Some kinds of growth are not worth the trouble.

NorthenSoul's picture

France is the only country that did not have a debt crisis and that is why it has shown growth

France? You mean THAT France? This hexagonal-shaped country so cursed and villified by the US reichwing nut jobs?

And they have the nerve to show GROWTH? Stealing OUR credo?

Man! That has gotta hurt!


JacksWastedLife's picture

Time to reread The Grapes Of The Wrath and The Black Obelisk by Erich Maria Remarque.

Anonymous's picture

Keen seems like much more of an Austrian than a Keynesian. Or maybe it's just me. Mises' debt theory of deflation is largely compatible with Minsky's model laid out here. Neoclassicists are odd-man-out (yet they are steering the ship... still).

Rainman's picture

It took him a half hour of evidence to pronounce his bearishness....and did it with great Aussie style. It was time well spent watching his presentation.

I still can't shake the nightmare that worldwide deleaveraging may become the catalyst for WW III, which would require that the free world turn to an unencumbered France for protection.


Marley's picture
I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough whopper! I fart in your general direction! You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of eldeberries.
Renfield's picture


Here's hoping Rainman is a Python fan... ;-) Nice to see Keen getting some respect, but

He's not the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy!

Anonymous's picture

But at the end of the day, what do you "do"? Where is your money safe, do you only buy tangible assets?

Anonymous's picture

The pseudo-science of neoclassical economics is analogous to Renaissance astrology; tiny discoveries of truth drowning in a sea of ignorance and corrupt motivations.

cougar_w's picture

Very nicely said. An instant classic.

Anonymous's picture

I'm never tired of Peter Schiff. He's one of the few I actually follow.

Anonymous's picture

Great video clip. Had not heard of Steve Keen before. He's one of the view folks in the economics realm that I would describe as rational.

Anonymous's picture

Steve Keen is a fucking moron. This is the same idiot that uses the LTV to try and 'discredit' Say's Law. He's right for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous's picture

There is no right or wrong economics school! each works during a particular historical period of human development. Economics and the economy does not exist in a vacuum, but coexists with many many other variables including two of the most important being; the level of political and economic development in a society.

Very few economists no matter how great, will understand this if they simply specialise in economics alone. You will become what i like to call 'an educated idiot'. Most educated idiots have jobs as lecturers at universities.

Adam Smith and all the other great thinkers of the past were great not because they specialised in one discipline, but because they were multi-disciplined.

trav777's picture

Blah Blah BLAH BLAH economics IS NOT A SCIENCE.

It's bullshit!

Energy is the cause, the thing that maketh.

Watch these economists struggle like fish on the floor to figure it out.  They're not in the fishbowl anymore!

Debt is borrowed consumption owed back in the future PLUS interest.  This is a GROWTH mandate!

The problem is that we cannot GROW anymore.  This is really very simple shit that morons who call themselves economists cannot seem to grasp. 

There isn't enough energy supply to power the more trucks to take to the more WalMarts needing construction on the more roads needing pavement to service the more customers driving more cars more miles to buy the more shit that all the more chinese factories are sitting there idle waiting to build!  I don't give a fuck what Keynes said, you cannot FUDGE real shit with bamboozling figures on paper.

cougar_w's picture

A lot of what we call "the modern economy" was born and weened in a period of plentiful (and virtually free) energy. The wealth created by using anything that is free is stupendous (that's why press-labor remains so popular) and free energy is the greatest wealth creator ever. By including coal you can go back 300 years before you run into a solar-based economy, and anyone who isn't familiar with classical solar-based economies should study the Middle Ages.

And now the free energy gambit is very nearly over.

Yes, the world's coal reserves are staggering. So are the environmental damages from extracting them, and that doesn't even get you into climate change. And coal won't move your FedEx truck or the tractor in the field or your food delivery to the grocery store, so going back just 150 years to a period we would recognize before oil was discovered would be lethal to life-as-we-know-it.

Economics as we have come to know it will not survive the end of oil. Civilization as we know it will not survive climate change. Things will certainly go on regarding both, but not as we have known them for 300 years. If I can figure that out, so can everyone else. TPTB are just playing it out as long as they can just because they don't have any other plan and cannot conceive of one. When you get to the end of the rope, you tie a knot and hold on as long as you can. It isn't smart, and takes no guts whatever, it's just all the average Joe can think to do. The alternative -- throwing off the blinders and grappling with your reality two-fisted -- would never cross the average Joe's mind. And our leadership institutions are jam-packed with average Joe's.


Renfield's picture

"Economics as we have come to know it will not survive the end of oil. Civilization as we know it will not survive climate change. Things will certainly go on regarding both, but not as we have known them for 300 years. If I can figure that out, so can everyone else. TPTB are just playing it out as long as they can just because they don't have any other plan and cannot conceive of one. When you get to the end of the rope, you tie a knot and hold on as long as you can. It isn't smart, and takes no guts whatever, it's just all the average Joe can think to do. The alternative -- throwing off the blinders and grappling with your reality two-fisted -- would never cross the average Joe's mind. And our leadership institutions are jam-packed with average Joes."

I pasted it b/c it bears repeating. What a perfect summary of the big picture.

Christ I love this blog.

crosey's picture

Good point T7.  We may be at a global consumption brick wall.  I used to think that it was just I who had come to the conclusion that he had purchased all the trinkets he could ever need, or rationalize.  Then I look at my 20+ kids, and they're not buying a ton of stuff either.

It may be over.

Nanotechnology....where are we going to get the money for that?

vk9141's picture

Indeed, there is too much useless shit in the world to want to keep growing and growing, and adding to the pile.

AnonymousMonetarist's picture


Such magicians they are with models they built that show no chance of fail when the money is easy and free. It is merely a matter of scale not design. These models rate the probability as 100% that our blessed leaders can manufacture the economic consent of consumers by getting them to add more debt because same consumer will believe that prices will be higher in the future.

These models and the besotted following are both trading without respect to fundamentals.

Inflation expectations were well anchored in the Great Depression.

They also were well anchored in Japan which is presumably the Federales highest probablity target ... flat beer for everyone.


Anonymous's picture


Well, a couple of days ago I asked Tyler and Marla to consider ripping the Namke Debt Consolidation Idea to shreds on Zero Hedge.

And today I find a wonderful post featuring a credible economist that provides a strong theoretical framework for the idea.

I have never heard of Steve Keen. I will attempt to contact him to get his opinion on the Namke Debt Consolidation Idea.

Steve Keen provides a very well-expressed theoretical framework that technicians can understand. The Namke Debt Consolidation Idea shows how easy and simple it would be to end the credit crisis. The Namke idea seems to provide the practical details needed for the US, England, Canada, Australia and the other "print money" countries to end the credit crisis quickly.

If you understand Steve Keen then it may be worth your while to check out the Namke idea. If (and I am still pressing for "when") governments put the idea into action it will have a huge and immediate impact on your investment positions.

No government is going to pre-announce the idea. No credible leaks. The announcement (if they do it) will be like a lightning bolt out of the blue.

So, you might want to factor the idea into your hedging thoughts? Along the lines of : If it isn't where it has to be then it has to be where it can't be?

Should you develop a mild case of temporary insanity and suddenly feel an uncontrollable urge to read the idea then feel free to visit : http://emsjuwel.com/business

Any comments (from people who understand Steve Keen's presentation) would be appreciated as a reply to this comment.

If Tyler and Marla don't want to rip the idea to shreds on Zero Hedge then maybe you would like to give it a go?

The jobs summit in the US is coming up. Will you let Goldman set the agenda? So, how about a reply offering your own agenda for the jobs summit in Washington?

Hey, folks - there is almost no way that the White House can ask for opinions and ideas from their strongest critics (like Zero Hedge). What do you think - you're going to get a love letter? A few nice ideas in the comments on this blog might go a long way?

Thanks for your patience, criticisms and agendas.

Namke von Federlein

Anonymous's picture

Just kicks the can down the road.

Greyzone's picture

Your position assumes that there is anyone out there in power who wants to "solve" the credit crisis, who wants a stronger dollar, and who wants an unencumbered (or less encumbered) middle class.

I suggest that you re-evaluate that assumption.

Papasmurf's picture





Nothing that happened was accidental.

Anonymous's picture

Actually, I've spent a great deal of my life on the "power puzzle".

The way I sum it up is this : The only way to get a feeling of power is to abuse your power. The greater the abuse, the stronger the feeling of power. A person who simply dedicates their life to service (even if they are as powerful as the Pope) will never, ever feel powerful. They go to bed and say : "I hope my service is beneficial".

More to a practical point about the people in power (as you put it) and the Namke Debt Consolidation Idea : If you are a trader then you have probably noticed the same thing that I have : The big money is when you surprise the markets. The bigger the surprise, the more money you make.

So, from the point of view of the people in power - the NDCI is the best possible idea. It would be a total wild-card. A total power trip.

I feel that any person in power (as you put it) would just love to pop the idea on the markets. Not because of the citizens. Because it is in their own best interests financially and psychologically.

What better and more profitable power trip could there be right now than to flash out the cynics (like the folks on Zero Hedge and - perhaps - China)? Actually solve the problem and scoop up the money at the same time.

Here's the other part of the power puzzle (in my opinion) :

If you build things and blow them up then most people will be poor and a few people will be rich. If you build things and don't blow them up then everybody will be rich and a few people will be even richer.

So, as I hope you can see, I think the NDCI is feasible because it is in everybody's best interests - including the people in power.

Does this make sense?

Thanks for the feedback!

Namke von Federlein

Anonymous's picture

I just read your webpage and I think the idea is brilliant. I had a feeling a year ago that giving TARP money to the bank was a waste and it should be given the people instead, but you do a very good job of figuring out the finer points. And this will not be inflationary. The money would be paying off debt or sitting in an IRS holding fund, which wouldn't be lent out by banks. I fear 2 trillion might not be enough though, but its a start.

If you haven't looked through all Steve Keen's webpage, he has models comparing how money given to banks would compare to money given directly to the people. The money given to the people produces much better results in terms of GDP and employment.

Anonymous's picture

Well, I'm not too sure about the brilliant part. I'm just hoping that the idea will be (at least) inspiring and (hopefully) useful.

Actually, I had the idea based on a simple premise : When the government borrows money then the money belongs to the taxpayers. Call me a radical.

If you want to recapitalise the banking system with taxpayer money then you should use that money to pay down the debt of citizens. This takes the load off citizens and provides a "doubling effect" of the money for recapitalising the banks (less open loans on the books plus more cash in reserves).

Please keep in mind : the Namke Debt Consolidation Idea does not give anybody any money at all. It simply restructures the debt in a quick and sensible way.

Also : I did post a comment at the Steve Keen web site asking for an opinion but my connection blocked when I hit the Logout link. Since then, I haven't been able to get back into the site. I'll keep trying.

Last but least : the NDCI is a "rinse and repeat" idea. In other words, if the initial debt restructuring still leaves the banks under-capitalised then it is possible to do it again without having inflationary or deflationary effects.

Many thanks for taking the time to comment.

Namke von Federlein

Anonymous's picture

That's an excellent summary of Steve Keen's views.

His article on "The Roving Cavaliers of Credit" is a must read. It's at:


At great shoot down of the idiotic neoclassical school of Economics.

There's one thing significant failure of those in Steve Keen's camp though. They failed to understand the desparation of the modern bureaucrat to sacrifice the entire country in order to prop up their paycheck. Specifically, that the insane neoclassic school would think that it's OK to dump $23 Trillion in money and guarantees into the economy just to try to return to the old F.I.R.E bubble.

Just a year ago, $1 Trillion was a large number to most. Now it's bandied about without pause for thought.

Australia did something similar to prop up the Housing market, and it took Keen by surprise (and he lost a bet on it).

So, he got wrong what the insanely delusional will do. It's hard to fault him for that. But it does give you an idea of what the people in charge are willing to do.

Dantzler's picture

That link didn't work for me, but Yves has a post discussing the article here:


G. Marx's picture

Steve seems to forget that from WWII until the late seventies, the Keynesians had their way in determining and controlling the economic and monetary policies in the developed world, and they failed miserably. To imply the Keynesian school is the realm of angels, is to to put on public display the old adage concerning "how quickly they forget." As a devotee of the Austrian school, when it comes to monetary theories and policies, the Keynesians and monetarist have more in common than Steve thinks they do. Both have their own ideological commitment to fiat currency and construct all sorts of self-rationalizing equations which are nothing more than exercises in confirmation bias; which are meant to justify a ruling political elite having say over the money supply for their own political ends. How can some not see how disastrous that has been?