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The world is living in fear of rising inflation. Central banks are trying to combat it by pushing up interest rates, which means people also now fear how much their mortgage is going to cost. So, are they making matters better or just adding to the problem? This week Phil Dobbie asks Steve Keen if inflation is as big a problem as central banks make out, and whether hiking interest rates will fix the problem this time round. And why a 2% inflation target. It’s the aim of most central banks to get inflation down to that level, but it sounds like it had a rather haphazard, unscientific origin. If they changed the target to, say, 4 percent, what would happen? More to the point, what would happen if these banks did nothing at all? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Last week Kwasi Kwarteng, the new UK Chancellor, announced a cut in taxes at the same time that the government was stepping in to subsidise rising energy costs for homes and businesses. The cost of all this dwarfs the money spent on the furlough scheme. That means there’s a heap of government money being pushed into the public sector. Conventional economists, of the Friedman mould, would argue that we’re already seeing inflation driven by too much money, so what abut this next blast of government spending? Could it make inflation worse? And what about the repercussions on income disparity – from the budget and its unforeseen consequences. Hopefully someone in the Treasury is listening. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Shadow Banks can take the blame for the 2007-8 financial crisis, packaging up mortgages and selling them as securities to investors. It seems like there’s no lack of imagination when it comes to how these companies find new ways of making money. This week Phil asks Steve if shadow banks are all bad, or is there some good? Do they, for example, create competition for established banks? Or are they simply a mechanism for operators to work outside banking regulations. Is there a need for more regulation of the shadow banking sector? And what is a shadow bank anyway? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s clear, when energy becomes short in supply, free market forces can’t look after all of society. Just the wealthy. That’s why governments are having to step in, propping up an industry that is raking in massive profits. But could free market forces drive a more efficient delivery of energy, by making lower cost renewable energy able to compete on a more level playing field. Whilst there’s no doubt pricing is distorted in favour of fossil fuel provides, Steve tells Phil there’s still no option but to nationalise the provision of energy, something we know will never happen. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Liz Truss, the UK’s latest Prime Minister, has vowed to review the mandate of the Bank of England (BoE). It’s unclear what outcome she wants, although Kwasi Kwarteng, who is likely to be the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, has suggested the BoE didn’t move fast enough to lift interest rates. Does that mean she wants more influence over the bank’s decision making? On this week’s podcast Phil Dobbie and Prof Steve Keen look at the approach taken by central banks this time round to reduce inflation and Phil asks Steve, if you were to change the function of central banks, what would you do? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Whilst the US might be struggling a bit with inflation, its nothing compared to what’s likely to happen in Europe. This week Russia shuts down its gas pipeline to Europe, supposedly for repairs, but there’s no guarantee it will open again. Even if it does, supplies are a fraction of what they were and Europe wants to stop its reliance on Russia anyway – pushing prices sky high, with rationing the only likely solution. Meanwhile, the Euro is weakening as the dollar goes from strength to strength, and that’s adding to Europe’s inflation pressures. And throw a drought on to of all of that, adding to the energy and supply problems. Plus a growing wealth divide. Is there any good news for Europe? Steve Keen reckons the only answer, sadly, is for Europe to give-in to Putin and make swathes of Ukraine the sacrificial lamb as the only way to avoid economic collapse. Even then, Europe has a number of inherent problems to overcome. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It seems the whole approach to global trade is being redrawn. Donald Trump wanted to do less trade with China before the pandemic, and now with the Ukraine invasion the west wants to do less – preferably nothing - with Russia. Hardly surprising then that the BRICs nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are developing their own ecosystem that could see them trade less with the west, including developing their own trading currency to remove the reliance on the US dollar. Phil Dobbie talks to Steve Keen about the impact this would have on the West. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
It’s a question being asked more and more. How many of the things that we privatised should be brought back under state control, as energy companies record massive profits, yet those on low incomes are struggling to heat their homes? In the UK privatisation was rampant in the eighties, but were mistakes made? Steve Keen has a simple test as to whether some things are best managed by the public sector or the private sector? But what about public-private partnerships? Are they potentially the worst outcome of all? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
On the Why Curve podcast last week, Phil (and Roger Hearing) spoke to Daniel Gros, Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, who argued that the gas crisis in Europe will be largely resolved by the pricing mechanism. High gas prices from Russia are making LNG imports feasible, because Europe will pay more than Asia for supplies. It won’t completely bridge the shortfall, he says, but if Europeans make a 15 percent cut in usage, then there will be no need to negotiate with Putin. This week on the Debunking Economics podcast Steve Keen argues that the pricing mechanism ignores the needs of the poor and has, for decades, favoured the rich. The fact that governments need to subsidise low-income households against rising fuel prices, whilst energy companies report record profits, demonstrates just how broken the pricing mechanism is. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Central banks are pushing up interest rates to slow down the rate of inflation. The principle is simple. Supplies are constrained and demand is high, so we’re being charged more for practically everything. If we can slow demand then the demand-supply divide will narrow. But can you do that without throwing the world into a recession in the process? The US Federal Reserve seems to think so. They put out a paper last week, by Chris Waller and Andrew Figura, called ‘What does the Beveridge curve tell us about the likelihood of a soft landing?’ Today Phil Dobbie talks to Steve Keen about the argument that a soft-landing can be secured if there are fewer jobs being offered, not a reduction in the number of people employed. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the UK petrol cars emit 128g of CO2 per kilometre. In the US they drive bigger cars, for longer, so the carbon impact is that much greater. But cars, buses and motorcycles account for less than 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to electric could make a difference (unless of course the electricity is coal powered) but will it make a big enough difference, and are the objectives for Net Zero by 2050 really achievable? Phil Dobbie talks to Prof Steve Keen, and asks, are we lulling ourselves into a false sense of security when we think electric cars are a big part of the answer to climate change? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
As inflation grows around the world the US dollar enjoying multi-decade highs. To an extent, that’s helping mitigate the impact of inflation in the US by dampening the rising cost of imports. Most other places, though, are seeing the opposite happen. The rising dollar devalues local currencies making imports, including energy, more expensive, adding to inflation. This week Phil Dobbie talks to Prof Steve Keen about the impacts of exchange rates on international trade and how nations could be starting to challenge the US dominance in currency markets. As Pola, a Debunking Economics Podcast listener asks, what happens as BRICs nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) move to payments in their own currencies instead of using the US dollar? Beyond that, what if they develop their own trading currency, similar to the Bancor proposed by Keynes back in the 1940s. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
When British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no magic money tree she was wrong. There is, but you still have to look after it. What happens if you take the money off the tree too quickly, and give it to the wrong people? Is that what’s happened over the last two years? This week Phil Dobbie asks Steve Keen if there’s an optimum level of expansion to the money supply (through government spending) and how do we claw back from it if we have overspent? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Inflation is rising everywhere as supply chains hit prices in the shops and at the fuel bowsers. Central banks are responding to this the only way they know how – by pushing up interest rates. Phil Dobbie asks Steve Keen what’s their rationale, when higher interest rates won’t fix the supply issues? Steve suggests there will be a rapid reversal in policy when the central banks realise the real damage they are doing to the economy. ‘There will be no soft landing’, he says. ‘There never is’. But what about taxation, asks Phil. Could demand be softened by taxing the high earners? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
When COVID has gone and the war is over, will we return to the patterns of international trade we were enjoying just a few years ago? Steve Keen says not, which puts him in the camp of anti-globalists that FT columnist Martin Wolf wrote about recently, in an article ‘The big mistakes of the anti-globalisers’. This week Phil puts some of Martin’s arguments to Steve, including the evidence that international trade has significantly boosted GDP globally and helped reduce extreme poverty. Won’t a more self-sufficient approach turn back the clock on both those achievements. Listen in for why Steve thinks times have changed for good, as we focus on sustainability over efficiency. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Conspiracy theorists are out there claiming that unelected representatives are holding power, using technology to control our behaviour. China has tried a bit of this social engineering, but there are those who believe its far broader than that. They also reckon the drive for us to not use cash is part of the agenda, so ‘they’ can track our behaviour. That’s why central banks (who are unelected representatives who control our behaviour) want to move to a digital currency and are against cryptocurrencies that they can’t control. This week Phil Dobbie asks Prof Steve Keen if there is any potential for truth behind this fearmongering. Maybe we could all do with a bit of control! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Central banks the world over are busy lifting interest rates and, at the same time, engaging in quantitative tightening. In other words, all those bonds they bought up, will progressively be sold back to the commercial banks they were bought from. As those central bank balance sheets start to fall, what impact does it have on the economy? Does it mean we’ll see a shrinking of the money supply. That’s the commonly held belief, but, in reality the shift will have little impact, except for making banks slightly better off. The bigger concern is when they sell off corporate bonds, as Prof Steve keen explains to Phil Dobbie in this week’s podcast. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The Tragedy of the Commons is a concept developed by William Forster Lloyd one hundred and fifty years ago. The argument is that if you allowed everybody to graze their cattle on common ground, with nobody in charge, the land would be overgrazed and the individual pursuits of many will result in destruction for all. So, do you put someone in charge, who imposes regulations on everyone. Or do you go the way of the free marketeers, who would argue that someone owns the land and rent sit out, with a vested interest in maintaining the long-term viability. Is there a definitive answer and how can we apply the Tragedy of the Commons to capitalism today? Phil Dobbie talks to Prof Steve Keen. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Central bankers and economists have often used the Phillips curve to determine the path of inflation. The problem is, they often get it wrong. No wonder then, that they question its validity when it doesn’t work the way it should. Call it operator error. On today’s podcast with Phil Dobbie, Steve Keen explains how most miss the dynamic aspects of Phillips’ observations – it’s the speed of change that counts, not a snapshot of employment levels at any particular time. Her also considered the changes in the price of inputs. On that basis, with unemployment rapidly falling and the price of imports rapidly rising, the Phillip’s curve has never been more relevant. So, does it tell us what happens next? Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Stagflation is that worrying combination of rises prices in a stagnant economy. Central banks believe the answer is to push up interest rates, to magically reduce inflation and miraculously demand returns to normal. There’s a debate as to whether that can be done without kickstarting a recession. Some argue that might be the poison pill we have to take – pointing to when Paul Volcker at the US Federal Reserve pushed interest rates as high as 21.5% , leading to recession, but ultimately seeing economic growth return. Steve Keen says this time, it’s different. And we can’t assume the inflation cycle is as transient as many politicians, economists and central bankers believe. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Comments (3)

L Jenkins

Great episode

Jun 28th
Reply

Jason

let the banks fail. everyone's money is FDIC insured. we will be fine.

Apr 23rd
Reply

Ron Fischer

excellent discussion, well worth the listen

Mar 26th
Reply
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