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Looking for the new normal: my new YouTube channel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 4:13pm in

I mentioned yesterday that I am launching a YouTube channel, with the active assistance of Mark Cooney of SpottedinEly. This is the introductory video:

The channel will cover four main themes:

  • Economics
  • Tax
  • The Green New Deal
  • Accounting

Within those there is ample room to develop a whole host of material.

The aim is to be educational.

There will be politics, because all of those issues are intensely political.

That said, party political comment will be avoided. There’s also no plan to do day-to-day reaction to events . That will be staying here.

Next week there will be an introductory video to each of the main themes. Then I will be launching out into more detailed topics.

I am, of course, open to suggestions as to topics. Those that are likely early on are:

  • Modern monetary theory
  • Tax after coronavirus
  • Funding the Green New Deal as a way to beat the coronavirus crisis
  • Sustainable cost accounting.

That said, if there is demand for it I may also do some introductory material on each issue as well. These will have the aim of setting out why these issues are important by looking at their real significance within society. This fits with the idea that what the whole series is going to be about is finding the new normal.

And there may also be a Scottish theme develop, since I will be working on some Scottish related issues this summer.

The aim is that no video should be more than about 4 minutes. That improves accessibility. This will require a little judgement as I will be making them all unscripted: I find it easier that way. As a result the videos will not always be perfect deliveries to camera: that I can live with. I am keener to create content than absolute perfection.

If you like the idea please subscribe to the channel. We can’t even name it until we get 100 subscribers. And please do provide feed back, comments and requests. I will be noting all reasonable ones.

Making video…..the YouTube channel is coming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/07/2020 - 11:39pm in


Blogging, YouTube

I spent this morning recording five introductory videos for my new YouTube Channel:

The Channel launches tomorrow - and each major theme gets an introductory video next week.

The overarching theme is 'Looking for the new normal'. You can guess that's not the same as the old one.

Thanks to Mark Cooney at SpottedinEly for partnering on this. I'm going to turn up and do the talking. Mark is doing everything else. I think this could be a lot of fun. And the aim is to keep everything to a limit of 4 minutes. Accessibility is going to be key to this.


Politics, economics and political economy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 3:27pm in

I was asked yesterday if I would mind splitting this blog into two. One part would be on economics. The other would be on politics. The argument was that most people want the economics, and not so many the politics.

I had to reply that I did not think that was possible, but because I was very anxious to deliver 50,000 words on a project last night (and did, on time, if only just) I could not elaborate. As I am taking a relatively quiet day today as reward for the effort expended, let me explain now. Not that it takes long.

I am a political economist. I actually don’t think there is any other sort: those who claim otherwise are, in my opinion, simply deluding themselves and others, usually in the cause of neoliberalism. But there is a point to saying that the two are inseparable, and that if a political economist is to be honest must be so. And that is that all economics is based on assumptions. We all build models all the time in all aspects of life to help us understand things that are otherwise inexplicable, or at least, which would take too long to fathom out unless we had a model to help us.

Some of these models are backed by law: in the UK we have a model of driving on the left hand side of the road. We know full well that a model of driving on the right hand side works at least as well. But we use one where we drive on the left.

We also have models of behaviour. Most of us, but with varying degrees of accuracy, can interpret smiles and other body language. The methods we use are models - and most of the time they work for us. Practice lets us use them because the results have, usually, been good enough to permit us not to think too hard, and thinking is hard, which is why most of us would rather not do it.

In political economy the models explain how relationships of power - human and legal, in the main, but not entirely - influence the way in which society allocates resources, for better or worse.

But those models aren’t fixed. And some of them could be radically changed. About 30 years ago Sweden switched from driving on the left to the tight, for example, overnight. The rules of engagement changed. And that is always possible. Just as human relationships can be altered, and have been. The political constructs that are so powerful in allocating resources - from the right to inherit, to gender stereotypes, to race - and so much more, are all open to challenge and adjustment. Sometimes that is encouraged by law. Sometimes events change our own patterns of behaviour - our heuristics alter.

But the point is that those models are all political. There is literally nothing in the economy that does not have a power relationship built into it - the tax system being a perfect example of that. It is power alone that results in income from wealth being taxed less than income from work; nothing else can explain that.

And even within modern monetary theory (MMT) the priority it places on full employment is, of course, a chosen priority. It make sense to those who use MMT. But it is a political choice.

And all these choices are interwoven. I can’t, fir example, consider what full employment means without considering issues relating to gender, orientation, race, migration, class, and so on: all of them impact on the outcome of a decision to pursue full employment and who really gains from it.

In that case I can’t discuss MMT without discussing politics because MMT seeks full employment.

The same is true of any other economic issue. What we decide, how we decide, how we even build the model (and this is so true of MMT) reflects political choice. In that case two blogs are impossible. Politics and economics are inseparable.

So too then are disputes. That’s life.

I’d like to say I am sorry about that: I don’t much like disputes either. But I can’t: they come with the territory. They happen and they will happen again. Disputes are what political economy is about.

Half way there

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 3:15pm in



In the first six months of this year this blog had 1.735 million reads.

To put this in context, last year it had 1.739 million reads.

Now to be fair, last year was the lowest number of reads for several years. My academic work was pretty seriously distracting in 2019 and the number of posts was way down.

And to also be fair, there have been one or two pretty exceptional circumstances this year that have contributed to the change, and not all of them by a long way of my making. I’d much rather some had not happened.

But, that said, thank you. I admit I do not write to find favour. I write what I want, and think appropriate. I know that’s both a strength and a weakness. I accept that. It’s also, in my experience, the only way to pioneer change and survive the experience of writing a blog in the long term, which can sometimes be a bit challenging.

When in June 2006 I began this blog I had no idea what might happen. 19.3 million reads later some things have. And a great deal of really useful debate has arisen. I have learned a massive amount, and changed my mind along the way on some issues as a result. And I really appreciate that.

I am making no forecasts for the rest of this year. Every single forecast for 2020 so far has been so wildly wrong no one can be sure what will happen. What I can say is that I do still want to develop key themes, on tax after coronavirus, sustainable cost accounting, MMT, the Green New Deal and more. This year has a long way to go as yet.

How to take power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 6:53pm in



I was asked during the talk that I gave to an Australian conference this morning how I imagined that society could take the power to deliver change, like the Green New Deal.

I answered off-the-cuff, and so do not have a note of what I said, precisely. However, I always answer such questions in broadly the same way. My argument is based upon experience.

Unless we are talking revolutions, and I do not, then the only way to take power that I know of is to outthink the opposition. In practical terms, that means that those who want to change have to explain what it looks like. Unless you can say what it is the alternative power that you want to put in place will do, how, and to what end, then people are not going to help you get it.

I learned this with the tax justice movement. I well recall from 2003 onwards being told that there was not a chance that tax havens would deliver on automatic information exchange of tax data in my lifetime. However, that did not stop a group of us explaining precisely what we needed, which was quite different, and a lot less complicated than the proposal from those who were, in effect, maintaining the status quo. The consequence is that we have now had automatic information exchange for a number of years, and I am still alive.

The same is also true with regard to country-by-country reporting. I can also well remember the conferences and meetings that I went to where the Big 4 firms of accountants were absolutely adamant that it would be impossible to produce this type of data. Ignoring for a moment their wild claims that their clients did not know where they traded, which would of course have meant that they were not keeping the books and records required by company law, I was simply able to point out that this had to be untrue for a whole range of reasons, including local tax laws. Their claim was not possible, but mine, which could be explained in detail, was. The consequence is that country-by-country reporting is now a legal requirement in more than 70 countries, albeit only for tax purposes.

The Green New Deal is, of course, a third example. None of us who sat in Ann Pettifor’s flat to discuss writing this in 2007 and 2008 thought that more than a decade later there would, right around the world, be calls for a Green New Deal, and yet they are the direct consequence of those meetings and the willingness that Colin Hines and I had to keep this issue will live in the barren years between 2010 and 2017 when almost no one talked about it. What we had was a plan.

So, how to take power? To some extent, simply ignore the issue of power is my answer. Simply prove that you have a better answer. Keep at it, persistently explaining what people keep telling you is nonsense, and then the day comes when suddenly everyone thought it was a great idea all along. That is what is happening with modern monetary theory now. At that point you don’t need to take power: people want to be part of its delivery process instead.

That is why I don’t go into politics. It is why I stick with the ideas. I have more chances of changing the world that way, even if by only a little bit, and only on occasion. That will do.

Call it a statement of intent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/06/2020 - 11:21pm in



Call it a statement of intent to do more audio:

And the dictation accuracy is almost 100%, which is also good news, because I don't have time to type everything.

Constructive work

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 6:34pm in



I liked this Tweet to which my attention was drawn this morning:

That is so true.

And on that score, might I apologise for some things appearing to be missing on the blog right now?

I know I promised more Mythbusters.

And Tax After Coronavirus (TACs) is quiet.

So are some issues to do with sustainable cost accounting.

And I intended to publish more tax data.

I haven't because I have been working like fury to finish a submission on reports to the UK government and a report for the Global Initiative for Financial Transparency on what we're calling a Tax Transparency Standard.

In all I think I have written at least 25,000 words (maybe more; certainly not less) in the last week: there were more than 6,000 yesterday. And there are only so many I can do in a day.

Both these pieces of work will be delivered by the end of next week for all practical purposes. Then other issues on the blog will get more attention again, not least because after these two there are no other looming deadlines. Such is the state of play right now.

Please accept my apologies. I am finite. It's very annoying.

How long before ‘fake news libel’ becomes commonplace?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 4:40pm in

The Guardian reports this morning that:

One of the Philippines’ most prominent journalists, Maria Ressa, is facing up to six years in prison after she was found guilty on Monday of “cyber libel” charges, a verdict condemned as setting “an extraordinarily damaging precedent” for press freedoms in the region.

The case, widely seen as an attempt to muzzle the media, followed a complaint by a businessman about a story written five years earlier about his alleged ties to a then-judge in the nation’s top court.

What is the significance?

First of all, for press freedom in the Philipines, which was already under threat, it is dire.

Second, for Maria Ressa, a gross injustice is being done.

Third, it's only time before right-wing thugs copy each other. How long before 'fake news libel' becomes commonplace and press freedom disappears?

Fourth, blog freedom goes as well in that case, of course.

As, fifth, does democracy.


Don’t give up

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 12:19am in



One regular here sent me this link today. Peter Gabriel write it at least in part as a response to Thatcher.

I happen to really like this version.

An update on economic myths

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 7:13pm in

I did not quite expect the question I raised on Saturday to get the reaction it did: there have been 121 response to my request for lists of economic myths needing shattering, and that number is still rising.

I asked the question with good reason. I wanted to know the answer. I will now be doing an analysis of the responses and will then work out where to go from there.

My instinct is to do three things.

The first is to then flag the list of requests and, in effect, keep it open.

The second is to highlight those that got most support and seek confirmation that these are, indeed, the right ones to focus on.

The third reaction will be to write responses. I would suggest that these are in four parts.

The first part will be the Twitter response: 240 characters to dismiss the myth (if possible).

The second will be the slightly longer response: the 200 words that anyone on radio might get, at most, on the issue.

The third will be the longer still blog version (which will usually be the easiest to write, by far). this might be 700 to 800 words.

And the fourth version will then add references, or may simply be those references, plus charts.


And thoughts as to how this is to be done? I am planning to blog the responses but then have a link page on the wiki, plus links to other common myths at the bottom of each post. Does that make sense.

Finally, a series name? Again, thoughts?

PS: a final note: it has occurred to me that I have not have taken very much time at all off this year: I even blogged when in bed with Covid-19. I am taking a bit of a break (by my standards) this week, so reactions may be a bit slower than normal.