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Showing posts from March 31, 2019

The Breakup of Britain: on Fintan O'Toole's Heroic Failure

This is a part of a review I wrote for Willett's Mag .  Oliver’s army is here to stay Oliver’s army are on their way And I would rather be anywhere else But here today – Elvis Costello In 2009, I became a great fan of Fintan O’Toole’s column in the Irish Times, where he served as an appalled guide to the meltdown of the Irish banks, which were riding down the sudden and traumatic slump in real estate prices. O’Toole was full of savage indignation at the sheer wanton and meanminded greed of it all, and it was a thrill to see him unloose the vials of his wrath on incompetent government honchos, the party of Fianna Fáil, the popinjay plutocrats, and their collaborators, a gang of looters pathetically incapable of covering their tracks. I was rooting from the far seats, ’cause I knew that the fight in Ireland was the same as the fight in the U.S. and the EU – the fight of the working people against the rip off artists who rule them. At the same time, O’Toole was funny

Pseudo-keynesian winter: a tale from the end of civilization

I am a great fan of shoebox economics - done by amateurs at the feet of the policymakers, smelling their stinky toes, Das Kapital in hand. Which is why, yesterday, I suddenly thought of a way of explaining to myself the governing class's economic policies for the last thirty to forty years. The policy has three legs. But calling them legs doesn't quite give one the picture of how they are inter-related; metaphors always have their shortcomings. But bear with me, ladies and germs. The first leg - let's call it the bond trader's threat - is the moral pressure on governments to cut their deficits. This pressure is asymmetrical: it does not call for governments to return to the tax policies of the immediate post-war years of last century, when corporate and wealth taxes went up. It instead calls for those deficit-driven cuts to be made in "entitlements" - in other words, in public goods and services: education, healthcare, retirement, the environment, and th