Ravi Batra seems crazy to me

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I actually agree with a lot of his conclusions, but his ideas seem crazy to me all the time. Have Krguman on or Brad Delong.

Point 1: Ravi Batra seemed to say when the deficits go down, the economy will crash.

Tell that to Bill Clinton.

Deficits are a small percent of GDP and hence a small percent of wages - can not possibly explain the productivity gap - the difference between wages and productivity since the 1980's.

Deficits are a symptom, not a 'cause'. Deficits are a function of government spending and taxes. But they also grow automatically during recessions since income falls and hence tax revenues fall. And, welfare payments rise. To say that if deficits fall then the economy falls is really bizarre.

Point2: Ravi also said the multiplier is smaller now because of Debt in reference to Keynesian economics. Debt is not part of Keynes' model, nor does it make an appearance in most introductory textbooks that teach the so-called 'Keynesian' model. Thom's point is much more to the point - all the dollars we spend now go outside the US. This is the so-called effect of the "foriegn trade" multiplier which is often taught in introductory classes. It is also important to point out that the multiplier only 'works' if there is unemployment - otherwise it simply ends up increasing prices. The idea that we can know exactly what the multiplier is - 1.5 or 1.8 is not the point.

Point3: Why we have a debt based monetary system. Tom's other economist guest is technically correct - the government could simply print the money it needs, pay off the debt and that's that. The reason we don't do this is because the market for treasuries is a check on printing too much money. If people willingly hold bonds that means are money supply is solid. It also means that people forgo current consumption to hold money. This reduces any inflationary effect printing money might cause. The cost, is of course, 300 billion in interest and climbing. I'm not sure what side I am on on this issue, but those are the complexities as I see them.

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Dr. Econ
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When deficits go down in a boom period, that's normal. When defits go down during a severe recession that isn't self-correcting,, things are going to get worse. Only government intervention can get things going again. in the time frame that matters...people's lives. That takes deficits..spent wisely rather than being thrown at financial markets..

If the government choses to borrow money into existence rather than just spend the same amount into existence...., that's another story. about stupid economic functioning. .National governments don't have to borrow. and didn't until the establishment of the Bank of England. The framers of our Constitution knew that and gave the federal government the power to coin money...out of anything..

The only limitation in economics is that national governments can't spend (or borrow) more money into existence than the productive capacity of the country can absorb..Currently the Fed is loaning banksters money at near zero interest so they can loan it back to the government at a hefty profit. That's rather stupid..The Fed is throwing money at banksters in other ways as well:

http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney04292011.html

Batra attempts to tie economics to history. Economists used to do that. Hudson is probably the most proficient at it. His knowledge of economic functioning goes back to ancient Sumeria..He gets that theories written in the past two centuries that were disproven in the historical past, are junk economics. At some point, they should stop being taught as gospel..

The economic historian Adam Tooze is pretty good. I'd suggest reading "Wages of Desruction..- the Rise and Fall of the Nazi Economy". You'll get a really good grasp on fairly recent economic functioning missing in most economic curriculums of today..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I am asking two questions: Why is the stock market not collapsing? and Why is the economy not collapsing?

I assume that the answer to #1 is that the Fed is giving money to the banksters and they are using it to buy stocks, inflating the market. If I am right they will eventually profit take, causing another meltdown. That would occur either when the Fed stops giving away money, or when it is politically advantageous. The answer to the second question is that what little economic activity that is reaching the general public is either directly from the stimulous package, or was sparked by the stimulous. If that money is discontinued (prematurely) everything goes back to 2008.

BTW - go ahead and ask Clinton - or just google "2000 recession"

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doh1304
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Polycarp writes:
"When defits go down during a severe recession that isn't self-correcting,, things are going to get worse."

Well, it is more correct to say that cutting government spending, or raising taxes on the middle class will make things worse. The deficit is the result of ecomic policy and economic conditions, not a cause. That was my main complaint. Since the economy is slowly improving, one might expect the deficit to fall with nothing but good consequences.

As to money creation, I see both the costs and bennefits, and I am not sure your reasoning as to why you think the bennefits are greater than the costs.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote Dr. Econ:

I actually agree with a lot of his conclusions, but his ideas seem crazy to me all the time. Have Krguman on or Brad Delong.

Point 1: Ravi Batra seemed to say when the deficits go down, the economy will crash.

Tell that to Bill Clinton.

Deficits are a small percent of GDP and hence a small percent of wages - can not possibly explain the productivity gap - the difference between wages and productivity since the 1980's.

Deficits are a symptom, not a 'cause'. Deficits are a function of government spending and taxes. But they also grow automatically during recessions since income falls and hence tax revenues fall. And, welfare payments rise. To say that if deficits fall then the economy falls is really bizarre.

Point2: Ravi also said the multiplier is smaller now because of Debt in reference to Keynesian economics. Debt is not part of Keynes' model, nor does it make an appearance in most introductory textbooks that teach the so-called 'Keynesian' model. Thom's point is much more to the point - all the dollars we spend now go outside the US. This is the so-called effect of the "foriegn trade" multiplier which is often taught in introductory classes. It is also important to point out that the multiplier only 'works' if there is unemployment - otherwise it simply ends up increasing prices. The idea that we can know exactly what the multiplier is - 1.5 or 1.8 is not the point.

Point3: Why we have a debt based monetary system. Tom's other economist guest is technically correct - the government could simply print the money it needs, pay off the debt and that's that. The reason we don't do this is because the market for treasuries is a check on printing too much money. If people willingly hold bonds that means are money supply is solid. It also means that people forgo current consumption to hold money. This reduces any inflationary effect printing money might cause. The cost, is of course, 300 billion in interest and climbing. I'm not sure what side I am on on this issue, but those are the complexities as I see them.

I agree that Batra can be over the top, and I too would prefer to hear Krugman and DeLong. Or maybe even Stiglitz?

Unfortunately people do tend to shrug off facts that don't comport with their conclusions and glom onto confirming b.s. http://articles.boston.com/2010-07-11/bostonglobe/29324096_1_facts-misin...

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Rosenthal
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Quote Dr. Econ:

Polycarp writes:
"When defits go down during a severe recession that isn't self-correcting,, things are going to get worse."

Well, it is more correct to say that cutting government spending, or raising taxes on the middle class will make things worse. The deficit is the result of ecomic policy and economic conditions, not a cause. That was my main complaint. Since the economy is slowly improving, one might expect the deficit to fall with nothing but good consequences.

As to money creation, I see both the costs and bennefits, and I am not sure your reasoning as to why you think the bennefits are greater than the costs.

A Krugman said, contractionary policies are contractionary. Why people don't want to understand that cutting spending will cause job losses is beyond me. And how does that end up being a good thing when we have such high unemployment?

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Rosenthal
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I suggest you read some Batra to appreciate his approach and theories. My operating theory is that "economists" focus on "the economy" and that gets it out of context from the start. Treating economics as part of history and the economy as part of human society requires a less mechanistic and engineering approach to "economics." It goes against the grain of those who see the whole point of understanding economics being the ability to produce maximum "wealth."

As he predicts a coming "golden age," Batra theorizes that greed will run its course and we will get sick of the money first thinking and society. After the acquisitors, come the scholars and warriors, those who give of themselves for others and who invest themselves in the future. If you want to think in cycles, and Batra and India does, you can see the pendulum swinging in orbit instead of just back and forth. Batra develops his theory of historical cycles from history.

I hope human society and culture has some ability to adapt and move toward health beyond our conscious will and ability to mobilize against entropy and delusion. I hope it is more than pure entropy that fuels the imperial insanity. I would like to see the passengers on this deathstar begin to look for a new story. What if the economy were not the only issue in an election?

Rosenthal, you appear to be well-informed and your posts are cogent. If I disagree with them, it is on your assertions from within an established mind-set. In this case, economics needs to be informed by history, but also by culture. Morally and politically important as economics is, you cannot let money run you. The vision of human life and society that requires certain economic and political public policies is what matters. To have it be the mirror image of money or imperial power is to make gods of money and war. We know them well. Mars and Mammon have done a lot of damage for as long as we have been around.

Batra challenges our Western assumptions about how to think about the real world.

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DRC
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Quote DRC:

I suggest you read some Batra to appreciate his approach and theories. My operating theory is that "economists" focus on "the economy" and that gets it out of context from the start. Treating economics as part of history and the economy as part of human society requires a less mechanistic and engineering approach to "economics." It goes against the grain of those who see the whole point of understanding economics being the ability to produce maximum "wealth."

As he predicts a coming "golden age," Batra theorizes that greed will run its course and we will get sick of the money first thinking and society. After the acquisitors, come the scholars and warriors, those who give of themselves for others and who invest themselves in the future. If you want to think in cycles, and Batra and India does, you can see the pendulum swinging in orbit instead of just back and forth. Batra develops his theory of historical cycles from history.

I hope human society and culture has some ability to adapt and move toward health beyond our conscious will and ability to mobilize against entropy and delusion. I hope it is more than pure entropy that fuels the imperial insanity. I would like to see the passengers on this deathstar begin to look for a new story. What if the economy were not the only issue in an election?

Rosenthal, you appear to be well-informed and your posts are cogent. If I disagree with them, it is on your assertions from within an established mind-set. In this case, economics needs to be informed by history, but also by culture. Morally and politically important as economics is, you cannot let money run you. The vision of human life and society that requires certain economic and political public policies is what matters. To have it be the mirror image of money or imperial power is to make gods of money and war. We know them well. Mars and Mammon have done a lot of damage for as long as we have been around.

Batra challenges our Western assumptions about how to think about the real world.

Thank you DRC. I will attempt to get ahold of some of Batra's writings.

However I have studied a lot of history and it's my opinion that people have not actually changed all that much. We are pretty much what we are and the "greed is good" thing is like brain eating zombies. I think Krugman said something to that effect. I mean look at "supply-side economics" and all other various guises that "conservatives" use to pass off this same nonsense. They aren't using the term right now but if you press "conservatives" they will fall back on the same old tax mythology, how they never got a job from a poor person, and how social programs are a disincentive to produce and blah blah trickle down starve the beast blah.

They're dead and their ideology is dead but still they rise again to eat peoples' brains.

As for agreeing with my opinions, I thank you for the kind words but I am not looking for agreement. I am not offended by actually being proven to be wrong. I am offended by what I have come to know as "The Stupid." It's like The Force in Star Wars only it's The Stupid. Unfortunately The Stupid pervades today's "conservatives" as in when they proclaim that their highly activist judges are not in fact activist, and that Bush v. Gore was not an activist opinion. Or when they revert to the zombie economic theories, or when they do the birther thing. The list goes on an on.

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Here's a review Thom did for Greenspan's Fraud

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DRC writes:

"HIstory is important"

Of course. People today ignore the lessons learned by the grandparents - that individual greed and unrestrained capitalism could not get us out of the depression or win World War II. Instead we had co-operation, patriotism and regulation. That's all very necessary to know. It is important to know what the meat packing industry did to people <i> before </i> regulations.

But we don't need a lot crazy theories to understand our economic situation. In fact, just the opposite. We should tone down our theories of the past and future. We should not make wild predictions about the future, the stockmarket, the coming 'crash' or the coming 'golden age'. It makes us look crazy when we do things like that. In the meantime, people don't even know basic economics like what a business cycle is or the long term structural problems of our economy. Few people know the basic theory of a recession. Even the Great Tom Hartman often says things like 'demand creates jobs, not supply' - which is confusing since markets have both supply and demand in them. It's far better to say that when you have a recession, you have a deficiency of aggregate demand because people are hoarding money. But, in the long run, both demand and supply create output. That's just one example. Batra has a whole page dedicated to the futile task of predicting the future. It's nonsense.

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Only government intervention can get things going again.

Please forgive my ignorance - I'm not as economically savvy as most here - but HOW? Seriously. How can government intervention balance a 3 decades in the making, (by like there's no tomorrow and save like there's no tomorrow), consumer based credit dependent mindset?

Again, maybe I'm ignorance of the integral parts of economics... ...but, I can't help wondering how our government can "create' jobs in a time of greatly diminished purchase/demand or how our government can pull an entire nation out of the deeply entrenched hole credit maxed Americans have dug them selves into.

bonnie
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Dr. Econ:

DRC writes:

"HIstory is important"

Of course. People today ignore the lessons learned by the grandparents - that individual greed and unrestrained capitalism could not get us out of the depression or win World War II. Instead we had co-operation, patriotism and regulation. That's all very necessary to know. It is important to know what the meat packing industry did to people <i> before </i> regulations.

But we don't need a lot crazy theories to understand our economic situation. In fact, just the opposite. We should tone down our theories of the past and future. We should not make wild predictions about the future, the stockmarket, the coming 'crash' or the coming 'golden age'. It makes us look crazy when we do things like that. In the meantime, people don't even know basic economics like what a business cycle is or the long term structural problems of our economy. Few people know the basic theory of a recession. Even the Great Tom Hartman often says things like 'demand creates jobs, not supply' - which is confusing since markets have both supply and demand in them. It's far better to say that when you have a recession, you have a deficiency of aggregate demand because people are hoarding money. But, in the long run, both demand and supply create output. That's just one example. Batra has a whole page dedicated to the futile task of predicting the future. It's nonsense.

Predicting the future is nonsense. Anyone who says that they know what will happen more than a couple months from now is a liar, most probably with something to gain by fear mongering. Not saying that Batra is a fear monger, but others regularly ply this particular trade.

Yes, both supply and demand create output and I understand your position here about Thom's statement being confusing. However IMHO you neglect to point out that most people are confused starting with their failure to understand that output is really operative factor here. Most people focus on all kinds of other distractions and they will tune you out when you raise the all important fact that GDP = Price X Quantity. I mean even with hyperinflation, if output is greater and if it is distributed fairly broadly then one can easily cope with the inflation, especially if real interest rates are reasonably profitable, yet the fear mongers always point to Weimar Germany as the horror of all horrors.

Further, as I understand the state of the art, the ideas about shifting the supply curve are bogus, which is bringing us around to Thom. There is no known way to shift the supply curve in any meaningful way. Suppliers are price takers, not price makers, even if they are a monopoly or an oligopoly. A monopolist just maximizes profits in a different way and eventually the monopolist gets undermined in one way or another. Given these facts is Thom really so far off the mark? One indeed can create jobs, in the short run, by manipulating demand. Conversely austerity can and will take jobs away.

And as Keynes said we don't live in the long run, so. . .

Your theory about crazies and their predictions of gloom and doom is spot on, IMHO. Not only do we look crazy but, as I'm sure you know, recessions were once called "panics." "Depression" was actually a euphemism for "panic" because the word panic probably has some self fulfilling effect. And then "depression" came to have the same self fulfilling property, so we came to use "recession."

Today's output really is of less consequence, in many ways, than the expectations for tomorrow's output.

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Rosenthal said "There is no known way to shift the supply curve in any meaningful way. Suppliers are price takers, not price makers, even if they are a monopoly or an oligopoly."

I tend to think of most mixed economies as having longish periods of growth puncuated by recessions. Normally, there is sufficient demand, I believe, to keep employment at a full level. So, really, all the action is in supply - weather it is in education, tarriff policy,industrial policy, regulation, research and development. All these things keep long run growth through supply.

It is only when there is a shock and a recession and an insufficiency of demand is it important to increase it.

Of course, I am departing from the real Keynes (and also the classical economists) who believed that a lack of investment demand leads captialism to chronic reduction of aggregate demand, but so be it. I am not that cynical. Also, the classical authors never dreamed that people would be so enthrolled with new technology.

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To depict Ravi Batra as crazy is offensive. Moreover, the claim is made by this guy, Dr. Econ, after finding a perceived flaw in his arguments. Common, if there is one thing that unites all economists it is that they can't agree on a single thing. That doesn't make them all crazy, or does it?

2Think
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Oct. 16, 2011 3:06 am

I will preface my comment with a disclaimer on my macroeconomic knowledge. As attested by any economic commentary I may have posted in the past, I don't know shit about macroeconomics.

That said, aren't the economics we are experiencing today unprecedented in the history of the world? When I was made aware of the "value" of those financial weapons of mass destruction being 60 times greater than the GDP of the entire world I concluded (as many others) that the greatest swindle in the history of the world has taken place. Maybe something of this scale (orders of magnitude greater than world GDP) has happened in the past and I'm not aware of it? Is that stat just misleading? Do all mortgages in the US typically exceed world GDP, and by how much? Is it just the bundling of them and betting on them as larger chunks of money what makes this such a special case?

What was the standard macroeconomic theory prior to Adam Smith? What is the standard since Keynes. Is today's standard as honestly tied to the Chicago School as some would have you believe or is it just the crooks who gain from it that sing it's praises? Where does Batra fit into this. To be honest, Batra seems to be a little "out there", but maybe he really has a deeper understanding (or just different understanding) that helps define the unique circumstances of our time. Maybe 50 years from now, Batra will be the new Keynes?

As far as the technical details Batra speaks of, it's all Greek to me. I could hardly stay awake in my macroeconomics class back in college. HIs predictions are what really makes you want to look closer at his work. Captain Bepops posted a Batra article in TruthDig that predicted the end of monopolistic capitalism in the near future which made me feel like the cavalry is coming. Maybe Batra is just good at telling us what we want to hear. Maybe that ain't the cavalry coming. Maybe we are Custer and this is our last stand. I'm betting on that crazy little Indian dude, Batra.

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Probably economists should once again be required to study economic history in-depth. before receiving their degree..The economic historian Adam Tooze is pretty good World class economist Michael Hudson has in-depth knowledge of economic history...how things function.....going all the way back to ancient Sumeria. Formerly a Wall St. economist,,he's now a research professor...and an advisor to governments. His predictions are dire because, ."The economic language has been turned into double think". We are acting on "what isn't so"..

Historical "cycles" are just as relevant as "business cycles.

The function of mainstream economists today is to maximize profits. Whether or not their methods collapse an economy is irrelevant to that,.Most are corporate/financial prostitutes as Batra notes. Or as Paul Craig Roberts, forrmer Asst Secy of the Treasury points out, , "they have sold their souls for filthy lucre.

Every science builds upon its own history...on what has been learned before.. Every science, that is, exept the dismal science....economics. It's no wonder we keep on repeating our cycles of the economic past. That's pretty obvious to anyone who cares to look. Changing the name of a cycle from Panic to Great Depression to Great Recession doesn't change what are essentially repeats of economic history.

.Batra is attempting to make a connection to a repetitive cycle that covers longer time spans. We'll find out whether he is correct or not, won't we? He'd probably be more clear if he used western terminology to describe them rather than eastern terminology.

How a "New Golden Age" fits in with environmental/resource collapse isn't explained very well. The possibilities of a "Golden Age"being associated with them have been discussed in other threads..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

.

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Poly, what eastern terms are you talking about? Sarkar obviously secularized the Indian caste system because it wasn't too popular a way of defining classes in the west. I've never thought that the caste system was meant to keep anyone at any particular caste. In the documentary a few years about the kids of prostitutes in Bombay, I was amazed to find that some of the prostitutes were Brahman caste and maintained those traditions. The castes system, I think, was meant to help people sort out their dharma or role in life.

These cycles do seem to play out over history. I need to go back and see where Batra thinks were are in the cycle right now but I think we're coming out of an "aquisitor" cycle or when the business class rules. Next should follow the revolution by the working class.

Sarkar was a tantric and started the Ananda Marga meditation society. He was also imprisoned on conspiracy charges.

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captbebops
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Quote bonnie:
Only government intervention can get things going again.

Please forgive my ignorance - I'm not as economically savvy as most here - but HOW? Seriously. How can government intervention balance a 3 decades in the making, (by like there's no tomorrow and save like there's no tomorrow), consumer based credit dependent mindset?

Again, maybe I'm ignorance of the integral parts of economics... ...but, I can't help wondering how our government can "create' jobs in a time of greatly diminished purchase/demand or how our government can pull an entire nation out of the deeply entrenched hole credit maxed Americans have dug them selves into.

Bonnie:

You can't be any less savvy than me. The gist of it is that government can help short term, but the private sector has to take over at some point. Suppose today we have no infrastructure projects taking place, but tomorrow we have $400 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the works. You now have $400 billion worth of economic activity taking place that was not happening yesterday. It's that simple.

The argument against it is that it is just "make-work" funded by the government and isn't real work. Try telling all the people who are now working on these projects that it isn't real work. Even if we are expediting some of this work to happen sooner than we may have otherwise, it is still real work. It's not just a few contractors and engineering firms that get all the money either. The multiplier effect of work this size gives a significant rate of return in terms of economic stimulus. Capital heavy projects such as this tend to get put off until there is excess capital available, but that doesn't mean that the projects are not necessary when the capital is not so available. Doing this work now makes much more sense than waiting. However, to be fair to the opposition, you can't expect this type of work to be the primary source of economic activity forever. It is merely a bridge to better economic times.

Infrastructure work is really a no brainer if you are concerned about putting people to work and stimulating the economy. Unfortunately we have a political climate that allows politicians to vote against such no brainers as this in order to gain a political advantage in the next election.

P.S. Blaming this mess on us maxing out our credit cards is naive. We have been using our credit cards to make up for the difference of stagnant wages and lost purchasing power while the cost of everything we need has increased faster than we can keep up.

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Laborisgood
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Quote 2Think:

To depict Ravi Batra as crazy is offensive. Moreover, the claim is made by this guy, Dr. Econ, after finding a perceived flaw in his arguments. Common, if there is one thing that unites all economists it is that they can't agree on a single thing. That doesn't make them all crazy, or does it?

It was my gut reaction from reading his web page. I would say most economists agree on most things. It's kind of like global warming. The problem is the media only puts on the wacko conservatives and economic reporters, so the public thinks that economists disagree so much.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote bonnie:

Please forgive my ignorance - I'm not as economically savvy as most here - but HOW?

Well, we have both short run and longer run economic problems.

In the short run, people are actually saving to much, and because of the financial meltdown - don't want to spend. There is a deficiency of aggregate demand. Thus, the government should spend and get the economy going again. Any kind of spending will work - even having people dig ditches and fill them up again. However, it is better if they build things people need. FDR built the Golden Gate Bridge and TVA (which is still working).

In the longer run, we have had a collapse of manufacturing, and in fact much of tech jobs are being outsourced as well. Short run fiscal and monetary policy can do nothing about this. Instead we have to have a strategic trade and industrial policy that helps domestic industry at the expensive of more expensive imports. We need to stop playing with electronic gadgets and get people working again.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

There are several interesting possibilities for a "golden age." Or we could call it the New Green where harmony and balance with nature was the essential morality and the economy was designed to serve a good and human society in moral relationships socially and ecologically.

We would not need to expand and grow the economy to produce all that we needed or "wanted" in a realistic world. Forget austerity. Think of 'simplicity' as cutting out the crap and waste, not living without any modern technology or pleasures. Work would be part of our identity rather than the culturally defining icon of status and worth based on income and wealth. Sharing and caring would replace the individualized anxiety of hoarding and 'succeeding.' Competition would be limited to fun or exercises designed to create greater cooperation and project or task focus. It would not sort out the "winners" from the "losers" by leaving the latter in the dust to fend for themselves.

What Batra brings to the discussion is perspective. He has sound metrics and internal analysis, but the big thing is his ability to put temporary ideological phases into context. It makes sense that the rich will organize social and political power to serve their ends. Those who have risen to wealth by providing something of real value do not tend to stay creative and productive with their dynastic fortunes. Unless they are helped to be responsible job creators, they will build and protect fortunes of unproductive wealth. They are only human and are not made wise and beneficent by their wealth.

Because their wealth fails to serve society, collapse occurs. When the inequity and stupidity of the system pits the survival of the masses against the pride and blindness of the rich, the age of greed falls and what has been denied and repressed surges forward. The power of love breaks through the cynicism of the acquisitors. Soldiers and scholars, those who forgo personal wealth for service, putting their lives on the line for others, are the new model of "success" and "hero." Without the wars and the religion of Mars, those who defend become trained in humanity rather than violence.

The idea that we are in a passing phase and that the principalities and powers of this world are phony imposters rather than the real deal empowers those who lived in dread and anxiety. The old image of the mammals running around avoiding the dying dinos is apt. You don't want these corporate beasts falling on you or stepping on you in their panic. But, they are dying and you are going to inherit what is left of the earth. Occupy Earth!

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