Speech to the Boston Meeting of the Economists for Peace and Security (EPS)

Historians and economists see the world in a different way. Economists tend to see progress in terms of the linear ascent of reason. Historians tend to see progress as an ascent through disaster.

This year’s theme of EPS is the avoidance of a second cold war. It’s a very urgent and necessary topic, for on its achievement rest our hopes for peace and security in the post-communist era.

And by peace – to bring in an economic consideration – I mean a peace dividend – the end of the insane expenditure on armaments, which is the only exception our rulers allow to fiscal austerity.

Continue reading “Speech to the Boston Meeting of the Economists for Peace and Security (EPS)”

Panel Discussion at the Boston Meeting of Economists for Peace and Security (EPS), 4 January 2015

A couple of months ago, at Sochi on the Black Sea, I put the following question to Vladimir Putin:

Would you not accept that your biggest failure since you became President in 2000 has been your failure to diversify the Russian economy? Russia has dismantled the old Soviet industrial system without finding a hard currency replacement. Its economy is dependent on oil exports and is dangerously vulnerable to any fall in the oil price. What do you propose to do to make Russia an attractive place for Russians to invest in and not buy up real estate in London, sending house prices to insane levels?

Continue reading “Panel Discussion at the Boston Meeting of Economists for Peace and Security (EPS), 4 January 2015”

Comment on the Wincott Lecture

On 13th November Martin Wolf gave the 2013 Wincott Lecture. Robert Skidelsky provided the comment. You can read Martin Wolf’s lecture, and access charts for this comment, at http://www.wincott.co.uk/lectures/2013

I propose to comment on Martin’s excellent lecture under three heads which all point to the central issue of how sustainable is the welcome recovery now taking place.

Continue reading “Comment on the Wincott Lecture”

How Much Is Enough? – a speech at the Bruno Kreisky Forum, October 2013

When we experience a great shock – when our world, the world – goes off an unpleasant, unforeseen tangent – it is natural to try to interrogate our situation. Why did it happen? What were we doing wrong? Perhaps we were on the wrong track?

We also search for new wisdom from half-forgotten fragments of old wisdom. Our own book, the book my son Edward and I wrote called How Much is Enough? started from exactly such an interrogation.

Continue reading “How Much Is Enough? – a speech at the Bruno Kreisky Forum, October 2013”

Leveson Inquiry

Leveson Inquiry Speech, Friday 11th January 2013

My Lords, almost everything that there is to say has already been said, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, so I will just concentrate on two points. First, there is the ingenuity of Leveson, which recognises that voluntary self-regulation via the almost toothless Press Complaints Commission has run its course. Therefore, any successor system of self-regulation needs to give confidence that it will not be toothless – hence the need for legislation to guarantee the teeth. I think that is the main thrust.

Continue reading “Leveson Inquiry”

Keynes, Hobson, Marx


President Lyndon Johnson asked John Kenneth Galbraith to write him a speech on economic policy. After glancing at it LBJ said ‘You know Ken, the trouble with economics is it’s like peeing in your pants. It feels hot to you, but leaves everyone else cold’.

I felt a lot of sympathy with LBJ this afternoon when I listened to a couple of clever mathematicians having a lot of fun with their equations. I thought they were having too much fun – as economists! Good economists should not enjoy maths too much. Whenever they are tempted to show off, they should ask themselves: ‘Is this really necessary? Does it help tell the story I want to tell?’

Continue reading “Keynes, Hobson, Marx”

Keynes for the 21st century, Renner Institute

Vienna, 18th March 2011

I am deeply honoured by the invitation of the Renner Institute to address you this evening at the conclusion of the conference on Austro-Keynesianism.


‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’ Keynes is supposed to have said, but almost certainly didn’t. This is a good text for my own sermon.

What changed my mind was the great recession of 2007-9, which stopped a few months short of becoming another Great Depression.

As Keynes’s biographer I never completely abandoned my faith in Keynes. But there was a clear hedging of bets in the last sentence of that biography, written in 2002: ’Keynes’s ideas will live so long as the world has need for them’. Well yes, but does it?

Continue reading “Keynes for the 21st century, Renner Institute”