2013-07: Keep the Parasitic Banking Sector Alive and the Economy Dies

When: Thursday 18th July 2013, 7:30-9:30pm
Where: Upstairs room at the Peacock, 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB
Attendance is free although a voluntary collection will be taken to help with the group’s future expenses

This will be a facilitated discussion around an interview given by Australian economist Steve Keen in June 2012. Keen was one of the few economists to predict, and explain, the financial crisis before it happened. We will start with a recording of the half hour interview by Paul Mason with a live audience at the London School of Economics.

Issues raised include:

  • Economists’ models ignore the impact of money, banks and debt. This is only valid in a world where there is no credit, no debt and no banks.
  • Banks profit from creating debt – until the mountain of debt becomes unsustainable. Reducing the debt reduces GDP and causes austerity.
  • An alternative to austerity is a ‘Modern Debt Jubilee’ – putting money into people’s bank accounts to write down debt: quantitative easing for people not banks.

This discussion was proposed in an earlier post, Summary of a radio interview with Australian economist Steve Keen, which goes into much more detail about Steve Keen’s opinions and further reading on the subject.

The radio interview is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01j5h51

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/359546250817715/



2013-06: What is ‘alternative economics’ anyways?

Café Economique open discussion

When: Thursday, 20th June, 7:30 to 9:39 p.m.
Where: Upstairs at The Peacock, 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB
Attendance is free although a voluntary contribution will be taken to help with the group’s future expenses.
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/281599081974242/

Our discussion will be based on close reading of a document called ‘PRINCIPLES FOR A NEW ECONOMY’ that can be freely downloaded here: http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/advancing_theory/principlesforaneweconomy.pdf

This, of course, is not the only document available that tries to articulate the ‘principles’ for what some would called an alternative economic order. We think, however, this acts as a good representative of the field.

If you get a chance, you could download this 3-page document beforehand and bring it along to the session.

A member of the Café Economic organising committee will act as a facilitator for the discussion.


new economics foundation Mythbusters: “Britain is broke – we can’t afford to invest”

nef and the Tax Justice Network have paired up top economists and journalists to write a series of guides exploring the truth behind common economic myths. This first mythbuster, prepared by Howard Reed and Tom Clark, addresses the question: is Britain really ‘broke’?

Mythbusters: “Britain is broke – we can’t afford to invest” | the new economics foundation

Talk 2013-05: Skills Exchange and Time Banking

The Skills Exchange - helping handsCafé Economique talk given by Helen Rigby of the Partnership Council Skills Exchange
When: Thursday 16th May 2013, 7:30-9:30pm
Where: Upstairs room at the Peacock, 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB
Attendance is free although a voluntary collection will be taken to help with the group’s future expenses
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/551430484877185/

Helen Rigby, with the assistance of members of the Skills Exchange, will explain what it is, what it does, and how people benefit from it.

Skills Exchange is a Time Bank. The principle behind Time Banking is very simple, for every hour that you help someone else you will receive one time credit, you can then go on to swap these time credits when you want something doing for you. One hour’s work equals one time credit no matter what skills are used. All skills have equal value.

It does what it says on the tin. It is a chance for people in the community to swap skills with each other.

From the Skills Exchange Weblog

This Skills Exchange has been going almost 6 years now. There is a network of Time Banks, there are other such schemes around including one in West Bridgford, and the ‘LETS’ principle is a similar one: enable members to provide services for each other without the need for money. This is particularly useful for people on lower incomes or during times of hardship. These schemes also encourage community cohesion and neighbourliness at a time when people often feel distanced from each other. There are frequent socials, trips and outings, craft sessions and fundraising drives such as the recent Spring Bazaar.

Come and hear testimony from those who run and use the Skills Exchange on how well it works for them.

Talk 2013-03-21: ParEcon – Participatory Economics

Book on ParEcon by Michael AlbertCafé Economique talk given by Jason Chrysostomou of IOPS
When: Thursday 21st March 2013, 7:30-9:30pm
Where: Upstairs room at the Peacock, 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB
Attendance is free although a voluntary collection will be taken to help with the group’s future expenses

As discontent for current forms of socio-economic organisation grows around the world, the pressing question arises, what do we want as an alternative?

Participatory Economics, or ‘Parecon’, is an economic model developed by Robin Hahnel and Michael Albert that seeks to address this question. The model describes how workers and consumers can co-operatively, equitably and efficiently plan a complex modern economy themselves and in a way that produces more desirable humanitarian and ecological outcomes.

This session will present the goals, key institutions and strategic implications of the participatory economics model, followed by a Q&A session.

Some quotes on Parecon:

“It merits close attention, debate and action” – Noam Chomsky

“an imaginative, carefully reasoned description, persistently provocative, of how we might live free from economic injustice” – Howard Zinn

“Parecon is a brave argument … for a much needed, more equitable, democratic, participatory alternative economic vision” – Arundhati Roy

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/492916110745554/

Talk 2013-02-21: Living on Benefits

Café Economique talk by Matthew McVeagh (group member)
When: Thursday 21st February 2013, 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Where: Upstairs room at the Peacock, 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB
Attendance is free although a voluntary collection will be taken to help with the group’s future expenses

Matthew McVeagh, who has extensive experience of living on social security benefits in the UK, will give a talk on what it is like and how it affects your life and involvement in society. Areas covered will include how come we have a benefits system at all, how the system works and how it treats claimants, practical day-to-day living, psychological effects and self-identity, relations between claimants and the rest of society, coming changes, help, resistance and prospects for a better situation.

Matthew welcomes contribution to this talk from others, especially those with similar first-hand experience; please get in touch and we can arrange a sharing of time. The talk will be 45 minutes and after a break there will be 45 minutes for question and answer and discussion. Discussion will also probably continue later into the evening.

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/287125941413008/

Dole Street
Report on the talk

This talk went well and was well received by the 20 or so attendees. I would like to expand the material to create a better future talk and one with attractive visual aids such as a projected presentation rather than just text read put and expanded upon. Several attendees said they had learnt quite a lot from the talk and the discussion afterwards was lively. It could be useful to repeat it and encourage others to do similarly. There were no immediate practical steps towards organising Nottingham benefit claimants.


Planning 2013-01-24

On the evening of Tuesday 8th January 2013 we had a planning meeting to discuss the future of Café Economique Nottingham. There were lots of ideas and proposals but we didn’t finalise anything so we decided to adjourn and continue a couple of weeks later. Hopefully people who could not make that meeting will be at this?

Date: Thursday 24th January 2013
Time: 7:30pm to 9:30 (but probably continuing)

The venue is the the Lounge room at the end of the Mezz Bar on the first floor of the Broadway. Go into the Broadway building, turn left and go up the stairs one storey, thru the double doors, all the way thru the bar to the other end and thru an open door into the Lounge. It has a lot of square pouffy seating and we will probably be in a corner.

Items to discuss include:

  • Ideas for a programme of monthly talks from February to June that would be attractive to attendees and keep the group going and viable
  • Whether we should change the name and remit of the group and if so what to
  • Can we settle on a permanent venue that is convenient, affordable and attractive
Where are we going from here?

Where are we going from here?

We welcome suggestions from people whether they can make them in person at the meeting or not. Here are some of the ideas already suggested:


  1. Participatory Economics and the International Organisation for a Participatory Society
  2. The Partnership Council Skills Exchange – an example of a working local alternative economy that actually benefits ordinary people
  3. The Co-operative Movement

Have not only only outside speakers but local people – mix it up and also reduce the expenses cost.


It was suggested that we broaden the group to include wider political issues besides just economics.
“Café Economique et Politique”
“Economic (and Political) Discussion Forum”
Reach out to people in other groups challenging the political and economic status quo at the moment.



  • Preferably free
  • Ideally without distractions e.g. noise, uninterested people interrupting
  • Possibly able to buy a drink, conviviality
  • As central as possible
  • Convenient to parking


  • Friends’ Meeting House – is there a downstairs room that seats 20 people which we could get for £10?
  • Lincolnshire Poacher upstairs room
  • Peacock upstairs room

Feel free to pass invitation to this meeting on to anyone who might like to contribute positively to the future of this group.

Notes from meeting of Café Economique Planning Committee

Date: Thursday, 24 Jan. 7:30
Present: Matthew, Nigel, Alison, Ian, Alan
Apologies: Olumide
These notes written by Alan


1) Various alternative names were proposed, but in the end we decided to stick with Café Economique.

2) For continuity, it is a good idea to meet in the same location and on the same night of every month. We will meet upstairs at The Peacock (11 Mansfield Road) every third Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m.

3) Possible discussion topics/speakers/format:
– We will attempt to put on sessions that rely on both internal speakers & internal expertise + external speakers. This will be done on a roughly alternating monthly basis.
– The following topics/speakers were suggested:
a) Living on Benefits
b) The Co-op Movement
c) Time banking and skills exchange
d) Co-housing communities
e) What does ‘alternative economics’ mean? A close reading of a typical manifesto/ set of principles (e.g. Principles for a New Economy by the New Economy Network –
f) Listen to a sample interview in the BBC Analysis series – and then discuss it. (E.g. Steve Keen: Why Economics Is Bunk) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01j5h51
g) The economic programme of IOPS [The International Organisation for a Participatory Society] (Jason Chrysostomou) – http://www.iopsociety.org/
h) The local currencies movement (e.g., The Bristol Pound – http://bristolpound.org/ )
i) The current state of resistance to the economic crisis (Andreas Bieler, Nottingham Uni. – http://andreasbieler.net/ )

4) We will meet on the following evenings (with planned discussion leaders/speakers in brackets):
1) Thursday, 21 Feb.: Matthew McVeagh – Living on Benefits
2) Thursday, 21 March: Andreas Bieler – The current state of resistance to the economic crisis *
3) Thursday, 18 April: Jason Chrysostomou – IOPS

* Andreas Bieler will now be speaking on 18 April.

5) We will also be meeting (same location) on 16 May and 20 June. The topic and speakers for these two sessions are to be further discussed and arranged.

6) We currently have about £100 in the Cafe Econ bank account.