Talk 2013-10: HS2 and economic development

Café Economique talk given by Bettina Lange
When: Thursday 24th October 2013, 7:30-9:30pm
Where:  Vat & Fiddle pub, Queensbridge Rd NG2 1NB (in the Visitor Centre room, ground floor, left end of pub – wheelchair accessible)

 
Do the economics of High Speed Rail stack up ? The talk will
  • investigate the claim that HS2 will regenerate the local economy and steer economic activity away from London and the South East and towards the Northern English regions
  • examine the claim that people around the HS2 station proposed at Toton will benefit economically
  • have a look at the model for financing the HS2 project
  • outline uncertainties and risks regarding who will fund development and infrastructure associated with HS2 (for example addtional road capacity or public transport links)
Bettina Lange chairs the East Midlands Transport Activists’ Roundtable, is a member of the Nottinghamshire Campaign for Better Transport committee, has many years experience of transport campaigning and policy work, and has co-ordinated and written reponses to the emerging HS2 plans for East Midlands and Nottinghamshire Campaign to Protect Rural England.
 
She will be presenting her own take on HS2.

Talk 2013-09: Islamic Banking

Café Economique talk given by Bushra Merghani
When: Thursday 26th September 2013, 7:30-9:30pm
Where: City Gallery, 14a Long Row East, Oriel Chambers Courtyard NG1 2DH

Copy of talk: Islamic Banking

Does Islamic Banking offer a solution to the problems that have blighted western banks in recent times?

A growing number of Islamic, state-owned and private banks in Asia, Middle East and Africa are offering a range of ‘sharia-compliant’ financial products (business loans, mortgages and hire-purchase finance) without charging interest or up-front fees and are still making huge profits. Deposits into these banks have been growing at the rate of 30% per annum. Currently, it’s estimated that almost $200 billion transactions take place through these banks every year.

This talk by Bushra Merghani will discuss the benefits and limitations of Islamic banking and to what extent western banks can benefit from their experience.

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.

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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/

Summary of a radio interview with Australian economist Steve Keen

Keep the parasitic banks alive and the economy dies

Steve Keen talks to Paul Mason – Analysis, BBC Radio 4, June 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01j5h51
(This is a 30 minute interview with a live audience at the London School of Economics.)

This has now become the July 2013 meeting for Café Economique: Keep the Parasitic Banking Sector Alive and the Economy Dies

Steve Keen was one of the few economists who predicted the financial crash. (In 2005 he noted that Australia’s debt to GDP ratio had been increasing exponentially.)

In this interview he argues that the big failure of economists is that their 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 make profits out of money which they generate – as long as they can persuade people that debt is good for them. But eventually the mountain of debt becomes unsustainable – a massive Ponzi scheme. [This echoes a main campaign objective of the Positive Money campaign which wants to remove the right to create money from private banks.]

Now that the financial crash is requiring the private sector to reduce debt, that reduces GDP and creates austerity – which will continue until debt levels have been brought down. This is not the time for the public sector to also reduce spending.

To avoid the 20 years austerity which could be necessary, Keen advocates a ‘Modern Debt Jubilee’. The government should create money to put into people’s bank accounts – with a requirement for it to be used to pay down debt as a first priority – quantitative easing for people not the banks. This would reduce the profitability of the banks but help to restore the economy.

He also suggests that shares traded on the stock market should have a limit on how many times they can change hands – to reduce speculation. Challenged that this would reduce the dynamism of capitalism, he argues that capitalism was dynamic when it was led by engineers producing things, with the support of banks. When bankers take the lead it causes asset bubbles.

Keen was predicting a further crash in the UK in 2012 – because our debt levels are higher than the US. The Treasury’s own figures suggest the UK debt to GDP ratio peaked at 450% (compared to 300% in the US), and for the financial sector alone 250% (120% in the US). He estimates that 60% of the rise in aggregate demand in the UK in recent years has been from debt. Reducing this debt could cause a crash worse than Lehman in the US.

—————–
For background to this discussion, see Chapters 13 & 14 of Steve Keen’s ‘Debunking Economics’, 2nd edition (2011), Zed Books. A summary of Keen’s analysis of the UK debt problem is at:
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2011/12/31/debt-britannia

For a more detailed explanation of debt jubilee see Brian Davey’s blog, including a reference to Keen and a link to a similar idea put forward by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, and a suggestion that it could be used to invest in green projects as well as paying down debt:
http://www.feasta.org/2011/10/16/debt-cancellation-without-chaos-a-programme-for-the-occupy-movement/