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/

 

Discussion 2012-12: An alternative to the economics of Christmas

Venue: The Gatehouse, Tollhouse Hill, Nottingham, NG1 5FS
Time: 7:30 onwards, Tuesday 11th December 2012
How did a festival for giving and generosity turn into an orgy of consumption and profit?
(There will probably be another informal discussion on Tue 8 Jan – tbc. We also need to discuss a topic for public meeting in Jan.)
Unfortunately this discussion meeting was cancelled.

Discussion 2012-11: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

Time: 7:30 onwards, Tuesday 13th November 2012
Venue: The Gatehouse, Tollhouse Hill, Nottingham, NG1 5FS

A discussion on inequalities in health and income, with particular reference to The Spirit Level (Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, 2010). See main Facebook page of Cafe Economique for background links.

Discussion: Why Equality is better for everyoneThe Spirit Level is a book you have to buy but here is a summary from 2010: www.newstatesman.com/society/2010/11/inequality-social-health-essay
Some information, including a response to critics, is on the Equality Trust website: www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/response-to-questions
The first four pages of Hugh Noble’s response give a good summary of what The Spirit Level is about (the rest is a discussion on statistical techniques):
www.equalitytrust.org.uk/docs/hughnobletslrevisited.pdf
The Economist special report (For Richer, For Poorer, 13 Oct 2012) has a different perspective: www.economist.com/specialreports. The final section (A True Progressivism) wants to “tackle inequality and boost growth”.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/226713940793408/

Discussion 2012-10: The Bank, the Credit Union and the Mattress

The second in a monthly series of discussion sessions of Café Economique members to complement the monthly talks. Discussion will be equal between all attendees – no speeches or presentations, just exchange of thoughts and ideas. Bring your own along to share.

Subject: The Bank, the Credit Union and the Mattress
WhereThe Gatehouse, Tollhouse Hill, Nottingham NG1 5FS
When: 7:30 onwards, Tuesday 9th October 2012
Facebook event linkhttps://www.facebook.com/events/145258808953383/

Where is the safest place to put our money in these troubled times? Can we really trust banks – any banks or particular banks? Which are worst, which are best? How do we effectively encourage banks to change their treatment of customers and their money?

How about Credit Unions as an alternative? Are they better, what are the advantages and disadvantages? What is the best way of running a credit union? What experience have people had with Nottingham Credit Union?

…Or should we just stuff all our money under the mattress and hope we’re not burgled? Or buy a really tough safe? Maybe it’s pointless trying to ‘save’ our money as it will become worthless some time in the future due to inflation, collapse of currencies, collapse of authorities issuing currencies, collapse of civilisation?

Maybe the only ‘wealth’ we can truly preserve is the wealth of our skills, our friendships and comradeships with people prepared to help and work with us, our knowledge, our energy, our communities, the basics of survival?

Lots of questions. Come and give your answers and discuss with others. This is not just theoretical.

Discussion 2012-09: What Can We Do?

The first in a monthly series of discussion sessions of Café Economique members to complement the monthly talks. Discussion will be equal between all attendees – no speeches or presentations, just exchange of thoughts and ideas. Bring your own along to share.

This one was focused on the practical question of what we can do to improve matters in the present economic climate. What can we change in our personal lives, what should we encourage and recommend in others, what can we campaign for or against. How can we best protect ourselves for the future.

Subject: What Can We Do?
Where: Fade/the Hard to Find Café, 171 Mansfield Rd, Nottingham NG1 3FR
When: 7:30 onwards, Friday 28th September 2012
Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/320823688015567/

Report by attendee Olumide, edited by Matthew:

Café Eco Round Table Discussion @ 7.30pm on the 28th of Sept 2012 at Fade/the Hard to Find Café.

Attendees: Matthew McVeagh (MM), Olumide Adisa (OA), Nigel Lee (NL) and Alison Russell (AR)

1) Nottingham LETS Scheme

Topic was suggested by AR. The questions raised by other members of the group were mostly around sustainability. It was generally agreed that while they might sound glorious in times of austerity, experience shows that they fail to continue due to various factors once the tide turns. Although, we did not further explore what some of these factors are. Other off-shoot models such as the Skills Exchanges in West Bridgford and Nottingham Area 4, and Time-banking in London suggested by MM/NL and OA respectively were explored with MM sharing his own personal experience of working with the the old Nottingham LETS and the Area 4 Skills Exchange.

2) Boycotting supermarkets and switching to locally produced organic vegetables

Topic was suggested by AR. The group was divided on these two issues. MM and AR seemed to be in favour of both, OA counter-posed and NL played the ‘Devil’s Advocate’. It was an interesting discussion that provoked many open questions as the evening progressed – think of an onion peel scenario. Here are some of the unanswered questions: Is boycotting supermarkets and supporting local growers sustainable? Are we equipped as economic justice activists/supporters to challenge the invisible hand of the market? How do we counter-balance the power dynamics of the local farmers vs. the big supermarkets? How do small farmers self-organise within localities? Do they even self-organise? The Devil’s Advocate position: “Some of what is being called organic today really isn’t organic anyway” – NL. [Nigel has since clarified that his point was that some organic box schemes use imported organic supplies. – Matthew] Some of us also recounted our experiences with Abel & Cole and other organic suppliers and how the vegetables were not always fresh and proved to be more expensive. OA’s major argument was around maximising utility – self-defined to mean the choice and variety coupled with resource maximisation. “Why should I be forced to buy from only one producer? The supermarket offers me an efficient way to maximise my time – which is my most valuable resource.” OA also discussed the critical mass theory to provide a premise to the questions around whether local farmers self-organising will create a tipping point in re-dressing the power imbalances. 

We were not able to reconcile our different positions but it was a very interesting debate and in my opinion should be re-visited at a future date.

3) Café Economique in general

Suggestions raised by OA:

(a) Building links with more similar-minded groups. Linking with the student economics group at Nottm Uni. will provide an opportunity to disseminate the ‘alternative economics’ agenda and recruit more people – OA to help with this if the group is happy with doing this.

(b) Deciding on a theme every fortnight for the blog and encouraging contributions from members and anyone who wants to write a piece. Book reviews are also welcome. Some suggested hot button issues (I appreciate that this may not be evoke a consensus across board hence the word “suggest”):

• Taxation
• Carbon taxes/ De-carbonisation/ Green energy agenda
• Government policy e.g. infrastructure spending, gun control
• Oil supply
• Contraception and economics – a topical issue in the US at the moment.
• Population ageing / pensions
• LGBT equality: an economic issue or a social issue
• Foreign investment: e.g. China’s investments in the UK
• Poverty and development

(c) Future planning of Café Economique events: meetings will now be planned in advance (at least three months) as much as possible to source speakers and to have more time to promote the talk. A programme will be trialled on the WordPress blog and Facebook.

Facebook link of Olumide’s original write-up: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cafeeconomiquenottingham/permalink/365565253525950/