Thursday, August 4, 2011

LSE Debate

It's up here. I haven't had time to listen to it yet - have you? What do you think?

I've heard some disappointing reviews - it sounds like Jamie Whyte did a particularly bad job. But we'll see - I'll try to listen to it Friday or Saturday.

UPDATE: OK - I've been listening to this while getting ready. It's not particularly good. What's amazing to me is that George keeps saying "consumption isn't the problem - investment is and the Keynesians ignore this". Ummmm... yes... isn't this the entire Keynesian point?

Also, I think this is quite edited - anyone know of a longer version?


  1. All I see is the teaser for the event.


  3. Jamie Whyte was pathetic. Worst "critique" of Keynesianism I've heard in a long time.

    Selgin was better, however.

  4. None of them were terribly convincing - or such was my impression.

  5. It was a good debate. Both sides made arguments that I disagree with, and I wasn't particularly impressed with Jamie Whyte. However, both sides, overall, made good arguments.

    Perhaps George may have been wrong to criticise Keynes for only being concerned with consumption, but then the other side were also wrong for characterising Hayek as a "liquidationist."

  6. As for a national investment bank, Obama, etc. have been talking about that at least since 2007:

  7. Lee Kelly,

    Why is L.S. always picked to represent Keynes (by himself or with someone else)?

    I'd never heard of Mr. Whyte, so I found this to help me a bit (I just stated watching it):

    The Oxford Libertarian Society is a pretty good resource.

  8. Lord Skildelsky wrote a biography on Keynes -- even Selgin said the biography was very good. That said, Skidelsky doesn't strike me as a good economist -- not even a particularly good Keynesian economist. But he is a populariser of Keynes, and probably more public-friendly than his more technical fellow Keynesians.

    I find his pompous and arrogant demeanor rather insufferable, to be honest. As I noted over at the Free Banking Blog, he is the kind of person who thinks that only his side have good arguments, and he openly ridicules anyone who disagrees with him (even during the debate). Jamie Whyte was just the same, and that's one reason I wasn't much impressed with him. Skildelsky had the better of Whyte when it came to the actual arguments.

    Of course, I think Selgin won the day, but it was hardly a trouncing. Like I said, both sides made a good case, I think.

  9. Lee,

    Yeah, I know about the three part bio of Keynes, etc. - just curious why he is always picked.

  10. re: "Why is L.S. always picked to represent Keynes (by himself or with someone else)?"

    I have wondered this myself many times. I wasn't entirely impressed with Return of the Master (although it was OK) or Skidelsky's various discussions with Russ and John (although again... OK). I ascribe it to a combination of effective self-promotion and the biography. And not even the biography, but Return of the Master. If you get on Amazon and search on "Keynes" you get a ton of modern negative bestsellers and usually one of the only modern positive books that comes up on the first page is Return of the Master. That name recognition matters a lot.

    I think Krugman does better in blogs than speaking extemporaneously. Speaking extemporaneously he only seems to manage to get out a basic sort of hydraulic Keynesianism (perhaps this is his intention). I think DeLong is actually among the better modern advocates of Keynes, although it's true Krugman really does have some great individual posts and articles.

  11. Lee -
    I think some of this problem of being pompous is in the eye of the beholder. I've always found Skidelsky to be a fairly easy going seeming guy. What I noticed as particularly snobbish in the debate was the whole "they don't think you know how to spend your own money" and "this hasn't been proven for decades and they still cling to it". I hadn't noticed anything from Skidelsky.

    Now Selgin promoted this idea of Hayek as in support of "stabilizing spending" - ideally with free banking of course, but he suggested that at least the monetary authorities should stabilize spending if we were stuck with monetary authorities.

    Now - how many readers agree with that: the Federal reserve should stabilize spending in a recession.

  12. I really enjoyed the back and forth between LK & George Selgin.

  13. Daniel, George Selgin himself has been talking to "Lord Keynes" in the Social Democracy blog.

    On one hand, it looks like that blog is getting noticed.

    On the other hand, I am impressed by how open and approachable even well-known economists are. I have talked to Prof. Selgin myself in the Mises forums.

  14. George Selgin is amazingly approachable. I've had extended discussions with him here, at Cafe Hayek, and at Coordination Problem. I don't know if he knows me by name or affiliation (I imagine he talks with a lot of people), but he's always very open to talking. I'm guessing he's engaging a lot of bloggers after this debate.


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