The conversation examines the false dichotomy of capitalism v. socialism and considers the true dichotomy, which is industrial capitalism v. finance capitalism. Hudson and Keen argue that the transition to finance capitalism, where unearned income is considered economic growth, has truly sown the seeds to ruin the world.
Dr. Michael Hudson is an American economist, Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, former Wall Street analyst, political consultant, commentator and journalist.
Dr. Steve Keen is an Australian economist and author. A post-Keynesian, he criticizes neoclassical economics as inconsistent, unscientific and empirically unsupported.
00:00:19 What we're really talking about is finance capitalism
00:03:25 What is Capitalism?
00:17:55 Was the end of the Happy Days inevitable?
00:28:50 A more nuanced dichotomy than capitalism vs socialism
00:36:01 Why does GDP still manage to slow down?
00:46:32 Why is debt so stifling?
00:55:29 What happens to the money that accumulates at the top
01:01:39 The shape of global financial pressure
01:11:02 Modern examples of debt jubilees
01:19:12 Solutions without collapse?
01:23:13 Persistent economic myths
01:45:38 Strange realities of cancelling student debt
02:03:40 Financializing the basic structures of society
02:15:07 How to structure the next iteration
02:27:48 Doomer optimism
02:33:47 A new, more effective state
02:39:25 Closing thoughts
- 00:00:00 This section with an introduction to the upcoming discussion between Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen on finance capitalism and its impact on society. They mention that their primary objective is to work towards a picture of something better in the future. They agree that there are different kinds of capitalism and that the focus of their discussion is finance capitalism specifically. The debate centers on the ways in which finance capitalism has led to global disaster and that 1% of the population owns everything while the other 99% struggle to make ends meet. They also discuss the idea that the word capitalism is an important one to define before diving into the specifics.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the concept of financing capitalism versus industrial capitalism. They point out that industrial capitalism sought to reduce costs by having the government play a larger role, such as by taking natural monopolies into the public domain and supplying them at a discount or even freely to the private sector. However, this fight against rent-seekers led to the development of modern economics and the ideal of finance capitalism, which replaced economic planning with financial sectors and aimed to maximize economic rent. They argue that the objective of finance capitalism is to make money quickly with minimal effort, which has led to de-industrialization and an economy that is “overblown” and polarized by debt. They also mention the neoclassical and anti-government economic paradigm that has led to a focus on making money quickly in financial form, which has resulted in a large concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% while the 99% struggles with debt.
- 00:10:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the current state of the global economy and how it differs from the original concept of industrial capitalism. The economy, according to them, is highly polarized and concentrated, with the 1% benefitting from it while the 99% are left behind. They also highlight how the government's role in providing welfare and healthcare services has positive aspects of capitalism, like technological development.
- 00:15:00 In this section of the transcript, the speakers discuss how private sector debt booms and busts are what drive the apparent wealth and poverty of capitalism. They argue that the level of debt in America has been the highest in its history, and that the bank dominates the finance sector which erodes the good side of capitalism. They further argue that conventional economic theory supports Finance capitalism, even though the intention is not overtly clear. They mention how capitalism is moving towards neoliberal economics, that debt and assets of one group are opposite sides of the balance sheet, and that the United States has privatized the election process, giving more power to banks and financial class. They imply that the current economic picture ignores debt and money, and that the economic tendency politicizes itself as the financial class gets richer and takes over government. They argue that the largest bank fraud in American history occurred under President Obama, and the banksters were not held accountable, indicating that the law has changed to favor financial capitalists. The conclusion is that economics is a mode of economic power that translates into law and policy.
- 00:20:00 In this section of the transcript, the speakers discuss the role of politics and regulation in shaping financial structures and decision-making. They also touch upon the concept of the "financial political complex," which defines the financial sector's influence on politics. The discussion then moves to the debt crisis in America, with a focus on the exponential growth of private debt, the annual change in debt, and the impact on GDP. The speakers also investigate the role of credit in aggregate demand and aggregate income, emphasizing its significance in economic analysis.
- 00:25:00 In this section of the video, Drs. Hudson and Keen discuss the correlation between rising credit levels and falling unemployment. They argue that credit in this chart represents household and corporate debt from the non-financial sector to the bank. The data indicates that households and firms are increasingly indebted to the financial sector, and this has led to financial capitalism becoming a dominant force over industrial capitalism. They argue that Marx's criticism of the banks as parasitic creditors is still relevant today, and that this has led to a perverted version of capitalism. The debate between capitalism and socialism has been set up as a false dichotomy, and the answers lie in a more nuanced approach to government restraints on the different sectors. They conclude that credit cannot be ignored and that debt must be addressed before the economy can recover.
- 00:30:00 In this section of the video, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the differences between finance capitalism and economic rent seeking capitalism. They argue that the objective of these two forms of capitalism are diametrically opposed, with finance capitalism seeking a free lunch at the expense of the economy while economic rent seeking capitalism focuses on profits and wages. They also point out that the financial industry has been growing rapidly at the expense of the real economy, leading to growing inequality. Hudson and Keen also discuss the Obama Doctrine, which was based on the idea that reducing home ownership, particularly among minority groups, would lead to economic growth. They argue that this policy has been a failure and that it has led to increased polarization and a feudal-type economy, with only a small percentage of the population owning anything. Finally, they discuss the role of neoclassical economic theory in promoting these policies, arguing that this theory is based on the idea that the market should always be the primary driver of the economy, regardless of the social and economic consequences. They also point out that there is a fear that if the government continues to play a role in the economy, it will lead to a decline in economic growth and a reduction in living standards.
- 00:35:00 In this section of the excerpt, the speakers discuss the growth rate of the American economy, which has increased at a much slower pace since the country shifted to a financial capitalism model over the 1970s. The “real economic growth” from 1975 to 1997 was around 1.9%, compared to a growth rate of 3.25% on average years earlier. This suggests that the financial capitalism system is focused on generating rent from the working class, appearing as a growth of ownership of capital, resources, and concentration wealth, rather than GDP. The finance sector has transformed the GDP concept, erasing the distinction between what is a product and what is overhead, such as goal expenses, foreclosures, car loans, and credit card debt. The speakers also note that President Biden's COVID stimulus plans may have had unintended consequences, including workers paying off credit card debt instead of using that money to consume, which boosts the GDP.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the financial bias that has led to the enormous growth of the finance sector in the economy. They argue that the apparent positive impact on GDP of a negative target for this sector is actually flawed, as it conceals a situation where finance debt has become so prevalent that it has surpassed acceptable levels in a capitalist economy. The idea of economic rent postindustrial capitalism theory is denied by this bias, which contradicts the entire 19th-century political economy by negating the distinction between earned and unearned income. The speakers argue that Smith, Ricardo, Marx, and the Classical School of economics all had a more critical view of capitalism than the Neoclassical School, which has become dominant today.
- 00:45:00 In this section of the video, Dr. Steve Keen and Dr. Michael Hudson discuss the idea that economics rent, unearned income, and debt are not sufficiently taught in economic thought, especially at the level of college education. They argue that economics experts are becoming increasingly mathematically proficient, but lacking in practical knowledge because they have never been exposed to these concepts. Keen and Hudson then begin to delve into the issue of debt, with Keen pointing out that if debt were to grow at the same rate as GDP, it would perpetually grow without stifling the economy. However, the ratio between debt and GDP has grown dramatically, causing debt to become a parasite rather than a servant of capitalism, leading to decreased investment and technological development. The use of Japan as an example illustrates this point, as from 1980 to 1990, Japan experienced a bubble economy, which led to a high level of debt among Japanese corporations. This debt was then used to pay off the debt, causing the industrial development and technological development associated with Japan to die off, and leaving the country with a lower level of private debt than before the crisis. Overall, Keen and Hudson emphasize that debt is not just an economic problem but can have negative effects on the real economy.
- 00:50:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the negative effects of compound interest on economic growth and the importance of debt management. The Babylonians had a model that predicted the exponential growth of debt at compound interest, and they taught that the rate of debt exceeds the ability to pay. The only solution to prevent this from causing a chronic depression, known as debt deflation, is to write down the debt. Ben Bernanke, the former head of the Federal Reserve, gave a Nobel Prize for stating that there is no such thing as debt deflation, which is incorrect according to the speakers. The Nobel Prize in Economics is not a science and should not be given, as it is an ideology that blows up the understanding of the economy. The speakers suggest withdrawing prizes for bad models and approaches, such as William Nordhaus's prize in 2018 for the economics of climate change, which was garbage according to the Bank of England in 2014, and the Bundesbank in 2017.
- 00:55:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the way in which profits are accumulated at the peak of credit structures and the financial system makes most of its profits off of servicing debt. The speaker argues that the money that is accumulating in debt is not real wealth that is being spent, but instead it is simply sitting on a ledger and being accounted for. The banking and financial sector earns revenue by reinvesting it in yet more debt, which leads to less and less money for spending on goods and services. The speaker also discusses the idea of economic rent, which is earned by landlords, investors, and other unearned profits that are not involved in the process of production, employment, and economic growth. The speaker argues that there is a role for rent in the economy, but it must be constrained to prevent it from growing exponentially. The speaker uses the example of an Agricultural Society to illustrate the idea, where physical boundaries limit the amount of land that can be used to farm. In contrast, high-interest debt does not have physical boundaries, and as productivity increases, interest rates grow faster, leading to exponential growth in debt.
01:00:00 - 02:00:00
Economists Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen criticize neoclassical economics and finance capitalism in a discussion about the discipline's limitations. They argue that neoclassical economists fail to appreciate the severity of climate change, prioritizing short-term profits over long-term sustainability. They also discuss the dangers of debt and the consequences of financial institutions' short-sightedness. The speakers suggest that debt cancellation and a modern debt Jubilee could benefit both individuals and society as a whole. They also discuss government-backed money creation and the impact of debt pollution on economic growth.
- 01:00:00 In this section of the transcript, the speakers are discussing the concept of financial capitalism and its role in controlling society. Dr. Michael Hudson explains that modern society is primarily driven by debt and the political power of those who hold financial power. According to Hudson, financial institutions are short-sighted and only focus on the short-term, with no regard for the long-term consequences of their actions, as seen in the global South debt crisis. Also discussed is the link between oil extraction and finance capitalism, and the United States' role in controlling the global economy through its "stranglehold" on the oil trade. Hudson argues that the short-sightedness of the financial sector is a major threat to society, the planet, and even humanity as a whole.
- 01:05:00 In this section of the video, the speakers discuss the dangers of climate change and how it has been trivialized by neoclassical economics. They argue that neoclassical economists, such as William N. House and his cabal of consultants, have failed to appreciate the severity of the issue, prioritizing short-term profits over long-term sustainability. They also note the role that economists have played in minimizing the impact of capitalism's imminent collapse, which is now approaching a perpetual state of decay. The speakers use the example of China's approach to money creation and banking, where this public utility is managed by the government, rather than being privatized as in the West, as an example of a more sustainable system.
- 01:10:00 In this section of the video, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the potential for debt cancellation in relation to the financial crisis. They argue that debt cancellation has been a practice throughout history, citing examples from ancient Near Eastern rulers such as Sumerian Babylonians and Assyrians, as well as modern examples like Germany's economic miracle after World War II. Hudson and Keen suggest that debt cancellation would be beneficial for both debtors and society as a whole, as it would remove the power and influence of creditors and allow for greater equality in income distribution. They also propose a modern version of debt cancellation, called a "modern debt Jubilee," in which everyone would receive an equivalent amount of money, and debt would be reduced or eliminated.
- 01:15:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the concept of government-backed money creation and its potential benefits for reducing poverty, as opposed to relying on private debt. They argue that it is generally politically unpalatable to discuss such a reform, as it challenges traditional economic theories promoted by neoclassical economics. The speakers also discuss the concept of debt pollution and its impact on economic growth, citing the phenomenon of increasing debt among householders who cannot afford to pay it off. They describe the extent of average personal debt in the United States and the high levels of savings among the wealthy, leading to a clotting of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. They propose a possible solution to promote a better financial structure in the future, including individuals not taking on debt and uh uh being more mindful of their financial decisions to promote more sustainable economic practices.
- 01:20:00 In this section, the speakers argue that the traditional view of capitalism, based on Adam Smith and Ricardo, has been replaced by neoclassical economics, which focuses solely on the marginal product of goods and services. They argue that the resulting system, where landlords can take as much as they want without government regulation or taxation, has led to financial feudalism, where wealth is held by the wealthy few and the majority lives in debt. The speakers suggest that economic rents should be taxed and that society should shift towards a free market with Christiantistic values, where wealth is redistributed to the poorest.
- 01:25:00 In this section, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the evolution of finance capitalism and its impact on society. They begin by discussing the initial revolutionary changes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the exploitative money making itself disappeared, and was replaced with financing production. Germany was a key example of this, with institutions such as the Reichsbank, the military, and heavy industry working together to promote economic growth through equity, rather than debt. However, these changes were soon stopped by the overthrow of the monarchies and the rise of authoritarian regimes during World War I. The idea of socialism was transformed and erroneously linked to either Stalinism or Nazism. As a result, the left-wing lost its political vehicle for economic reform, and the focus turned to finance. Even today, many people across the political spectrum, including right-wingers, are more focused on finance than economic reform. The shift in perspective led to a new definition of socialism that included high taxes on everyone and progressive taxation. However, the original idea of socialism was to redistribute wealth and empower marginalized groups. The failure to understand what Dr. Hudson and Dr. Keen are talking about explains why capitalists continue to make significant profits while marginalized groups suffer. The human characteristic of elevating individual needs over the greater good also plays a role in this phenomenon. In this section, Dr. Hudson and Dr. Keen provide an insightful analysis of the history and impact of finance capitalism, and caution against its far-reaching consequences.
- 01:30:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the neoclassical theory of economics, which presents capitalism as a perfect, utility-maximizing system. They argue that neoclassical economists ignore issues surrounding land ownership and rent-seeking behavior, and that this theory is largely a reaction to Marxist criticism of capitalism. The speakers also critique the neoclassical belief that markets should decide everything without government intervention, and provide an example of a neoclassical economist who was unable to convince manufacturers and workers of the validity of the supply curve. They argue that this behavior is not scientific but rather religious, and that the neoclassical theory is heavily subsidized to justify oil rents.
- 01:35:00 In this section of the video, the host discusses how the leader of the Chicago School, came to power in Chile. He explains that the curriculum of the school was based on the doctrine of Chicago School economics and that the leaders of the school believed in democracy but in his experience, they had a religion-like belief in their own economic theory. The host goes on to explain that many people in academia believe this theory and view it as a perfect society, but in his experience, they do not reward those who believe it, but instead punish them. He also mentions his experience with Wall Street, where he was judged purely on his right or wrong beliefs, unlike academia where beliefs were more important than being right or wrong.
- 01:40:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the financial sector's support of their analysis and the decisions they make in order to fix the economy. They argue that the financial sector's idea of fixing the system is to increase stock prices, pay out dividends, and engage in stock buybacks, which ultimately results in making more money for themselves. They also point out that some socially minded billionaires, like Nick Herer, put forward ideas about reforming the system, but ultimately their focus is on an advantage in the market. The speakers also mention the inefficiency of the current system and the need for a revolution to save the economy, environment, and military situation, as well as the end of capitalism.
- 01:45:00 In this section of the video, Dr. Michael Hudson which is originally from the United States, discusses the issue of student debt cancellation and its impact on universities. He argues that while the cancellation of student debt may provide relief to individual borrowers, it allows universities to continue to extract wealth from students through large loans, even after the loans are forgiven. Universities have become profit centers and the growth in administrative jobs is solely for marketing and promoting the university. He also mentions how he experienced this issue firsthand in Australia, where he witnessed a shift from governments funding universities to commercializing them.
- 01:50:00 In this section, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the impact of commercializing universities on the cost of education and the treatment of students. They argue that treating universities as profit centers has resulted in higher costs and reduced the quality of education. They suggest abolishing student fees, private funding, and debt to reduce the administrative structure and make education more accessible and affordable. They argue that Confucianism, which emphasizes exams and the development of talent, played a significant role in making China great for thousands of years. They argue that limiting university registration to the rich and making education a profit center has led to a lifetime of debt for students, which ultimately impacts their ability to buy a house and start a family. The abolition of debt in combination with a shift in the way universities do business is the key to creating a more equitable and accessible education system.
- 01:55:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the impact of finance capitalism on the university system. They argue that universities have become increasingly commercialized, with a focus on marketing and attracting more students. This has led to the privatization of universities, resulting in a disaster for the system. They also point out that public universities were created to address the problem of people going to prestigious private universities and not receiving an education in reality economics. The speakers claim that people were not receiving a proper education in economics, which was taught by the private universities in America until the Civil War.
02:00:00 - 02:45:00
This podcast discussion between Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen revolves around various topics related to finance capitalism, economics, and sustainability. The speakers discuss the role of universities in promoting industrial capitalism and their current financialization, leading to a debt-stratified economy. They also discuss their own experiences teaching at universities and the impact of socioeconomic background on the quality of education received. The conversation turns to the decline of economic thought in universities and the influence of neoclassical economics, leading to a lack of historical context in the curriculum. The speakers also ponder the need for new state ideas emerging after the collapse of the capitalist system, and their views on alternative economic systems, such as those based in Eurasia and the global South. The speakers also discuss the potential impact of a global financial collapse and the need for a shift towards more sustainable forms of technology and economic organization. They emphasize the importance of recognizing our role as custodians of life and preserving knowledge in the face of a technological breakdown. In conclusion, the discussion highlights the need for a more equitable and sustainable economic system, with greater control over the money supply and interest rates, and a focus on creating real wealth that benefits society as a whole. The speakers also mention the importance of embracing new ideas beyond capitalism and the role of technology in surviving a collapse.
- 02:00:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the evolution of the university system and its role in promoting industrial capitalism into a mixed economy. They highlight the early contributions of Simon Patton, the first economics professor at the Wharton School of Economics, and the business schools which were staffed by Americans with left-wing or socialist ideals. In modern times, the university system has been financialized, leading to stratification of the economy into debtor and inheritance classes, with students having a lifetime of debt. The speakers also discuss their own experiences teaching at a university and the difference in the quality of education received by students based on their socioeconomic background. They argue that education should be the foundation of a civilized society, and financialized interests are putting the university system at risk of losing its purpose.
- 02:05:00 In this section of the transcript, Dr. Hudson and Dr. Keen discuss the decline of economic thought in universities and the issue of oversight in teaching. They argue that universities have become heavily influenced by neoclassical economics, which has led to a lack of historical context in the curriculum. In particular, they mention the example of the New School in New York, where they were unable to teach about money and banking. They also discuss the example of the economic historians at the University of New South Wales, who were shut down after trying to move to the arts faculty. Dr. Hudson concludes by noting the irony that neoclassical economics should be in the arts faculty, as Orthodox economists often lack historical context and knowledge of the discipline's history.
- 02:10:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the struggles of debtors versus creditors throughout history and how economics is a dominant sect that emphasizes rational behavior maximization, trade-offs, and equilibrium models. They argue that models that result in equilibrium stifle any evolutionary thinking and innovation. The speakers compare legsibility in economics to physics and argue that the mindset of economists hampers their ability to understand complex systems and develop theoretic progress.
- 02:15:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the possibility of a new state emerging after the collapse of the current financial capitalist system. They ponder what ideas could go into the creation of a better state, such as after the "Mad Max" period. The speakers also mention the Brics Plus and the Shanghai Cooper Organization, indicating that these groups are working towards an alternative to the international monetary fund and the World Bank. They discuss the rise of economies in Eurasia and the global South, which are seen as moving towards a socialist mixed economy. The conversation turns to climate change, with the speakers discussing the potential impact of a 7-degree increase in temperature on global GDP by 2220, which would reduce it by 20%. The impact on economic growth would be a reduction in the annual rate of economic growth of 0.02%, which the speakers consider trivial. Overall, the discussion revolves around the potential for change and the creation of a better society in the future.
- 02:20:00 This transcript excerpt discusses the economist Michael Hudson and his theory that the world is experiencing a collapse due to finance capitalism, which encourages rapid economic growth without considering the limits to growth. Hudson argues that leaders are ignorant of economists and are blindly continuing to pursue dangerous policies, such as ignoring global warming. Hudson predicts that civilizations may develop with an anti-technology mindset, and economists may be widely criticized for their role in contributing to this collapse. The transcript highlights the role of the CIA in promoting oil production in the past, and also mentions ongoing discussions about special economic zones as a potential solution for current economic problems. The transcript concludes with a reference to sea civilizations, suggesting a shift towards a new era that may challenge traditional systems.
- 02:25:00 - The speaker reflects that while the plan to build Special Economic Zones (SEZs) may fail, it is the only way to start something that can grow and run in parallel to current systems. SEZs could be used to rebuild infrastructure while the old system falls apart. To build SEZs, a climate that supports a sedentary civilization is needed, and the society must be immune to environmental disasters on an industrial scale. This requires people who are willing to work and have a different ideology than capitalism, such as one that involves a collaboration to build family and community-based systems that can survive the collapse. - The speaker mentions the "Doomer Optimist" community, who agree with his views on the course of human events and the collapse of the industrial system. This community is building alternative systems, such as those based on agriculture, real estate, and technology, to be self-sufficient in the face of a potential collapse. - The speaker emphasizes the importance of embracing technology in surviving a collapse and becoming self-sufficient, and challenges listeners to consider new ways of thinking beyond capitalism.
- 02:30:00 In this section of the podcast, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the potential impact of a collapse of the global financial system on human civilization. They agree that such a collapse is more likely than a wholesale technological collapse, but that it would likely require a shift towards lower scale, "survival" technology. They point to examples of ancient technology, such as stone carving and parchment-based writing, as potential solutions for preserving knowledge in the face of a technological breakdown. They also discuss the need for regular debt cancellation as a policy solution to mitigate the tendency of economies towards polarization and debt crises. Overall, their perspective is that humanity must prioritize the preservation of life and the development of more sustainable forms of technology and economic organization in order to overcome the challenges facing civilization.
- 02:35:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the importance of recognizing our role as custodians of life and reserving a large part of the planet for non-humans. They also emphasize the fragility of life and the need to prevent its breakdown. The discussion touches on the possibility of habitable worlds elsewhere in the universe and the importance of space exploration in establishing long-range space flights and potentially setting up a backup hard drive for ourselves on other planets. The speakers also highlight the need to make poor people less poor as a path to a more sustainable ecology, and the importance of egalitarian social structures for long-term survival as a species.
- 02:40:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the anthropological practices of societies that had checks and balances on the accumulation of wealth. They explain that while some individuals may still desire to accumulate wealth, societal norms often protect it from being inherited by a single family. The speakers agree that today's notion of capitalism is a relatively recent development that has that prioritizes individual gains above all else. They suggest that looking at the world as a system is necessary to better understand global issues such as environmental degradation, and that a new science is needed to support this perspective. They mention a few individuals who they believe are worth speaking to for their ideas on the future of economics, including Steve Keen, Kate Rayworth, Nate Hain, and others.
- 02:45:00 In this section, Dr. Michael Hudson and Dr. Steve Keen discuss the economic and social consequences of finance capitalism. They argue that the current monetary system, which is based on debt rather than production, has led to a situation where banks create money out of thin air and wealth is transferred from the people to the financial institutions. This has resulted in a widening income gap between the rich and poor, as well as environmental degradation and political instability. The doctors suggest that a more equitable and sustainable economic system needs to be implemented, where there is greater control over the money supply and interest rates, and where the focus is on creating real wealth that benefits society as a whole.