Nathan Tankus: How Naked Capitalism Promotes Important Subversive Thinking

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By Nathan Tankus, a student and research assistant at the University of Ottawa. You can follow him on Twitter at @NathanTankus (

If you’re reading this you probably already know a lot about Naked Capitalism. What you may not know is the crucial role it plays in a subculture I’m involved in–that of Heterodox Economics. Yves has provided an outlet for scholars with ideas threatening to power to spread their views beyond their own narrow circles. Additionally (and more personally) she has given outlets to students of these areas, like Philip Pilkington and myself, to write about what catches our interest, often using the lens we have acquired from Heterodoxy. I can guarantee you that there is no other platform on the planet that would have given me as much free rein to write what I want as Naked Capitalism. Just in the last six months I’ve written on such varied topics as the 1930s gunshot marriage of New York City and its subways, multiple posts on Paul Krugman, and the persistent attacks on New York City Libraries, among many others.

By providing people like me an outlet to write for, Yves gives us exposure that is often severely lacking for economists who pursue research interests that most departments won’t support (in other words, interesting and useful ones). There is a long history stretching back to the McCarthy era of those with alternative economic views getting pushed out and marginalized in academia. As Naked Capitalism has often documented, Neoclassical economics dominates public institutions worldwide with the support of many corporate and financial interests. A public platform helps to combat these attacks and support the development of ideas outside of traditional institutions.

Even during the brief time I’ve written for Yves, her support has had important payoffs. The Institute for New Economic Thinking reposted several of my posts and so did Truthout. Just recently the Indian journal Economic and Political Weekly contacted me about writing on the Debt Ceiling fight for them.

This isn’t about me, though. When you donate to Yves you are helping to keep a platform alive that can potentially support a whole new generation of aspiring writers and economists in developing their abilities as writers and researchers. There are many topics to which students such as myself (given time, resources and opportunity) could contribute immensely. An example that I’m thinking of is the post I did on Quantitative Easing (QE). There, I went back to Keynes himself to understand why a decrease in purchases of government bonds by the Fed would generate a panic among financial players (I refuse to say “the market”), implicitly showing why QE itself is a failure. This is a very unique but useful perspective for students to share. As always though, developing these potentialities requires time, energy, and resources, all of which require money!

I would be remiss if I left the impression that the relationship with Yves only goes one way. Those of us attracted to alternative ideas in economics have learned immensely from Yves. Whether following the latest rash of policies during the crisis or the latest intricate and complicated clusterfuckery in the mortgage market, Yves has been well ahead of even those who are willing to accept conclusions that are damning to policymakers.

Your support shows that there is value in this project and that you want the writing and analysis here to continue. Give, already! You’ll be happy you did!

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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether.


  1. Maurice

    Glad to do my part in knowledge and subversion…..thanks, Yves, for daily interventions for us all.

  2. casino implosion

    ‘Financial Players”. Why didn’t I think of this? My blood pressure rises every time I see the phrase “the markets” as if they were am impersonal background phenomenon like the weather.

  3. Eeyores enigma

    My only problem with NC and all the other econ blogs is that they all get caught up in the minutia of the symptoms and for the most part skip over the CAUSE.

    This in effect keeps people from addressing the cause and gives them an outlet for their angst allowing them to then go on about their way doing the same damage that is the cause.

    Economics is – 1. careful management of resources to avoid unnecessary expenditure or waste; thrift.

    Virtually all the Worlds resources are seriously depleted to the point where they are no longer able to support the growth and excess the World has relied on and the World no longer can handle the waste stream form all of that resource extraction.

    This is not a financial issue.

    TPTB have attempted to make it a financial issue but are failing.

    We need to asses the condition of the World, it’s remaining resources and the ability for waste-stream absorption, and the population and design a system for going forward. Thats ECONOMICS!

    It has nothing to do with mortgages of the FIRE economy.

    Please for the sake of future generations lets stay on tract.

    1. diptherio

      Apparently you’ve missed all the permaculture posts…and the peak-oil/alternative energy discussions…and the all the conversations that have grown out of the links to the Archdruid report…

      In other words, I find your criticism off-base.

      1. eeyores enigma

        “…permaculture posts…and the peak-oil/alternative energy discussions…and the all the conversations that have grown out of the links to the Archdruid report…”

        Thats about as constructive/dismissive as saying ” I bought a Prius so I’m doing my part now can we get back to talking about all the little details of finance please? “

  4. fresno dan

    “There, I went back to Keynes himself to understand why a decrease in purchases of government bonds by the Fed would generate a panic among financial players (I refuse to say “the market”), implicitly showing why QE itself is a failure.”
    Bravo!!!! I wish though, you had also mentioned “primary dealers”
    But I had better stop, elsewise I will get apoplexy from the contention that TARP has been paid back, and everything is running as it should in financial land…

  5. Terence Dodge

    Subversive thinking? It is only subversive to state facts with data to a narcissist who is high on themselves ( avarice, ego & greed “AEG” ), realistically other than subcontractors of the aforementioned narcissist(s) whom working as trolls to distract Ms Smith from her work are unlikely read “NC” other than as a line item on their VISA statement from their subs.

  6. mark worden

    Financial players — not the market. Call it like it is.

    Then too: not mortgage market– “Mortgage players” ?

  7. Jimi

    It is not NC or it’s commentors that is subversive. Nothing on these type of sites speaks to a desire to turn to a anarchy approach to the issues we face -au contrare.

    It is plainly the Political,Judicial,Financial,et al sectors that are subversive in all their actions toward the very people they say they are there to represent. Massive failure not by accident as it is them that are reaping the $$$$$ rewards while the rest suffer.

    Here they come chopping and reaping
    Hear them laugh at their cheating

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