Introducing New Video Series, The Bottom Line

This is the introductory video in a series sponsored by Econ4. From their website:

Our aim is to change both the economics profession and common-sense understanding about how the economy works and should work. For this we need to disseminate new ideas, train the new generation of scholars and public intellectuals, and advance new research agendas.

The producer sent this note:

It is my pleasure to present the first film in our new series, The Bottom Line. This one is rather general and is meant to serve as a promo for the more detailed, statement-related films to come. Any feedback would be much appreciated as we are still in the process of editing the upcoming episodes.

So you are encouraged to weigh in!

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  1. JGordon

    Worrying about debt is pretty pointless. What we all ought to be worrying about is being forced to transact in a currency that corrupt politicians and a private banking cartel can devalue on a whim. Now that is what’s scary.

    1. scraping_by

      As Mr. Alperovitz points out, this is a political problem. The Federal debt is being used as a smokescreen for looting the middle class by politicians of every nominal party.

      Putting this pretext out of its misery is a long, hard slog. It probably will include nationalizing our central bank and taking back the government in some fashion. It is devoutly to be wished it will be done with reason, sweet reason, which falleth from the skies.

      Until then, we need those who call bullshit.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Very encouraging to see this — their Mission statement mentions two topics particularly close to my heart: the need for a more resilient economy, and an emphasis on True Cost Pricing. (Be still, my beating heart…)

    Congrats, Yves, on being among those featured in the preliminary intro video.

    We certainly need new economic thinking, and this looks like a practical step in that direction.

  3. Middle Seaman

    “Our aim is to change both the economics profession and common-sense understanding about how the economy works and should work.” This sounds either stupid or immensely arrogant or both. So, Stiglitz, Krugman, Samuelson, Arrow and many others don’t know economics or should view the tapes.

    Such an opening discourages one from even trying.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You bizarrely act as if they are going to use the same approach for different audiences. That’s an arrogant and erroneous assumption.

      Samuelson played a particularly destructive role in the development of economics. I discuss that at some length in ECONNED. As for Arrow, he was told that the Arrow-Debreu theorem, which the economics profession fetishizes. is Turning-noncomputable pre publication. He went ahead anyhow. Moreover, Arrow-Debreu tells you absolutely nothing about how an economy operates.

      Mainstream economics is fundamentally flawed in that it has a deep seated antipathy for ambiguity and dealing with anything less than pristine data sets, which forces them to engage in “drunk under the streetlight” behavior. It also assumes that all economic activity has a propensity to equilibrium, which (as your humble bloggers and others have discussed as some length) is simply an effort to fit, Procrustes-style, real world activity to the sort of math they prefer. The result is that they’ve been forced to exclude much of the economy in their models, including banking, finance, and credit.

      And you defend this? Looks like you have a bad case of credentialism.

      1. Aquifer

        Your description seems to me a perfect example of a description of the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness …

    2. skippy

      Classical / Neoclassical Economics is going extinct or the majority of our species (and others) is… which would you have… um.

      “This sounds either stupid or immensely arrogant or both.” – Middle Seaman.

      Methinks the inability to countenance the major flaws of neo – classical economics, were socking in it actually, is just what you said. The very idea that in – this age – of discovery and were still using biblical et al methodology… shezzz….

      Its like the old joke about grandpa dying peaceably, whilst everyone else, is screaming in the car or conversely in a airliner, when the oxygen runs out… slow asphyxiation till the descent abruptly stops.

      Skippy… evolve or parish… hard choice for some… eh.

      1. skippy

        Amends, started my comment but was detracted, after submitting saw Yves reply. Not trying to gang up thingo.

    3. Larry Barber

      Seaman, I strongly suspect that what we know as economics will someday, relatively soon, be viewed about the same way as we view phrenology today, except that phrenologists were merely deluded, not corrupt. If economics still exists it will bear about as much resemblence to the current “science” as neurology does to phrenology.

  4. Hugh

    99% of economics is just propaganda giving cover to the looters. Establishment liberals like Krugman and Stiglitz are problematic because they continue to support the same elites who are looting us. They see more and better elites, you know people like them, as the answer. But there thinking remains shot through with neoliberal ideas, and to some extent this can still be said of MMT. Both the Establishment liberals and the MMTers are pretty lame when it comes to the political side of political economy.

    So do we need a new economics? Absolutely. In fact, we need two, one to describe the current kleptocracy and one to map out a way forward.

    1. Carla

      “99% of economics is just propaganda giving cover to the looters”

      What a succinct and accurate statement. The rest of your comment was right-on, too! Thanks.

  5. RT

    I wish you all the best with this welcomed effort. You said above: “The result is that they’ve been forced to exclude much of the economy in their models, including banking, finance, and credit.” I very much look forward to see this elaborated, hopefully in a way that no one with a vested interest can smear and everybody else understands. Additionally, the deceitful misbehavior of working deductively but presenting results as if they were found inductively should be exposed. Finally, the more economists you can find to contribute to the project the better. What are the real facts? What are derived hypotheses warranting further research and analyses? What are mere opinions? And what are the blunt lies? It’d be very helpful to have that in video format for spreading the word and educating relatives, friends and peers to engage in informed discussions … well, that seems to be your mission statement as I read it. Thanks!

  6. Kevin Smith

    Looks like it will be good.

    Thanks for posting that video link, and congrats on your involvement.

  7. GDC707

    Excellent. Really liked the music and the overall “feel” of the video. Looking forward to what comes next . . .

  8. David Lentini

    Nice introduction to the series, albeit rather common to the genre. I’m very much looking forward to the more substantial episodes.

    One topic I hope you’ll cover, especially since it was an important element of ECONNED, is the complete lack of intellectual honesty in the economics “profession”. (“Profession” here used in the sense of the oldest profession, since so many economists have no trouble making any claim when paid enough.) I’d love to learn more about why economists who reach the level of a Krugman, Stiglitz, Mankiw, etc. are so untroubled by the sorts of lies you and Steve Keen document that under-gird economic theory; and how they are able to get away with maintaining any credibility. Is there really a sort of unspoken collusion? Do they just lack the intellectual chops to understand the problems? How can they sleep at night, knowing that so many lives are affected by their fairy tales? Any why doesn’t the press get a clue?

    Also, I’d love to have the presenters comment on a question that’s bothered me for years and may finally be coming to the fore: Can unregulated capitalism and democracy co-exist? I think the answer is no, since the priority of democracy is to ensure equality of political power; and the goal of capitalism is to seek maximal return on capital, which ultimately creates huge inequalities in political power as we see today. A related question then, is whether “economics” can really set itself outside of politics; in other words, should we return to a more Aristotelian view of political economy and recognize that we cannot separate questions of economics from politics.

    Finally, I also want to hear the comments of the presenters on the ages-old question: Is economics a true science?

    Thanks to you and your contributors for doing this, Yves.

    1. Aquifer

      Shucks, chalk it up to my ignorance, but i always thought economics was a subset of, if not a handmaiden to, politics … but what the heck do i know …

  9. Siggy

    Intriguing teaser. Will this lead to new textbooks, a review of the economy as it is actually functioning? One would hope so.

    Will it happen in time to stop the implosion of the American economy? I doubt it. It may well be that what is necessary for the ultimate recovery of the Republic that we lost a generation ago may demand an implosion that will be the basis from which a new republic can be established.

    At best America is today a social democracy. In that sense we are running out of other peoples money; we are increasingly a society dominated by entitlement. Entitlements that have been granted in an effort to appease and control a semi literate society.

    The politicians have become practitioners of sound bites and photo opps. Political discourse is all about talking past each other. The fiscal cliff is coming, shit! It’s here and now. In a very profound way, it is too late to do anything about. The evidence of that lies in the fact that we accepted the concept of Too Big To Fail in the first place and the fact that the current President has a following.

    1. citizendave

      What is the economy for?

      Should we continue to raise our children to serve the economy? Or should we engage in our political economy toward the goal of transforming it into something that serves The People?

      Should we continue to rely on the conceptual Invisible Hand working in an allegedly “free” “market” to maybe eventually deliver to us the kind of world in which we want to live? Or should we engage in a transparent public process whereby as many people as possible can give voice to their wishes about what we want this world to become?

      The growing plutocracy can gain undue influence in the legislatures if the people are acquiescent. But if the people begin to speak the language of the new economics, in which the pursuit of happiness and enjoyment of leisure time are preeminent values, then the legislators will have little choice but to turn their backs on the power of money, and will listen instead to the rising chorus of the people of the land who cry out for freedom — freedom from working until death do we part.

      Entitlements? You are entitled to your opinion. I believe we are entitled to partake of the common wealth we helped to create. If you did not help to create the common wealth, we will still generously provide for your health and welfare, even if nobody will hire you.

      1. Aquifer

        Like your drift, but would tweak it a bit – re “the legislators will have little choice but to turn their backs on the power of money …”

        Methinks that instead of trying to convince Legs to detox, as in “pushing them to do the right thing”, we ought to concentrate on electing folks who aren’t “hooked” in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These guys are into the dope big time … So let’s show ’em the door, put ’em in rehab (community service) and replace ’em with “sober” folk who never developed a taste for large amounts of the green (not Green) stuff in the first place …

        When you think about it in these terms, ISTM the best folks would be those from a party that doesn’t have two sticks to rub together, and i just happen to know one …

        1. citalopram

          Those folks who aren’t hooked will be corrupted if they ever do get in there. People like Jessie Ventura found that out. Violent revolution is the only way out.

  10. Susan the other

    To expect capitalism to solve all and everything has been silly for a long time. All capitalism is is rules for conducting business. is going to be a good source of information for everyone. We can all meet on that bridge from time to time. I clicked on Mattea Kramer’s “Talking Sense on the Nation’s Balance Sheet” just for ducks. It was good. Her 5 points: 1. reactionary deficit slashing is nuts; 2. sensible tax and spend is mandatory and spending priorities must be socially valuable; 3. pay-for-performance Medicare – which I found to be kinda specific, but very sensible – but I think the larger question is What happened to single payer? 4. Cut military spending – I don’t see much of that happening so I’d like to change the way the military serves the country by giving them an environmental cleanup mandate; 5. education needs to be a priority. Good stuff. I wonder who’s listening.

    1. Aquifer

      Yo, Suse – watch out for that P4P stuff in healthcare … great incentive to not take on folks with severe problems (lousy odds) or multiple co-morbidities (too many contingencies) …

  11. Aquifer

    Soon? Coming soon? Well hurry up, for Pete’s sake, time’s a wastin’, we’re treadin’ water here and the seas are a risin’…

  12. Jeff N

    I look forward to this, I feel like no one else besides nakedcapitalism readers even remotely understand this stuff.

    and those economists that make it their job to disagree with this, are the ones highly paid by the people who benefit by their disagreement.

    1. scraping_by

      Many understand it, but are adamant about not saying it in public. Trickle down economics is boomed out by bully roarers in every office and family gathering in the land. Point out it’s theft by another name and the badgering begins.

      Allow them to know their plain and concrete understanding of economics is legitimate, they’ll bloom.

  13. Rob Whitman

    In 2008 and 9 as the banks were tanking and the economy was sliding ever deeper into the crapper one of the things that really made me angry was watching a bunch of Wall St. executives tell the American people this was all to complicated for Americans to understand. “Phew! Only really smart people like us can understand this stuff!”

    So I decided to inform myself which included reading NC a lot. It included reading Krug and Stig thouugh I agree with many of the criticisms of their work that NC readers know about. It included falling back in love with Bill Black. It included re-reading my roots authors in the sociology and economy of neo-liberal capitalism. Then I had to re-read the core Chicago schoolers who perpetrated this mess on us and then got rich on it. That was loads of fun.

    Now I teach it. I work in an inner-city community college so the students I serve are the new American underclass. They are the people staring at the truth of a new feudal existence. I have been teaching an interdisciplinary seminar in education, the crash, and getting a job in this economy for about 2 years now and you know what?

    My students get it.
    In fact they get it immediately.

    They get credit default swaps
    They get collateralized debt obligations
    They get the gutting of regulation and law.
    They get the collusion of political elites and rating agencies
    They understand that they have been defrauded.
    They get that whole industries break the law every day and nothing is done.
    They are very angry and at some point they will develop a focus for their anger.

    Bring on the films.

    1. citalopram

      Priceless, my friend. Education about what really matters is so important. They will never learn this stuff in state schools.

  14. craazyman

    hopefully they can interview some channelers since all of economics, so far, is just earth-based. nobody has done this yet. Mr. Ferguson did not interview channelers in his movie. There are a number of other planetary civilizations that may be sources of insight and if somebody goes out to Santa Fe and puts up an ad in the local paper or laundramat or some supermarket, they would find probably at least 8 or 9 capable channelers.

    It’s not at all clear if these other civilizations have the same problems we do here, described in Dead Sea Scrolls Manuscript B Testament of Amram. If they do, that would be remarkable and if they don’t, then that would also be remarkable. If they have money, that would be especially interesting. And if they know what it is. If they know what money is, that would be very very interesting. Nobody on our planet really does.

    Not everybody would accept channeling as a rigorous methodology for research but you can’t please everybody. It couldn’t be any worse than mathematical economics. It couldn’t be any worse than equilibrium theory. It might be better than a Ouija Board, but even a Ouija board would be better than the DSGE and mathematical economics and equilibrium theory. It’s time to think outside the box. What’s the downside? At least you’d meet some weirdos.

    1. Bert_S

      For starters, we should send a question out over SETI asking for what to do about the “fiscal cliff”. While we are waiting for an answer, the Bush Tax Cuts end, defense gets cut, and entitlements go untouched.

      There you have a good start.

      Next send a SETI message asking what to do about Iran. Wait for an answer.

      But I’d certainly like to hear from some Santa Fe channelers instead of the same old ones from Kansas all the time.

      But I’d certainly like to hear from some Santa Fe channelers instead of the same old ones from Kansas all the time.

      1. Valissa

        The Complete Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

        InterGalactic Banking Clan
        Notable members… Kos: Vice Chairman of Galactic Accounts of the InterGalactic Banking Clan

        Babylon 5 – Delenn Talks About Shadows and First Ones

        He has a point

        Alien thoughts on $ and more

  15. Ms G

    This looks very promising. When is the first substantive installment being released?

    Yves — great screen presence (and voice)!

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