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

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  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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