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Kevin Dowd’s ASI speech now available on video

Yes, Kevin Dowd’s Monday night tour de force for the Adam Smith Institute, which I wrote about here (and then some more here) has now been released into society in video form. Having attended the event itself I have not yet watched much of the video so I cannot vouch for its sound quality (what with all the extraneous mechanical noises on the night), but I hope and presume that it suffices.

The ASI’s Sam Bowman says that Dowd’s speech is …:

… essential viewing to anybody who thinks the worst is behind us.

Indeed. Looking back on it, the weirdest thing about that BBC Radio 4 Keynes v Hayek debate, which I attended and which Jonathan Pearce also wrote about here, is that the Keynesians at that debate were all assuming exactly this, that the worst was behind us, and that the argument was merely about which team would manage the recovery, assumed to be under way either now or Real Soon Now, in the nicest way. I don’t recall the Hayek team ever explicitly challenging this assumption. If that’s right, I think the reason was that the assumption was just there, but never spelled out. It was just being assumed that the worst was behind us.

I think that, literally within the last few weeks, in other words since that debate happened, that assumption has collapsed. I don’t think it’s just Kevin Dowd, Sam Bowman and I (and Paul Marks of course) who are now thinking this way.

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8 comments to Kevin Dowd’s ASI speech now available on video

  • Stephen Willmer

    Watching it repays the investment in time. I already intended to expand the cabbage patch in my back garden and to move my little all away from easily confiscated assets like pension funds. Dowd’s talk really reinforces the urgency.

    At the end, in response to a question about moving to a gold standard, he says one problem with doing so would be that gold’s current stratospheric value would drive the value of the pound too high for us to be competitive, so some sort of interim measure would be needed to get around this. My suggestion: adopt a silver standard instead. Granted silver has also greatly appreciated in value, so this would not be painless, but it may not be as bad either, and it would bring with it the same fundamental benefits usually identified with gold.

    This, without meaning to precipitate a dressing down from fans of fiat money.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly the left have their story ready.

    I have seen it in the Financial Times (and in the Lexington section of the Economist and in…..) quite often.

    The correct policies (print and spend – or “monetary and fiscal stimulus”) were correctly suggested by the enlightened ones.

    However, vile reactionaries (us – we are in power around the world you see, we just have not noticied we are in power) clinging to outdated notions such as “sound money” and with a “fetish” for a balanced budgets, prevented the wise scienific policies of montary and fiscal expansion taking place.


    They will simply point out the terrible unemployment and poverty and the rioters on the streets with their Communist banners – “see we told you the only alternative to Marxism was monetary and fiscal expansion, but you supposed anti Communists have pludnged the world into horror just as you did under Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression…..”

    “But Paul there has been a vast orgy of monetary and fiscal expansion – and the picture painted of Hoover as a free market person is just wrong”.

    Yes I know – but that is trying to deal with the left by using FACTS. They can be used past the left (if we can get to people), but not with the left (because the left do not care about them).

    They do not care about facts – any more than they care about rational arguments.

    Leave aside Karl Marx for a second, and thing of the American Pragmatist School – William James and co.

    There is no objective truth – the truth is just the “expedient”.

    That sort of thinking (whether it comes from William James or not) enables someone who knows perfectly well that there have been vast budget deficits to write that Western governments have stuck rigidly to balanced budgets – indeed made a “fetish” of it, and ….. on and on.

    The left may not win – as what they are arguing is not only a lie (the thrust is always, in aim, a lie), but the exact opposite of the truth (and they do not always argue the exact opposite of the truth – when they are most effecive they mix lies with truth, and make even the lies only a twisting of the truth).

    But we both know who de facto controls the schools (those schools that are not in total anarchy of course) and universities and has vast influence over the media.

    Getting even a simple truth out (such as Barack Obama is a wild spender – not a neutral party out to bring people together) takes vast effort.

    It can be done (as the opinion polls and today’s Congressional election results show), but there are casualties in doing it.

    If someone becomes very well known for telling large numbers of people something the left does not wish them to know (such as “Barack Obama is a wild spending whose policies HAVE BEEN TRIED AND HAVE FAILED AND WILL LEAD TO WORSE AND WORSE THINGS) the left will try and discredit them.

    By any means they can.

    Remember whether one uses the Marxist term “agitprop” or the Pragmatist line “truth is just the expedient in our way of thinking”. A simple fact remains.

    They do not care about saying things that are not “true” by our reactionary standards.

    For example, if tomorrow it was wildly reported (Guardian, New York Times – and in entertainment shows in both countries, with lots of shock/horror noises from studio audiences) that David Cameron had followed policies of tax cuts for the rich and savage cuts in overseas aid, …….

    And that the Bank of England were a bunch of skin flints who have worked fanatically to reduce the money supply………

    Such reports would not astonish me in the least.

    Of course such reports would be lies (in our sense), but that would not bother (for example) the average person at the New York Times and the Guardian (and the BBC gets its staff from….). Or in the parts of universities that produce these people.

    The real question is as follows……

    How many people still believe the msm?

    Oddly enough I am actually optomistic.

    Back in the 1950s people did not believe that Castro was a Communist – because the NYT said he was not.

    No one would believe that someone was not a Communist just because the NYT said they were not – not NOW.

    They tend to discredit themselves in odd ways….

    For example Kevin Dowd can try and discredit Paul Krugman’s economics as much as he likes – but the average person still says to themselves “was he not the person who got the Nobel Prize”.

    However, when Paul Krugman calls Rudy G. a “phony hero” (in a lie filled hate piece of agitprop for the New York Times – about 9/11) the average person thinks something like this.

    “But I watched Rudy in all the dirt and screams and chaos, trying to help – Krugman is a LIAR”

    And then the next thought comes – the thought that none of us could put in the person’s head (Krugman had to do it himself).

    “What else is this Krugman guy lying about?”

    It is the same here.

    When “respected intellectuals” commit the error of lying about things that people have personal knowledge of – then people start to doubt their other statements also.

    Including the statements about economics.

    And yes – due to the work (and the personal sacrifices) of many people, most people now know the truth about the last few years.

    The policies followed have been KEYNESIAN ones of create money and spend it.

    The present mess is the result of these policies.

    Many people even know that 2008 was the result of an orgy of Central Bank (such as the Fed) funny money creation.

    So if someone comes along and starts talking about “the cuts” or “the tight money policy”….

    Most people will know as a matter of personal knowledge that this person is a liar.

    And they will think “what else is this person lying about?”

    At least this, I believe, is the truth about America.


    I am still not sure.

  • Myno

    Thanks for the link!

  • Midwesterner

    Paul, very recently I had a conversation with somebody that had ‘drunk the kool-aid’ and believed everything the media was saying. This person believes that MSNBC is on the left and CNN is on the right. I kid you not. Anyway, I pulled up this chart (actually a similar one on a page full of charts, this one makes a clearer link) and this chart. I explained that if the first chart ever reaches vertical, it means the dollar is worthless. On the second chart I explained some rudimentary money supply terminology and pointed out the dividing line between Bush and Obama. I agreed completely that Bush had done a terrible thing and then pointed out how Obama had doubled down on everything Bush had done.

    Not only was there no more argument, that combination of charts convinced this person that we are toppling into something never seen in modern history. The collapse of the most powerful economic civilization in history. The discussion, without any more denial or finger pointing, went immediately into trying to estimate how the collapse will unfold and how to survive it.

    People who can won’t listen to reasoned arguments and who’s eyes glaze at tables of numbers can often be brought up short with a few good charts.

  • Paul Marks

    It is the second chart my Mid – the second chart.

    A “CNN is on the right” guy can explain a gold prize rise “it is a bubble” and so on.

    And he could explain an M3 (or other measure of broad money) rise by saying “greedy bankers”.

    But that rise in the MONETARY BASE.

    There can be no reply to it – it is created by the Fed (with the full support of the elected government) and it is overwhelming.

    The thing is we both know why they did it.

    They did it to back up the previous increase in broad money (which they encouraged FOR YEARS).

    In short to try and “save the financial system”.

    But what can they do now?

    Nothing really – nothing at all.

    Your friend was right – time to work out how to survive what is comming.

  • Midwesterner

    Some may have notice that the first chart went almost vertical under President Carter. But this chart shows that the money supply was not tampered with at that time. It is the recent genuine ‘hockey stick’ anomaly that means recovery is no longer possible.

  • Midwesterner

    Heh. Paul and I posted at the same time. Once again we are in agreement.

  • Paul Marks

    There was a bank credit bubble under Carter – but Paul Volker (unlike Alan Greenspan and Ben B.) refused to try and keep it inflated – so it burst, hence the severe economic contraction of 1981-2.

    But a contraction from which America had recovered from (indeed more than recovered from) by the time Ronald Reagan faced reelection in 1984 (before Alan Greenspan took over).

    I agree – no such REAL recovery is possible with the present mess (although the forces of evil, not too strong a description, may well try some tricks).