interesting mainstream economic commentators?

Tue Mar 7 07:39:39 PST 2000

>I know some of Godley's work from the Levy Institute; I thought he was
>at Cambridge University -is he working on Wall Street? How about where
>you are at Flemings; what happens at the "water cooler" when you talk
>with your mates?

WG is still at Cambridge AFAIK -- but the darling Tess has fond memories of his easy hand with the SCR drinks cabinet at garden parties. SO much so that she won't let me slag off his macro model (which is a disaster, IMO). His nearest connection to Wall Street is that one of his articles was summarised in the newsletter edited by the author of "Wall Street".

At Flemings, it's a bit weird. Unlike the Yank hosues, we have few out-and-out Libertarians (though our sister company JF employs at least one honest-to-God Austrianist in some funny commodity futures operation, or at least used to). Most (c. 80%) employees are more or less unthinking instinctive Tories, which makes it interesting that support for Red Ken in the mayoral elections is running at about 60%. But there are a surprisingly number of vaguely left-leaning people on the equities floor where I work. At the risk of making an incredibly shallow and sexist comment, I'd say that left leanings in the financial profession are typically the result of female involvement -- lots of guys have girlfriends who work for aid agencies, nonprofits, or (in my case) as academics.

And then there's me and Petchy, the only really "out" lefties. We're allowed to get away with it because financials analysts are, by folklore "a bit funny", like goalkeepers. Petchy is the insurance analyst, who studied econ. at Cambridge in the late 60s (I think), with a bunch of Marxist content. He sports a long ponytail, and once deduced the Marxist theory of insurance, from first principles. Clients just freak . . . .

Our chief economist is an ex-LBS guy, not leftist by any stretch, but has increasingly been coming round to a view of the world which is, to my mind, recognisably Post-Kenyesian. In general, JPKE type theories find a lot of favour among brokers because they deal with the concepts of liquidity, credit, etc, which also matter in the stock market. Also the case that nobody who's ever worked as a broker will ever accept either that a)markets are efficient or b) finance is about anything other than control.

just my snapshot of life . . .


PS: I seem to remember that Hitler was a vegeterian only because of a dodgy tum.

PPS: I've just asked Petchy what the Marxist theory of insurance was, and got a long explanation (apparently the Russian textbooks have only been translated into Spanish and Slovenian, so his paper is one of the few English lang. refs). It transpires that, according to the Critique of the GOtha Programme, insurance premium is the only form of surplus-value that persists under communism -- because the surplus held by society against risks has to, by its nature, be extracted before a crisis actually happens.

And furthermore, in order to treat insurance symmetrically with self-insurance, insurance premia have to be considered part of surplus-value rather than costs of production. Which is, apparently, why, up until 1994 the Russians refused to allow insurance premia to be tax-deductible expenses.

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