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Balls Radio is like talk radio, but for thinking people. Now a short regular occurrence, Phil Dobbie offers his opinions on what's happening, in the UK and overseas: politics, social policy, economics, science, religion. Yes, it's another, slightly overweight middle-aged white man telling the world how it should be. But there's nothing alt-right about Balls Radio. And we try and have fun along the way.
 
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Is a negative trade balance such a bad thing? Some countries with a bit deficit seem to be doing okay, like American, even the UK to an extent, whereas others, like Japan have a trade surplus and a economy on the road to nowhere. This week Phil Dobbie and Steve Keen discuss how important is a trade balance for the overall good of an economy. And wh…
 
Economics works so well because we al have perfect information about everything, all the time. Right? We choose products at the best price because we know all about all products and their prices, so we can make the best choice. That means we can all pursue our own self-interests to provide the most efficient outcome for any situation. Huh? This wee…
 
If capitalism is driving everyone to make a profit – and we all save a bit of that profit and therefore accumulate more wealth, does that mean everyone can be better off, if we all run profitable businesses? Does that mean Boris Johnson’s idea of levelling up is a good one? Or is there a constraint on how much wealth there is. Today on the Debunkin…
 
During his Tory Party conference speech, Boris Johnson said that he remembers something about Wilfredo Pareto, in the “cobwedded attic of (his) memories”. In his mind, Pareto was all about levelling up – that you can improve the lot of some of society without anyone else losing out. But Pareto is most famous for the 80:20 rule – at the time he obse…
 
Donald Trump believed that China was manipulating its currency to get an unfair advantage against the US. This week Professor Steve Keen explains why manipulating currencies isn’t that easy – and the US will always be at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for international trade. He talks with Phil Dobbie about why countries moved to floatin…
 
The world’s leaders are getting together in the UK at the end of this month to discuss how to tackle climate change. Meanwhile, fuel prices are rising higher and higher, and increasing talk of inflation. Prices are rising because, quite simply, demand is rising but supply is still constrained. Gas supplies in Europe are dependent on Russia and rene…
 
Governments have been spending their way through the pandemic, so what happens to that money? Regular listeners will understand how this spending gets added to the money supply, but then what? Steve Keen looks at the impact of government spending on the private sector, and Phil Dobbie asks if this is a prime example of modern monetary theory in act…
 
Steve Keen is a man of many surprises. His latest is that he is going to stand for the Senate in New South Wales. He’s packing his bags and heading back to Australia, for an election that will be held early next year. He’ll be one of six senate candidates in NSW for the New Liberals. So, is this a good move? From an academic to a politician, from d…
 
COVID is causing supply disruptions the world over, evidenced by disruptions to supply chains and rising producer prices and consumer prices. Central banks are quick to suggest this is a temporary measure, and inflation will start to fall as quickly as it rose. And yet, they are also making noises about raising interest rates, as a way of controlli…
 
Central banks around the world are at different stages of how they supposedly deal with the COVId-19 crisis. Most are implementing some form of QE, but many are now reducing their purchases, and some are even lifting interest rates. How can they all have a different monetary approach to dealing with the same crisis? And can any claim to have been o…
 
Whilst the UK still lumbers under high COVID infection rates, and the economic recovery stalls, with GDP growth now at a trickle, the government wants to raise taxes. Even if you believed it was a fair tax, is next April – when the rise kicks in – the time to be taking spending money out of people’s pockets. But, as Phil Dobbie discusses with Prof …
 
There’s a lot happening with China right now. First, they are extending their social and commercial controls, which is adding uncertainty to foreign investors looking to get involved with Chinese firms. Maybe the Communist Party likes it that way. There’s also the risk that a more cocooned China could play a stronger military role in the Asia Pacif…
 
Following on from a fortnight ago, what happens as resources start to become scarce? We’re already seeing the short-term impact of supply chain disruption because of COVID, but what when this becomes more common, and we have to get used to the idea of not always getting what we want? Prof Steve Keen suggests that rationing of goods might be the onl…
 
More students than ever are off to university next month because of the A level grade inflation, accentuated by teacher assessments replacing exam results because of COVID. How useful is it to society to have more and more people studying at university? Is it adding to the GDP of the country? In today’s podcast Steve Keen suggests that we are deval…
 
We’ve talked about the climate change crisis on the Debunking Economics podcast, but there’s a broader issue we all face, highlighted in the Club of Rome back in 1972. We are chewing up resources faster than they can be renewed or sourced. It’s not just oil, but iron ore for steel production and previous metals used in microprocessors. Simon Michau…
 
Many governments have done an excellent job at propping up businesses during the pandemic. For example, paying companies to furlough workers will, in theory, enable those businesses to quickly bounce back, with a workforce ready to go. But what if the pandemic drags on for years to come? Already governments are talking about how they will claw back…
 
Karl Marx never advocated violent revolution, but he did expect that the power balance between capitalists and workers would change. On today’s podcast Steve Keen tells Phil Dobbie that Marx wrongly expected that profits would ultimately shrink, so workers would be fighting for a slice of a shrinking pie. That’s not happened. Perhaps the main reaso…
 
Steve Keen has often said, the problem with economics in, it ignores thermodynamics. That’s not always been the case. Georgescu-Roegen, a Romanian economist, wrote The Entropy Law and the Economic Process in 1971, which embraced the orle of energy and waste in economics. But we’ve taken backward steps since then. This week Phil Dobbie asks Steve Ke…
 
Even the most ardent free marketeer accepts that there is some degree of subsidy needed to support low income earners or necessary industries that are not commercially viable. This has particularly been the case through the pandemic. But what’s the best way of applying these subsidies? If you pay directly to companies will you be inhibiting efficie…
 
From day one economics students are taught that their discipline is all about the optimal allocation of resources. The concept of scarcity is at the very heart of how we are supposed to think. And yet, as Prof Steve Ken explains this week, that scarcity doesn’t really exist. There’s plenty of people available to do jobs, there’s masses of untapped …
 
Canada and the west coast of the US have been hit with extreme heat the last week. The town of Lytton in British Columbia reached 49.5C, the result of a heat dome caused by static high-pressure. It’s another reminder that the world has to act on climate change. This week the ECB’s Christine Lagarde talked about how the EU needs to see around €330 b…
 
Businesses and politicians have worked tirelessly to reduce the power of workers and dissemble unions. Of course, nobody was better at it than Margaret Thatcher. But has she, and all those did their damnedest to reduce the power of unions, actually done the country a disservice? Do economies function better with strong unions? Are they the necessar…
 
Boris Johnson has enjoyed photo opportunities this week with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the announcement of an ‘in-principle’ free trade agreement between the two countries. It’s the first new one for the UK outside those that already existed through the EU. Great news for biscuit eaters, because Tim Tams are so much better than …
 
The world is fixated with the present. We want to earn money quickly and spend it quickly. CEOs don’t care about much beyond their stock options, politicians only work to getting re-elected, consumers want instant gratification. It’s no wonder then that we’re not prepared to make compromises for long term consequences, like climate change, because …
 
Today on the podcast Phil Dobbie talks to Steve Keen about the value of things. Supposedly, price is a substitute for value, meaning if someone is prepared to pay more for something then they must value it more. But as they discuss, that only applies if everyone has the same amount of money. A poor household will place greater value, as a proportio…
 
US inflation is now running at 4.2% on an annual basis, and producer prices the world over have been rising as input costs for product creep up. How much of this will be passed on to the consumer as companies struggle to absorb these costs – and what impact will these higher prices have on demand? Central banks are all toeing the same line, that ri…
 
This pandemic has been massive amounts spent by governments, and a chunk of that government debt is being bought by central banks. But with central banks buying up government bonds, whilst maintaining low interest rates, who is really benefiting? The answer, of course, is the wealthy. This week Steve Keen explains why the current situation is widen…
 
There seems to be an assumption by many that the crisis we have experienced will quickly bounce back. Output will resume, demand will return, everyone will be back in work and the economy will rapidly expand back to where it was before COVID. Central banks appoint to supply chain disruption in the short term that might create transit inflation, but…
 
There’s one clear difference between this recession and almost all those that have gone before. This time there was a pandemic involved, which hit demand and supply equally. So are there any similarities between this global recession and those that have gone before. Phil Dobbie puts the question to Steve Ken in this latest Debunking Economics podca…
 
40 world leaders go together virtually this week, for a bit of an impromptu climate summit called by Joe Biden, before the next big climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. In this edition of the Debunking Economics podcast, Phil Dobbie asks Steve Keen whether Bill Gatesd has the right approach. He advocates removing the green premium. Hi…
 
Janet Yellen has repeatedly called for countries to raise their corporate taxes, so they are in-line with the increases she has planned for the US. There’s also been a call for companies to be taxed where they earn their revenue, rather than declaring profits in countries where tax is lowest. Her reasoning is transparent, of course. She wants to ra…
 
You might have thought that digital currencies were the domain of cryptocurrency evangelists, and were largely stores of wealth rather than money used for transactions. Now, it seems, central banks everywhere are investigating digital currencies as part of their modus operandi. Most money in central banks is digital, of course, so when they discuss…
 
Last week we looked at how economics text books that taught us the law of demand, and how fundamentally flawed it was. Today, equally as useless, the law of supply, with the supply curve representing the marginal cost of producing goods. Steve explains how its is flawed because of the assumption that as you produce more of something the cost of pro…
 
Steve Keen believes the way we look at economics is wrong from the ground up. Take the demand curve, for example. It shows how, when prices fall demand goes up, and vice versa. Whilst it works at an individual level, but attempts by theoreticians to demonstrate that this works at the aggregate level have all failed. In this episode we look at the S…
 
Post Brexit we were promised a global Britain. It’s got off to a bad start with a massive fall in exports to the EU in the first month of this new utopia. Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot of talk about Britain accepting inward investment, in particular encouraging foreign firms to list on the London stock exchange. This week Phil Dobbie discusses…
 
The UK chose to respond to a global pandemic by reducing the amount of money given in foreign aid. Yet COVID-19 is attacking every country in the world. So is climate change. And there will be other viruses to come. For example, Ebola is reported to be out of control in West Africa right now. It is not as infectious as COVID-19, but its fatality ra…
 
The UK won’t see an end to lockdown measures until July, but after that the hope of many is that the economy will bounce back quickly. The Bank of England governor has called it a coiled spring. Many are comparing it to the roaring twenties. Part of the reason for this optimism is the argument that many people in the country have saved money during…
 
Australians can no longer turn to Facebook for news. From today they have banned Aussies from posting links to news sites on their platform, or for Facebook users anywhere linking to Australian news content. Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg says these actions demonstrate that the big social media players wield too much power and control. Facebo…
 
In 2019 Greta Thunberg spoke to politicians at the UN Climate Week, saying they were promoting fairy tales of eternal economic growth. The next year we saw GDP in advanced economies fall by around five percent. Was this a win for the green movement? James Strain, a Debunking Economics Podcast listener, suggested we talked about the need for de-grow…
 
There was a bit of argy-bargy on the share markets in America last week, when a bunch of day traders set to take on Wall Street, particularly the hedge funds who were shorting stock on Gamestop, amongst others. Were the day traders the bad guys in this scenario? Did the retail traders know what they were getting themselves in for? In this episode P…
 
Remember a time when central banks pretended to be independent, insulated from day-to-day politics? That had all but disappeared before COVID, but the pandemic was the final nail in the coffin of central bank independence. Instead, they have been colluding with governments to provide the mechanism to issue more public sector debt. Monetarism can’t …
 
Last weekend, Lord Sumption, was talking about why a lockdown harms everyone when the virus mainly ills people who are old or who have with debilitating conditions. He suggested we shouldn’t have lockdowns, because the lives lost were of less value than the rest of us. He isn’t the first to suggest that some lives are worth more than others. In fac…
 
One big problem as we emerge out of the COVID crisis is, even if we have money we’ll be reluctant to spend it. So, how can the government get us to step up our spending? The answer, perhaps, lies in Austria in the 1930s, when the Mayor of Wörgl issued his town’s own currency, with built in demurrage. Could a new, parallel currency be the way to inc…
 
If you follow the science of Cliodynamics, the events unfolded in the United States the last few years have been entirely predictable. This week Prof Steve Keen talks to Phil Dobbie about the work of Peter Turchin, who has built mathematical models to track changes in society based on economic, demographic and political changes. How much can it tel…
 
Earlier this year Phil Dobbie asked Steve keen for his predictions for 2020. Without a whiff of COVID-19 IN THE AIR, Steve talked of a capitalist economy on government life support. On that he was pretty much on the mark. So what of 2021. In this free edition of the Debunking Economics podcast he explains the reasoning behind his five predictions f…
 
As the US government argues over whether to spend almost another $1 trillion to stimulate an economy ravaged by COVID-19, and the UK government likely to increase public sector borrowing by GBP215 billion this year, plus central banks lowering interest rates to often below zero, is there a chance our response to COVID-19 has been over the top? Some…
 
Would the UK be better off with tariffed trade with Europe? The public discourse seems to be focused on how to remove tariffs, but Prof Steve Keen argues that if they are sufficiently high they will encourage domestic production across a variety of industry sectors. The more complex the mix of industries the more self sufficient an economy becomes,…
 
The UK has cut its foreign aid budget to help pay for the domestic costs of COVId-19. Is that a bit of a callous move? That’s a rhetorical question, but there’s a more meaningful question on today’s podcast – is there a better way of managing foreign aid. Steve Keen has worked with agencies dealing with foreign aid, and discusses the failings of th…
 
Steve Keen and Michael Hudson have both been arguing for a debt jubilee for some time. Now, as COVID-19 hits the poorest hardest, and leaves those with money better off than before, is this the right time to write off debt? Can the economy recover without it? After all, its stagnated since the 2008 global financial crisis. If you were to have a deb…
 
It’s a first for the Debunking Economics podcast, but we think it’s not a bad idea – a bunch of listener questions to make sure we are all on the same page. Suneil Basu wrote to ask if we could cover off the differences between Keynesian and Post-Keynesian economics, and the different approaches of the Chicago and Austrian Schools. Also, how did ne…
 
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