Economics as Superstructure

Presentation for the seminar “Economics and Power” on 23 March 2015, House of Lords, London: Ladies and Gentlemen, To pay tribute to the Marxist jargon, in which Lord Skidelsky has phrased the title of my subject, I would like to start with a quote from Karl Marx: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas. … The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, … the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.” In my own words, that means that not all economic ideas are created equal.

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Anti-Greek Media Propaganda Will Come Back to Haunt Germany – A Dire Warning From 2011

 In June 2011, Spiegel Online conducted and published a remarkable interview with Albrecht Ritschl. Ritschl is one of Germany’s most renowned economic historians, teaching at the London School of Economics.  Already for years ago, he warned that Germany, being the worst debt offender in history, would ultimately regret it, if it insisted on behaving like the tough taskmaster of Athens and the rest of Europe. What Ritschl predicted is

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Members of the Shadow ECB Council see the integrity of the currency union still endangered

At the meeting of the Shadow ECB Council on 26 February 2015, it became clear that most members do not expect the agreement of the Eurogroup regarding Greece to lead to a sustained reduction of political tension and associated worries about the integrity of the euro area. The average forecast for inflation in 2015 was slashed to zero, yielding an unusually large discrepancy with the forecast of the ECB staff from

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Rap-battle with Dijsselbloem, Varoufakis, Merkel, Putin

You have to see this Video from dutch TV. Translateion from Pastebin: ‘Jeroen Dijsselbloem’: “I’m Jeroen Dijsselbloem, minister of finance and political phenomenon. Due to the frown line on my forehead and my penny-pinching look, you can immediately see that I’m an expert. I’m the right man for this position, let the Greek come my way- I will make them mad. I will get the money back, as it is my duty- and you cannot

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Was it worth it for Schäuble? What did he gain by blocking Varoufakis’11 February proposal?

On 11 February Greek finance minister Varoufakis outlined his request for help and the concessions his government was willing to make in front of the Eurogroup. According to reports it was mainly his German counterpart Schäuble who blocked any agreement on this basis until the Eurogroup finally agreed on a statement on 20 February. It is instructive to compare the wording and content of this agreement with what Varoufakis had offered and asked for (in German here with links to original documents) nine days earlier.

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Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February

On 16 February talks in the Eurogroup failed after Greece rejected a draft statement and received an ultimatum to ask for an extension of the current program before 20 February. Greece sent the letter and the Eurogroup reassembled on 20 February, agreeing on a Statement on Greece. It is very instructive to see what changed between the rejected statement and the one finally agreed. (What Schäuble gained by holding out after 11 February is examined in a companion piece.)

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The Economic Consequences of Pacta Sunt Servanda

In der erhitzten Debatte in Deutschland über die Forderung der neuen griechischen Regierung, das angebliche Hilfsprogramm für Griechenland neu zu verhandeln kein deutscher Politiker und kaum jemand in den Medien überhaupt auf die Frage eingeht, ob das Programm, so wie es ist, funktioniert, ob es den Griechen zumutbar ist, und ob es den Interessen der Gläubiger dient. Beides ist offenkundig nicht der Fall. Warum aber dann so hartnäckig daran festhalten. Professor Thiess Büttner, den Schäuble

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