ILR Podcast: Dr. Nat O’Connor and Michael Taft on What a Progressive Economics Would Look Like


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Yesterday I spoke to Dr. Nat O’Connor, Policy Analyst with TASC and a regular contributor to Progressive Economy on the phone about the TASC autumn conference in DCU this Saturday. Nat explains how the perspective of TASC and those of the speakers differs from the more mainstream economists and commentators whose solutions on how to resolve Ireland’s economic crisis have dominated the debate in the media so far. Nat went on to talk about NAMA, and about how much of the detail in the discussion so far has concentrated on the technical questions, around valuations. However, there is a reluctance to talk about the broader social implications of NAMA which due to the considerable burden of debt in the years to come, will inevitably impact on the sort of services the state can provide.

In the second part of our podcast I also spoke to Michael Taft, who’s Recession Diaries are widely read here and on Notes on the Front. Michael also contributes to Progressive Economy and will be speaking as part of a panel discussion in the afternoon session of the conference. Michael talked to me about Fianna Fail’s economic strategy in a Keynesian context, suggesting that the deflationary strategy is effectively introducing ‘negative multipliers’ into the economy which will result in stagnating job growth in the medium term.

Thanks to Nat and Michael for talking to me. I apologise for some sound interference on the recording, mainly in the first interview. I still have a little bit to learn about doing phone interviews.
The full program of the conference is available here.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email:

4 Responses

  1. Steve Rawson

    October 7, 2009 11:34 am

    On the one hand there is the outright dismissal from mainstream economists and various commentators to the idea of nationalising the banks on the basis that it is the politicisation of a market-led private sector and for profit business.

    On the other hand, these same commentators have no problem with the politicisation of NAMA using massive amounts of taxpayers along with a hope that increased interest rates, property speculation and a return to an inflated property market will return us to a mainstream status quo.

  2. Donagh

    October 7, 2009 5:02 pm

    Nicely put Steve. Which all goes to suggest that they (or those they represent) want to completely control the access to capital. They were able to do this in a relatively unregulated marketplace, because there was plenty of capital sloshing about. Now that that has dried up, they want to be able control the only remaining reliable source of capital – tax payers money. What the tax payer get back in return is a promise: ‘trust us, we know what we’re doing’.

  3. Steve Rawson

    October 7, 2009 5:29 pm

    It is also notable that former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, announced today that the Irish NAMA model as presently planned is the wrong way to proceed.

    He believes that nationalisation, in the short to medium term, with a view to an eventual sell back to the private sector, would ultimately provide a better return for the taxpayer.

  4. Tomboktu

    October 7, 2009 9:28 pm

    The big question I would also like to see answered is:

    Why does the government not implement policies like those Michael Taft is suggesting?

    If I understand his case correctly, Michael Taft’s key argument is not a normative or justice-based one — e.g. “the poor must not be made to pay” — but an analytic one: “this is the best way to get out of the recession with as little unemployment as possible”. (Accepted, his approach also has the benefit of addressing the needs of some of the worse off in our society, but that is presented as a bonus.)

    Why does FF not see it as being in its interest to pursue the kinds of policy Michael Taft is proposing?