Who We Are

Alan Harvey
4 children
Seattle, WA

Academic economics, at least at the large state university I attended, is ill-suited to the real world.  Departments of Economics seem to be places to go to learn things nobody else can understand so you have job security. Perhaps it was my experience in the real world, where I had a list of jobs longer than yours, from cabs, to restaurants, to mines, to agriculture and ranching, to forestry, to municipal government. I was keenly aware that the Supply Side, Neoclassical, Rational Expectations, Efficient Market theories were flowers appropriate only in hothouses and other controlled environments.

I am not claiming any special insights. Many if not most of my fellow students found these theories and the requisite assumptions equally invalid, or at least dreadfully uninteresting.  So in terms of graduate school I was hard up against the orthodoxy. I had done well as an undergraduate curriculum by granting the curriculum the benefit of the doubt, but now was personally up against being forty-something with a family.  (I think I was convinced that once we got through the fundamentals and the weak in spirit were weeded out, the elect would emerge into a realm where the absurd assumptions were removed and the tools became applicable. Never happened.)

The choice I made was to take my high grades and new degree to work with me on the bus. I do not regret it.  Suspension of belief ought not to be a prerequisite for studying a science.  Quite the opposite.  Critical thinking is essential.

In any event, in order to study Keynesian or even the successes of the economy during and following World War II, I needed to study on my own.  John Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, an early chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and prominent New Dealer named Leon Keyserling, Joseph Stiglitz, James K. Galbraith, George Soros, and now Hyman Minsky have taught me.  It is a lineage of economic thought that has progressed and become more useful.

My studies quickly began to pay off.  I was able to predict -- following closely the work of others -- the end of the Clinton New Economy.  I was able to identify bubbles when we were inside them -- a feat much less remarkable than those at the Fed would have you believe.  And I came to know what questions to ask, who to listen to, and who to discount.

It is much more surprising to me that the decline of U.S. industry and the stagnation of median incomes, the decline of social infrastructure and the rise of a parasitic financial sector, has been considered a golden period, the Great Moderation, by most economists.  High Academia and the halls of Wall Street seemed to become the repository for self-serving ignorance, not for workable economics.

We see around us the rubble of an intellectual conceit, yet at the highest points still standing the debate is dominated by the very architects who built the structure and claimed it would last forever.  Here at Demand Side we hope to offer the views of those not favored by academic elites or corporate subsidies.  We hope to consolidate the views of those who make sense, display the evidence that proves them right, and do it in a way that is accessible and useful to the reader's own understanding.

It is not simply that we must escape the errors of the past, no matter how great.  We must also move aggressively into a productive and sustainable future.  Standing around waiting will only serve the interests of the entrenched interests and increase the damage of the collapse now in progress.