Out There News

A people's hotline to the world has been set up by the online global news agency, ‘Out There News’ on the website www.megastories.com. Run from a converted attic in Muswell Hill by ex-Reuters journalist, Paul Eede, it aims to create a place on the internet where people can tell their own stories on their own terms. Propaganda and disinformation play a large part in news. ‘Out There News’ sees an urgent need to challenge the demonisation in both directions between and East and West.

Its links with Yahoo and AOL bring ‘Out There News’ a large American audience, while connections to cable companies, Telewest and NTL, enable them to interact with a million subscribers in this country.

It has also teamed up with three organisations with similar aims to pool resources on the website www. crisisreport. Org.

Source: The Guardian Media Section October 15th, 2001.

--from Positive News Special Edition 2001

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8

Within and Beyond the Age of Keynes

William Krehm

We live in and beyond what might he called the Age of Keynes. Within, because the problems that he devoted his fife to must be solved anew; for his solutions have been buried in masterfully organized oblivion. Beyond, because the problems that he wrestled with are overlapped axial by a still more tangled web of circumstance.

Keynes arrived at his mature views late in life. As late as 1930, when the Great Depression was already under way, he published his Theory of Money in which he still held that the problem of insufficient demand could be dealt with by managing the rate of interest. ("a l'outrance")1. A few years earlier he had dismissed Marx as an economist that he knew to be "unscientific," implying solid scientific credentials for the marginal utility doctrine he had cut his teeth in.2 Yet in his General Theory3 he spoke of his sympathy For the labour theory of value. He had come to grasp the lack of tie with reality of accepted model that recognized no other value than the price of the fast transaction.

That might appear so to the individual trader engrossed in his current deal, As might, too, the view that a dollar saved is a sign of prudence. However, applied to society as a whole, he recognized in these homely maxims the fallacy of composition.

With that realization, society itself was finally dealt a hand at the table. Too many dollars saved rather than spent will create a lack of markets that can bring on bankruptcies and unemployment. And when that happens, the government must spend more than it takes in to fill the gaps arising from such withdrawals of private purchasing power.

Keynes began the journey that finally brought him to Keynesian- ism as a participant in the negotiations the Peace after World War I. His further attempts to deal with the tangled political and economic problems between the Wars were both frustrating and profoundly educational. In World War II he advanced some of the most promising schemes for reining in inflation during the wartime scarcities - forced savings to be released after the war as production caught up with civilian needs. His advice was only marginally taken, but it became perhaps the dominant influence on Western thinking up to the mid-seventies.

To acquaint ourselves better with the setting, I have chosen the work of a prominent economic historian, Charles P Kindleberger.4 The Peace talks had fixed no figure for the reparations from Germany. That left the world monetary system upended. "Viewed from the 1980s, the attempt to exact reparations from Germany makes little sense. A Reparations Commission in 1921 had brought forth a figure of 132 billion old marks”.

That imparted an aspect of improvisation to the entire first decade of the peace. Economists and statesmen vied with one another in displaying their ignorance of-what money is about; and concerning the gold standard and to what parities it might, if at all, be restored. Successive German regimes had little motivation for putting their fiscal house in order: they were determined to prove that the reparations were simply not feasible.

Yet, there was precedent for such a course. Germany had obtained 5 billion marks in reparations from France in 1871. Britain had led the victors at Waterloo in exacting 700 million francs from France after 1815. “Now the French having paid twice, were ready to receive."