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The Crash Through Keynes’ Eyes
Lord Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. His three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes (1983, 1992, 2000) received numerous prizes, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations. He is the author of the "The World After Communism."
Question: What were the factors in his life that contributed to Keynes’ philosophy?
Robert Skidelsky: Well, that's a big, tall order. I think first name to mention is Cambridge, that is Cambridge, England. He was born there, his parents were Dons, his father taught at Cambridge University, he then started teaching at Cambridge University at King's College. So Cambridge was the intellectual center of his life.
The next big center was treasury, British government. He worked at the treasury during the first World War, worked at the treasury during the second World War. So British government was his third, sort of third center.
And then the Bloomsbury Group, which was the group of his friends, he met them at Cambridge, they were artists, writers, and famous names that everyone's heard of, like Virginia Wolfe. And this was his group of personal friends and of course when he married the ballerina, Lydia Lopokova, then ballet entered into his life. So there was economics, there was government service, and there were the arts. I think those three things contributed to his formation as an economist and as a thinker.
Question: What are the key tenets of Keynesian economics?
Robert Skidelsky: Well, I would single out two. First of all, markets are not very stable, they're liable to crash, especially that's true of investment markets. And secondly, when they do, and as a result of their crashing, economies run down, governments have a duty to provide a stimulus in order to break the fall and promote recovery because the markets won't do that themselves. So I think those are two basic features of Keynesian economics.
Question: In what ways did the neglect of these principles contribute to the economic crises of 2008?
Robert Skidelsky: Well, I think that the regulators and governments thought the financial markets were much stabler than they turned out to be, and therefore, they could be allowed to regulate themselves. So I think monetary policy, or macro policy was not attempted to the possibility of these big bubbles building up and then crashing. But on the second part, I think the fact that governments came in with a stimulus, once the economy had started to run down, was attribute to Keynes. I think the difference is with the Great Depression itself of the early '30's, when governments did the exact opposite, they tightened their budget, they cut their spending, they raised taxes, and as a result, made things worse. This time I think they did the opposite and the reason they did the opposite was Keynes had already written his theories, his great book and governments instinctively did what he had advised them to.
Question: Does the Keynesian understanding of consumer choice illuminate the dramatic downfall in the stock market?
Robert Skidelsky: Well, I don't know that it was consumer choice that is the illuminating thing. What I think his theory does enable us to understand is that investment is quite uncertain because people don't know what the future is going to bring, they bet, they bet on the future. And a lot of those bets can go wrong. I think it was also due to the fact that the banking system, or a lot of it, had been deregulated and therefore, there was very little control over financial innovation. And financial innovation, a lot of it was very, very destructive. So I think that Keynes' economics illuminates how that sort of thing can happen.
And also on the other side, I think he did insist that when there was a big disturbance like in the investment markets, so it could be in any sort of market, economies don't bounce back quickly on their own. They do aggregate demand, as he called it, or aggregate spending, does start falling. And when it falls, unemployment starts rising. So I think that's where his, that's where his economics is particularly illuminating, in those two areas.
Question: What role did morality play in his economic philosophy?
Robert Skidelsky: I think he always asked the question, what is wealth for? What is money for? It's not something that economists ask on the whole, they assume that people have come to market with wants of their own and that the sole occupation of economics is to show how those wants are most sufficiently satisfied and they will thought they were doing a good thing if they set up systems which allowed one's satisfaction its fullest play. Keynes always said, "No, let's look at the nature of these wants and we need to always have a moral critique of wants. Economic progress is to enable people to lead a good life." And he didn't think that that was what every, you know, that that was just an individual choice, what a good life is, he was based on certain traditions and moral philosophy, which said a good life consists of these things.
Now, you can say, of course, well, that didn't enter into his economics and many other economists also might have an idea of a good life, which is detached from what, their technical economic work, but I think he tried to keep them connected in his own mind and I think very few economists followed him in that direction.
Recorded on December 16, 2009
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
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- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
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