The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Steve Keen's games

Now my oldest sparring partner (literally and figuratively), Stevie Keen, is playing funny buggers with the t-shirts that he is proposing to wear on his walk from Canberra to Mt Kosciuszko. The bet's message is completely illegible on two of the five t-shirts he has designed. For those who don't recall, Steve was meant to wear a shirt emblazoned with the banner, "I was hopelessly wrong on house prices. Ask me how." The bet was not to walk with a t-shirt that nobody could understand.

As I previously pointed out here, Stevie is prone to some rather radical revisionism (eg, he extended a forecast originally applied over the 'next few years' to 10-15 years when he was proved wrong). But I think this goes too far, and directly dishonours the agreement he struck with Macquarie Bank's Rory Robertson.

Anyway, you be the judge. I have enclosed immediately below one of the two offending designs. I am guessing that the always media savvy Steve is trying to avoid like the plague images of him donning a legible t-shirt, which could quite possibly open him up to ridicule for the rest of his life.

Remember that this is the fella who after emerging as the single most quoted Australian economic commentator during the GFC still managed to convince some guy writing for The Age to produce a feature length article arguing that Steve had been 'ignored' by the mainstream media. Seriously.

The next image is a clearer communication of the integrity of Steve's house price predictions. But in this picture he is comparing one country, Japan, that has negative population growth and will see the number of people occupying homes decline by nearly 30% over the next four decades with another country, Australia, that is expecting to see its resident population rise by more than 60% over the same period. And for completeness, he has added in a third, the United States, which despite having mortgage rates that are significantly lower than those paid by Australians, has a default rate that is nearly 10 times higher (to say nothing of the fact that its financial system collapsed). Of course, I am not in any way suggesting that Steve is trying to pull the wool over people's eyes here...