Steve Keen contemplates quitting Australian academia for possible private sector role in London

Steve Keen contemplates quitting Australian academia for possible private sector role in London
Steve Keen contemplates quitting Australian academia for possible private sector role in London

Australia’s most well-known property bear, the University of Western Sydney's Professor Steve Keen, is set to quit academic life in Australia and is mulling a move to London as his economic models and analysis gain a wider global following.

Speaking to Property Observer from Mexico City, Keen expressed frustration at a decision by his alma mater to cut economics entirely from its curriculum.

“So we'll soon have a university with no economics courses at all, which I think would be a very dubious first in Australia – and maybe the world,” he says.

Keen has been at the University of Western Sydney for 20 years, where he is professor of economics and finance. He is most famous for his unscripted 2007 prediction on the ABC that Australian house prices could fall 40% – a prediction he remains adamant will still happen, but over the next 10 to 15 years.

Keen has also been blogging about his frustration at securing funding for his economic research, which is based around how high private sector debt levels can fuel housing crashes and financial collapses.

His research has given him an international audience and invitations to speak all over the world including the opportunity to address Britain's Keynes Society at Eton, as well as appear on the BBC's Question Time to discuss the impact of debt on economies.

“Given how much I'm in demand in the public sphere in Europe, my best bet would be to move to London. I'm appearing BBC Question Time, so there's plenty of room to let it be known that I'm happy to shift over there," he says.

Keen recently blogged:

 “Australia and the University of Western Sydney (UWS) have been very good to me for the last 20 years. I have been able to develop a unique monetary dynamic approach to economics 'under the radar' out here, with the support of four consecutive Heads of School who have favoured a pluralist approach to economics.

“But it may be time for a change…” he says before going on to write about a likely funding freeze in place at the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The ARC has provided funding to the UWS research unit (including to Steve Keen's department) and other universities, but last week ARC chief Aidan Byrne told a Senate hearing he didn't know whether or when hundreds of millions of dollars of grants with preliminary approval would be announced and paid following efforts by the government to achieve a budget surplus, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.


 

Keen says he will probably take voluntary redundancy and then expand what he is doing for income in the private sector.

He earns income for the columns he writes for Business Spectator combined with “minor ad revenue” from his Debtwatch website as well as from paid subscribers to his recently launched DebunkingEconomics.com website, which he says is now past breaking even “and improving at a reasonable clip”.

“That plus super could give me a reasonable income, and losing my academic post – though for a ridiculous reason – would at least make my workload more manageable.”

His most recent Australian appearance was as a panellist at a Citi Australian Investment conference in Sydney last week, where he gave a surprisingly bullish short-term forecast for the property market.

Keen said he expected a “suckers' rally” in the housing market over the next year due to lower interest rates in a speech reported by the Australian Financial Review.

However, due to high mortgage debt levels, Keen said he expected the rally would fizzle out with the housing market not responding to interest rate cuts because consumers already carried too much debt.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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