Property bear Steve Keen to launch $25 per month subscriber-only economics website with Q&A opportunity
Australian property market bear Steve Keen of the University of Western Sydney has taken the decision to monetise some of his views on economics and the housing market via a new website, Debunking Economics, which launches today.
For around $25 a month, subscribers to www.debunkingeconomics.com will be able to pose questions directly to Keen, including asking him about his views on house prices.
Keen remains adamant that house prices will fall by 40% from their peak in June 2010 over the next 10 to 15 years and believes that the days of rising property values are over.
"The decision to monetise is because the voluntary approach has been ineffective on Debtwatch [his free blog, which he will continue to run but with fewer posts] – some money has been raised, but far less than I've put of my own money into maintaining it over the years, and doing the travel that I needed to do to – firstly raise the alarm about the crisis, and now to push the need for a complete revision of economic theory," he tells Property Observer.
The website is named after Keen's 2001 book of the same title, which took aim at current economic theory and claimed that much of the “cherished notions” of conventional economics are based on reasoning that is internally inconsistent.
A revised and updated edition of Debunking Economics was published last year.
Keen will charge subscribers US$25 a month or US$250 for a 12-month subscription to the website with the promise of “exclusive audio-visual presentations, discussions and interviews about the contemporary economic scene”.
The launch of Keen's pay site follows investment blog MacroBusiness launching a new paid investment advice newsletter on July1, Macro Investor, published every Monday morning with an annual subscription of $479.
MacroBusiness contributors include former Treasury economist Leith van Onselen and David Llewellyn-Smith, a former Business Spectator commentator.
Keen is targeting "at least a thousand subscribers, hopefully more – though that will come far more from US and UK subscribers rather than Australia".
"I've been told that my blog is very widely read in the hedge fund community, and I hope they are a large part of the paying audience," he says.
Aside from access to exclusive content and analysis, subscribers will also be able to log onto interactive Q&A web seminars with Keen and put questions to him directly and in person.
The seminars will be held on a fortnightly basis.
Other exclusive content will include weekly video interviews on both topical and background issues with journalist and former Telstra.com group manager Phil Dobbie, weekly lectures on economics from Keen's "decidely non-orthodox perspective", a regular "Sandpit", where new economic models are developed and explained and a "chartpack" providing access to Keen's analytic charts developed over the years, with the data updated automatically.
Subscribers will also get a free e-copy of Debunking Economics as part of their subscription.
Keen is known beyond Australian borders, having provided economic commentary this year on UK and Irish television, and will embark on New Zealand seminar tour in September.
Most recently he told Peter Switzer on Sky Business that Australian house prices have fallen 10% in real terms (including inflation) since their peak in June 2010.
Keen also took the opportunity to clarify his famous call of a 40% fall in house prices:
He said he made the call in an unscripted response to a question from the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien in November 2007 following a rate rise (up 0.25% to 6.75%) and as the first signs of a US sub-prime mortgage crisis emerged.
“I said [in the interview with Kerry O’Brien] property prices have fallen 40% in Japan in the 10% to 15% since their bubble burst, and I see no reason why we should avoid the same fate," Keen told Switzer.
Keen says the first-home stimulus that was introduced by the government in September 2008 – the doubling of the first-home owners’ grant, which he calls the "first-home venders boost" – pushed back the clock on property price falls, but he remains adamant that prices will fall by 40% over the 10 to 15 years starting from the June 2010 peak.
Keen launched the Debt Watch website in 2006. It includes much of his research, commentary and links to his media appearances.
The website is based around Keen’s view that accelerating mortgage debt fuelled the rise in Australian house prices and that house prices are now falling as mortgage growth slows.
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