Archive for the Public Policy Category

Today Singapore and Japan, Tomorrow China

It has suddenly become fashionable to be concerned about China’s growth rate slowing down. This is not a matter of a short-run cyclical downturn, with normal service being resumed shortly as the economy roars ahead once more. It is a worry that there will be a permanent

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Prisons, incentives and how to save the planet

Criminals are refusing to leave Portugal’s prisons.  According to the International Herald Tribune, prisoners are starting to want to serve the full amount of their sentences rather than be released on parole.  This is despite the fact that there is record over-crowding and conditions inside are reported

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A stitch in time. We need smarter government, but less of it

What is the connection between the content of Boris Johnson’s speech this week to the CBI, tax avoidance and evasion, executive pay, petty crime and plagiarism by students?  This is yet another one where economics can help us with the solution. Economists have long used the example

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Our Friends in the North are trapped in a monetary union

Michael Heseltine’s report on economic growth came out last week.  It contains 89 recommendations.  A mere 57 varieties, to recall the famous Heinz slogan, might have connected it more with popular culture. The report has already attracted a lot of comment, mainly that Lord Heseltine seems nostalgic

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Corporation tax: fostering the illusions of the electorate that someone else will pay

Corporation tax is very much in the news.  Starbucks is merely the latest to be in the spotlight, having paid no corporation tax on more than £1billion of sales in the past three years.  This became noteworthy when the Prime Minister himself declared he was unhappy with the

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Is this a pleb I see before me? Reality and perception in the markets

Andrew Mitchell, the government’s chief whip, remains in some difficulty after his exchange with the police at the gates of Downing Street. At the heart of the incident there is an objective reality. Either he used the word pleb, or he didn’t. Either the police were officious

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How Big Is My Multiplier?

The debate rages about whether the Chancellor should implement a Plan B, or C or D or even Z. There seems to be a plethora of alternatives. But many of them share a key common theme. Namely, that an increase in public spending will boost output in the economy

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Why teachers are just like bankers

The current highly emotional debate about GCSE grades is not very enlightening.  But what has happened tells us a lot about how incentives matter, how they affect outcomes.  And at the same time, it shows that unless a proper set of social norms is in place, incentives

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Towards Healthcare – doing more with less (the ‘Aldi’ model!)

Health professionals are living with paradox—they seem to have a dark future of financial decompression—but they also have, opportunities to use an emerging model of healthcare. They have to meet a new challenge of providing improved service for patients with long term medical conditions which seems to

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Transparency, Clarity and Understanding

The call for more transparency is a compelling one.  We should have more information, more easily available.  Stuff should not be hidden away.  I am generally a believer in all of this, and that people have greater ability to absorb and critique than they are given credit

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