Meet the engineers of economic theory: Market design has become a full-time job

What does someone with the job title of “chief economist” actually do? The most well-known in the UK is probably Andy Haldane at the Bank of England, but his role is not typical. So what do the others do? Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth’s paper in the latest issue of the American Economic Review describes the […]

The chancellor should heed Keynes – and keep public spending down

Last week’s Spring Statement by chancellor Philip Hammond has led to predictable calls to “abandon austerity”. With massive hyperbole, Labour accused him of “astounding complacency” in the face of what they claimed to be the worst ever public funding crisis. The facts are rather different. Far from being squeezed, after allowing for inflation, current spending […]

Less austerity will always mean more tax

Austerity

There is a great deal of discussion, following the election, of relaxing or even abandoning austerity. There is an equal amount of confusion about this, because the same word is being used to describe two quite separate concepts. The consequences of the government changing its policy on austerity are dramatically different, depending on which one […]

Capitalism is stable and resilient

The financial crisis did succeed in creating one dynamic new industry.  Since the late 2000s, there has been a massive upsurge in op-ed pieces, books and even artistic performances offering a critique of capitalism. A founder member of the Monty Python team, Terry Jones, is the latest to get in on the act with his […]

Psychology, not hard line maths, tells us why Osborne’s strategy is working

So, International Monetary Fund, wrong again! At the end of last week, the IMF abandoned its criticism of the UK government’s economic strategy. Christine Lagarde, the IMF chief, said her organisation had ‘underestimated’ the strength of the recovery in Britain. The IMF now believes that the UK will be the fastest growing of any major […]

Forward guidance needed for companies, not consumers

Most of the commentary on the UK’s economic recovery focuses on consumers. Are they taking on too much debt again to finance their spending? Is there a bubble in house prices, as people get excited about bricks and mortar again? Certainly, in terms of its sheer size, spending by consumers is by far the biggest […]

Recovery and summer are in the air, but doom mongers still lurk

The GDP growth figures announced last week for the second quarter of this year have sent most people away on their holidays in a cheerier mood than last year. The recent weather has certainly helped. But gloomy clouds may hover over the exclusive settings of Tuscan villas and beach houses in Martha’s Vineyard, where bien pensant commentators […]

Banging up bankers is the wrong punishment – it won’t change behaviour

The behaviour of the banking sector in the run up to the crash is still very much in the public eye. But this is nothing new. Readers of a certain age may recall Bernie Cornfeld, and his company Investors Overseas Services (IOS). It failed dramatically in the 1970s after allegations of fraud. IOS encouraged the […]