A windfall tax raised by a money-hungry government will scare off our businesses

Rishi Sunak’s windfall tax on energy firms – what he called a “temporary targeted profits levy” – has gone down well with voters. The tax makes it look like money is raised from someone else and given to them through subsidies to their bills. Despite claims that the tax will yield an additional £5bn in […]

As government debt jumps to fund defence spending, our economy will pay the price

Sanctions will clearly hit the Russian economy very hard. But economic prospects for the West are not exactly rosy. Twice in the 1970s and again in the early 90s, there were rapid spikes in oil prices; each instance was followed by economic recessions. The deep recession following 2008 was, of course, due to financial causes […]

Britons squeamish to spend their savings are jeopardising our economic recovery

The economic recovery is under threat. British consumers are saving and not spending. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that during lockdown, households accumulated a massive £180bn of so-called “excess savings”.   Earlier in the year, most economic forecasts assumed that these would be run down. Lockdown had constrained people’s normal behaviour and with the […]

Budget 2021: The political consensus on low taxes could be completely wrong

In the run up to most Budgets there is almost always one key question shaping debate: should the screws be tightened or the floodgates opened? This time round, a near unanimous consensus has arisen. Taxes should not go up, for fear of jeopardising the recovery.  Even the Leader of the Labour Party has signed up to […]

Hurrah for a vaccine — but was lockdown actually worth it?

The development of the vaccines has changed many things. It has even influenced the opinion of the Prince of Lockdown himself, health secretary Matt Hancock. Life, he pronounced at the weekend, would be back to normal by the spring and the “blasted regulations” abolished. But one thing has remained constant: the government’s continued refusal to […]

Economics lessons from history: Don’t expect a post-Covid boom

Just over 200 years ago, the finances of the British government looked even more parlous than they do today. Since the mid-1790s, the country had been engaged in a titanic struggle with Napoleon’s France. To pay for the conflict, the government had borrowed on a massive scale. The cumulative financial deficit — the difference between […]

Forget the polls endorsing lockdowns and look at how people actually behave

Economics is at long last storming the bastions of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). This citadel of epidemiologists and health professionals has for many months resisted the lessons which the so-called gloomy science can bring. In the context of Covid-19, economics is in fact a beacon of hope. This week, news broke of […]

Get the Bank of England focused on the real economy

Economic policy is returning to its usual position of prominence. Fears of a major rise in unemployment are starting to worry the government more than fears around Covid-19. The chancellor’s imaginative schemes concerning furlough and other measures to protect jobs create potential problems elsewhere. So much money is being borrowed that the ratio of public […]

Time for the Treasury to get with the programme — Britain can afford to spend

In the days of the old Soviet Union, so-called Kremlinologists would pore over every utterance of the Politburo, every sentence in Pravda, to try to work out what was really going on. Sajid Javid’s defenestration from the Treasury has led to an upsurge in similar types of intellectual effort here. What was it really all […]