Category: Uncategorized

Open Letter to the OBR and the IFS

The mission statements of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) are as follows: OBR: The Office for Budget Responsibility was created in 2010 to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances. IFS: Our goal at the Institute for Fiscal Studies is to promote effective economic…

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Economic Illiteracy

With some frequency I come across instances of economic illiteracy, usually from politicians and commentators, but, alarmingly, sometimes from economists themselves. Here are some examples: “It’s unfair to saddle* the next generation with debt” This one became popular in certain quarters when it was pointed out that the best way to restore government debt to…

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Brexit: ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do…’

I don’t normally seek wisdom in ancient texts, but this from Ecclesiastes 9:10 seems peculiarly appropriate to the ongoing Brexit debate: ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.’ Which is to say, that it…

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AI, Automation, Globalisation, and the Inevitability of Socialism

There is a long and honourable literary tradition of dystopian visions based on and around the idea of mechanical and/or electronic usurpation of the role of human labour and the resultant impact on social stratification: In H G Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) there are two social classes, the leisured minority Eloi and the Morlocks…

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The Extraordinary Politicisation of Climate Change

Weird isn’t it? The way that climate change becomes a right/left issue, the way that proponents and opponents line up congruently with their political views. The science itself is politically neutral, and scientists are almost unanimous in their view that climate change is both real and damaging. And yet, for all the hard evidence, there…

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A UK Sovereign Wealth Fund and a UK National Investment Bank Are Not Separate Issues

In previous posts I have set out the case for both a UK Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and a UK National Investment Bank (NIB). In each instance I didn’t pay much attention to the question of implementation. Turning to that issue now I aim to show that the two are highly interdependent and would deliver…

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Opium Is The New Opium Of The People

170 years after Marx first suggested that religion is the opium of the people, his dictum still resonates as it has done down the years. The idea that society has a mechanism for distracting people from remedying the ills that really assail them won’t go away. As the grip of religion fades in increasingly secular…

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How The Housing Shortage Wrecks The UK Economy

Nobody denies there is a shortage, but what is its extent? Research, conducted in 2018 by Heriot-Watt University, showed a shortfall of 4 million homes. Government targets suggest that 300,000 homes need to be created annually in order to fix the problem (The pro rata Heriot-Watt figure is 340,000). Drilling down into various estimates reveals…

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