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Tag: Economics

Endless surrenders?

Endless surrenders?

There’s a situation I observe that has a strange symmetry. Very often I’ll read someone on the left lamenting a series of endless surrenders to the right, such that officially left wing parties now embrace policies that once were considered right wing. They point to privatisation, immigration laws and casualisation of labour and say that forty years ago Jeremy Corbyn’s policies would be considered fairly moderate. And at the same time, I’ll often read someone on the right lamenting a…

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Predictions for a No-Deal Brexit

Predictions for a No-Deal Brexit

Many people are talking of leaving the EU without a deal as being a disaster. Even setting aside the obviously histrionic claims that it will cause millions of deaths, normally serious commentators – and many Remain supporting friends who I’ve discussed this with – are regularly using terms such as ‘disaster’, ‘catastrophe’, ‘severe economic damage’ and ‘untold harm’. We have of course been here before. Before the vote, we were told that a vote to Leave would, even before we…

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Macron, Brexit and the bankruptcy of so-called ‘centrism’

Macron, Brexit and the bankruptcy of so-called ‘centrism’

I’ve tried not to give a blow by blow account of the Brexit negotiations. But with riots against Macron in their fourth week in France, our negotiations at an impasse and our government (perhaps) on the brink of collapse, it seems appropriate to draw some of these strands together. Macron Why talk of the riots though? Well, for the simply reason that Macron is the darling of the Establishment, that same coalition of multinational business, highly educated metropolitans, academia, big…

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Belated Budget thoughts and ‘the end of austerity’

Belated Budget thoughts and ‘the end of austerity’

Brexit might be the news of the day right now, but last month’s Budget remains an important turning point. I’ve had a few people ask me how there seemed to be more money around in the Budget and where it came from, while there’s been plenty of debate on what the end of austerity really means. Before we answer those questions; however, which I’ll do by means of a simple analogy, it’s vitally important to make sure we fully understand…

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A Social Policy Trilemma

A Social Policy Trilemma

There is a trilemma in economics that states that a nation can only have two of the following three things: – Free movement of capital – A fixed monetary exchange rate – An independent monetary policy. All three of these are things that a country would sometimes quite like to have; however, the trilemma states that if a country has two of them, the third must in consequence be given up – it is not possible to maintain all three…

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Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

The quarterly book review provides a non-exhaustive list of some of the books I read and enjoyed in the previous quarter. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) I always feel mildly guilty reading Archer, given the perjury issues, but this was a hugely enjoyable book. It followed two people from very  different backgrounds, their rivalry and their rise to success, in this case in the United States in business between about 1910 and 1960. Archer’s gift, as in First Among Equals…

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Making Markets Work: Rail Franchising

Making Markets Work: Rail Franchising

According to some polls, 60% of people think that the rail network should be nationalised, whilst only 25% believe it should remain in private hands. With the chaos affecting the Thameslink and Great Northern networks, annual above-inflation price-rises and a number of well-publicised failures in franchising such as the 2012 West Coast Mainline debacle, it’s easy to see the appeal. But at the same time, it’s not that simple. The number of rail journeys being made has more than doubled…

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A More Transparent Tax System

A More Transparent Tax System

One of the challenges of the tax system is how complex it is. And that’s not just in terms of the rules and sub-rules, but because it’s hard for people to really visualise what the limits mean. If someone proposes to raise taxes on everyone earning over £100,000 how many people does that affect? What should the threshold be for inheritance tax? And when we add in benefits the complexity compounds even further A further problem is the way that…

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Making Markets Work: Public Procurement

Making Markets Work: Public Procurement

Marking Markets Work is a series exploring how the free market can operate more effectively to deliver benefits to ordinary working people. It affirms that the free market has been the best and most successful mechanism for generating prosperity and lifting people out of poverty, but recognises that in recent years a number of departures from the theoretical ideals of a competitive market have resulted in some discrepancies between headline economic figures and the welfare and wellbeing of ordinary citizens….

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Plastic Bags, Social Change and Competition

Plastic Bags, Social Change and Competition

Tesco and Morrisons have stopped providing plastic bags for 5p – instead, the cheapest bag you can buy costs 10p (and is slightly higher quality, intended for reuse). Asda has announced it intends to do so at the end of the year. Sainbury’s still offers 5p bags (though they are also higher quality and intended for reuse). M&S and Waitrose (which have a noticeably smaller market share than the big four) still offer 5p bags. This is a fascinating development….

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