Robert Skidelsky
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Recent Articles

A Trip Through Putin Country
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 
VLADIVOSTOK – Russia’s Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railway “can be hardly named as a popular tourist attraction,” says one tourist website of the some 2,000-mile railway traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. “Most people even never [sic] heard of it.”
 
The BAM’s older rival, the Trans-Siberian Railway, is certainly more popular. Since opening in 1916 it has attracted many big names, including the travel writers Peter Fleming, Paul Theroux, and Colin Thubron. But it is the BAM – this unloved northern spur, initiated by Stalin in the 1930s, and completed under Leonid Brezhnev in 1984 – that offers the more useful window onto the Russian mood outside of cosmopolitan Moscow and St. Petersburg. Today, BAM land is overwhelmingly

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Now austerity is over, let’s commit to investment—and build a national bank to do it
Robert Skidelsky
Prospect | Tuesday, August 08, 2017

 
 Deficit fetishism has finally been defeated. As I recently wrote in these pages, this year’s Queen’s speech finally put “strengthening the economy” ahead of “the public finances.”
 
This is progress. But there is still no agreement on what should replace austerity. If the doctrine that a country can cut its way back to prosperity is dead, the hunt for new answers should start with the most obvious alternative—enriching ourselves by investing in valuable things.
 
The state must reaffirm its own role here. In the Keynesian post-war age, it was accepted that the state had an important—and probably increasing—part to play in capital formation. Yet since the 1970s, things have gone the other way. In the UK, public investment as a share of

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The Protocols of Donald J. Trump
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 
 LONDON – It is an odd quirk in the history of logic that the blameless Cretans should have given their name to the famous “liar paradox.” The Cretan Epimenides is supposed to have said: “All Cretans are liars.” If Epimenides was lying, he was telling the truth – and thus was lying.
 
Something similar can be said of US President Donald Trump: Even when he’s telling the truth, many assume he is lying – and thus being true to himself. His trolling is notorious. For years, he claimed, with no evidence other than unnamed sources that he called “extremely credible,” that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent. During the Republican primary, he linked his opponent Senator Ted Cruz’s father to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He has

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Austerity simply doesn’t work—its death is long overdue
Robert Skidelsky
Prospect | Monday, July 17, 2017

 
Subjects can dominate the agenda one day, and then drop from view. Something of the kind has been happening to austerity. Two years ago nothing seemed so important to George Osborne as eliminating the budget deficit. In 2015, fresh from masterminding the Conservatives’ unexpected win, Osborne pledged himself to achieving a surplus by 2019-20 and announced further cuts of £12bn in welfare. Austerity, having been relaxed before the election, had returned with a flourish. Not only did the Chancellor claim that his austerity policies had produced economic recovery, but committed himself to an annually balanced budget for all time. No more nasty borrowing.
 
By 2015, the economy had started to grow with vigour: at 2.8 per cent in 2014 and then

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Britain’s Deepening Confusion
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Monday, June 19, 2017

 
 LONDON – “Enough is enough,” proclaimed British Prime Minister Theresa May after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. Now, it is clear, almost half of those who voted in the United Kingdom’s general election on June 8 have had enough of May, whose Conservative majority was wiped out at the polls, producing a hung parliament (with no majority for any party). Whether it is “enough immigrants” or “enough austerity,” Britain’s voters certainly have had enough of a lot.
 
But the election has left Britain confusingly split. Last year’s Brexit referendum on European Union membership suggested a Leave-Remain divide, with the Brexiteers narrowly ahead. This year’s general election superimposed on this a more traditional left-right split, with

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