Robert Skidelsky
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Recent Articles

Russia’s Nonprofit Spies
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Wednesday, March 29, 2017

 
LONDON – Nothing so riles Western opinion about Russia today as its law on foreign agents. Enacted in July 2012, the law requires all non-commercial organizations (NCOs) engaged in (undefined) “political activities” to register with the Ministry of Justice as “carrying functions of a foreign agent.” A follow-up measure in 2015, the Undesirable Organizations law, required any such NCO to identify itself publicly as a “foreign agent.”

The wording is peculiar and significant. What, after all, are the “functions of a foreign agent,” in common parlance, except to serve the interests of a foreign power? Indeed, Russia’s law effectively prevents NCOs not under state control from carrying out any activities in the country. Certainly, the

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Another Reset with Russia?
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, January 24, 2017

 
LONDON – The question of the West’s relationship with Russia has been buried by media stories of hacking, sex scandals, and potential blackmail. The dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele about US President Donald Trump’s activities in Moscow some years ago may turn out to be as credible as the claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction – or it may not. We simply don’t know. What is clear is that such stories have distracted attention from the task of bridging the diplomatic chasm now dividing Russia and the West.

It’s hard for a Westerner, even one of Russian ancestry like me, to warm to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I hate the way his government has used the “foreign agent” law to harass and effectively close

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Economists versus the Economy
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Friday, December 23, 2016

 
LONDON – Let’s be honest: no one knows what is happening in the world economy today. Recovery from the collapse of 2008 has been unexpectedly slow. Are we on the road to full health or mired in “secular stagnation”? Is globalization coming or going?
 
Policymakers don’t know what to do. They press the usual (and unusual) levers and nothing happens. Quantitative easing was supposed to bring inflation “back to target.” It didn't. Fiscal contraction was supposed to restore confidence. It didn’t. Earlier this month, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, delivered a speech called “The specter of monetarism.” Of course, monetarism was supposed to save us from the specter of Keynesianism!
 
With virtually no usable macroeconomic tools,

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Autumn Statement: Economy
Robert Skidelsky
Hansard | Tuesday, November 29, 2016

 
 My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Desai. I will take up one or two things he said, but a preliminary question that occurred to me is: if the private sector is so flush with money, why is it not investing more of it? Why does it need government help to do so? The answer that occurs to me is that the private sector does not see sufficient demand to justify the kind of investment that would employ those funds that are sitting idle. I will come to another point made by the noble Lord on the OBR in a moment.
 
As a long-term critic of the Government’s economic policy, I recognise that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has some good news in it. He has relaxed the absurd commitment to balance the budget by

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Speech on the Economy: Currency Fluctuations
Robert Skidelsky
Hansard | Thursday, November 17, 2016

 
 Volume 776
 
12.55 pm
 
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for making this debate possible. The most dramatic economic effect of the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote has been the collapse of sterling. Since June, the pound has fallen by about 16% against a basket of currencies. Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, has hailed the lower exchange rate as “a welcome change”. Indeed, with Britain’s current account deficit in the order of 7% of GDP—by far the largest since records started—depreciation could be regarded as a boon. But is it? That is the subject of our debate today.
 
There are two things to consider. The first and most urgent is the effect of sterling depreciation on our payments to, and

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