Osborne’s half-term report
| Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Budgets are more politically than economically significant. Some fancy financial juggling creates the illusion of activity – a tax here, a hand-out there – and the media decides the winners and losers. The economic trajectory of the government remains unchanged. This time motorists may be the winners with a fuel tax cut; the government will have to find a set of losers less vocal than pasty-eaters.
But this Autumn Statement is also the government’s half-term report.
Two and a half years into George Osborne’s chancellorship, the failure of his economic strategy is plain to see. The OBR has consistently predicted growth higher than independent forecasts, and consistently been proved wrong. Their report will confirm what was alreadyContinue reading...
The first was the belief that cutting down government spending would automatically produce recovery. I know the Government now claim that they never believed anything so simple or idiotic, but they did, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.
The second has been the Chancellor's failure to distinguish between current and capital spending. This has made the deficit seem more dangerous than it was. The prime example of this blind spot was the £50 billion cut in capital spending.
The third was the Chancellor's belief that without a severe fiscal contraction Britain would go the way of Greece:Continue reading...
The Office of National Statistics recently reported that the British economy has grown by only 0.5% over the past year: private sector demand is depressed by deleveraging and uncertainty, while public sector demand is constrained by the government’s austerity strategy. Britain needs to rebalance its economy away from reliance on credit-fuelled private consumption and towards investment and exports. And the public has lost confidence in banking as a socially useful activity.
A British Investment Bank (BIB) presents a potential solution to these problems. Robert Skidelsky at the Centre for Global Studies and Felix Martin at Thames River Capital invited leading figures from the British private and public sectors, as well asContinue reading...
Is economics bunk?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
There’s a lot of support for the idea of reforming economics, ever since the Queen of England asked of a group of economists in November 2008, why did no economist predict the credit crunch? Many people, including some economists, have been wondering what’s wrong with economics, whether some time back it didn’t take a fatal turning which made a lot of it wrong or useless.
A huge obstacle to rethinking economics is the view that it is like physics: in the double sense that human behaviour is subject to natural laws and in the sense that economics discovers these laws as it progresses from error to truth. No one really suggests we should start physics all over the again. And if economics is really like physics, we do not need to reformContinue reading...
Keynes versus Hayek
Friday, October 29, 2010
In his memoirs, the British economist Lionel Robbins called his argument with Keynes over what to do about the Great Depression “the greatest professional mistake of my life”. As a Hayekian, Robbins advocated doing nothing and leaving it to natural forces to bring about a recovery. Keynes, as we know, advocated a big stimulus. Looking back on the dispute, Robbins recanted: you don’t, he said, deny a drunk who's fallen into an icy pond blankets and stimulants on the ground that his original trouble was overheating. This was in my view both good ethics and good economics.
There’s an interest argument though to be had between the Wicksell-Hayek and the Keynesian models of the origins of the slump. According to Wicksell-Hayek the presentContinue reading...