Robert Skidelsky
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Financial Times

Crisis-hit Russia must scale down its ambition
Robert Skidelsky
Financial Times | Friday, October 31, 2008

 
The official view is that Russia is an outstandingly successful economy temporarily derailed by a financial shock of foreign origin. Its annual economic growth in real terms averaged 7 per cent in the years during which Vladimir Putin was president (2000-08), annual real wages rose by almost 15 per cent, the federal budget was continually in surplus. Mr Putin, now prime minister, was quick to blame America for the downturn. Before the crisis hit home Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, boasted in June that Russia was not part of the problem but part of the solution. Its cash-rich companies would invest abroad, Moscow would become a world financial centre, the rouble would become a reserve currency and so on.
 
All this turned out to be

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Why a weak government would mean better rule
Robert Skidelsky
The Financial Times | Monday, April 25, 2005

 
The first question to ask about a political system is: what are the checks on the uncontrolled exercise of executive power? Britain does not have a written constitution with a formal division of powers, but the traditional answer would have been parliament, which, by successfully asserting the right to authorise spending, was able to check the absolutist claims of the monarchy.
 
But this check was fatally weakened by the onset of mass democracy. The executive was now located inside parliament, and MPs were put there by the party machines. Their main function was to support the actual or aspiring government. Parliamentary sovereignty became executive sovereignty. Provided a government retained the support of "its" majority MPs, it could

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Book Review: A rational sceptic who is always his own man
Robert Skidelsky
Financial Times | Sunday, January 09, 2005

 
Against the Flow
By Samuel Brittan
Atlantic Books, £19.99
 
Samuel Brittan has an unmistakable "voice". In political philosophy, he is an extreme individualist: it is individuals, not groups, who "feel, exult, despair and rejoice". A private person, intensely protective of his habits, he despises and fears crowds and manifestations of tribal passion. In economic philosophy, he calls himself a "redistributive market liberal". The emphasis is on the "market liberal" but some redistribution of capital and income is justified to compensate for the inherent defect in private property rights. In international relations, he is a Cobdenite non-interferer, believing that we do not have enough knowledge to reshape the world.
 
This compilation

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The politics of euro economics
Robert Skidelsky
Financial Times | Tuesday, January 23, 2001

 
Throughout history there have been governments without central banks. But until the European Central Bank was set up, there have never been central banks without governments. Central banks are modern inventions: governments are very ancient.
 
The logical connection between money and power is potentially contradictory. For trade to take place the value of money needs to be guaranteed and this usually requires centralised issue. On the other hand, monopoly of issue gives government the power to manipulate the currency for purposes of policy - traditionally to cover extraordinary war expenditures.
 
In principle, there is no reason why the first task - of guaranteeing the value of money - should not be farmed out to a central bank: this is

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The case for a smaller state revisited
Robert Skidelsky
Financial Times | Friday, December 29, 2000

 
Conspicuously missing from the coming British general election will be a debate about the size of the state. An uneasy consensus rules that the present scope of activities is about right. The government spends or dispenses 40 per cent of the national income. That is quite a bit more than in 1960 but a lot less than it might have been had the Thatcher privatisations not happened. True, the Conservatives talk about shrinking the state but they are not willing to take political risks to do so.
 
One might suppose, therefore, that the supply of state services has reached a rough balance with the demand for them. But that is not true. Demand for education and healthcare rises faster than national earnings; the explosion in rights multiplies

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