To read The Samuelson Sampler in the shadow of the Great Recession is to gain a glimpse into the mindset of a bygone era. The sample is of the late Paul Samuelson’s weekly columns for the magazine Newsweek from 1966-1973.
Samuelson, a Nobel laureate, was the doyen of American economists: his famous textbook, Economics went through 14 editions in its author’s lifetime, introducing future economists worldwide to the rudiments of their craft. If not the sole originator, he was the great popularizer of the “neoclassical synthesis” – the mix of neoclassical and Keynesian economics that defined the mainstream of the field for 50 years.
Samuelson was a convinced Keynesian, though in a limited sense. He dismissed most of Keynes’s attack onContinue reading...
Historians and economists see the world in a different way. Economists tend to see progress in terms of the linear ascent of reason. Historians tend to see progress as an ascent through disaster.
This year's theme of EPS is the avoidance of a second cold war. It's a very urgent and necessary topic, for on its achievement rest our hopes for peace and security in the post-communist era.
And by peace -to bring in an economic consideration -I mean a peace dividend -the end of the insane expenditure on armaments, which is the only exception our rulers allow to fiscal austerity.
It is wicked to be appropriating hundreds of billions of dollars to guard against largely imaginary dangers while starving our healthcare, education and welfareContinue reading...
A couple of months ago, at Sochi on the Black Sea, I put the following question to Vladimir Putin:
Would you not accept that your biggest failure since you became President in 2000 has been your failure to diversify the Russian economy? Russia has dismantled the old Soviet industrial system without finding a hard currency replacement. Its economy is dependent on oil exports and is dangerously vulnerable to any fall in the oil price. What do you propose to do to make Russia an attractive place for Russians to invest in and not buy up real estate in London, sending house prices to insane levels?
Putin gave a long reply, in which he reeled off a lot of positive statistics but evaded the question. I faced no sinister visitationsContinue reading...
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that there will need to be “colossal” cuts in public spending to balance the books by 2018-19 – at least £55bn extra. On 4 December, the day after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the director of the IFS, Paul Johnson, said that it wasn’t for lack of effort that the deficit hasn’t fallen. Rather, it was “because the economy performed so poorly in the first half of the parliament, hitting revenues very hard”.
Very true – but what Johnson omitted to say was that the main reason the economy performed so poorly in the first half of the parliament was because George Osborne was busy cutting the deficit. He should have been expanding it!
This is something that expert commentators lack theContinue reading...
I concentrate on one point: the Chancellor’s failure to meet his budgetary targets.
Growth has been revised up to 3% this year, to be followed by 2.4% 2015, 2.2% in 2016, 2.4% 2017, 2.3%, 2.3%, 2.3% 2019, and so on.
These estimates are not worth the paper they are written on, being conditional on all sorts of things unlikely to happen.
Their importance lies in the fact that they are the basis of the budget projections.
In 2010 Osborne forecast growth of 2.3% in 2010-2011, 2.8% 2011-12, 2.9% 2012-13. In fact it was 1.6% 2010-11, 2011-12, 0.7%, 2012-13 1.7%.
According to the Chancellor economy should have grown by 8.2 compounded; in fact it grew by 4.1%.
No wonder his deficit reduction plans went awry.
Agreed, that it was notContinue reading...