Articles from The Guardian
The Labour party faces a political dilemma. Barely a day goes past without the more excitable parts of the British press trumpeting some new signal of Britain's economic success. Every other headline screams that Britain is "booming" or that its factories are "roaring to life". Every little jump in the flimsiest of economic indicators, every upward revision of economic forecasts, is celebrated as if it were a triumph worthy of song. And the propaganda seems to be working: voters' confidence in Conservative economic management has soared, and in Labour's has slumped.
So how should Labour respond? The first requirement is to separate the politics from the facts. Britain is not booming. Growth is forecast to be 1.2% this year – a dismalContinue reading...
When George Osborne took over the Treasury, he decided that fiscal policy would be governed not by the state of the real economy but by the state of the public finances, as measured by pre-set fiscal targets, particularly the rate of deficit reduction. Those targets were designed to reassure investors in government debt that the state was solvent and would remain so.
Halfway through the life of this parliament, it is clear that the effects of that policy in terms of output and growth have been disastrous. Britain, like the eurozone, remains stuck in the slow lane. We did not grow at all last year, and we enter 2013 with a realistic prospect of a triple-dip recession. Despite our freedom to devalue and massive open-market operations byContinue reading...
Why we need weekends
Robert and Edward Skidelsky
| Saturday, September 08, 2012
Did you think that it was only in Victorian England that debtors were forced into the workhouse? Think again. This week a leaked letter revealed that Greece's eurozone creditors are demanding a six-day week as a condition of the latest bailout.
Of all the far-out ideas for solving the Greek crisis, this one surely takes the biscuit. First, it is completely unenforceable. Second, those Greeks in full-time employment already work the longest hours in the European Union. Finally, how does the troika (the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank) propose to provide work for the 25% of Greeks unemployed? And yet, as preposterous as the demand may sound, it needs to be taken seriously – not least as a symptom of a growingContinue reading...
Cutting public spending when there is no other source of growth in the economy is a sure-fire strategy for recession. As if the lack of recovery wasn't bad enough, the lack of growth also scuppers your deficit-reduction goals – the very reason for austerity in the first place. Like throwing away the engine to trim a car, you have offset the lack of revenue recovery by slashing capital spending. The results are already being seen in the forecasts: there will be no spurt of growth to regain the losses of the recession. The best we can hope for is a slow crawl along the bottom.
Is there a way out? Initiatives such as the National Infrastructure Plan and the Green Investment Bank aim to mobilise private money behindContinue reading...
Let’s abolish retirement
| Monday, July 02, 2012
Retirement is not as old as you think. According to the Bible, God expelled Adam from Paradise with the terrible words: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." And that's more or less how it was until about a hundred years ago. Most people worked till they died. Pensions in the UK date from 1908, and the cost of the first pension schemes was tiny, as the retirement age of 70 was 20 years beyond average life expectancy. Retirement was for heaven – if one had lived a virtuous life.
Work has remained central to our existence, despite the lengthening gap between work and death we call retirement. We are expected to work till our sixties and somehow make the best of the dead years to follow. This isContinue reading...