Robert Skidelsky
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Articles from The Independent

The folly of George Osborne
Robert Skidelsky
Independent | Friday, October 25, 2013

 
The Chancellor has been celebrating the recent estimates showing that the economy has grown by 0.8 per cent in the third quarter of this year. However, these forecasts do not tell us anything about what is most important: well-being. National well-being is the only object of economic growth, but GDP data says nothing about it.
 
Well-being depends on a range of factors, including amount of leisure time, good health, security of income, sense of community, a clean environment, harmony with nature, respect for personality, and so on. It also includes sustainability of the ecological basis of human life. Either these things do not show up in GDP at all, or turn up as subtractions from GDP growth. For example, the more medicines people

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By George, he hasn’t got it: What would JM Keynes think of George Osborne’s Budget?
Robert Skidelsky
The Independent | Friday, June 25, 2010

 
I don't wish to examine the structure of George Osborne's emergency Budget, but to analyse its logic. On the structure I have only this to say: the balance between increased taxes and reduced spending is probably right. It is right to demand sacrifices from all sections of the community, though I doubt the attack on welfare benefits (designed to save £11bn a year by 2014-15) will be seen by many as fair. And there are a number of useful measures to encourage enterprise. My objection is to its overall fiscal – and ideological – stance. It is deflationary – not as deflationary as the Chancellor's rhetoric demanded – but deflationary all the same.
 
At a time when the UK economy has an estimated "output gap" – the gap between what the

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What would Keynes have done?
Robert Skidelsky
The Independent | Saturday, November 22, 2008

 
Expect plans for higher borrowing, tax cuts, and more spending in Monday's pre-Budget statement. With Britain sliding into depression, it is not surprising that the old Keynesian tool kit is being ransacked. But Keynesian economics is not just about fixing damaged economies. You don't need very sophisticated economics to spend your way out of a depression. In one form or other – usually by war or war preparations – governments have been doing this throughout history.
 
It does require very sophisticated economics to prove that depressions cannot happen. This was the economics Keynes set out to challenge in his great book, The General Theory Of Employment, Interest And Money, written during the Great Depression of the 1930s. His own ideas,

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Opinion: A peace deal for the whole of the Middle East
Robert Skidelsky
The independent | Friday, November 24, 2006

 
The endgame is in sight in the Middle East. It has been brought into view by the growing recognition that Syria and Iran have to be involved, not just in negotiating an Iraqi settlement, but in underwriting peace in the Middle East as a whole.
 
It is increasingly accepted that the American-British-Israeli policy of reshaping the Middle East by military force has failed. The Americans have lacked the strength and the will to subdue Iraq (much less create a democracy there); the Israelis have failed to destroy Hizbollah in the Lebanon (or indeed quell the Palestinian insurgency); the US has failed to stop Iran's nuclear weapons programme.
 
These policy reverses have knocked on the head the myth of American omnipotence. The US is still the

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Obituary J. K. Galbraith
Robert Skidelsky
The Independent | Monday, May 01, 2006

 
For 20 years in the middle of the last century, John Kenneth Galbraith, who died yesterday at 97, was the "best known living economist". But he was not, and will never be, regarded as a great economist by economists. He is best thought of as a sociological economist, who tried to develop a theory and a policy from an analysis of the institutions of contemporary American capitalism. He had a genius for significant description, and wrote with confidence, wit and a notable talent for phrase-making, but the theory he sought proved elusive and he had no lasting effect on policy.
 
His big idea was that the "market system" lauded by economists was a fiction to disguise the existence of economic power. Far from consisting of small, competitive

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