What went wrong, when and how?

It is three years since the 2019 General Election, and everything is rubbish. October saw record strikes going back to 2010. Public services are under horrible strain (see Stephen’s piece), and winter has barely begun. You can understand the strikes: private sector pay growth of 7% – still well below inflation – hugely outstrips thatContinue reading “What went wrong, when and how?”

Is there any alternative?

There is a black hole, we are told. A yawning one, that needs to be filled in, oooh, around 10 days from now, or we face some unmentionable doom. Fortunately, after a brief flirtation with Rule by Crazy Libertarian, the grownups are back, prepared to take tough-but-necessary actions such as (checks notes) raise income taxContinue reading “Is there any alternative?”

Captain Obvious strikes: they just should not have been in such a rush

Imagine you are a principled, small-state Conservative, and suddenly in September 2022 you are given your chance. What would have been the RIGHT way to go about it? Let’s list some of the flinty but respectable views you hold. Nothing wrong with that lot! Reasonable minds can differ on the matter of degree. I reallyContinue reading “Captain Obvious strikes: they just should not have been in such a rush”

So, why aren’t we panicking about France?

Of the many reasons to read Marginal Revolution, one of the foremost is the 7th “rule for life” of Tyler Cowen, one of its co-authors: “learn how to learn from those who offend you”. The pile-on aimed at the Truss-Kwarteng Budget has been so uniform that it is almost offensive to read those wondering whatContinue reading “So, why aren’t we panicking about France?”

They shout Houses, don’t they

All the attention following Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini-Budget” centred upon the financial market reaction: cause enough bond market panic, bring about an emergency BOE intervention and yes, you will have our attention.  This, and a series of U-turns, ensures that this government’s reputation for economic competence is not likely to recover. Ever. Everyone was paying attention.Continue reading “They shout Houses, don’t they”

You should buy and read Restarting the Future by Haskel and Westlake. BUT ….

I have on my real and virtual shelf a score or two of books – the Keepers – that help to anchor what I understand about the world, economics-wise. They range from histories and memoirs (Steering the Economy by Sam Brittan, The Time of my Life by Denis Healey), through classics and polemics (Keynes, Friedman,Continue reading “You should buy and read Restarting the Future by Haskel and Westlake. BUT ….”

My noodlings on business investment, somewhat personal reflection

Today I published my latest piece for the Institute for Government*, on the UK’s continuous failure to grow business investment. The straw man I often imagine myself attacking is a policy wonk with a mental picture of the economy like a boardgame, where the Wonk gets to choose how much Investment to do. Then theContinue reading “My noodlings on business investment, somewhat personal reflection”

Umpteen reasons I am so uncertain about growth 

It is almost fifteen years since I first blogged about growth. My opinions have become more and more uncertain since the earliest “just boost demand already” days.  Since then I have contorted in all sorts of ways. Here are some barely connected thoughts.  Having opinions on growth is a little bizarre. The more I haveContinue reading “Umpteen reasons I am so uncertain about growth “

Unseriousness did not start with Johnson

One of the legacies of the soon-to-be-former prime minister (STBFPM) is a somewhat scrambling of the political spectrum.  As Ian Mulheirn observes, the fiscal approach he precariously allowed is far from right-wing, at least neutering the standard Labour attack on under-funded public services.  Remember, he supported higher taxes to pay for more money for the NHSContinue reading “Unseriousness did not start with Johnson”

I don’t think John Major was more unpopular than Johnson

So I saw this tweet from the esteemed John Rentoul and thought it worth pushing back a little. I remember the mid 1990s very well; they were a formative time for me politically, as I voted Conservative in 1992 and New Labour in 1997, I felt part of a very big movement indeed. (obviously watchContinue reading “I don’t think John Major was more unpopular than Johnson”