Time for macro economics to get political once more

A former No10 colleague asked me recently: is there a definitive guide out there to how monetary and fiscal policy work together? What determines incomes?    What made his questions remarkable were both how fundamental they were, and yet how distant from the day job when we had worked together in Downing Street. Politicians doContinue reading “Time for macro economics to get political once more”

What is your problem, it is only two quid!

There are plenty of rubbish jobs, but surely none as daunting as the Treasury official tasked with telling a desperate new government what is bad value for money. Bless these people with their negative ways, for they are the bulwark between us and a land festooned with Spad-designed roads, science parks without scientists, 5G testbedsContinue reading “What is your problem, it is only two quid!”

Bad in theory, fine in practice: an insider account of the Energy Price Cap

Around midnight one October I found myself in a Manchester hotel room, facing a furious Chancellor (in black tie) and his aides (more slovenly), waving a draft PM conference speech containing an unexpected retail energy cap. Perhaps he should not have been surprised – it was a manifesto commitment, after all. But “it’s in theContinue reading “Bad in theory, fine in practice: an insider account of the Energy Price Cap”

Who the hell put you in charge? On Spads and management.

How to manage the abrupt disconnection of a 45 year commercial relationship? Why not “stick randomly appointed political hacks atop various departments, and shout at them to write lists”?   Spads did not really exist fifty years ago, and those that did had little power. They sound rather more important now, if insider gossip about NoContinue reading “Who the hell put you in charge? On Spads and management.”

Is weak demand a conspiracy of the scheming rich?

Paul Krugman has kicked off a meandering blogosphere discussion of why hard money policies are so stoutly defended, despite overwhelming evidence of the damage they are causing (see Martin Wolf on Europe today). As Wolf says, this is not just sad, it’s dangerous.  He is right: it is difficult to imagine an important agenda thatContinue reading “Is weak demand a conspiracy of the scheming rich?”

Quibbling about House of Debt

The Resolution Foundation organised a fantastic event this morning, the UK launch of House of Debt, with both authors (Mian and Sufi) on stage alongside Martin Wolf and Stephanie Flanders.  Standing room only, and an astonishingly eminent audience, a Who’s Who of the economic world.  Plus me. But from their presentation (and implicit in theContinue reading “Quibbling about House of Debt”

Stronger brands stronger economy?

The Economist leads off its business section with a piece about the valuation of brands, and cites research suggesting that almost a third of the value of the S&P 500 index of companies stems from their brands.  That is a mind-boggling amount of value, trillions and trillions. The article goes on to discuss how brandsContinue reading “Stronger brands stronger economy?”

Freethinking Economist

Economic advice. No longer special.