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”

Lord Frost, and whether/how lower trade makes us poorer

I am very far from being any kind of an expert in trade. My policy is to rely on comparative advantage; spend less time on it and rely on others to do the work, more efficiently.  My familiarity with the topic goes only as far as some of the obvious signposts: apart from Ricardo’s comparativeContinue reading “Lord Frost, and whether/how lower trade makes us poorer”

No, the Chancellor cannot just ‘unleash growth’

but it’s work enough just to avoid causing damage In the wake of the recent Budget, I was asked the impossible question: what does this mean for UK growth? Has the Chancellor unveiled something that will boost Britain’s economic prospects? Impossible, and quite reasonable. The question is the counterpart to the demand you see commentatorsContinue reading “No, the Chancellor cannot just ‘unleash growth’”

Britain is trying to shrink its way to prosperity. It doesn’t work.

You may not realise it, but those empty shelves, the unfuelled car of Kirstie Allsopp, and thousands of pointlessly culled pigs all mark the “birth pangs of a new economic model.” Get over it, we are heading to prosperity, this is what it looks like.   The gist of the idea is simple, and much-rehearsedContinue reading “Britain is trying to shrink its way to prosperity. It doesn’t work.”

Shortages are really not such a good thing

I am writing this because my liberal instincts appear to be in conflict.  But probably not. Let me explain. First, I am a fan of running the economy hot, and think this can be good for productivity and helping the less well-off.  Second, I am pro-economics, and happen to think that means being in favourContinue reading “Shortages are really not such a good thing”

Services matter, or more on productivity

I miss the speed and spontaneity of blogging, even if it comes at the expense of rigour and completeness.  More on those last two later. A blog feels like the right medium for a quick postscript to the much slower report I published last week, on what sector analysis can tell us about the UK’sContinue reading “Services matter, or more on productivity”

We didn’t buy pandemic insurance and can’t forever pretend that we did

Several aeons have passed since I began thinking about covid-19 bailouts (IFG pamphlet out shortly, watch this space), and still I struggle to get my thoughts straight.  During that time, the blogosphere and in particular VoxEU have drenched us in high-speed, quality thought, even as the facts on the ground have shifted at speed.  JustContinue reading “We didn’t buy pandemic insurance and can’t forever pretend that we did”

What the betting markets are saying …. It’s complicated

I am pathologically fascinated by political probabilities, and have been for easily 20 years: my first big speculative win in life was to “buy” Labour seats in the 1997 General Election at around 350, and I have been hooked every since. Here are some of the current odds. A meaningful vote to pass in 2019 Continue reading “What the betting markets are saying …. It’s complicated”

Would it matter if we built “a million too many houses” anyway?

The previous post about housing supply kicked off quite a debate (by the standards of my Twitter stream). It reminded me of how for 90% of the time I have been arguing against Ian on the whole housing supply issue and probing what will always feel like a counterintuitive thesis – that building many moreContinue reading “Would it matter if we built “a million too many houses” anyway?”

Ian Mulheirn says UK housing is not a supply problem. No one can prove him wrong

Around three years ago in some bistro in Soho, Ian Mulheirn startled a tableful of economists going at their cassoulet with the bland statement: “Housing? It is not a supply problem”. To call this heresy is melodramatic. We just thought he was winding us up. To question the mantra “just build more houses already” feltContinue reading “Ian Mulheirn says UK housing is not a supply problem. No one can prove him wrong”