Looking for a little contradiction

Ben Chu in the Independent has boldly gone where curiously few* economic commentators want to go right now – the piffling question of whether the government’s published public spending numbers for the next few years are insane or not.  He kindly mentions me as having “crunched the numbers” and found them to be jaw dropping. There areContinue reading “Looking for a little contradiction”

Briefly on the OBR

Stephen Tall has a characteristically thoughtful response to my strident call for the OBR to go deeper into evaluating party policy. His major objection is that we run the risk of “politicizing” the OBR. This is an important risk, and one that echoes warnings given by the IEA and Ryan Bourne amongst others.  Ryan onContinue reading “Briefly on the OBR”

Let the OBR range more freely

And let it dive deeper into the weeds of political fiscal choices. Today Ed Balls has called a debate on allowing the OBR to look at Labour’s fiscal promises, as well as those of the serving government. Interestingly, he appears to have the cautious support of both Danny Alexander and Robert Chote. This move is generallyContinue reading “Let the OBR range more freely”

Define credibility

Aditya Chakrabortty has written a sharp piece about the “ridiculous” tax and spend debate, kindly linking to this blog.  I can never match his polemic: this is the state of economic debate in Britain in the dying months before a general election: politicians of all stripes lie about the economics they are going to practise;Continue reading “Define credibility”

Why is the deficit not improving faster?

The deficit figures today are disappointing.  There are a slew of one-offs, such as the 45p tax change a year ago (see Guardian story). I think some of the story has to be here.  A quick X-Y of the NGDP growth vs the growth in Income tax revenues of three distinct periods:   The actualContinue reading “Why is the deficit not improving faster?”

Bloodletting analogies or Don’t get Levels and Rates of Change confused

(all of this puts at too great length what FlipChartRick’s greatest Venn Diagram of the Coalition period says in a single picture. One of the weakest and yet most common arguments you will hear about austerity – outside of government, but even, shamefully, within Whitehall – is: we have managed Austerity of X%/year so far. Continue reading “Bloodletting analogies or Don’t get Levels and Rates of Change confused”

A caveat: “Capital that boosts economic growth”

A sharper-eyed correspondent has pointed out to me that Nick Clegg slightly caveated the Golden Rule by saying he would run a surplus “excluding capital spending that enhances economic growth or financial stability”.  I will await his no doubt excellent analysis to work out what this means. Clearly, it will mean running a tighter spendingContinue reading “A caveat: “Capital that boosts economic growth””

Future fiscal plans – what the LibDems seem to have said

I have been asked by a couple of people what I think of Nick Clegg’s recent Bloomberg speech covering fiscal policy. This is a big topic, so consider this a holding reply. Over the last few years the entire fiscal debate has veered all over the place, in particular about whether it damaged growth and how muchContinue reading “Future fiscal plans – what the LibDems seem to have said”