We can’t borrow our way back to growth

This week’s manifesto launches have made the poor state of the public finances clear – simply put, there’s very little money for any party to play with. One reason for this is that lockdown continues to exert an anaconda-like grip on our spending capacity. The policy of paying people to do nothing has proved to be […]

Rishi Sunak vs Boris Johnson: to spend or not to spend?

Rishi Sunak has directed his energy into recasting the Treasury back to its traditional role – the guardian of the public finances. The Chancellor notched up a substantial victory after education recovery tsar, Kevan Collins, resigned earlier this month, after his demand for £15 billion for catch-up programmes in schools was beaten down to a […]

It is not just the Euro. Southern Europe faces a major structural crisis

Major shocks to social and economic systems ruthlessly expose weaknesses which can be contained in more normal times.  When the price of oil quadrupled in 1973/74, the different levels of resilience in the labour markets of Western Europe were quickly revealed.  Inflation initially rose sharply everywhere.  By 1976, it had fallen to 4 per cent […]

Keynesians are wrong: Cutting public spending can boost economic growth

The key aim of George Osborne’s economic policy has been to eliminate the financial deficit of the public sector.  The main way of trying to achieve has been to squeeze public spending.  The orthodox economic textbooks maintain that this withdraws demand from the economy, and so leads to the growth rate being slower than it […]

Supply side success is a cure for the drug of deficit finance

George Osborne’s plan to run financial surpluses and use them to pay off government debt has been met with the usual set of whinges and whines, mainly from academic economists funded by the taxpayer. Of course, their arguments are based purely on what they believe to be the intellectual merits of their case.  One of […]

Bribing the electorate: new rules of the game thanks to zero inflation

The temptation to believe in the concept of a free lunch is one which has proved irresistible to numerous governments through the ages. Henry VIII, for example, has seized popular imagination once again through the brilliant portrayal of him by Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall. Bluff King Hal is the nickname often associated with the […]

Everything is crystal clear with hindsight

Are government bonds risky? This question arose a year ago, during a meeting with my bank. I wanted a low risk portfolio, but they noted that I did not want to hold UK government bonds. Whether it was the regulator who was insisting, or whether it was the way the bank was interpreting some Delphic […]

No free lunch. Defaults today mean less jam tomorrow

Potential defaults in the Euro zone have been in the news again. In Portugal, the ruling coalition parties and the main opposition Socialists have been unable to agree on a European Union-led bailout plan after days of talks. Yields on the country’s 10 year bonds have approached 7 per cent, compared to the 1.5 per cent in […]

Sovereign debt and Euro zone reality

The recent debacle in Cyprus has essentially been shrugged off by the markets. The European Central Bank vigorously asserts the crisis in the Euro zone is over. So why is there continued unease about the financial viability of countries such as Spain and Portugal, a morass into which even the French are now being dragged? […]

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