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 […]

Watch out fiscal conservatives – the mood has shifted and the spending taps are on

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The Autumn Spending Review announced by the chancellor Sajid Javid barely raised a ripple last week. Yet the increase planned in 2020/21 for what the Treasury calls “day-to-day departmental spending” is the highest for 15 years, no less than 4.1 per cent in real terms. This spending pays the running costs of public services, the […]

Brexit was the final straw: it’s time to scrap the IMF

Sports fans will all be familiar with the commentator who almost always gets things wrong. “Arsenal are very much on top here” he – it is invariably a “he” – will pronounce, or “Root is looking very settled”, only for the opposition to score a goal immediately and for the Yorkshireman to be clean bowled. […]

The coming explosion in natural debt is a serious risk to the economy

Martin Feldstein of Harvard is an economist who should always be taken seriously. Writing in 1997 about the forthcoming introduction of the euro, for example, he argued that “the adverse economic effects of a single currency on unemployment would outweigh any potential gains from trade flows”. He went on to predict that the euro was […]

No more whingeing, please. The recovery is solid.

Last month saw some very positive economic news. The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in over seven years.  The Bank of England reported on the major stress test of UK banks which it launched in March 2015.  It concluded that “the banking system is capitalised to support the real economy […]

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 […]

CEO compensation and Jamaican demands for reparations: two sides of the same coin

David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica last week led to vociferous demands for the UK to pay the Caribbean island billions of pounds in reparations for slavery.  Most people here reacted with predictable eye-rolls and sighs.  Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, nearly two centuries ago.  Jamaica has been independent since 1962, over […]

How do you deal with someone who thinks the Earth is flat?

Imagine you are relaxing at a bar enjoying a drink after a hard day’s work.  The person next to you strikes up a conversation.  Initially he seems reasonable.  But soon he begins to go on at length about how the Earth is flat and how a misguided cabal of scientists hides this truth from us.  […]

Whatever it is, Corbynomics is not mainstream

A group of economists hit the headlines last week with their claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies are supported by mainstream economics.  Perhaps the best known of them is David Blanchflower, a Monetary Policy Committee member when Gordon Brown was Chancellor.  He predicted before the 2010 General Election that under the Conservatives, unemployment would rise from […]