Burnley and Asda are unlikely warnings of debt-driven troubles

It has been a week of mixed messages. Not just on the release from lockdown, but on the economy. The Bank of England indicated that banks have been given six months to prepare for negative interest rates. The Monetary Policy Committee was quick to clarify that this did not mean that they would necessarily cut […]

Time for the Treasury to get with the programme — Britain can afford to spend

HM Treasury

In the days of the old Soviet Union, so-called Kremlinologists would pore over every utterance of the Politburo, every sentence in Pravda, to try to work out what was really going on. Sajid Javid’s defenestration from the Treasury has led to an upsurge in similar types of intellectual effort here. What was it really all […]

From Northern Rock to lunch tables, no one is immune from the herd mentality

Northern Rock

The Bank of England and Federal Reserve held a two-day conference last week in London on big data and machine learning. All very interesting stuff. There was an intriguing vignette as we emerged from the conference room for the frugal lunch on the first day. Straight ahead was a table with sandwiches, fruit and the […]

Economists have lost the public’s trust by meddling in politics

Big Ben from London Eye

Michael Gove famously said during the Brexit campaign that people “have had enough of experts”. Certainly, the outcome suggests that many were sceptical of the doom-laden economic projections of Project Fear. But what do the public think about economists themselves? An intriguing survey released last week by ING bank and the Bristol University Economics Network […]

Claims that a low tax, low regulation UK would be a disaster are rubbish

President Hollande in the UK

Dame Minouche Shafik, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, is leaving to become Director of the London School of Economics.  Last weekend, she gave her final interview wearing her Bank hat. Shafik issued what was described in the media as a “thinly veiled warning” to the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond.  She stated that it was […]

What Dirty Harry tells us about economic forecasters’ Michael Fish moment

Economic forecasters are in the dock. Last week, none other than the chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, was confessing the crimes of the profession. The failure to predict the financial crisis was, Haldane said, economic forecasting’s “Michael Fish” moment. Thirty years ago, the BBC weatherman predicted that the UK would avoid […]

The death of cash, the rise of trade unions and other eclectic 2017 predictions

It’s certainly been an eventful year. But rather than dwell on the past, what sort of things can we expect in 2017? Here are a few eclectic predictions. Sweden may become the world’s first cashless economy. Notes and coins are already fast disappearing as a means of payment, and retailers are legally entitled to refuse to accept […]

Forward guidance is just another delusion foisted on us by mainstream macro

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, was on good form last week when he appeared at the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons. Asked what “forward guidance” meant, he answered smoothly: “The thing about forward guidance is that it is guidance that is forward. Which is not to say it is meant to […]