Central banks have fooled themselves into thinking they have power over inflation

The failures of central banks around the world to anticipate and control the current upsurge in inflation are now apparent to all. What has been going on with the highly technical models which economists in these institutions build to try and explain inflation? If we look under the bonnet, we find a debate which is […]

Get the Bank of England focused on the real economy

Bank of England

Economic policy is returning to its usual position of prominence. Fears of a major rise in unemployment are starting to worry the government more than fears around Covid-19. The chancellor’s imaginative schemes concerning furlough and other measures to protect jobs create potential problems elsewhere. So much money is being borrowed that the ratio of public […]

How sticky is unemployment? Will it take three years to fall?

The views expressed by the new Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, on interest rates and unemployment remain a hot topic. Interest rates will not be raised until unemployment falls below 7 per cent, a process he thinks will take three years. The perception which many people have of unemployment is indeed that it is rather […]

Policy makers have learned from the mistakes of the 1930s

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman will shortly be in town.  With Lord Richard Layard, he will be calling for more public spending and borrowing.  The two have issued a ‘Manifesto for Economic Sense’.  But is it? The opening sentences make dramatic claims: ‘More than four years after the financial crisis began, the world’s major advanced […]

How to unpick the apparent paradox of falling GDP and rising unemployment

GDP estimates are eagerly awaited in the City, and dominate the media headlines. Huge significance is attached to arithmetically trivial differences, whether between market expectations and the announced figure, or to subsequent revisions to the data.

But GDP is not something which can be put in a set of scales, say, and measured accurately. The concept is clear. It is the value of national output at market prices. Market prices? How do we value the public sector, where there are no market prices? A series of plausible conventions has evolved as to how to value such activities. But there is a substantial amount of arbitrary judgment involved.

What a good job Keynes didn’t believe in forecasting

Keynes is in many people’s minds at the moment, as uncertainty about the course of the economic recovery is high. In May 1933, at roughly the same stage in the cycle as we are today, Keynes wrote in the Times: ‘Confidence has been restored and cheap money established both on long and on short term […]