Labour’s Three Foreign Policy Mistakes

My local Labour Party called me the other day to ask if I would vote for them. I won’t, despite the forceful recent reminder from Rishi Sunak of why I could never vote Conservative. Here’s why. I’ve resigned from the Labour Party not once but twice over foreign policy; and will not rejoin, nor vote Labour, until they sort themselves out. First error: Iraq 2003. The first time I resigned from the Labour Party was Read more…

Rising prices are not what is making us poor

Framing this as a “cost of living crisis” creates the misleading impression that inflation is the problem. Our standard of living is lower for a combination of reasons: the war in Ukraine, the covid pandemic, Brexit, and structural problems in the British economy. These hits mean that real incomes will fall. There are distributional choices to be made about whose incomes will go down and how we protect some people (by imposing bigger losses on Read more…

Still not shopping

My mood has brightened since my last post, which was gloomy about the recent data on the spread of coronavirus in Britain. Nonetheless, I think the easing of the lockdown is premature, for reasons set out below. Let me reiterate: I’m an economist, not an epidemiologist. Furthermore, you should never believe a forecast, especially not one about the future. And my worries last time are not (yet) being borne out. So read on at your Read more…

Why I am not going shopping

I think the relaxations in the lockdown are premature. Here is why: Hospital admissions in London are going up And in England as a whole, hospital admissions are rising slightly: UPDATE 8pm Here is the same graph with another day’s data – the admissions continue to rise: 2. The number of reported deaths is up, week on week: UPDATE 8pm – here is the same graph with another day’s numbers. This is not more reassuring. Read more…

Do you feel lucky, punk?

I am worried that the UK Government is easing the lockdown too soon, and I am going to continue to be very careful in the coming weeks. Here’s why. I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist: I’m an economist. That means I don’t know about the biology (but I can read statistics pretty well.) Economists are famously bad at making forecasts, so you would be unwise to take any notice; but I predict that Read more…

Time for a “Love Actually” moment

President Trump’s decision to cut funding to the World Health Organisation calls for a “Love Actually” moment. There is a precedent. One of George W. Bush’s first acts as president in 2006 was to reinstate the “global gag rule” which withdrew US aid from organisations that counsel women about abortions or to advocate for liberalized abortion laws in their countries. In response, the UK Government offered to make up the funding to any organisation that Read more…

The International Finance Facility for Education: The Wrong Answer to the Right Question?

Donors are considering a proposal for a new “innovative finance mechanism” to increase funding for education, based on recommendations from Gordon Brown’s Education Commission. We agree that we need to finance an expansion of education in the developing world. But sadly, the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) proposal is too good to be true.