Author Archives: Geoff Crocker

What’s wrong with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?

There are three huge defects in the Chancellor’s autumn statement

1 Technical

The Chancellor fundamentally believes that the government budget can and should be balanced, or even run in surplus. This basic accounting assumption drives his whole thinking. But facts prove him, and the traditional thinking of the whole financial establishment, wrong on this. He has been unable to eliminate the deficit. He will not be able to eliminate it. In modern high technology, high productivity economies, deficit is inevitable, and manageable.

There’s a huge problem in thinking here. The Chancellor approaches economic policy like an accountant, rather than as an economist. Books should balance. He talks about what we can afford, purely in financial terms. But it’s not money which gives value to the real economy, but rather it’s real economic activity which gives money its value. Economic activity creates financial value, and not the other way round. What we can afford has to be measured in real resources of people, skills, natural resources, technology and capital assets. A thought experiment demonstrates this. If it were possible to plug a machine into the earth to produce the whole GDP without labour and therefore without wages, then the money vouchers the government would have to allocate would all be a total financial deficit each year. Money does not have to be backed either by gold, or by the sale of government bonds, but only by output GDP. Deficits are here to stay. Facts support this hypothesis.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 21 Comments

Book Review: Money for Everyone

A Citizen’s Income Convincingly Argued

In ‘Money for Everyone’, Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, and is articulate and readable. His main argument is that, given widespread acceptance of a benefits scheme of some sort, then a Citizen’s Income is by far the best option. Specifically it avoids the disincentives of very high marginal deduction rates of current benefits which create the familiar unemployment and poverty traps. According to Torry, a Citizen’s Income would incentivise employment, training, new business formation, women’s …

Posted in Books | Tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: Clinical Commissioning Groups – don’t hold your breath

nhs sign lrgWe are now 6 months into the much touted reorganisation of the health service, with the advent in April this year of Clinical Commissioning Groups to replace Primary Care Trusts, the only real difference being that GPs run the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The reorganisation did ensure a reduction in cost by the simple expedient of setting Clinical Commissioning Group administrative budgets one third below historic  Primary Care Trust administrative cost, yielding a Clinical Commissioning Group admin cost of £25/head of population. There are 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups. The adjusted population figure is 53.8m, and so total Clinical Commissioning Group admin spend is £1.345bn. Clinical Commissioning Groups are administering a total health budget of £60bn, averaging £284m per Group. Clinical Commissioning Group admin costs are therefore 2.24% of total health service expenditure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Book Review: Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea

Mark Blyth delivers a masterful, blistering, devastating, and totally convincing critique of austerity in his book Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea. It’s impossible to read this book and still believe that austerity is the right policy. Blyth writes engaging, powerful economic history of economies applying austerity, including the US, UK, Sweden, Germany, Japan and France in the 1920s and 1930s, Denmark and Ireland in the 1980s, and the Baltic states in 2008, demonstrating in each case that austerity does not work. It does not generate growth or reduce debt. He shows that the current hot spot crises …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 45 Comments

Opinion: Should the Queen speak out on the Belfast flag issue?

Queen Elizabeth IIThe pictures of the Queen joining the Cabinet meeting were charming. They conveyed a reassuring image of a stable democracy with a historic back-stop. Almost always we want the democratic element to prevail, but there are perhaps very limited issues and occasions when the monarchy can make a difference. The Queen inviting Harold Macmillan to form a government rather than Rab Butler in 1957 is the occasion often quoted. It did actually make a political difference, since Harold Wilson was later reported as having feared that Rab Butler may well have won the 1964 election.

Northern Ireland may be another occasion when the monarchy could make a

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: Why Wealth Can’t be Taxed (except very occasionally)

Wealth tax is becoming, or has become?, a core Lib Dem policy. Nick Clegg shakes his head alongside his Cabinet colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing that the coalition government will not introduce a mansion tax. Vince Cable is back on the World at One the next day defending it.

There has been much discussion as to whether wealth and mansion taxes are fair. But fairness is a very subjective concept. Some think that wealth taxes appropriately ask the rich to shoulder relatively more of the financial burden imposed if we needlessly insist on the financial orthodoxy that the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 133 Comments

Opinion: So what’s really wrong with the economy?

The autumn statement was reminiscent of the 1961 Sid James film ‘Carry on Regardless’. Austerity policy is not working, and the claim that it will work is constantly pushed to the far future. What’s wrong? There is nothing wrong with the real supply side economy. But there are two crucial things wrong with the financial economy, meaning that we have a crisis of demand, not of supply. These are:

1. Disposable income has grown significantly less than GDP

2. Financial orthodoxy insists on balancing government accounts

Between 2001 and 2007 when the crisis hit, GDP grew by 19.5% but disposable income by only …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 61 Comments
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