Author Archives: Ben Nutland

Return of the Keynesians?

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Since the end of the Second World War British economic policy has largely been an ideological battle between two schools of thought. One embraces the state interventionist ideas of John Maynard Keynes. The other the ideas of free market thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

But as the financial pressures of the coronavirus hit, and as countries around the world are faced with rising unemployment, a reduction in economic output and the failure of major industries the phrase “We’re all Keynesians now” has never been more apt in our modern history.

The economic and political fallout from the COVID crisis will be huge and bring new challenges to Governments and political leaders around the world. The UK government has already provided a £30 billion stimulus package to help mitigate the financial fallout, followed by a further £330 billion in guaranteed loans to businesses.

With that in mind it the support measures announced so far are time limited. Support for the self-employed and causal workers is focused on mitigating the effects of not being able to work during lockdown. There have been no moves towards permanently readdressing the low pay or inequalities these people routinely face in their day to day lives.

Such short-term changes will be easier to revoke once the crisis is seen to be resolved. It’s also very noticeable that there has been no discussion of pay increases for NHS staff and that in all likelihood a public sector pay freeze will be instituted by the Chancellor in a bid to drawback the costs of the Government response.

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