Tag Archives: economic policy

Liberals and Neo-Liberals

Professor David Howarth, formerly LibDem MP for Cambridge, contributes to the new Social Liberal Forum book with a powerful, closely argued essay on Liberal economics. This an extract:

Here is a puzzle: if JS Mill, JM Keynes and James Meade were all Liberals and economists, what is a ‘neo-liberal’ economist? One might have thought that it would be someone who updated their thought to consider new facts and new problems.

In a highly successful example of propaganda and disinformation, ‘neoliberal’ has come to mean the doctrines of Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman. But those doctrines are anything but ‘neo’. They hark back to the era before Mill. We need to rectify names. Instead of ‘neo-liberals’ the followers of Hayek and Friedman might be called ‘paleo-partial liberals’.

The next step is to reclaim the Liberal tradition. That was the avowed aim of the editors of the Orange Book, but what some of them seemed to mean was not updating Mill, Keynes and Meade but abandoning them in favour of paleo-partial liberalism. Admittedly the diagnosis was not entirely wrong. The Liberal Democrats, as a political party, had wandered a long way from the Liberal tradition and had succumbed to various forms of conventional wisdom.

But the most distinctive feature of Liberal policy was its stance on corporate governance. From Mill onwards, through the Yellow Book to support for codetermination, Liberals argued for a different way of organising firms, not as hierarchical structures dominated by the owners of capital but as partnerships between labour and capital, incorporating democratic representation. James Meade provided a continuation and deepening of this tradition that should have formed the basis of the merged party’s position.

Posted in Books | Also tagged and | 48 Comments

I disagree with Jeremy

Jeremy Corbyn photo by lewishamdreamer1Jeremy Corbyn strikes me as someone who is still fighting all the battles of the 1980s and has not thought much about anything since.

Re-open the coal mines! Of course – they were closed by the Tories, so they must reopen. But ban fracking – because that is getting carbon-based fuel out of the ground, which is wrong. Now I respect people who want a total ban on fracking out of concern for the local environment, or to keep the carbon in the ground. I happen to accept the evidence that it can be done safely, and that the gas has an important role in replacing dirtier coal, running standby plant for wind turbines and weakening Putin’s influence in the world.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 82 Comments

Opinion: Half an hour that changed the future

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced it would reduce or ‘taper’ its level of QE acquisitions from $85 billion a month to $75 billion. In the physical world it was not a touch on the break so much as a slight easing of pressure on the accelerator.

Back in September the FOMC had announced it thought the time for ‘tapering’ was at hand. Long term interest rates (a window on future expectation for growth and inflation) veered up and down as markets tried to gauge the warring claims of the liquidity, income and expectation effects. No clarity: US stock …

Posted in Op-eds | 23 Comments

Opinion: Political deference to today’s orthodoxy is the UK’s economic problem

All three main political parties in the UK today broadly accept the Bank of England’s (BoE’s) programme of buying the paper ‘assets’ of banks with printed money – worthless and valuable alike (quantitative easing – QE). There are few dissenters, but I am one of them.

My dissenting post-2008 remedy was a managed partial default/bankruptcy of the UK’s insolvent banks with a quick operational reboot, on the grounds that it would be cheaper than a printed-money ‘bankers subsidy’. The quantity of intricately interwoven bad assets was unknown, and thus the UK government was subsidising a pig-in-a-poke, I believed.

But hey ho we …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

The Autumn Statement and the unreal economic debate in which everyone pretends the Coalition stuck to ‘Plan A’

It’s autumn statement day. George Osborne will stand at the despatch box of the House of Commons this afternoon and present his pre-budget report. The Guardian’s Martin Kettle sums up what it’s all about:

For the Conservatives, today is about redefining themselves – in the face of a run of seriously disappointing polls – as the party that feels the voters’ pain over energy prices, house price inflation, wind farms or payday loans – while still, boosted by yesterday’s strong economic surveys and the possible return of the UK’s AAA rating, managing a recovering economy more soundly than Labour. For

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What Japan did while we were sleeping

"2 x inflation in 2 years, 2 x monetary base, 2 x amount bonds purchased" “2 x inflation in 2 years, 2 x monetary base, 2 x amount bonds purchased”The overnight news yesterday from the Bank of Japan spelt out its serious intent to double the monetary base – the type of monetary easing, a l’outrance, that I have been arguing for at LDV, and elsewhere, for a number of years now.

The announcement followed the declaration back in November by the then leader of Japan’s opposition that when elected he …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 38 Comments

No braking at Gambon – a monetary policy guide for petrolheads

If you had to choose a person from the following list, and only this list, to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, would you choose James May, Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond? Tough choice, but go on: indulge me!

The last time I wrote here, I predicted that the Quad had reached a turning point on monetary policy. I did this not on the evidence of Vince Cable’s New Statesman article, but on a report in the Financial Times that Osborne was set to change the regime imposed on the Bank of England.

Well, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

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