The economic data for April were bound to be awful and those for the public finances were no exception. Government borrowing last month alone (a record £62.1 billion) was almost as large as the deficit in the whole of last year (£62.7 billion). This included £14 billion for the first full month of the coronavirus … Continue reading We can’t go on like this
This Sunday the Observer ran a frontpage story headlined ‘rightwing thinktanks call time on austerity era’. I was quoted in the article, wearing my IEA hat, as were representatives of the Adam Smith Institute, Centre for Policy Studies and Policy Exchange. As it happens, I am happy with the specific comments attributed to me, which … Continue reading No, Observer: ‘free-market think-tanks’ haven’t changed their tune
The media has been dominated this week by scary headlines about the ‘mother of all recessions’, ballooning government borrowing, and the prospect of renewed ‘austerity', whether in the form of public spending cuts or punishing tax increases. As usual, a sense of context and perspective is sorely needed. Let’s deal first with the numbers released … Continue reading No need for ‘austerity’ – as long as lockdown doesn’t last much longer
There may not be many reasons for optimism about the economic outlook, but one is the relative flexibility of the UK labour market. This should help unemployment to fall back and activity to recover more quickly – provided the government gets out of the way. There is no doubt that many jobs are being lost … Continue reading The UK’s labour market needs to be allowed to work
The coronavirus pandemic is, of course, first and foremost a social crisis. It is testing the limits of the NHS, bringing out the best in our doctors, nurses and carers, and many others on whom we all rely. But it is also a huge challenge for policymakers who are trying to protect businesses, jobs and … Continue reading What can economic history teach us about the lockdown?
The UK government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Friday drew more attention to a question that has already been troubling many people: could the wider economic and health impacts of the fight against Covid-19 actually do more harm than the virus itself? My view, for what it’s worth, is that it is right to err on … Continue reading Could the lockdown cost more lives than it saves?