What could housing associations do? What should housing associations do? How should individual associations respond to the risks and opportunities presented by an increasingly demanding environment? What sort of future is shaping up for the sector?
These are questions that many housing association boards and senior management teams are turning their minds to. They are also the sort of questions that the sector has shown a willingness to deliberate upon collectively. Over the last six months the National Housing Federation – under the HotHouse banner – has been facilitating a series of events at which senior practitioners come together to share their readings of the situation, and to work towards an articulation of what the world could look like for housing associations in 2033. It is a process I played a very small part in.
This week the NHF published An ambition to deliver – housing associations unbounded, a distillation of this thinking into a relatively brief vision statement.
I’m not entirely sure that I had very strong priors about what this document might look like. So I can’t really say whether it feels like it offers any big surprises or not. It is a fascinating document nonetheless. [Read more...]
That’s what the Liberal Democrats are risking. That, at least, is the view Jeremy Browne expressed on last night’s Radio 4 programme about Nick Clegg. Chris Huhne wasn’t much more complimentary about the current strategy of trying to situate the party between the two major parties. Huhne felt that defining the party negatively – at least we’re not as bad as Labour on the economy or the Conservatives on just about everything else – isn’t really a very appetizing message. A more positive case for what the party stands for needs to be made.
We could dismiss these views as sour grapes from the rejected and discarded. There might be something to that. But Browne and Huhne are hardly alone. While there are high profile defenders of what we might call the “non-specific centrism” strategy, there are plenty of activists who feel that just parroting “stronger economy, fairer society” all the time hardly adds up to a compelling political offer. And I’m not even thinking of those who would have preferred it to be “fairer economy, stronger society”.
The leadership’s non-specific centrism strategy is now seemingly accompanied by an attempted rapprochement with Labour, presumably in the expectation that a coalition with Labour is viewed as more likely than another coalition with the Conservatives.
It seems to me that pursuing the strategy of publicly courting Labour may make the coalition outcome less likely. [Read more...]
On Friday Simon Wren-Lewis discussed whether New Keynesians made a Faustian pact when they decided to engage new classical economists on their own modelling territory. He concludes that New Keynesians were not compelled against their will to adopt modelling devices such as rational expectations and inter-temporal optimisation at the individual level. These modelling techniques were perceived as an improvement on existing practice. But it may nonetheless have turned out in retrospect to have been a strategy that carried significant costs. New Keynesians may be less able to shed light on fast moving events in the real world than they might otherwise have been.
Yesterday I took part in an event introducing social media to members of academic staff. I was asked to come along and act as one of two live case studies. I was there to share my experiences. The aim was to illustrate the possibilities and highlight some of the issues. The organizers suggested we each address the same set of questions. We offered very different perspectives.
I only had 10 minutes or so to talk and it felt a bit rushed. So I decided to elaborate on the presentation I gave on the day and turn it into something a bit more coherent. The document below is the result. I hope it is of some interest to others who are thinking of starting out. [Read more...]
Warning about an impending housing bubble or denying that any signs of a bubble can be detected are popular media pastimes in the UK. Bubbles are bad. Bubbles shut people out of the housing market because property is unaffordable. Bubbles store up trouble for those who buy at the height of the market. Bubbles are a sign of a market out of control. Bubbles lead to the demand for government action to avert disaster.
The alternative not-a-bubble view is that increases in house prices – and no one can sensibly deny increases are happening in parts of the country at the moment – are justified on the basis of underlying economic conditions and therefore not necessarily a cause for concern or a trigger for action. Not only that, rising house prices have positive consequences in terms of consumers’ confidence and wealth effects. [Read more...]