Independence, devolution and power

Independent on Sunday front page – “Who to believe” #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers #indyref pic.twitter.com/I5DyzXeMPl — Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) September 13, 2014 When I first saw this tweet, late last Saturday night, my immediate and admittedly facile response was “Neither of them”. Alex Salmond was propounding a vision for an […]

Policy unpacked #5 – Real estate and cities

For decades local and regional government in the US has attempted to capture value created in the real estate market in order to fund vital urban infrastructure.  In an era of austerity, where resources for conventional public investment are perceived to be increasingly scarce, governments around the world […]

Present and future conditional

One of the most striking developments in policy design in the UK is the rise of conditionality. It most prominently affects those who are out of work and seeking assistance from the welfare system, but it features across a range of other policy areas including housing and health. […]

Developments in the ongoing Bedroom Tax saga

You have to admire Andrew George. Or at least I do. Commentators are busying themselves accusing the Liberal Democrats of inconstancy or hypocrisy in supporting his Private Members’ Bill to reform the Bedroom Tax. But we should remember that George has ploughed a rather lonely furrow in consistent […]

Not us, guv

Academic economists are smart people. In my experience, a few are rather too self-consciously smart. And one or two adopt the characteristic economist persona – perpetual patronisation of, and impatience with, those unfortunate souls working in the lesser social sciences – without obviously having the track record to […]

Tax off for good behaviour

Over the weekend the CIH and the Resolution Foundation released a useful briefing called More than a roof. The focus is largely on the way in which financial incentives could be used to improve standards in the private rented sector. The briefing provides a brief overview of the […]

The value of planning

Earlier this month there was a small flurry of comment in the media about the impact of planning on house prices (for example, here). The question was why house prices in Britain have grown faster than most other countries over the last forty years. A big chunk of […]

Shredded, the RBS saga and banking reform

I’ve just finishing reading Ian Fraser’s Shredded. I started it when I was up in Edinburgh last month, appropriately enough. But other things intervened and it was only over the bank holiday weekend that I got the time to sit down and read the second half. The book tells […]

Do political parties make any difference?

To the politically obsessed this might seem like an odd question. Of course political parties matter. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who take a more jaundiced view of politics: they’d argue that “they’re all as bad as each other” and it doesn’t matter who […]

The miraculous power of welfare reform

The international news is pretty grim at the moment. This doesn’t really fit well with the traditional idea that we’re in silly season, when Prime Ministers travel to holiday destinations to point at fish. Yet something that fits entirely comfortably with silly season is another self-justificatory speech by […]

Wise words

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“a person is not likely to be a good political economist who is nothing else”
(JS Mill, 1806-1873)

“No section of the people has ever been excluded from political power without suffering legislative injustice”
(Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1847-1929)

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable”
(JK Galbraith, 1908-2006)