On the impact of economic ideas

Yesterday Noah Smith discussed whether economists’ ideas and arguments have much of an influence on policy and practice. He used an edited version of a famous quote from Keynes as his jumping off point. He then considered whether we can credibly claim that any living economist has significant […]

Housing policy as if people mattered

We’re doing the housing policy debate all wrong. That, at least, is the argument Danny Dorling advances in his recent book All that is solid: The great housing disaster. At the heart of the book is the claim that the focus on increasing the supply of new homes […]

Beyond the council tax

The council tax is unlovely and unloved. It was rushed into being as a replacement for the hated poll tax. Its structure has always been an uncomfortable compromise, somewhere between a charge for services and a genuinely progressive property tax. The property values upon which it is based […]

Doing something about housing

What to do about the housing crisis? It’s a question that, should you have been so inclined, you could have focused on throughout much of yesterday’s proceedings at Liberal Democrat Spring Conference. A motion on the reform of planning policy was passed, unamended, during the morning’s official business. […]

Fighting talk

These days it seems we’re more likely to hear politicians talk about a “cost-of-living crisis” or, possibly, allude to problems of housing affordability than we are to find them discussing “poverty”. Indeed, we’re back in an era where the whole concept of poverty, and whether there are any […]

We want to break free

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 […]

Moralizing destitution

Just by way of a change, today I wrote a post at Medium.com. It’s a crisp, clean properly WYSIWYG writing experience. There is just enough formatting to allow you to make your point. But not a lot of bells and whistles to distract you from the writing. That […]

Insipid centrism

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 […]

The intolerance of uneconomic economics

Over the last couple of days two of the big beasts of the economics blogosphere have offered views on a question of considerable significance for the field of macroeconomics. On Friday Simon Wren-Lewis discussed whether New Keynesians made a Faustian pact when they decided to engage new classical […]

Policy Unpacked #3 – Welfare reform and social housing

The Coalition government has embarked on a wide-ranging and far-reaching programme of change to the UK welfare system. Several components of the agenda  have already been implemented. Some are still to come.  The Coalition is pursuing policies on welfare benefits, rents and social housing development that have potentially […]

Wise words

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

“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)