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The NIESR blog is a forum for Institute research staff to provide an informed, independent view on current economic issues and recent NIESR research. The views expressed here are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Institute.

Posted: 12 May, 2012 - 16:38

When I'm asked in interview or articles to sum up concisely why I think the government should change course on fiscal policy, I usually say something like this:

Posted: 8 May, 2012 - 18:23

[This article originally appeared in the Independent here]. 

Posted: 4 May, 2012 - 06:56

NIESR's quarterly forecasts for the UK and world economies were published today, May 4.

Posted: 26 April, 2012 - 01:00

Much of the discussion about today's GDP figures has focused on the "surprise" fall in construction, as if this had somehow come out of nowhere and was nothing to do with government policy. And perhaps the figures will be revised. But more broadly, it is hardly surprising that the construction industry is having a hard time when the government has taken a deliberate decision to slash public sector investment - down 25% last year, as Tuesday's ONS figures showed.

Posted: 17 April, 2012 - 16:55

[This piece appeared first in the Independent here]

Posted: 17 April, 2012 - 10:16

Six weeks ago I wrote here and here that:

"the debate on work experience seemed almost entirely divorced from the evidence of whether work experience actually improved the employment opportunities of jobless young people. "

and

Posted: 13 April, 2012 - 09:38

[Figures in this paragraph, and chart, updated April 19, 2012]


As recently as 2008 there were fewer than 6,000 18-24 year olds who had been on  Jobseekers' Allowance for more than a year. That number is now 55,000 -  nearly ten times as many.  This is not just the recession and its aftermath: after falling back somewhat in the year to May 2011, the number has more than tripled, as shown in the chart below.  The same is true for the proportion of claimants who have been claiming for more than a year.

Posted: 11 April, 2012 - 12:17

[Updated 11 April 2012 with this preface]

Posted: 10 April, 2012 - 13:39

My contribution to the VoxEU debate "Has austerity gone too far?" is here. Since it is in large part a critique of Giancarlo Corsetti's piece here, best to read that first.

Posted: 5 April, 2012 - 15:29

I still seem to have difficulty getting across the very simple point that the historically low level of long-term interest rates in the UK (gilt yields) reflects primarily protracted economic weakness rather than, as the government persists in asserting, confidence in the government's economic strategy.   Maybe this chart will do the trick:

Posted: 2 April, 2012 - 09:15

Last week representatives of the European Commission came to see me and colleagues at NIESR to discuss the economic prospects for the UK.  We had a sensible discussion, during which time I expressed my view that slowing fiscal consolidation would boost growth and employment without posing any significant risk to fiscal credibility, and that in this respect the Budget was a missed opportunity.

Posted: 27 March, 2012 - 13:54

I appeared before the Treasury Committee today to discuss the Budget.  As usual, we were asked about the government's macroeconomic strategy, and the case for a change of course.

Posted: 22 March, 2012 - 10:21

My brief commentary on the Budget, from the FT (print edition, but not online) is below:

Posted: 21 March, 2012 - 17:19

NIESR's response to the Budget, and commentary on the OBR's forecasts, is here.

Posted: 19 March, 2012 - 08:04

The announcement that the government is considering "privatising" the national road network is potentially an important step that could deliver major economic and environmental benefits - benefits that go well beyond any benefit to the public finances.   But whether those benefits are realised depends crucially on how "privatisation" actually works.


The key point is that "privatising" a service can give, in principle, result in two types of benefit:

Posted: 15 March, 2012 - 17:02

On March 2, the Economist published an article on the government's work experience scheme (see my previous blogs here and here).  Today they published a short letter from me, as follows:

Posted: 14 March, 2012 - 21:27

Fitch have now followed Moody's in putting the UK's credit rating on negative watch, with just as little excuse. This may be perceived as somewhat embarrassing for the government, coming as it does immediately after the Chancellor announced plans to take advantage of "market confidence" in the UK to issue a 100 year bond or even a perpetual gilt. 

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