School closures over the past year have been damaging to the mental health of some of our children and the educational progress of almost all of them. It has also damaged the wellbeing and sometimes the finances of those of us forced to become home-schoolers. Too often, support for locked-down children has been inadequate. Some ... Continue reading
Economic Theory
The Supreme Court’s judgment on the Uber case last week has been welcomed rather too easily by commentators such as the Financial Times editorial team. It seems likely that the benefits of the Uber app for both customers and drivers will be lost. If the business survives at all, it will be a poor shadow of ... Continue reading
Healthcare
Do you remember the PISA study, the international league table of educational outcomes? Back in the good old days when schools were still a thing, it used to attract a lot of media coverage every three years. The British school system usually did not do brilliantly in those rankings, a fact which would prompt plenty ... Continue reading
Tax and Fiscal Policy
Life under lockdown may be a profoundly, relentlessly monotonous existence but Conservative politicians floating a different tax increase each week is no way to spice things up. No, Minister, headlines about raising Corporation Tax or hiking fuel duty will do little to shatter the chronic sense of timelessness that has characterised the past 11 months. ... Continue reading
Economic Theory
In many ways we take the financial sector for granted. We tend to assume that we would be more prosperous without it. Commentators often lament that clever mathematicians or physicists, for example, end up in the financial sector rather than becoming engineers and building bridges. Indeed, people down the ages have criticised the financial sector ... Continue reading
Tax and Fiscal Policy
We are not having a very good pandemic so far. With over 1,500 deaths per million people, Britain has one of the highest Covid death rates in the world. You can quibble a bit with those figures, but only at the margins. The number of excess deaths – that is, the number of deaths over ... Continue reading
Tax and Fiscal Policy
The Sunday Times has reported that UK officials are mulling two new taxes on digital businesses – an online sales tax and an “excess profits tax” – in order to help fill the hole in the public finances and support the high street. In my view, both are bad ideas. In general, economists quite like ... Continue reading
Government and Institutions
Last spring, my colleague Chris Snowdon compiled an amusing Twitter thread highlighting examples of commentators and activists who were using the pandemic as a new excuse to peddle their old pet causes. The format was always the same: someone would make up some spurious reason why Covid-19 has supposedly “vindicated” the case for X, or ... Continue reading
Tax and Fiscal Policy
There is still plenty of speculation that the Treasury is thinking of raising UK corporation tax in the March Budget. The Financial Times has suggested that the Chancellor believes it would be fair to ask businesses for more after receiving taxpayer support during the pandemic. In my view, this would be a mistake. For a start, there ... Continue reading
Energy and Environment
In September, the UK Climate Assembly (an experimental ‘citizen’s assembly’ of sorts), which had met over six weekends last spring, produced its final report of recommendations to the government on how to achieve Net Zero goals. Since convening, it has been hailed as a breakthrough, overcoming an impasse that has beset climate policy since the ... Continue reading