Plain packaging has arrived. As of May this year, all cigarette packets must be standardised, with the same murky green colour, font, size, and alignment of text on boxes. Over two thirds of every cigarette box will now be devoted to graphic health warnings. 10-packs, once the preserve of the social smoker, will also be … Continue reading “Economic theory – and common sense – suggest that plain cigarette packaging won’t work”
Economic Theory
Critics of liberalism and the market economy have made a long-standing habit of inventing terms we would never use to describe ourselves. The most common of these is “neo-liberal” or “neo-liberalism,” which appears to mean whatever the critics wish it to mean to describe ideas they don’t like. To the extent the terms have clear … Continue reading “There is no such thing as ‘Trickle-Down Economics’”
Economic Theory
When writing a few days ago about the newly updated numbers from Economic Freedom of the World, I mentioned in passing that New Zealand deserves praise “for big reforms in the right direction.” And when I say big reforms, this isn’t exaggeration or puffery. Back in 1975, New Zealand’s score from EFW was only 5.60. To put that in perspective, Greece’s score … Continue reading “New Zealand’s remarkable economic transformation”
Markets and Morality
“How could they be so heartless?” declared a newspaper on Facebook. “Shame on you” screamed the paper’s headline. No, this was not about the despicable bomb attack in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood on Saturday. It was rather a public shaming for the ride-sharing app Uber after customers complained of increased prices following the explosion. With a … Continue reading “The public are wrong. A defence of ‘heartless’ surge-pricing”
Economic Theory
In my recent paper, entitled How Governments Harm Trade, I explain why in most cases the free market works best when governments do not interfere in the prices society engenders by the laws of supply and demand. Those prices, I will argue, reflect human choices played out on a day to day basis, and are … Continue reading “How governments distort and reduce trade”
Economic Theory
With labour productivity rising only slowly, and computing power doubling, roughly, every two years, it is easy to see why businesses are eager to replace labour with technology. Perhaps ‘techno-worriers’ are on to something. Looking at the potential impact of robots and AI on employment, two key concerns arise – will unemployment skyrocket? And will … Continue reading “Will robots and Artificial Intelligence ‘steal’ our jobs?”
Regulation
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is in the process of attempting to increase the regulatory burden on Uber and other app based ride-hailing services. The main detail of the current proposal is to require drivers to undergo an expensive English language test prior to gaining a licence. In truth, these new proposals are less onerous than … Continue reading “How app-based ride sharing services overcome information asymmetries”
Healthcare
This article is based on a presentation Prof Booth gave at the Autumn University of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECF). Never before has a developed country with a high level of government spending and an enormous pay-as-you-go social security system faced the kind of demographic decline that we will see over the … Continue reading “Europe’s demographic timebomb”
Economic Theory
It looks as if Hinkley Point will now be given the green light. Astonishingly, the government has found a way of producing electricity that is even more expensive than offshore wind, and it is backing it. It just goes to show that the new industrial strategy is not a great deal different from the old … Continue reading “Two fallacies around Hinkley Point”
Housing and Planning
Rent controls are back on the political agenda. Their reintroduction is now official Labour Party policy, and the Conservatives will probably follow with a somewhat milder version in due course. It is easy to see why: according to a recent Survation poll, two thirds of the public support rent controls, with most of the remaining … Continue reading “Shooting the messenger: Rent controls have always and everywhere ended in failure”