Summary National debt figures need perspective. This can come from viewing them as a ratio to national income. That ratio has surged in the last 20 years. But despite many assertions, the debt-to-income ratios of the past few years are not unprecedented. When the ratio reached such peaks in the past, much concern was expressed. ... Continue reading
At its April 2021 meeting, once again by video conferencing, the Shadow Monetary Policy (SMPC) voted by seven votes to two to hold the bank rate at 0.1%. As in the January meeting, there was unanimous agreement that the last round of QE announced in November last year was unnecessary and risked stoking inflation. All ... Continue reading
Summary While not formally a regulator in the strict sense, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) exercises de facto regulatory powers in retail financial services, as its rules and determinations direct the behaviours of firms. While intended to be independent, the FOS has a close relationship with the Financial Conduct Authority. Ombudsmen, however, have considerable discretion ... Continue reading
Summary School closure has been damaging to the mental health of some children and to the educational progress of many. The long-term costs to individuals and the economy of this hiatus in schooling can be exaggerated, but are still likely to be substantial. The costs of the damage are likely to have fallen most heavily ... Continue reading
Warns of upside risks to inflation, arising from a post-COVID boom In its meeting of 12th January 2021, held by video-conference due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (SMPC) elected, by a vote of nine to zero, to hold rates in February. There was unanimity that the announced programme of additional QE ... Continue reading
Summary Home ownership in the UK comes in two main varieties: freehold and leasehold. ‘Freehold’ is ‘home ownership’ in the way most people probably understand that term: undivided, unconditional and permanent ownership. ‘Leasehold’ denotes a more limited form of ownership, which is not permanent (although typically very long-term), and which is shared with an ‘ultimate ... Continue reading

Should the government care?

Summary Self-employed workers have lost out badly during the pandemic. Their numbers have so far fallen more sharply than the numbers of employees. There is evidence that government assistance has been poorly targeted: over half of the self-employed have received no help. The Chancellor has hinted that, in return for the assistance the government has ... Continue reading
Co-Published Books
This timely book sets out a shrewd and comprehensive policy programme, for both ‘microeconomic’ supply-side settings of tax and regulatory systems, and ‘macroeconomic’ policies for fiscal and monetary policies to regulate demand and support the supply-side growth agenda. Explaining the numerous benefits of free trade after Britain’s exit from the EU, and challenging the anti-Brexit ... Continue reading
Summary This briefing looks at the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s public finances and assesses the scale of the fiscal crisis. Some of the most common concerns are exaggerated. Others are not. The good news is that the increase in borrowing to pay for Covid does not itself have to be repaid; provided ... Continue reading

Averting a post-pandemic staffing crisis in the NHS

Summary Shortages of PPE and ventilators have overshadowed shortages of doctors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet when normality returns and the NHS is swamped by a backlog of cases, the latter could be thrust to the forefront of public debate. The UK ranks 27th out of 36 OECD countries for number of physicians. Around 30 ... Continue reading