Economic Theory
The Government has appointed a panel to review the future of public service broadcasting. We can be wholly confident that they will report that little should change. The panel is made up largely of industry insiders and ex-insiders, and they tend to revere the status quo. The licence fee stops the BBC competing effectively for ... Continue reading

and can they pass the Covid-19 stress test?

Summary The Bank of England maintains that UK banks are strongly capitalised. The evidence from banks’ share prices and market values contradicts this claim. Banks are more fragile now than they were going into the last crisis. The Bank of England’s failure to ensure the resilience of the banking system suggests a need for radical ... Continue reading
The Information Commissioner and its Office (the ICO) are among the most high profile regulators in this country. They oversee and enforce compliance of data protection regulations that not only impact organisations here in Britain but, at least in theory, anywhere that the personal data of UK citizens is processed. They can impose huge fines, ... Continue reading

No 1: The Information Commissioner's Office

Summary The Information Commissioner has wide ranging functions and powers. They are not always parameterised clearly in the relevant legislation. The Information Commissioner’s reporting shows little evidence that objectives are being met, or even measured. The Parliamentary Committee responsible has not performed its scrutiny function of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) well and a forum ... Continue reading
Milton Friedman once said that “Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless”. Other amazing achievements of the turning wine into water variety include presiding over a planning system that simultaneously has empty high streets and unaffordable housing. In the post-Covid world, there could be ... Continue reading
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a global trauma that people talk about – argue about – for decades. Debate is beginning to rage about whether governments made the correct choice to “flatten the curve” and relieve the expected disease burden on public health services. To buy time sounded like a good idea in March. In ... Continue reading
As the UK economy enters the COVID-19 downturn, the Bank of England (BoE) continues to maintain that the UK banks are strongly capitalised. The BoE’s claims are not to be believed. As ex-Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) regulator Dean Buckner and I set out in our new report on the state of the UK banking system, ... Continue reading
Summary Laws passed in late March 2020 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic are the greatest restrictions on liberty in modern British history. Any benefits that have emerged as a side effect of the restrictions have been far exceeded by the costs to the economy and to civil liberties. Civil society and the media should ... Continue reading
Periods of economic crisis are a breeding ground for all sorts of “populist” ideas, often ones that have been discarded in the past due to their dire practical implications. During the turbulent first half of the twentieth century, economic measures from interventionist doctrines became widespread, plunging many developed or developing societies into poverty. The rise ... Continue reading

Analysing Britain's regulatory burden

In our political discourse there is much discussion of red tape, frequently phrased in terms of ‘challenges’ and ‘bonfires’ to reduce and cut it. Supporters of free markets often have a general feeling that there is too much regulation or that it is too intrusive, badly formulated and ineffective. However, proponents of these positions are ... Continue reading