Monday , February 24 2020
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Tony Yates: Long and Variable

Long and Variable is a blog about monetary policy and central banks. Authored by Professor Tony Yates (University of Birmingham), this blog is quite detailed and knowledgeable about global monetary policy.

EU trade talks chart crime

Consternation today on the internet about a chart crime committed by the EU Commission. The EU is peturbed that the UK appears ready to renege on a commitment to negotiate a ‘level playing field’ [for example to restrict state aid] as part of a Free Trade Agreement.  To explain why it continues to want this [and hasn’t, as No 10 disingenuously suggested in a tweet using almost Russian Embassy style tactics, ‘moved the goalposts’] it dug out a slide showing data on countries with which...

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The Get Brexit Done lot want cheerful soldiers not Philosopher King technocrats

Much has been made of the appalling spectacle of the cabinet participating in a Q and A chant with Boris Johnson.  The video circulating can be taken to be a homage to those of the Trump cabinet, featuring supplicants offering praise. Conventionally, UK cabinet members are supposed to be the equals to the PM’s  ‘first among equals’.  Heavyweight minds negotiating policy solutions and probing their costs and benefits ceaselessly. But the video is not meant to be a mini-documentary...

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Power? No thanks, I’m a decently paid and fulfilled megaphone

If you were designing a marketplace for ideas for policies to solve social problems, one thing you might hope is that it would incentivize people actually to take power and do things.  Only by doing things in government do problems get solved and lives altered. If you are of a particular persuasion, the failure of the Labour Party to orient itself to obtaining power is remarkable.  A demonstration that the marketplace rules are not providing the right incentives. But perhaps there is...

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A failing marketplace for ideas and policies: parties, party governance and FPTP

The UK system for marketing ideas for policy has failed us.  My own ‘centrist Dad’ brand of economics and politics no doubt colours this view.  But I think even if you do not subscribe to that kind of politics it’s possible to discern failures in the process.  A lot of this was prompted by a conversatoin with an old friend who, given his job, I can’t credit here. Both major parties departed in pretty serious ways from recognisably sound economics, and, in the case of the Tories,...

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No blogging. Too much Twitter.

Apologies for the lack of posting on this blog.  Or perhaps you are relieved.  Most of my blog like thoughts seem to have migrated onto Twitter. This may or not be a good thing.  I don’t think I am alone, as several authors have Tweeted or written columns on proper websites about the decline of the blog. Is this the honing of thoughts into ever neater kernels, forced by the benevolent market place of ideas?   Or the slow corrosion of attention spans and mental health as Brexit and...

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Monetary policy delegation rebounded, and an odd trade-off

Back in the day, monetary policy economists and practitioners discussed the benefits of delgating monetary policy to an independent central bank. There were two kinds. The first was to remove an ‘average inflation bias’.  Think of a two period game.  In period 1, the government says to an all encompassing trade union ‘we are going to give you 2 per cent inflation’.  Unions bargain for 4 per cent nominal wage increases to cover productivity and expected inflation.  Once those contracts...

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Dismantling and devolving the pernicious union

In recent blog posts, I have been advancing ideas that respond to the frightending dysfunction in the UK polity. 1.  Separation of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales into individual, independent countries embedded into the EU, and England levered to tether itself as a non member in name only, or rejoining at some point. 2.  Membership of the euro and aspects of the ‘ever closer political union’ that the UK has thus far been exempted from. Using the same logic, regional devolution...

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Brexit: the mutually inconsistent views of the desirable anchor and the stormy constitutional sea

One feature of Brexit from the perspective of those who see political and economic benefits to remaining a member of the EU is that there is no safe, perpetual compromise position. There are soft versions of Brexit in which almost all the economic benefits of membership are reaped [for example by remaining in the single market and customs union].  But once we leave it becomes much easier to take further steps away from the EU, and the UK’s economic trading relations, regulatory...

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Asymmetric radicalization of Leavers and [most other] Remainers

A striking feature of the post Referendum period is the radicalization of Leavers.   Amongst leading protagonists, many supported remaining in the EU’s single market during the campaign.  Subsequently, the focus shifted towards leaving the single market and customs union in order to fulfil a revised definition of true Brexit by enabling an independent trade policy.  Now, control of the Governing party rests with a faction that openly embraces leaving the European Union without a deal,...

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The changing calculus of Scottish Independence

Much was made of the first poll in favour of Scottish independence.  The calculus is changing.  I would argue that for a variety of reasons, independence is now more attractive. Relative to 2014, the first benefit is removing Scotland from the influence of two polar opposite, but pernicious political offerings, from Labour and the Tories.  During the 2014 referendum, major parties in the UK all pretty much lived within the rules of acceptable discourse, and were led by groups with...

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