Dr. Eamonn Butler

Planning and living costs

Written by | Thursday 16 January 2014

Interesting piece in newgeography.com about Britain's antiquated planning policies. Public opinion on them seems to be changing, driven largely by rising price houses. People figure that maybe it's time to build more houses. That was, of course, the conclusion reached by Kate Barker's study on housing a decade or more ago.

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Bank bonuses and bogus arguments

Written by | Wednesday 15 January 2014

Here I go again, defending bankers. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Well, it's more than a hobby than a job because the banks don't even pay me to do it.

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Should Britain have a written constitution?

Written by | Thursday 12 December 2013

Should Britain have a written constitution? Actually, while there are unwritten bits such as royal prerogatives and parliamentary conventions, most of it is indeed written. There is the 1215 Magna Carta, bits of which are still in force (though limitations on the monarchy started earlier, with measures such as the 1100 Charter of Liberties). And there is the 1689 Bill of Rights that limited the monarch’s ability to raise arbitrary taxes and interfere in justice and elections.

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UK growth: Nice, but unreal

Written by | Thursday 28 November 2013

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, is smiling like a Cheshire Cat. Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the last quarter's economic growth in the UK was the strongest in more than three years,  with expansion in services, construction and manufacturing. It is the third quarter in a row that output has grown; in the last quarter of 2012, output fell by 0.3%, but in the first, second and third quarters of 2013 it grew by 0.3%, 0.6% and 0.8%. It seems easily probable that over 2013 as a whole, the UK economy will have grown by a healthy 2%+.

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The foundations of a free society

Written by | Friday 22 November 2013

I have just published Foundations of a Free Society with our colleagues at the Institute of Economic Affairs. It was intended to describe the working principles of a free society to those who, unfortunately, don't live in one.

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Bank bail-ins: needed, or misguided?

Written by | Monday 28 October 2013

Like other businesses, banks get money from shareholders. When a business fails, the shareholders are first to take the hit. And banks also raise money from bondholders – investors who give them cash in return for an IOU.  But in the recent financial crash, innocent taxpayers bailed out the banks – the bondholders were largely unscathed. So now there are moves towards a ‘bail-in’ system – where bondholders forfeit before taxpayers do.

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The ideological drift of Nobel laureates in economics

Written by | Sunday 27 October 2013

The new issue of Econ Journal Watch is online. It is a bit different from most issues, being devoted to a survey of the ideological stances of 71 Nobel economists – with profile of all of them.The aim is to assess how their opinion changes, and whether Nobel economists tend to become more or less classical liberal throughout their lives.

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Is economics a science?

Written by | Saturday 26 October 2013

There should be no Nobel Prize in Economic Science, says economist Liam Halligan, because economics is not a science. It was, of course, only added (by the Swedish central bank) some 75 years after Alfred Nobel's death; but recipients get the same grand medal and scroll, get to shake hands with the King, and give a lecture.

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The rediscovery of classical economics

Written by | Friday 25 October 2013

It is appropriate that David Simpson should preface his new book The Rediscovery of Classical Economics with the famous 'road less traveled by' poem by Robert Frost. For his purpose is to put forward an alternative to the equilibrium economics that has dominated the subject for nearly a century. His alternative is classical economics, in the tradition of Adam Smith, Marshall and the Austrians.

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Sunday working: a reasonable compromise?

Written by | Friday 25 October 2013

I never heard back from the BBC. They called me to ask if I might go on the radio to talk on Sunday trading. But there was a twist: Celestina Mba, a devout Christian, lost her job at Merton Council because she refused to work on a Sunday. So she is arguing before the Appeal Court that employers have a legal duty to "reasonably accommodate" such religious views. If successful, people of other faiths could win the same rights. And not just councils but all employers could find themselves obliged to make special provision for devout workers.

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