Dr Eamonn Butler

Eamonn Butler is director of the Adam Smith Institute. He is the author of books on the pioneering economists Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Adam Smith, and co-author of Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls and books on intelligence testing. He has degrees in economics, philosophy and psychology, gaining a PhD from the University of St Andrews in 1978.

The QE3 fantasy

Written by | Friday 14 September 2012

The monetary authorities are at it again – trying to defy reality. In Europe, the ECB has thought up a new wheeze, called Outright Monetary Transactions, by which they can buy up the debts of bankrupt eurozone countries without (they hope) causing too much grumbling among the Germans who will ultimately pay for it. In the US, the Fed has just announced a new quantitative easing (QE3) plan to buy up mortgage debts in order to keep long-term interest rates down and make homeowners happy – well, as happy as they could be after a 20%-30% slide in the value of their properties.

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Democracy must restrain the mob against the minority

Written by | Friday 14 September 2012

More e-petitions will get written responses form the government, the Commons leader Andrew Lansley has announced. Any petition signed by more than 10,000 people, he says, will have a government response published alongside it. Well fine, for all the difference that is going to make.

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We don't need an industrial policy

Written by | Tuesday 11 September 2012

Britain's business secretary Vince Cable wants an industrial policy. He is wrong.

Core to his proposals are a new state-sponsored business bank. "There are areas where the banking sector just isn't working for large chunks of the economy," he says. "Small business lending has actually contracted." So he wants a new bank, with as much money behind it as he can squeeze out of a hard-pressed Chancellor, George Osborne, to step into the breach.

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Make room for a bottom-up Olympic legacy

Written by | Tuesday 11 September 2012

Interesting proposal from a group called British Future, saying that we should build on the Olympic feelgood factor, and widen the Olympic legacy by having more minority/disabled sport on TV, a single national school sports day, and suchlike.

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Back to the stone age at the Trades Union Congress

Written by | Monday 10 September 2012

It's like that moment when the clocks go back, and suddenly the evenings are dark. After a glorious summer of sports and jubilees, suddenly the annual Trades Union Congress meeting is upon us and gloom spreads around.

Austerity isn't working seems to be the slogan this year. Apparently we need more government spending to boost the economy by hiring a lot more public-sector workers and raising their pay. They will then go out and build things, supply essential services, encourage business by buying stuff, and help the government by paying more taxes.

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Wealth taxes are immoral and counterproductive

Written by | Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says we need a wealth tax. No we don’t. A wealth tax is immoral and counterproductive.

Right now, Mr Clegg and his government should be focusing on creating wealth, not shuffling it around. We need a growth agenda of lower taxes and less red tape in order to get businesses expanding and employing people. A wealth tax, like any other kind of tax, simply shifts potentially productive resources from the private sector to the government. And governments are not usually thought of as being ‘productive’ or  as ‘wealth creators’, are they?

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Let the market decide what happens to Libor

Written by | Friday 10 August 2012

In a speech today, the head of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Martin Wheatley, will say that the structure and governance of Libor – the interest rate at which Britain's banks agree to lend to each other – is 'no longer fit for purpose and reform is needed'.

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The free education dilemma

Written by | Thursday 9 August 2012

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One hundred years of Milton Friedman

Written by | Tuesday 31 July 2012

As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan put it: "There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people."

He was talking about Milton Friedman, Nobel-winning economist, libertarian policy advocate, great communicator and author of the Free to Choose book and TV series – born on this day, exactly a century ago, to Hungarian Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York.

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Take care before rushing into government action

Written by | Monday 9 July 2012

I can't decide whether news this weekend, that British ministers are expected to introduce a cap on the amount that individuals pay for care during their lives, is welcome common sense or yet another smash and grab raid by the middle class.

The plan, based on proposals by economist Andrew Dilnot, would be to cap the costs that people in England pay for care at £35,000 over their lifetimes. Pensioners would be expected to insure themselves at that level, then the state would pay any further expenses.

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