Think Pieces

The Threat of QE2

Written by | Thursday 4 November 2010

And so it comes to pass: the perceived failure of quantitative easing to deliver economic growth has led to calls for even more quantitative easing. The puzzled public are caught between the mounting shrieks of ‘if at first you don’t succeed… but this time with conviction’ on the one hand, and ‘only a fool makes the same mistake twice…’ on the other.

I don’t intend to settle this debate – declaring it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ oversimplifies what is a complex issue. But there are some important points that are worth emphasising.

The Browne Review: Myths and reality in university funding

Written by | Wednesday 3 November 2010

Bright posters complaining about the Browne review's proposals for higher education assail me every time I enter university. Amid calls to arms, they tell me that lifting the cap on tuition fees will exclude poorer students; that higher fees will be a huge mortgage-style debt, burdening thousands of graduates; that the principle of education for its own sake, available to those most able, rather than those with the fattest cheques, is under attack.

Ed Miliband's New Labour economics

Written by | Tuesday 26 October 2010

Having told Andrew Marr that "the era of New Labour has passed", Ed Miliband was surprisingly kind to the project when he addressed business leaders today. New Labour recognised the importance of economic efficiency as well as social justice, of wealth creation as well as the distribution of wealth, he told the CBI.

"Enterprise and job creation are fundamental to the good economy and good society, and I will lead a party that understands that at its core," he said. It would be pro-business (the CBI loved that, naturally) – but "in a different way".

International aid should be abolished

Written by | Friday 22 October 2010

The Comprehensive Spending Review was a step in the right direction, but I agree with Philip Booth and others when they say that there should be far more cuts down the line. But the biggest mistake was the announcement that the Department for International Development’s (DfID) budget will be increased by 37 percent by 2015.

George Osborne has only tinkered with the welfare state

Written by | Thursday 21 October 2010

There’s no doubt that the Comprehensive Spending Review contains severe cuts. But it is misleading to focus too much on specific areas of spending, while neglecting the bigger picture. Overall spending is only going to fall by 2 or 3 per cent in real terms, returning us to 2008 levels of spending. It’s hardly the public sector apocalypse that some commentators would have you believe.

Science is better off without the government

Written by | Thursday 21 October 2010

Through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), £3.79bn is currently spent on science funding. The Spending Review is expected to reduce this. But despite the outcry from many in the scientific community, this is good news for science as well as for taxpayers.

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