Interest groups impact upon public policy in several ways. Firstly, when legislation is being prepared, those drafting it consider the likely impact upon any specific and identifiable groups. They consider the likely effect on the population as a whole, which is normally beneficial, but also consider any sub-groups of that population which might be adversely affected. A proposal to open foreshore areas to ramblers will benefit those who might take advantage of their new-found rights, but might impact negatively on those who have previously enjoyed exclusive access.
Myths and deceptions abound concerning the EU and Britain’s place within it or outside it. Oliver Lewis in the Spectator has done a workmanlike and admirably brief summary of what he calls “Ten myths about Brexit,” identifying scare stories. There are also 7 common errors about Europe that will almost certainly feature in the debate. Some are misconceptions and self-deceptions, but all are untrue. (more…)
In 2014, the Bank of England commenced a stress testing programme in an effort to test the capital adequacy of major UK-based banks. It concluded that its results demonstrated the resilience of the banking system. No Stress, a report from the Adam Smith Institute, suggests that we should be extremely sceptical of the Bank’s conclusions.
The report sees Kevin Dowd, Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, professor of finance and economics at Durham University, and author of three books, ten book chapters, and dozens of journal articles on risk modelling, present a powerful and rigorous indictment of the Bank’s stress testing programme.
Dowd makes the case that the stress tests are significantly methodologically flawed and worse than useless, giving policymakers unreliable information about the strength of the UK banking system, providing false risk comfort, and creating systemic instability by forcing banks to converge towards the Bank of England’s models.
For these reasons and more, he concludes that we should end regulatory risk modelling and re-establish strong bank governance systems that make decision-makers personally liable for the risks they take.
The depletion of mineral reserves poses no serious threat to society, this new report from the Adam Smith Institute concludes.
“The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources” argues that outcries over resource availability from environmentalist groups are based on a misinterpretation of numbers and a misunderstanding of what mineral resources actually are.
The monograph, written by Senior Fellow and rare earths expert Tim Worstall, says that groups that have warned about the world running out of rare mineral resources, such as The Club of Rome, have been using the wrong sets of data, mistaking the exhaustion of mineral reserves for the exhaustion of mineral resources.
Mineral reserves, the monograph explains, are simply the minerals that have been prepared for use for the next few decades; they are minerals that can be mined with current technology at current prices. Some reserves are going to run out in the near future, but this is a normal process. Every generation runs out of mineral reserves.
Mineral resources, however, refer to a concentration of minerals of a certain quality and quantity that have shown reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction. These are much larger than mineral reserves.
Organic farming, for example, may be a useful idea, the monograph asserts, but the idea that it is a necessity because we’re about to run out of inorganic fertilisers is based on a falsehood. The reserves for minerals used in fertilizers may exhaust in the next few hundred years, but the exhaustion of resources is not estimated to occur for 1,400 years for phosphate and 7,300 years for potassium.
The report concludes that efforts to conserve and/or recycle mineral resources are wasteful and often end up being net harms to society, by diverting economic activity from more productive uses.
John Blundell (1952-2014) was a very critical individual in the world-wide advance of classical liberal ideas in the 1980s and beyond. As a young student in the UK, John played an instrumental role in spreading the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics among college and university students. In his 30s who would assume a leadership role in the US in organizations such as the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. And in the 1990s and 2000s, John would return to the UK and serve as the General Director of the Institute for Economic Affairs. Along the way, he published a book on Margaret Thatcher, and a book on the important contributions of “Ladies of Liberty”.