Ten Economic Priorities

'Ten Economic Priorities: An agenda for an incoming government' argues that significant real terms cuts in government spending are essential if the UK is to balance its books and stave off bankruptcy, and calls on an incoming government to draw up a "Medium Term Financial Strategy" to restore stability and reassure investors. The next government should also commit to tax cuts once the public finances are under control, focusing on income tax, national insurance and corporation tax. This report also covers sound money, privatization, public sector pensions, PFI, public procurement, bank supervision, and the Asset Protection Scheme. 

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Financial Regulation

Financial Regulation: What is the best solution for the EU? responds to the EU consultation papers Communication from the Commission, European financial supervision, and the accompanying Impact Assessment. The authors also outline their own proposals for the future of EU financial regulation.

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Re-energizing Britain

In Re-energizing Britain Nigel Hawkins warns the UK faces blackouts unless the six major energy companies invest. New nuclear plant should be encouraged by replacing the existing Renewables Obligation with a new Low Carbon Obligation, which would include nuclear power. The three key aims of energy policy – security of supply, reduced carbon emissions, and lower prices – would all benefit from this change, since nuclear energy is both low-carbon and less expensive than many other ways of generating electricity, and does not depend on risky supplies of gas from Russia. The government also needs to work with the energy companies to make sure that they have both planning approval and access to finance to increase Britain's gas storage facilities substantially. The UK has only one-tenth of the gas storage of Germany, and is dangerously exposed to interruptions in supply.

 

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The War on Capitalism

According to mainstream human rights thinking all human rights are “indivisible". Therefore, this mantra insists, economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to an adequate living and the right to social security should not be treated differently from classic freedom rights such as free speech and habeas corpus. In 'The War on Capitalism: Human rights, political bias' Jacob Mchangama argues that this conflation of very different rights is a fallacy, and that it reveals a marked political bias towards state involvement in the economy, increased public spending and the limitation or even abolishment of free market initiatives.

 

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The Recession: Causes and Cures

In The Recession: Causes and Cures, economist David Simpson analyzes the current recession and the government's responses to it. He finds that the widely-held conventional view of the economic cycle – which suggests recessions are caused by external shocks and can be remedied by a government-applied stimulus – is inadequate in the present circumstances, and is leading policymakers both to misunderstand the causes of the crisis, and to advocate the wrong cures. This report examines the real causes of the recession, and suggests policy options which could bring it more quickly to an end.

 

Regulatory Myopia

This response to Financial Services Authority Discussion Paper 09/2 argues that regulators, not under-regulation, are to blame for the financial crash. It points out that the banks are already minutely regulated, but that the regulators became so preoccupied with form-filling that they did not see that the whole financial system was at risk. What is needed is the kind of overall supervision that would have seen the potentially fatal risks that the banks were running and would have intervened to curb them. The authors suggest the Bank of England should take on this supervision role in future, and that far from being expanded, the powers of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), should be cut back to 'match its competence'.

Zero Base Policy

Britain is broken. Its finances are in ruins, its taxation is chaotic and punitive, its public services fail to reach adequate standards, and its public administration shows no coherence and commands no respect. In Zero Base Policy Madsen Pirie urges a new approach. Instead of tinkering at the edges by trying to improve existing policies, he urges a re-think to first principles, asking in each case what are the purposes and the objectives sought. The policies derived from such an approach make a clean break with the past, setting out how Britain can be put right. Ranging across all areas of public policy, Madsen Pirie presents the radical agenda which can transform the nation from broken Britain into a dynamic society and a successful economy, one which achieves the objectives its citizens yearn for. It should be bedtime reading for those who aspire to govern Britain in the future.

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Parliamentary Fatcats

According to this research by the ASI's Richard Teather and Dr Eamonn Butler, MPs' generous expenses, index-linked pensions and second-home allowances give them a multi-millionaire lifestyle that their constituents could scarcely dream of. It finds that the effective income of the average MP is £319,165 – nearly 18 times the pay of the average voter. The report also contains a 'fat-cat ranking' for each of our Westminster representatives.

G20: Less than meets the eye

This briefing by City analyst Miles Saltiel assesses the 2009 G20 Summit. It concludes that even for those with modest expectations, the G20 summit turned out to be a depressing affair. While there were some worthwhile achievements at the summit, the G20 communique is defined by its heroic hypocrisy, unreliable sums, weak promises, meaningless language and self-serving commitments.

 

What went wrong? An Agenda for the G20

In What Went Wrong? An Agenda for the G20, leading financial analyst Miles Saltiel, argues that many common explanations for the economic crisis are wrong, stemming from prejudice rather than evidence. He identifies five key culprits that the G20 should focus on instead: (1) loose monetary policy; (2) hubristic social engineering in housing policy; (3) the failure of the Basel protocols on core capital; (4) banks that were 'too big to fail'; and (5) the effects of oligopoly on auditors and ratings agencies.