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Economy

That ‘Great Moderation’ moment again

In 2004, when then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke popularised the term “The Great Moderation,” it seemed to almost all concerned that humankind had finally conquered the vagaries of the free market.  Both inflation and unemployment were low and the stock markets were booming.  Monetary policy, independent of government interference and …

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An abundance of flattery

Among the most grating habits of government ministers is the tendency to answer a slightly different question to the one which was asked.  For example, in response to a question about how the government is going to respond to the recent report that more than 14 million Britons are living …

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Glimpsing the world beyond Brexit

Among the more foolish Tory delusions around Brexit was the belief that securing a trade deal with the EU27 would be simple.  As International trade secretary Liam Fox told BBC’s Today Programme two years ago: “The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should …

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The fourth industrial revolution in practice

Smart Meter display

Among the more comical ingredients of the various forms of proposed green new deals, the high-tech “fourth industrial revolution” ranks highly.  Central to this techno-utopian vision is the electrification of the economy and a switch from a manufacturing to a service economy.  And key to this is the comprehensive installation …

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Divided down under

Coal mine in Queensland

Australia is the latest democracy to discover that climate emergencies are incompatible with neoliberal inequality.  In a repeat of the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes, all of the polling for last week’s general election predicted that a strong environmental platform would propel the Australian Labor Party into government.  Instead, in …

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Situating the appreciation

Inequality UK

Sir Angus Deaton is the latest apostolic legate of the econometric priesthood to be given the unenviable task of coming up with a cause and a cure for income inequality and its socio-political consequences without challenging the underlying disease.  The motivation for appointing Deaton – a Nobel laureate economics professor …

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Getting social mobility wrong

Graduate underemployment

In the years leading up to their election in 1997, the neoliberal New Labour leadership continuously repeated the “education, education, education” mantra.  In doing so, they were drawing on a deep-seated myth that lies at the heart of Western civilisation’s quasi-religion of progress.  To understand this, consider Thomas Frank’s criticism …

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An unlikely simplification

Car Wash

Technological failure of some kind was to be expected as our human impact crisis deepened.  Put simply, as the amount of energy needed by the energy sector has increased, so the amount available to power the much larger non-energy economy was bound to fall.  This, in turn, was bound to …

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The idea that broke the world

Crimean War railway

When the English and French armies landed on the shores of the Crimean peninsula in October 1853 they were ill-prepared to fight a war.  Logistics – the science of provisioning armies at a distance – was in its infancy; and armies were still expected to forage for at least some …

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Britain as Venezuela

Homelessness in the UK

A country paralysed by political crisis; people unable to access the food they need; healthcare services foundering; a ruling class completely divorced from the privations of its people; government institutions that are unfit for purpose; growing public anger that threatens to spill over into violent protest and even full-blown revolution.  …

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