Economics & Social Policy Blogs

Universal Credit and the big labour market questions the UK needs to consider

Universal Credit and the big labour market questions the UK needs to consider

Warwick Lightfoot, Head of the Economics Unit, argues that the controversy over the introduction of Universal Credit is an opportunity to revisit the fundamentals of a modern, market-friendly benefit system. At present benefits extend too far up the income distribution, damaging incentives and productivity as benefit withdrawal pushes effective marginal tax rates to extreme levels. In addition, greater regional variation in benefits, to take account of local labour market conditions, would be a major improvement.

Central bank challenges after the great recession

Central bank challenges after the great recession

Warwick Lightfoot — Policy Exchange’s Research Director and Head of Economics and Social Policy — reflects on present monetary policy challenges, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Bank of England becoming independent and the creation of its Monetary Policy Committee. Lightfoot argues that the necessary starting point is to recognise that ‘monetary policy was at the heart of the monetary shock in 2007’, and that ‘the policies that have been successful in stabilising the macro-economy have thrown up complex microeconomic problems that will make future policy difficult’.

Mrs Merkel’s fourth term economic headaches

Mrs Merkel’s fourth term economic headaches

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will face her fourth general election next Sunday, 24th September. Opinion polls strongly suggest that she will win a fourth term forming a coalition with one or more of f the other parties.  Attention will then shift to the policy...

Will a fiscal policy fix Europe’s defective monetary policy?

Will a fiscal policy fix Europe’s defective monetary policy?

Policy Exchange Director of Research & Head of Economics and Social Policy, Warwick Lightfoot, assesses the prospects for fiscal policy to correct the divergences of incomes within the Eurozone. The scope and scale of policy – even with a Eurozone Ministry of Finance and fiscal transfers will not be sufficient to offset the forces of monetary policy pushing in the opposite direction. Structural reform of labour markets, not fiscal policy, is the best way to improve economic prospects throughout the Eurozone.

One year after the referendum – the economy has not done so badly

One year after the referendum – the economy has not done so badly

Policy Exchange Economics Research Fellow, Michael Taylor, assesses the performance of the UK economy in the year following the EU referendum. Contrary to many analysts’ forecasts the economy has held up well with growth close to its trend rate. Inflation and unemployment are both low by historical standards and public sector borrowing is finally under control. Sterling’s depreciation should soon see a recovery in exports. The economy is in pretty good shape as departure from the EU draws closer.

Brexit is the least of the financial service sector’s worries

Brexit is the least of the financial service sector’s worries

Policy Exchange Economics Research Fellow, Michael Taylor, analyses the implications of the forthcoming MIFID 2 European regulations for financial services. He argues that the effects will be far-reaching but on the whole should be positive. By comparison the impact of Brexit on financial services will be relatively modest.

US Debt, War Finance and Playing with Fire

US Debt, War Finance and Playing with Fire

Policy Exchange Director of Research & Head of Economics and Social Policy, Warwick Lightfoot, looks at the anxiety surrounding the US Debt Ceiling. He is confident that the American economy has the capacity to service a growing public debt, but questions whether her federal political institutions can be relied on to do so in a predictable way in the manner envisaged by Alexander Hamilton’s the first US Treasury Secretary, who established the credit of the US and laid the foundations for Treaury debt to serve as the world’s risk free benchmark.

The Irish Border and Brexit: is Varadkar playing with fire?

The Irish Border and Brexit: is Varadkar playing with fire?

Policy Exchange Chief Economist – and former Special Adviser to the Northern Ireland First Minister – Graham Gudgin responds to Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s proposals for the Irish Border to be moved to the Irish Sea after Brexit. Gudgin states that this new tough line from Dublin on the Irish Border is an unhelpful change of direction on an already complex issue — and that Varadkar’s decision to cease work on a potential electronic Border is particularly unwelcome. Moreover, his call in Belfast for the UK to negotiate a bespoke customs unions deal with the EU would require a special dispensation from the EU to allow the UK to agree new trade deals with third countries. This would be a major departure from EU practice — and is unlikely to be agreed.

Migration, productivity, living standards, and all that

Migration, productivity, living standards, and all that

Michael Taylor — Policy Exchange’s Economics Research Fellow — considers whether it’s right to assume that migration has a positive effect on productivity and living standards. He assesses the UK’s recent experience in terms of population expansion and the growth rate of GDP per head, before concluding that what ultimately matters is living standards, and that the UK’s performance has been ‘disappointing in recent years’.

America’s continuing economic expansion and tightening labour market

America’s continuing economic expansion and tightening labour market

Warwick Lightfoot — Policy Exchange’s Director of Research and Head of Economics and Social Policy — reflects on the latest reports from the United States, which show that its economy continues to expand steadily while unemployment continues to fall and the number of jobs increases. He contends that on the estimates given, the American economy ‘is at full employment and policy makers should be considering removing sources of stimulus from aggregate monetary demand, rather than looking to increase demand’.

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