Category Economics

In defence of excuses

“It is excuses after excuses” thundered Roy Keane this weekend, in a damning assessment of Liverpool’s collapse over recent weeks. Having won the Premier League last year, they are all but out of the running barely halfway through the season this time around. The ferocity of Keane’s criticism is unsurprising: he has little natural affinity […]

Should governments be thinking about raising taxes?

Should governments be thinking about rising taxes just now? It may seem like an odd idea at a time when we are facing a severe economic downturn, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people. But as several economists have pointed out, the economic crisis associated with coronavirus is quite unlike an ordinary recession. Unusually, the […]

Book review: The Community of Advantage

I’ve written a review of Robert Sugden’s book, The Community of Advantage, for the LSE Review of Books. Here’s an extract: The Community of Advantage is a rich and wide-ranging work, touching on welfare economics, political philosophy, value theory and meta-ethics. Apart from the formal analysis of the later chapters, it is clear, readable and […]

Does it matter whether rich people really like money?

Responding to the ongoing debate among economists about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal of a 70% tax rate on the very richest Americans, Chris Dillow  says: “I’ve never been comfortable with the marginal utility argument for high top tax rates. One reason why the rich are rich is that they value an additional dollar highly”. I […]

Utilitarianism and anti-social preferences

I’ve been troubled this week by Arindrajit Dube’s anecdote about the Nobel-prize winning economist Gary Becker: In case you don’t speak economics, what this means is that Becker thought we can’t say that domestic violence is incontrovertibly a bad thing, because we need to consider the benefits to abusers against the harms to those who […]

In praise of Britain’s tax system

A thought occurred to me listening to the discussion of value added tax on Vox’s the Weeds podcast this week: how lucky I am that I have to spend so little time thinking about paying tax. I’m not poor or financially insecure enough to have to scrutinise each pay slip and watch the money into […]

Why do people need to ban chlorinated chicken?

Here’s a question, amid the slightly odd political row about whether Britain should allow the import of ‘chlorine-washed chicken from the US: if people hate chlorinated chicken, why do they need to ban it? Why can’t they just not buy it themselves? According to the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), permitting the American practice of washing […]

Save the price tag!

Among the innumerable ways in which life has got better for those of us living in rich countries over the past 200 years, one of the most easily overlooked is the price tag. In the early 19th Century, almost every purchase involved a process of haggling – very few goods or services had set prices. […]

Does Varieties of Capitalism Theory condemn Britain to inequality?

Jeremy Cliffe made some interesting points on twitter over the weekend about the relevance of Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) theory to Britain today. Cliffe’s own BBC documentary provides a good introduction to the theory, but here is the general idea.  VoC suggests that successful modern economies can take one of two forms: they can be […]

A non-Economist’s guide to the Brexit numbers

On June 23rd, the UK votes on whether it should remain part of the European Union. Several economists have analysed the impact of such a move. However, there still seems to be some confusion about the economics of Brexit: economists aren’t always the clearest communicators, and in any case it’s hard to know how we […]