Category Economics

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 […]

Can neoliberalism make us embrace risk?

One of the most powerful observations of Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee’s Poor Economics is that most people in the developing world don’t want to be entrepreneurs, even many of those who are self-employed. Instead, most people, if they can find it, want the security and stability of a well-paid salaried job, ideally working for […]

the ‘fit to work’ test: Another argument for the basic income?

Regardless of how many people it has or hasn’t killed, the UK government’s ‘fit to work’ test is clearly pretty nasty. Work Capability Assessments (WCA), as they are formally known, assess eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the main state benefit for those out of work through disability. The tactlessness with which these tests […]