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Structure vs agency in economics

Chris Dillow / February 21, 2019 at 2:15 PM 58 views

Will Davies made a typically good point yesterday when he tweeted that the “impoverishment of the ‘sociological imagination’ over decades” has left people “people unable to speak critically of systemic problems, without personifying them”. What we have today is a…

The irrelevant Independent Group

Chris Dillow / February 19, 2019 at 1:34 PM 64 views

The Independent Group claims to value an “open, tolerant and respectful democratic society” and to oppose Brexit. It wills the ends, but not the means. It fails to see that Brexit and intolerance are the product of economic conditions, and…

Non-expiring information

Chris Dillow / February 15, 2019 at 1:44 PM 103 views

I liked this line from this piece at Farnam Street: A lot of us are on the treadmill of consuming expiring information. Expiring information is not the same as trivia, which can be useful and interesting. It is instead knowledge…

The pawn mistake

Chris Dillow / February 13, 2019 at 1:44 PM 100 views

The ridiculous Digby Jones has tweeted: Hey Mr Tusk. Those who pushed for Brexit did have a plan but it required your lot not to bully the UK, for Remoaners & the Establishment not to sabotage the wish of the…

The forecasting record

Chris Dillow / February 12, 2019 at 1:27 PM 112 views

The ONS says GDP grew by 1.4% last year. 1.4% is a significant number: it is exactly what the private sector economists surveyed by the Treasury predicted in December 2017 that growth would be in 2018. Granted, this bulls-eye might…

In defence of conservative Marxism

Chris Dillow / February 10, 2019 at 1:02 PM 122 views

James Bloodworth complains that the hard left is “deeply conservative” and opposed to regime change. I don’t want to address his specific argument – I’ve no aptitude for armchair foreign policy – but I do want to stand up for…

Causes of stagnation

Chris Dillow / February 8, 2019 at 2:07 PM 120 views

Ben Chu reports that business investment has been “considerably weaker” than the Bank of England had expected “due to fears over a Brexit cliff-edge for trade.” The Bank, however, has a history of over-predicting capital spending. In November 2014, for…

In defence of prejudice

Chris Dillow / February 7, 2019 at 2:05 PM 116 views

Jane Martinson writes that John Humphrys “has been wearing his prejudices a bit too readily on his sleeve.” Now, Mr Humphrys has his faults. But wearing his prejudices on his sleeve is not one of them. In fact, we all…

Obstacles to full employment

Chris Dillow / February 5, 2019 at 3:54 PM 114 views

Is full employment sustainable? For me, this is one question posed by the row between Richard Murphy and Jonathan Portes and Simon Wren-Lewis over Labour’s proposed fiscal rule. Richard describes the difference between them thus: I am seeking a stable,…

My favourite economics papers

Chris Dillow / February 2, 2019 at 12:14 PM 140 views

Last week Chris Bertram asked me to tweet the covers of books I’ve enjoyed, which I interpreted for the most part as books which made a big impact upon me. This set me thinking: what academic papers have also done…

Wishful thinking: too much, & too little

Chris Dillow / January 31, 2019 at 1:50 PM 103 views

There have been several excellent tributes to the great Erik Olin Wright, which I especially urge non-Marxists to read as insights into what it means to be a Marxist today. In a spirit of undue curmudgeonliness, however, there’s one point…

On backing Chavez

Chris Dillow / January 27, 2019 at 1:08 PM 80 views

I was impressed to see Ian Dunt say he was wrong to have supported Hugo Chavez. Everybody makes mistakes: the difference is that some people have the insight to see that they do and the integrity to admit it. What’s…

On top tax rates

Chris Dillow / January 24, 2019 at 1:45 PM 96 views

I’m not happy with either the left or right’s conventional arguments about top marginal taxes. Let’s take the right’s first. They claim that high taxes disincentivize the work of the highly-skilled and in doing so reduce GDP and tax revenue.…

Brexit, & limits of empathy

Chris Dillow / December 17, 2018 at 1:55 PM 180 views

“The trouble with you son” said Bill Shankly once to a struggling young player “is that your brains are all in your head.” The great man had a point, and not just about football. What I mean is that there…

When bad government matters

Chris Dillow / December 13, 2018 at 2:31 PM 170 views

Here’s a nice contrast. On the one hand, Tim Stanley says: Britain's still absolutely fine, by the way, probably better off than its ever been. It's just politics that's a mess. If you think this is the Apocalypse, which some…

Not wearing a poppy

Chris Dillow / November 7, 2018 at 1:47 PM 214 views

I agree with Harry Leslie Smith. I too am increasingly disinclined to wear a poppy. The thing is that the nature of national remembrance has changed. For the first 60+ years after it began it was personal for pretty much…

The triumph of the liberal technocrats

Chris Dillow / November 4, 2018 at 2:24 PM 208 views

Brexiters have something in common with anti-pornography campaigners. That’s the idea that struck me whilst reading Alwyn Turner’s account of the failure to establish public harms that result from porn. What we have in both cases are failed attempts to…

Doubts about wage-led growth

Chris Dillow / September 8, 2018 at 12:28 PM 319 views

“Higher wages prompt improvements in productivity”. This is one of the central claims in the IPPR’s report this week. But I wonder: how true is it? Certainly, it can be for individual firms. An employer who pays better than the…

Prosperity and Justice: a review

Chris Dillow / September 5, 2018 at 1:06 PM 331 views

I confess I approached the IPPR’s report, Prosperity and Justice, with low expectations. I feared it would be yet more bland technocratic centrism. I was wholly wrong. It gets to the heart of our economic problem – that inequalities of…

Over- and Under-reactions in politics

Chris Dillow / August 14, 2018 at 12:29 PM 260 views

You will all have had experience of somebody flying off the handle on the slightest provocation – brushing against them in a crowded pub, or pulling out in front of them in traffic. I suspect this everyday behaviour helps us…