Economic affairs.

I am not an economist. Until early 2014, I took a fairly close interest in economic debates, and tended toward the free-market point of view, though with a healthy respect for canny government intervention, both as polities tried to produce stable growth, and as they considered redistribution of wealth. I also very closely followed the "Happiness Debate", in which I argued that market choice and material affluence were large social, pyschological and even spiritual benefits.

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Somerset Levels flooding: who’s levelling with us?

It's 30 years since I spent serious time researching the Somerset Levels and its precarious balance between farming and wildlife, which of course hinges on how much flooding to allow. That was for my book, Wild Britain. Where are we now? Read more...


12 February 2014

RDN on “Call Kaye” BBC Radio Scotland

On a brief outing this morning, I was asked what I thought about unions, especially in the wake of Unite's Grangemouth climb-down. I love them, I said, but let's not imagine the Germanic socialised (or a socialist) approach is going to work in the Anglosphere... Read more...


28 October 2013

Murray’s “Coming Apart”: A fix for US inequality?

This book bears a superficial resemblance to the rest of the angst literature on Anglosphere inequality, but it is much better than The New Few or The Spirit Level. Its use of evidence about the separations between top and bottom in US society seems fairer and brighter. Yet more to the point, though flawed where it most matters (in its proposed solutions), Charles Murray's cultural and social arguments seem far more interesting than most. Read more...


09 February 2013

RDN on Mount’s “The New Few”

I had highish hopes of Ferdinand Mount's book, The New Few. Here, after all, was a famously intelligent, civilised and well-informed conservative voice addressing a concern which is widespread: that Britain is badly run, and controlled by rather few people. Actually, the book made one wonder in what sense Mr Mount still feels he is of the right (if he does), not least since almost everything he says is commonly, and rather boringly, said by the left. The following looks at the book in some detail.... Read more...


08 January 2013

Team GB and UK Plc

Britiain's economic success clearly matters just now and it's germane to wonder if the Olympics have helped. Here are some pros and cons on the matter. Read more...


11 August 2012

RDN on BBC R4 PM on bankers’ bonus culture

Ahead of George Osborne's opposing or accepting (there are mixed signals as to his intentions at this moment) the European Parliament's desire to curb the relationship between pay and bonuses for bankers, I was asked to discuss the idea with Ann Pettifor. (I was batting for the Institute of Economic Affairs and she for the New Economics Forum, so it was a nearly perfect face-off.) I breezily said that it didn't matter whether bankers earned their money as wages or bonuses. After all, what matters is what signals their contracts send them (go for quick returns or build the long-term health of their banks are obvious alternative possibilities). Read more...


07 July 2012

RDN on BBC1 Sunday Morning Live

SML had me make a little movie on the value of greedy and especially greedy bankers (my script is below) and then debate the issue with Diane Abbott and Rosie Millard. Luckily, Ruth Porter of my beloved IEA and Jamie Whyte, the free market philosopher, Skyped in to say some of the things which I ought to have done. Here's what I wanted to say and nearly did (these things never go quite to plan)... Read more...


02 July 2012

The Dickensian 2011 myth

Ian Hislop very nearly told us (When Bankers Were Good, BBC2) that Dickensian bankers were more moral than our own. A couple of literati on the Today show  (BBC Radio 4, 7 December 2011) did actually say how awful and Dickensian our times are. (The inequality! The homeless!) So which is it? Read more...


07 December 2011
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