Economics

The value of investing in historic buildings

In many countries, vast amounts of public money are invested to preserve historic buildings. In the Netherlands, for example, total public expenditures on renovation subsidies have been more than a billion euros since the 1970s. In Britain, more than 45 thousand buildings are listed, which imply that they are eligible for substantial subsidies, e.g. via tax reliefs. One important […]

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    Competition for Amazon’s HQ2.0 shows cities are keen to offer incentives to firms

Competition for Amazon’s HQ2.0 shows cities are keen to offer incentives to firms

Where will Amazon locate its proposed HQ2.0? While we do not know yet, we do know one thing:  there is no lack of competition between states and local governments over attracting the online retail giant’s second headquarters.  State and local governments are competing to attract the coveted, high-paying jobs that have the potential to transform whatever locality the firm […]

December 2nd, 2017|Economics, Eric Stokan|0 Comments|
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    If we want to create jobs in local areas, the idea of ‘local’ needs to be revisited

If we want to create jobs in local areas, the idea of ‘local’ needs to be revisited

Place-based policies that target disadvantaged areas are widespread in both high-income and developing countries. Their impact depends crucially on the effective size of local labour markets. If labour markets are very local, an effective intervention needs to be targeted to the disadvantaged areas themselves and more distant interventions will not benefit the target group. If labour markets are not […]

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    Who benefits from neighbourhoods designated as conservation areas?

Who benefits from neighbourhoods designated as conservation areas?

Opinions on conservation areas are split. Proponents would argue that conservation areas protect the visual appearance of historic neighbourhoods, by preventing owners from making changes that would be detrimental to character. Opponents would counter that this form of protection, in practice, means a severe restriction of property rights and, as a result, owners cannot adapt their homes to changing […]

Why is the North so difficult to govern?

English devolution continues to be an uncertain process, with very different degrees of progress in different areas. Running the North presents an especially complicated picture. For instnce, despite historical rivalries between towns such as Bury, Bolton and Wigan, the governance of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority seems, for now, relatively settled. It has a rapid local integrated transport system, […]

November 25th, 2017|Economics, John Fenwick|0 Comments|
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    Budget 2017: productivity is the focus, but ‘fixes’ are unlikely to be enough

Budget 2017: productivity is the focus, but ‘fixes’ are unlikely to be enough

Budget 2017 began with a bleak assessment of the UK’s growth prospects. For those of us following the economic trends and policy debate, there was little surprise at the downgrade of future productivity growth by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Productivity has flat-lined since the financial crisis as successive budgets have failed to have much discernible effect on the […]

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    Ensuring free movement of data after Brexit is crucial, but looks unlikely at the moment

Ensuring free movement of data after Brexit is crucial, but looks unlikely at the moment

Data protection has been high on Parliament’s agenda, with the Data Protection Bill, intended to bring UK law in line with the EU’s GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – making its way through both Houses, and the House of Commons holding a debate on “Exiting the European Union and Data Protection”. The government has produced a “Future Partnership Paper” on the exchange and protection […]

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    Economists used to think that it doesn’t matter whom you tax, but it does

Economists used to think that it doesn’t matter whom you tax, but it does

In most countries employers and employees both contribute to the taxes (or social security contributions) levied on labour. Employers pay taxes on top of the wage they transfer to employees and employees pay income taxes on the money they receive from employers. For many decades, economists thought that it should not matter who pays. Employers were thought to care […]

Work, joblessness and what they mean for our happiness

Since most of us spend much of our lives working, it is inevitable that work plays a key role in shaping our levels of happiness. In a chapter of the World Happiness Report 2017 – which is published annually to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness – we look more closely at the relationship between work […]

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    To get its forecasts right, the BoE should publish its own future rate path again

To get its forecasts right, the BoE should publish its own future rate path again

It was widely expected and indeed happened. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided, by a 7-2 majority, to raise (for the first time in 10 years) its policy rate from 0.25% to 0.5%. Yet, financial markets appear not to have taken seriously either the hike or the MPC’s additional message that (at least) two further interest […]

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    Dockworkers and the introduction of containers in UK shipping in the late 1960’s

Dockworkers and the introduction of containers in UK shipping in the late 1960’s

The introduction of containers in UK shipping in the late 1960s suddenly and profoundly changed the labour market for dock workers. Containers require far fewer workers to load and unload cargo, and therefore they greatly reduced the employment of dock-workers (also known as stevedores or longshoremen).

Containerisation had other impacts on UK ports as well. Port activity became much more concentrated […]

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    A close look at British business: Was it destined to leave the EU?

A close look at British business: Was it destined to leave the EU?

Always good to start with a confession: we are what Brexiteers call Remoaners. As Michael Bloomberg says, “it is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it.”

Anti-immigration sentiments, a feeling of being left behind by many voters, an uninspiring campaign by the Remain side, and decades of ‘blame it on Europe’ […]

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    The national living wage has helped Britain’s workers, but challenges remain

The national living wage has helped Britain’s workers, but challenges remain

Employment is at a 40-year high, while pay is stagnating. That, in brief, sums up the last few years of changes in Britain’s labour market. As Figure 1 shows, politicians rightly highlight that employment and unemployment are undeniably trending in the right direction.
Figure 1. UK employment and unemployment rates (all aged 16-64)

Source: Resolution Foundation analysis, ONS
But the good news […]

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    Do UK universities collude in ways that inhibit genuine competition?

Do UK universities collude in ways that inhibit genuine competition?

In July 2017 a former minister, Andrew Adonis, suggested that UK universities might be running a cartel: ‘There appears to be strong prima facie evidence of a cartel. It’s short-changing a number of students. They are paying for more than the actual cost of their degree.’ In this blog post we attempt to clarify the situation. Do universities compete? […]

Global risks from rising debt and asset prices

Wolfgang Schäuble, the outgoing German finance minister, warned in an FT interview last week that ‘economists all over the world are concerned about the increased risks arising from the accumulation of more and more liquidity and the growth of public and private debt.’ This follows an assessment by the Bank of International Settlements, whose chief economist, Claudio Borio, […]

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    Despite uncertainty over EU academics’ future, the brain drain hasn’t begun yet

Despite uncertainty over EU academics’ future, the brain drain hasn’t begun yet

I was at an academic conference in Europe a few months ago, where one of the keynotes was an eminent EU academic who works at a UK Russell Group university. She has won international awards and prizes, and recently also a large research grant from the European Research Council. As we were at the conference dinner, the conversation inevitably […]

Is any job really better than no job at all?

Lord Layard posed the question is “any job is better than no job” in a seminal paper in which he concluded that “human happiness is more affected by whether or not one has a job than by what kind of job it is”. This may have been true in the years leading up to the new millennium, but what about […]

Three lessons from Singapore, with or without Brexit

Comparison between the UK and Singapore has garnered much interest in recent months, mostly for the wrong reasons and certainly in the wrong tone. Singapore is meant to demonstrate the promise of Brexit (erroneously, in my view). Or, Singapore’s experience is dismissed as entirely irrelevant for Britain (erroneously, in my view).

In absolute amounts, five million Singapore residents export almost […]

Why middle class activism surprises economists

A middle class in modern societies often causes political ferment and spearheads mass movements against the status quo. The political turmoils that swept Brazil, Bulgaria and Turkey in 2013 provide recent examples. The demonstrations in Turkey grew from a protest against plans for a construction project; an increase in public transport prices triggered the protests in Brazil; and the […]

October 10th, 2017|Economics, Heng Chen|0 Comments|
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    Income inequality has been growing for decades and Americans are taking note

Income inequality has been growing for decades and Americans are taking note

While income inequality is largely unavoidable, the magnitude of inequality in the US today is staggering. For context, CEO compensation in the 1960s was around 20 times more than the average American worker. Using the same metric, today’s CEOs are paid over 270 times more than the typical worker. Some analysts suggest that this massive gap between the rich and […]