This week, Boris Johnson caused a stir when he said in a speech that “[s]ome measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and keeping up with the Joneses that is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity.” Chris Dillow of the Stumbling and Mumbling blog examines what mechanisms might cause inequality to depress growth, writing that Boris “was expressing a very partial point of view, and was simplifying horribly. It’s a good job he is merely a minor local politician who isn’t in charge of anywhere important.”

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Boris Johnson sees the value in greed and envy

This week, David Cameron announced measures to curb ‘benefit tourism’. On the NIESR blog, Jonathan Portes wonders why the government refused to give estimates of how many people will be affected despite the fact that there is data available. He writes that “this is not just a failure to base policy on evidence; it is not even “policy-based evidence-making”.

On the Civitas blog, Jonathan Lindsell comments on Cameron’s proposals to restrict Romanians and Bulgarians, writing that “the Tory proposals are either already in law, unenforceable or inappropriate for the problems at hand.”

Writing for the Yorkshire Post, Patrick Diamond gives a five point plan for re-balancing Britain’s economy and reducing the north-south divide.

Writing on The Staggers blog, Graeme Cooke and Guy Lodge find the Scottish government’s White Paper for independence to be ‘a piece of fantasy economics’. They argue that ‘the white paper fails to mention … that Scotland stands a much better chance of meeting the future costs of welfare if it remains part of the UK social union.’

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