Posts Tagged ‘Samuel Brittan’

fear of quantitative easing

Friday, November 1st, 2013

FT columnist Samuel Brittan today examines “the arcane dispute about so-called quantitative easing”. (more…)

the science of happiness

Friday, September 6th, 2013

FT columnist Samuel Brittan is not happy to see governments embrace this new science.

We are on particularly slippery ground when it is suggested that governments should promote happiness. If this simply means letting people satisfy their preferences to the maximum feasible extent, it should be uncontentious. But promoters of

the future of the euro

Friday, August 9th, 2013

FT columnist Samuel Brittan thinks that the eurozone will eventually break up, but “the timescale of euro disintegration is anyone

Brittan on Blyth on austerity

Friday, January 18th, 2013

FT columnist Samuel Brittan reviews (favourably) a forthcoming book by Mark Blyth, a political scientist of British origin who is a professor at Brown University in Rhode Island. The book, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, will be published by Oxford University Press in March, 2013.

Ignore the political bile and partisanship

recovery from the 2008 recession

Friday, November 9th, 2012

FT columnist Samuel Brittan looks at the numbers, and finds that Canada and the US lead the major developed countries in recovery from the Great Recession of 2008.

I have a table of the behaviour of the main industrial economies since their pre-recession peak of 2007-08. Taking both that recession and the recovery from it, Canada heads the list with a net gain of real gross domestic product of 4.1 per cent. The US comes next with 2.2 per cent, followed by Germany with 1.7 per cent. France is still 0.8 per cent behind its earlier peak and Japan is 1.9 per cent short. The UK is almost bottom of the class with a net fall of 3.1 per cent, a drop exceeded only by Italy among the G7 countries. ….

Because of Congressional Republican opposition, the economic stimulus has not been as large as Mr Obama would have liked. Even so, it is a pity he has not had a Treasury secretary who would have proclaimed the relative superiority of US policy from the rooftops, as Larry Summers, an earlier Democrat incumbent of this post, would have.

Samuel Brittan, “America must be doing something right“, Financial Times, 9 November 2012.

The Conservative government’s austerity measures so far have failed to restore investor confidence in Britain. Be forewarned. Austerity will continue until confidence returns!

Samuel Brittan’s past columns are posted here.

‘the price of inequality’

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Samuel Brittan reviews

Samuel Brittan on Paul Krugman

Friday, June 8th, 2012

FT columnist Samuel Brittan reviews Krugman’s latest book, and – with two reservations – likes the message.

The remedy for too little spending is more spending. Everything else is commentary.

This is the moral I draw from Paul Krugman

capitalism as freedom

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Samuel Brittan weighs in on “Capitalism in Crisis”.

My central case for competitive capitalism is that it promotes personal and political freedom. A businessman outside the financial sector will prosper by providing what adults wish to have

Samuel Brittan on the Greek crisis

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

FT columnist Samuel Brittan explains why he would have voted no in a Greek referendum. (The bailout package does not address the need to restore competitiveness by reducing the country’s high domestic prices and wages.)

What is missing from the discussion is the role of adjustment. By adjustment, I mean correcting what is fundamentally wrong in a country

basic income grants

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Sometimes comments on blog posts and newspaper columns are more interesting than the original posts, even when they are off-topic. “Itzman”, commenting on Samuel Brittan’s column “Where an Augustinian fiscal policy falls short”, in the Financial Times (9 September 2011) provides an example of this by cogently making the case for a universal income grant.

[W]e must stop preferential subsidies to the out of work: we should subsidise work at all levels instead of enforcing working time directives and minimum wage policies.

That is, welfare should be universal, and not removed when work is taken up. And it effectively defines minimum income.

Social policy moves from attempting to legislate for equality, and towards underwriting poverty solely.

An ungated copy of this column (without comments) will be posted in a week or so to Samuel Brittan’s webpage.

A universal government transfer goes by various names, most often “basic income grant”. It is a sum of money, enough to keep everyone out of poverty, given to every man, women and child in a country. The grant is not taken away from those who earn wages, save and invest. The grant might be taxed, but only to the same degree as earned income. Economists of all political views favour such a scheme. Milton Friedman was a famous proponent, and called it a “negative income tax”. There is even an academic organisation – Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) – that organises conferences and publishes papers on the subject. BIEN has an international board, and seventeen national affiliates. Its 14th Congress will take place in Munich (Germany), 14-16 September 2012.

Itzman does get one detail wrong. A basic income grant subsidises life, not work. What a basic income does is eliminate high rates of taxation of work (and saving) implicit in means tests. Kudos to Itzman, however, for correctly noting that there is no need to legislate minimum wages when a basic income is available to everyone, workers and non-workers alike.

Itzman also is somewhat off-topic, since Brittan is writing about stabilisation policies, not about poverty traps. Basic income grants, although they remove high implicit taxes on labour, have no obvious effect on cycles of unemployment and inflation. If anything, universal grants might make cycles worse. Unemployment insurance payments, after all, increase automatically when unemployment rises, and decrease when workers find jobs. Basic income grants remain the same, regardless of the number of unemployed workers.