Labour’s zero-based review: an opportunity for the left?

The Labour Party has today announced a zero-based review of public spending, to be completed early in the next Parliament.  It’s being presented in some circles as a renewal of the commitment to stick to something close to austerity after the election – which in some senses it is; in others it has been presented […]

Why does Ed Balls want to run a surplus in the next Parliament?

Speaking on the BBC’s Marr show, Ed Balls expressed an ambition to run a budget surplus during the next Parliament.  I didn’t see the programme and I’m relying on reports from other media, but by all accounts Andrew Marr didn’t ask the obvious question: why? The question matters because Balls was sitting alongside George Osborne, […]

Economies and bubbles: a scary scenario

Paul Krugman used his New York Times column yesterday to blog about a remarkable address by Larry Summers to an IMF research conference.  It’s important because, if true – and it’s all too plausible – it paints a grim picture of how the world economy could be in the process of sinking into a permanent […]

A six point plan for a One Nation economy: the speech Ed Balls should make today

But sadly won’t …. Conference, We meet at a time of unprecedented economic crisis.  Six years after the financial crash living standards are in freefall. Real wages continue to fall while the price of essentials soars.  Housing has become unaffordable in many parts of our country, especially for the young.  The ghost of a recovery […]

Zero hours contracts: bad economics as well as bad for people

In recent days, the issue of zero hours contracts – under which employees do not know from week to week how many hours they can expect to work – has recently moved to the top of the political agenda.  They have been praised by some as offering a desirable flexibility to the labour market, and […]

Lions led by donkeys: October 20 and the sheer dysfucntion of British politics

Yesterday, around 150,000 people marched through central London to protest against austerity and job cuts.  Similar marches took place in Glasgow and Cardiff.  In almost every respect, the marchers represented everything that is decent about Britain; people cutting through the political and media narratives and responding to the reality of austerity and the direct effect […]

Austerity: is Ed Balls being outflanked on the left by the IMF?

Austerity has become the default mode of European – more especially British economic policy; in his speech to the Conservative Party conference last week David Cameron reiterated that there is no “Plan B” and mocked the Labour Party for its alleged tax and spend profligacy – even though the statements of shadow Chancellor Ed Balls […]