Politics and economics

[field_auth], 26 August 2016

The vote for Brexit was seen by some as a vote of ignorance, laced with xenophobia. This column argues that it was not an irrational vote of the ignorant, but a highly rational vote by the same losers from trade as elsewhere across the world. To compensate them, efforts should be made to upskill displaced workers and build them affordable homes to rent in places where the new jobs are. Ignoring this rise of trade nationalism would be far more dangerous than leaving the EU.

[field_auth], 21 August 2016

Government employee absenteeism is often a serious problem in developing countries. One potential reason is government positions being appointed as a kind of patronage to reward political loyalty. This column presents the results of an intervention designed to address government doctor absenteeism in Punjab, Pakistan. The programme provided government inspectors with a smartphone app to streamline information flows, and improved inspection rates. The results support the political patronage hypothesis and provide encouraging support for data-driven policymaking.

[field_auth], 16 August 2016

The nature of US military interventions has become relevant in the face of new growing threats, particularly from so-called Islamic State. While top-down strategies that rely on overwhelming firepower are sometimes favoured by politicians, longer-term strategies use a bottom-up approach, gaining citizens’ support through civic engagement. This column introduces evidence from US actions during the Vietnam War to show that bottom-up approaches are more successful in countering insurgencies than violent, top-down interventions.

[field_auth], 12 August 2016

As the Irish economy is deeply integrated with the UK’s economy, Brexit poses especially severe challenges for Ireland. This column considers a future in which the legal basis for the UK’s economic relations with the EU, and hence with Ireland, is thrown into doubt. A UK withdrawal from the Single Market would raise questions relating to trade ‘re-diversion’, foreign direct investment, the Irish peace agreement, and assured access to British natural gas supplies.

[field_auth], 12 August 2016

The outcome of the UK’s referendum on EU membership has prompted much soul-searching in the economics profession, which was nearly unanimous in anticipating negative economic consequences from a vote for Brexit. This column presents the July 2016 Centre for Macroeconomics survey of experts, which asked for views on the role played by economic arguments in the referendum outcome, and whether institutional change is needed in the way that the findings of academic economic research – and the views of the profession as a whole – are communicated. While opinions are divided, many of the respondents who do not advocate institutional change still see considerable problems in the relationship of the academic macroeconomic community with policymakers and the public at large.

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