We need the exact opposite of Richard Branson’s economic prescription

Fresh from his bargain-basement purchase of Northern Rock, tycoon Richard Branson offers his three-point blueprint for economic recovery. A “lost generation” is at stake, he claims, correctly, if the economy does not recover.


How can Osborne get Great Britain plc moving again?

At the heart of the economic crisis is the collapse in private investment, allied to the collapse of the old, inefficient model of growth. To create employment and develop a sustainable economy, the Government should grant the Green Investment Bank the same powers to create loans as other commercial banks. More

Why we need to build homes again - and give them away

Unborn babies get a lot of attention from the government. Their mothers get free prescriptions. There are ante-natal classes and special hand-outs.

Quite right too. The more we can nurture unborn babies and their mothers, the healthier they will be in later life.  That’s good economics, quiet apart from anything else. It’s an example of the elusive new economics principle of prevention.


Let’s not pussyfoot around with the banks

Originally posted at London Loves Business.

There is a simple fact about the UK banking system that is both profound and mundane. It is also little known, and yet the source of much hyperbole. What is this simple fact?

Commercial banks create new money.

This statement often seems to have a strange effect on people, either sending them down to St Paul’s with a Guy Fawkes mask and a tent, or backing away from you in horror as if you had just blasphemed in front of the Pope.


Selling Northern Rock to Richard Branson won’t mean a better deal for customers

Everyone is talking about how the taxpayer will make a loss from the sale of Northern Rock. But less has been said about the Chancellor’s claim that the sale “will increase choice on the high street for customers”.

It is widely agreed that competition in the retail banking sector is lacklustre. But this sale won’t mean a better deal for consumers, just more business-as-usual.


In celebration of the Luddites

November 1811 marked the beginning of working class discontent in England, giving rise to the Luddite movement. The growing use of mechanised equipment in the textile industry in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire reduced skilled artisans to nothing more than factory hands whilst undermining wages. In addition to the growing free-market/ industrial regime, the tearing up of the 18th century social contract by the manufactures fuelled a rebellion of machine breaking and violence. More

Audio: Is there a better kind of efficiency?

Is there a new kind of efficiency emerging? That was the question before a packed audience at the Royal Society of Arts last week in a debate between myself, NESTA’s Halima Khan and the pioneering system thinker John Seddon – and chaired by nef social policy head Anna Coote.

“People mess things up,” I said, setting out the thesis of The Human Element


We’re the losers in the Northern Rock sell-off

George Osborne, possibly an even less successful salesman than he is Chancellor of the Exchequer, has managed to flog publicly-owned Northern Rock for a full £400m less than was paid for it back in 2008. More

The UK’s economic problems are domestic, not international

Unemployment amongst the young has passed the 1m mark. Over one in five people under the age of 25 are out of work. Meanwhile, Osborne looks set to miss his own deficit reduction targets as the economy slows.

He and David Cameron have been quick to blame chaos inside the eurozone for the UK’s problems. With the euro area accounting for 40 per cent of UK exports, trouble there could feed back into the economy here.


‘Gouvernement Sachs’ and the death of a democratic Europe?

So much has happened in Europe over the past year that you may not remember the fuss about the role of a certain global investment bank in the Greek debt crisis early in 2011 Goldman Sachs came under massive criticism for helping Greece raise $1 billion of off-balance-sheet funding in 2002 through a ‘currency swap’, which European Union regulators apparently knew nothing about until February 2010. More

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