Economists against Brexit


Together with Paul Levine and Simon Wren Lewis, I coordinated a letter to try to gauge the extent of feeling towards the idea that on economic grounds alone, the UK should Remain in the EU.

Simon reproduces the letter on his blog.  The letter appears in today’s Times, signed by 196 [214 at 21.5.16] economists in academia and the private sector, and with a follow up news story by Philip Aldrick.

We did not start the letter lightly.  Many people we approached, vociferous in their advocacy for Remain, were equally vigorous in dismissing letters as ridiculous or futile.  Aren’t the papers full of them these days?  What about the letter of 364!  How wrong that turned out to be!  [I happen to disagree with that].  Others pointed out that if economists spoke out, we’d cause a backlash with those resentful at being told how to vote.

Speaking for…

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‘8 Mile’ (2002)

More on the top 1% giving women a pass on the great wage stagnation

IncomeGuide_2013_Jan17_RGB_page 75_75

Source: Read Online — Visualizing Economics.

Why were 1970s fashions just so bad, so loud?

imageMy explanation is the rapid income growth in the 1950s and 60s caught fashion designers short.

Up until the 1970s, and the swinging 60s in London where a tastes of that, clothing design for the masses is very much functional. It took 10 to 15 years for the fashion designers to work out how to respond to this sudden increase in demand for clothing as an expression of individual identity.

By the 1980s and 1990s, people were able to dress with distinction  in finely cut clothing without the need to be gauche and loud.

% of top incomes from wages, salaries and pensions

Everybody from the top 10% to the top 0.01% have to work for their living these days with much of their income coming from wages.


Source: The World Wealth and Income Database.

Bryan Bruce’s boy’s own memories of pre-neoliberal #NewZealand @Child_PovertyNZ

You really are still fighting the 1990 New Zealand general election election if Max Rashbrooke makes more sense than you on the good old days before the virus of neoliberalism beset New Zealand from 1984 onwards.


Source: Mind the Gap: Why most of us are poor |

Bryan Bruce in the caption looks upon the New Zealand of the 1960s and 70s as “broadly egalitarian”. Even Max Rashbrooke had to admit that was not so if you were Maori or female.

Maybe 65% of the population of those good old days before the virus of neoliberalism. were missing out on that broadly egalitarian society championed by Bryan Bruce.

As is typical for the embittered left, the reactionary left, gender analysis and the sociology of race is not for their memories of their good old days. New Zealand has the smallest gender wage gap of any of the industrialised countries.

The 20 years of wage stagnation that proceeded the passage of the Employment Contracts Act and the wages boom also goes down the reactionary left memory hole.

That wage stagnation in New Zealand  in the 1970s and early 80s coincided with a decline in the incomes of the top 10%. When their income share started growing again, so did the wages of everybody after 20 years of stagnation. The top 10% in New Zealand managed to restore their income share of the early 1970s and indeed the 1960s. That it is hardly the rich getting richer.

How state borders evolved over time in the USA

Alternative narratives

croaking cassandra

From time to time people who are persuaded by my story about New Zealand’s economic underperformance ask why it hasn’t been more widely accepted, and the policy implications adopted.

And, of course, there is a variety of good reasons.  They include:

  • my own story/analysis is quite recent and is continuing to evolve.  I’ve spent over 30 years as an economist, but central bankers mostly focus on the short-term.  It was really only two years spent at Treasury from 2008, and my involvement there is helping the 2025 Taskforce, that energized me to start thinking hard, and reading widely, on the issues around New Zealand’s long-term economic underperformance.   The first time I wrote anything down on any of this was 2010, and it hasn’t exactly been a fulltime occupation since then.   The presentation I gave last Friday has quite different emphases in some important aspects than the first public presentation  of related ideas…

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Do Immigrants Steal Our Jobs?

Countries with the most people living overseas

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