Money and Government: a lecture at the LSE, 17 September 2018

i.

Over the weekend, just ten years ago, the investment firm Lehman Bros collapsed, and the world economy collapsed after it. I feel a little reluctant to add to the torrent of words trying to read the runes of this catastrophe for the better management of affairs in the future.

But, by chance or cunning, a book of mine, called Money and Government: A challenge to mainstream economics, has just been published. This tries to set the collapse of 2008 in a historical context. It has been inspired by John Maynard Keynes, who believed that the collapse of the 1930s needed the response of a new economic theory, and a new, or rather very old, conception of statecraft.

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Brexit: Preparations and Negotiations

My Lords, it is very cold in this spot at the moment. That is a comment not on the Cross Benches but on the fierceness of the air conditioning—but I shall struggle through.

I have heard with increasing incredulity the efforts of noble Lords in this House, some of them my good friends, to reverse the results of the referendum of 2016. It may have been a mistake to hold a referendum on such a complex issue, but, having asked the question and promised to treat the answer as binding, it seems to me inconceivable that responsible politicians can disregard it. This is the answer to the noble Lord, Lord McNally. David Cameron gave repeated assurances that he would respect the result of the referendum, and I do not think we can ignore that.

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Economy: Autumn Budget Statement

7.47 pm

Lord Skidelsky (CB)

My Lords, I will concentrate, as is my wont, on the macroeconomic implications of the Budget. That is not to say that supply-side questions are not important—of course they are. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Maude, that a Government should not be exempt from the efficiency expected of the private sector. However, in general, efficiency is closely related to investment. The more investment there is, the more efficient an economy is likely to be, for the simple reason that there will be much less resistance to cutting costs—which in practice usually means laying off workers—if there are plenty of alternative jobs available.

We have 1.4 million people out of work—“too many”, the Chancellor rightly says. Continue reading “Economy: Autumn Budget Statement”

Economy: Currency Fluctuations

12.55 pm

Lord Skidelsky (CB)

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for making this debate possible. The most dramatic economic effect of the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote has been the collapse of sterling. Since June, the pound has fallen by about 16% against a basket of currencies. Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, has hailed the lower exchange rate as “a welcome change”. Indeed, with Britain’s current account deficit in the order of 7% of GDP—by far the largest since records started—depreciation could be regarded as a boon. But is it? That is the subject of our debate today.

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Universities: Freedom of Speech

Motion to Take Note
1.07 pm
Moved by Baroness Deech

That this House takes note of the protection of freedom of speech in universities.

2.22 pm
Lord Skidelsky (CB): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for making possible this debate. I shall draw your Lordships’ attention to two threats to free speech on the campus. In four minutes I have time for only two threats, but I think that they cover most of the ground.

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Speech to the Boston Meeting of the Economists for Peace and Security (EPS)

Historians and economists see the world in a different way. Economists tend to see progress in terms of the linear ascent of reason. Historians tend to see progress as an ascent through disaster.

This year’s theme of EPS is the avoidance of a second cold war. It’s a very urgent and necessary topic, for on its achievement rest our hopes for peace and security in the post-communist era.

And by peace – to bring in an economic consideration – I mean a peace dividend – the end of the insane expenditure on armaments, which is the only exception our rulers allow to fiscal austerity.

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Panel Discussion at the Boston Meeting of Economists for Peace and Security (EPS), 4 January 2015

A couple of months ago, at Sochi on the Black Sea, I put the following question to Vladimir Putin:

Would you not accept that your biggest failure since you became President in 2000 has been your failure to diversify the Russian economy? Russia has dismantled the old Soviet industrial system without finding a hard currency replacement. Its economy is dependent on oil exports and is dangerously vulnerable to any fall in the oil price. What do you propose to do to make Russia an attractive place for Russians to invest in and not buy up real estate in London, sending house prices to insane levels?

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