Christopher Martin's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Bath
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

Greece’s elections and the future of the Eurozone

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Question 1: Do you agree that a Syriza victory on 25 January would lead to a significant or sustained escalation in spreads for other peripheral Eurozone countries?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident at all
Comment:
Objectively, there should be little effect. But: - financial markets are not objective and are often irrational. Economics gives a convincing explanation of how financial markets should behave. Unfortunately, they rarely act this way. - the response will reflect politics more than economics. The current volatile is too volatile for anyone to make a confident prediction of how this will go.

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Question 2: Do you agree that refusal of the core EU countries to a renegotiation of the Greek bailout agreements would carry serious risks for the economic well-being of the Eurozone?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Greece required a bit of austerity and a lot of structural reform. It got far too much austerity and too little genuine reform.There should be a general relaxation of austerity in the Eurozone, so increased government expenditure can be used to give a badly needed boost to aggregate demand. An economic boost to the Eurozone would help Greece more than renegotiation of the bailouts.

2014 Autumn Statement

Question 1: Do you agree that the scale of this planned reduction in total managed expenditure is credible?

Answer:
Strongly Disagree
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
The planned reduction of 40% in non-protected areas would imply cuts of close to 60% in these areas since 2010. Cuts on this scale would imply sharp reductions in - (admittedly generous) welfare payments to the retired - benefits to low-paid in-work families, most likely through lower housing benefit. - a reduction in real NHS spending per head, after adjustment for the effects of the projected rise in the number of over-85s These types of cuts do not seem feasible. There is no appetite for such a sharp reduction in the size of the state among the electorate. They will not be included in the party manifestos at the coming election and so the next Government will not be able to claim a mandate for this.

 

Question 2: Do you agree that the underperformance of tax receipts in recent years, provides a strong case for higher taxes?

Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
This provides a strong case for higher wages not for higher taxes. The government has tried to reduce the deficit by reducing real wages in the public sector. This policy has failed : the NHS, for example, is using much of the reduced wage bill to pay for temporary agency staff to cover staffing gaps. A policy of increasing wages in line with inflation would have supported tax receipts.

Devolving Income Tax Powers within the UK

Question 2: Do you agree that that there is a clear economic case for establishing "English votes for English laws" with the same tax and spending powers as the Scottish Parliament?

Answer:
Strongly Disagree
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
There is strong case for investment in infrastructure in the English regions. This has been neglected for too long as in a drag on economic growth. There is also a good argument for mechanisms to offset the instinctive London-Oxbridge bias in policymakers and commentators. But this is very different from English-only power over tax-and-spend. I can see why this idea might appeal to the right wing of the Conservative party (and to a Prime Minister that is strong on tactics but has no strategy). But I cannot see any sound economic or social arguments that suggest this might be a good idea.

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