David Bell's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Stirling
Credentials: 
Professor of Economics

Voting history

Are academic economists ‘in touch’ with voters and politicians?

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Question 1: Do you agree that the economics profession needs an institutional change that promotes the ability to communicate more effectively with policy-makers and the public at large and to make clear when economists have a united view; and do you agree that we need to introduce leadership to help achieve this improvement through coordinated efforts?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Completely agree that better communication mechanisms needed. Some modern arguments within academic economics remind me of the medieval debate about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. The public, who pay for our activity, might rightly be perturbed by the uselessness of such endeavours if they could penetrate its arcane language. I am less clear about the need for "leadership". The Brexit debate revealed very clearly that the UK is not a deferential society. This was most evident in the treatment of the Bank of England and in particular, its governor. But also in the dismissal by the press of various letters of support for the "Remain" case from groups of eminent economists. I would strongly support much more effort being put into: (1) the effort to educate the public on economic issues and (2) mechanisms being put in place to make the press more accountable for the statements that they make and (3) a review of the BBC Charter so that it reflects the balance of argument among professional economists (or scientists, medics etc in relation to their disciplines) rather than always giving the impression that there are two sides to every argument (and therefore implicitly weighting them equally)

National Living Wage and the UK economy

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Question 2: Do you agree that the new NLW will have a muted effect on wages and prices?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident

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Question 1: Do you agree that the new National Living Wage is likely to lead to significantly lower employment?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
The social care sector is a substantial employer. It is already subject to considerable financial pressure due to the effects of austerity budgets on local authority funding. There is little room for productivity improvement in this sector, or for firms to cut profits. I would not be surprised if there were significant job losses in this sector. I am less convinced about the employment effects elsewhere in the economy.

Brexit and financial market volatility

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Question 2: Do you agree that the possibility of Brexit significantly increases uncertainty and volatility in financial markets and the economy in general?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The probability of the UK exiting the EU is significant. There can be no certainty around the U.K.'s trading arrangements should exit occur. There has therefore been a ramping up of uncertainty across those markets that are directly or indirectly exposed to trade, leading to a more general increase in volatility.

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Question 1: The value of the pound fell sharply this week. Do you agree that the public debate on Brexit can be expected to (continue to) lead to a substantially higher level of exchange rate volatility in the upcoming months?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Uncertainty associated with the outcome of BREXIT will increase volatility. This will be particularly marked if the opinion polls are relatively close. Margins on forward contracts will increase.

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