David Cobham's picture
Affiliation: 
Heriot Watt University
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

Happiness and well-being as objectives of macro policy

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Question 2: Do you agree that quantitative well-being analysis should play an important role in guiding policy makers in determining macroeconomic policies?

 
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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident

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Question 1: Do you agree that subjective well-being measures, or at least some of the subindices from the typical survey measures, are now reliable enough to give useful insights when used in macroeconomic empirical analysis?

 
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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident

A “new” UK industrial strategy ?

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Question 2: Do you agree that the UK needs a new regional policy?

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Answer:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The social and political case for a regional policy which will reduce the gravitational pull of London and the South East, and respond to the growing perception of inequality elsewhere in the UK, is obvious. But there is also an economic case to be made in terms of the best use of resources and the maximisation of the potential of citizens (and, dare I say it, immigrants).

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Question 1: Do you agree that the UK needs a new industrial policy?

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Answer:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
It is, of course, not true that the UK has had no industrial strategy for the last 30-40 years. It's just that that strategy focused only on one industry, the financial industry. After the crisis everyone agreed that some rebalancing of the economy was called for, but so far no coherent policy has been put in place. In the next few years Brexit will almost certainly reduce the comparative advantages of UK finance. A Rodrik-style industrial policy - not picking winners but providing an appropriate environment - therefore makes a great deal of sense.

The Future of Central Bank Independence

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Question 3: More generally, do you agree that it is desirable to maintain central bank independence? Again focus on the near future, say next 48 months.

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
In the modern context central bank independence should be thought of as an aspect of the coherence of macroeconomic policy rather than a simple instrument for inflation control. Central banks with significant independence are more likely to contribute to policy coherence and to oblige ministries of finance to think coherently (and not politically), so it is important to try to maintain their (incomplete) independence. But good macroeconomic policy requires the use when appropriate of fiscal as well as monetary policy, and there it is more the politicians who need to revise their understanding of how the world works.

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