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

Voting history

Migration and the UK economy August 2014

Question 2: Do you agree that current government policies with respect to non-EU migration (including policies on students, skilled workers, and family migration) are effective in maximizing the gains to the economy from migration while minimizing any possible negative impact to specific groups?

Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The policies are a politically- and PR-driven mess.

UK House Prices and Macro-Prudential Policy July 2014

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Question 2: When housing-related risk is deemed excessive from the viewpoint of financial stability, do you agree that the correct response is to deploy macro-prudential tools, leaving interest rates focused on the needs of inflation and aggregate real activity?

 
Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Macroprudential tools are untried and untested, while we think we know what we are doing with interest rates, so they should be kept as a backstop to act against asset price rises if the macroprudential tools turn out not to work well. More importantly, the Bank of England should commit (should already have committed) to use interest rates in this way if necessary, so that the knowledge of that feeds into asset price expectations and therefore outcomes.

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Question 1: Do you agree it is time for more robust policy action to prevent a build-up of excessive housing-related risk?

 

 
Answer:
Strongly Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
There may be some lags between house prices in London and elsewhere, and even some special factors in London, but we should be sceptical of the argument that This Time is Different. The house price rise makes clear the failure of policy since 2010 to bring about any 'rebalancing' of the kind that we all talked about after 2008, and the risk that we end up with a futile cycle of debt and asset price inflation leading eventually to a bust.

Economic Consequences of an Independent Scotland June 2014

Question 2

Assuming that Scotland becomes an independent country, do you agree that the UK government's position of ruling out a monetary union is in the economic interests of the continuing UK? 

Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
I'm assuming that it would not be possible to negotiate satisfactory fiscal constraints or satisfactory financial regulatory arrangements to make a monetary union acceptable in economic terms for the continuing UK - because genuinely satisfactory constraints and arrangements would in effect preclude anything that could be called independence for Scotland.

Question 1

Do you agree that that Scotland would better off in economic terms as an independent country?

Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
There are so many unknowns (some of them unknown unknowns) that it is not sensible to argue that Scotland will be better or worse off in economic terms; but in any case the difference is likely to be small. More importantly, as an economist I want to stress that people should in fact make their decisions on non-economic grounds, in particular this: given that Scotland and the rest of the UK and their peoples are so well integrated, would it be right to pull them apart?

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