John Driffill's picture
Affiliation: 
Birkbeck College, University of London
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:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
I do not think institutional change is an appropriate response in this situation. More and better communication with the public is a good thing, of course, and it has been developing over the last few decades. The media has been getting better at informing people about economic matters. Think the BBC web site, Guardian, FT, Economist. It still does not reCh readers of the Mail, Sun, and the many who read nothing at all. While society is riven by wide differences of income, wealth, economic security and attitudes, and many newspapers etc dismiss economic arguments as ridiculous, (not only econ, but also political,historical, etc) there is nothing to be done. This is about a much deeper disconnection, and the rise of populism. A better megaphone for a bunch of acdemics for the rare occasions when they agree with each other will not cut the mustard!

China’s growth slowdown: likely persistence and effects

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Question 2:

Do you agree that if the Chinese slowdown turns out to be persistent, it will have a significant impact on UK growth (say, in the order of a few tenths of a percentage point) and/or it will justify a material change in monetary policy (for example, in terms of the timing and speed of a return to ‘normal’ interest rates) and fiscal policy (for example, in terms of the timing and speed of fiscal contraction).

Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
I doubt whether it will make any appreciable difference to the UK if China grows at 5% a year rather than 7%. It is not likely to make any difference to approporiate fiscal or monetary policy choices for the UK.

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Question 1:

Do you agree that the Chinese economy is likely (say more than 50% probability) to maintain in the medium term (say, for at least ten years) a rate of annual growth exceeding 6%.

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Real GDP per head has grown substantially in China over the last thirty years. The gap between it an the most developed countries has narrowed. Future growth is likely to be slower. Population growth is going into reverse. There is likely to be a shift away from saving and investment towards consumers' spending in the coming decades. The growth rate of the Chinese economy is likely to slow down further in the coming years.

ECB's quantitative easing

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Question 2:

Do you agree that the structure of the ECB's QE programme makes the Eurozone more fragile and increases the risk of one country leaving the euro?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
A differently designed programme may have been better from this point of view, but the actual one does not increase fragility. The weakening of the Euro helps exports and discourages imports, modestly, perhaps. Lower yields on long-term debt slightly lower the cost of financing public debt, slightly relax fiscal constraints, and modestly encourage spending. This all helps keep countries in the Euro zone.

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Question 1:

Do you agree that the design of the ECB's QE programme reduces its effectiveness? 

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
A different design with full mutualization of the risk of default would have been more effective than than the actual one, but it would have raised other problems.

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