Jonathan Portes's picture
Affiliation: 
National Institute of Economic and Social Research
Credentials: 
Director

Voting history

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

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Question 2: What do you think is the most likely reason that a majority of UK voters went against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
A. Non-economic reasons more important
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
This is primarily a question for political scientists and/or sociologists rather than economists. My reading of the research and analysis published to data is that identity/cultural issues were determinative - certainly in the sense that, had the referendum been solely on the question of "is the EU good for the UK economy", I think Remain would have won reasonably clearly. Of course, these non-economic factors cannot be entirely or cleanly separated from economic ones. See for example the work by Matt Goodwin of the University of Kent: http://www.matthewjgoodwin.org/uploads/6/4/0/2/64026337/political_quarterly_version_1_9.pdf

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Question 3: Voters chose to leave the EU for non-economic reasons.

Do you agree that this was an important reason for a majority of UK voters going against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Very confident

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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:
Not confident
Comment:
I am not persuaded institutional change is key here. In fact I think the broad consensus views of the profession were communicated reasonably clearly - for example the joint NIESR/IFS/CEP statement. The issues involved here - what is effective communication, how should messages about economic or statistical issues be framed to as to be effective, etc - are complex, and I would prefer to see further research, evidence and analysis (for instance, commissioned research on the role of "experts" in driving public opinion) before coming to a view on what action the profession should take.

Brexit: the potential of a financial catastrophe and long-term consequences for the UK financial sector

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Question 3: What do you think will be the overall economic consequences of Brexit for the UK?

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Answer:
Mildly negative
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Economists agree that trade, migration and access to large markets are good for economies. EU membership has led to a relatively liberal approach to both and provides full access to the largest single market in the world. If this could be maintained outside the EU and better trade deals negotiated, then the economic impact might indeed be neutral or even a slight positive. But this would require benign political and economic developments in the UK, in the EU, and globally. Moreover, the potential downside risks of a decision to leave, while not susceptible to precise quantification, appear large, and need to be taken into account in assessing the overall costs and benefits. Risks are also attached to remaining in the EU, but appear easier to manage.

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Question 2: What is the probability that the UK experiences such a significant disruption to financial markets and asset prices following a vote for Brexit on 23 June?

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Answer:
11-30%
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
There would certainly be considerable market volatility. I am reasonably confident that the authorities have contingency plans in place, and the appropriate tools, to deal with the most adverse possible impacts (eg a loss of liquidity in certain markets). However, it is certainly possible, if not probable, that volatility would be such as to result in significant (not in my view catastrophic) negative short-term economic impacts.

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