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

Voting history

Transparency and the Effectiveness of Monetary Policy following the Warsh Review at the Bank of England

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Question 1: Do you agree that the simultaneous release of the policy decision, the enhanced minutes (including the voting record) of the MPC meeting and (in the relevant months) the release of the Inflation Report will facilitate inference on the likely stance of monetary policy?
 
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Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
I think it unlikely that these changes will in themselves have a material impact on the information transmission mechanism.
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Question 2: Do you agree that the Bank's proposal to release the policy decision, MPC minutes and (once a quarter) the Inflation Report all at the same time justifies a change in the structure of MPC meetings from two consecutive days to a process in which in the MPC meetings are spread out over seven days?
 
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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Broadly, the new schedule seems sensible, but it is not clear how it will work in practice. It is possible that there may be unintended consequences.

Greece’s elections and the future of the Eurozone

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Question 2: Do you agree that refusal of the core EU countries to a renegotiation of the Greek bailout agreements would carry serious risks for the economic well-being of the Eurozone?

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Answer:
Strongly Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
The real danger to the economic and political wellbeing (and indeed existence) of the eurozone is continuation of current misguided fiscal and monetary policies; that is, imposing aggressive fiscal consolidation on deeply depressed economies at the same time as allowing inflation to remain persistently far below target and close to zero. Refusal to negotiate seriously with Syriza won't directly make matters much worse, but would be a signal that the people who got us into this current mess - policymakers in Brussels and Berlin - still don't understand just how much damage they have done and are doing. Similarly, renegotiating the Greek programme with Syriza won't in itself boost the eurozone economy much, and won't avoid the need for a new Greek government to undertake serious, genuine reform, but would be a belated signal that finally a more sensible, pragmatic approach is being adopted by eurozone policymakers.

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Question 1: Do you agree that a Syriza victory on 25 January would lead to a significant or sustained escalation in spreads for other peripheral Eurozone countries?

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Answer:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The reductions in spreads since late 2012 observed in peripheral Eurozone members were not the result of "successful" fiscal consolidations, but the direct consequence of the commitment of the ECB to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro. Similarly. as long as the ECB maintains this commitment, there is no reason for spreads to widen again. Certainly, a sensible renegotiation of the misconceived and poorly implemented Greek adjustment programme would not in itself lead a a widening of spreads - any such widening would be the result of renewed mishandling of the situation by eurozone policymakers.

2014 Autumn Statement

 

Question 2: Do you agree that the underperformance of tax receipts in recent years, provides a strong case for higher taxes?

Answer:
Strongly Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
The projections in the Autumn Statement for the tax/GDP level show it remaining stable at levels that are low by historical standards. There will be ncreasing pressures on pensions and health from demographic trends. These will (and should) be accommodated - a richer, older society ought to spend more on health and pensions. So either taxes need to go up, or more financing for health and pensions needs to come from private provision; or, more likely, and probably most sensible, both.

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