Ray Barrell's picture
Affiliation: 
Brunel University London
Credentials: 
professor of economics

Voting history

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

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Question 4: Voters did not believe the economic arguments put forward (for example, because they thought the arguments put forward by macroeconomists with dissenting views made more sense or because voters have little faith in economists in general).

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:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Very confident

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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:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident

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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:
Not confident
Comment:
Persuasive politicians, who describe their opponents as 'like the Nazi scientists who criticised Einstein' are difficult to answer when few academic economists have any media capacity or experience. If the public are unaware that we are expressing more than our opinions, but rather the result of careful empirical research, then they will be hard to influence. They may prefer their own opinions. The decision to leave was probably based on a generalised unhappiness with current conditions, with no evidence being presented to explain the EU's lack of role in that. Whether preferences describe political decision making is another question, but we saw a political rejection of the current situation. We do not clearly know why, but we do know referenda are the wrong way to make such complex decisions. That people have voted to leave does not change the outcome of leaving. Underlying growth will be low for a decade, and we will be 3 to 6 percent poorer than otherwise in ten years, with less foreign investment and less competition. There is no need to change what we are saying, and we have to argue for outcomes that minimise the damage.

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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:
Agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
It is clear that the profession needs to change in order to influence the public debate more effectively. However, leadership may not be the answer. The profession holds policy advice in low regard, and few members communicate wit the public. The incentives we face need changing. Promotion depends on publications and REF evaluations, and policy related output is not highly graded. Whilst this remains the case we will not be noticed. For instance, few of the group of economist who appeared in the Daily Telegraph 2 days before the referendum had ever been on the Today programme, the Evening News or the Ten O'Clock News. Nobody outside the blogosphere had had heard of them, and their views were not important. Until that changes, and economists show an interest in, and value, policy related work, we will be ignored. Much needs to change, but it is deeper than ''leadership'.

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

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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:
> 70%
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Financial markets look forward, and exit, which remains unlikely, entails a different future and this will be brought forward. The impacts are difficult to assess in advance, but are likely to be large.

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