Richard Portes's picture
Affiliation: 
London Business School and CEPR

Voting history

Happiness and well-being as objectives of macro policy

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Question 1: Do you agree that subjective well-being measures, or at least some of the subindices from the typical survey measures, are now reliable enough to give useful insights when used in macroeconomic empirical analysis?

 
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Answer:
Strongly disagree
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
Bentham's utilitarianism foundered on the impossibility of interpersonal comparisons. Unfortunately, some of the economics literature ignores this issue and postulates a social welfare function that is the sum of individual utilities. Happiness research goes even further. In my view, happiness is not interpersonally comparable, nor additive across individuals, nor intertemporally comparable even for a single individual because of its subjectivity. There are plenty of indices out there which use reasonably objective data measuring aspects of well-being - e.g. the UN Human Development Index.

A “new” UK industrial strategy ?

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Question 2: Do you agree that the UK needs a new regional policy?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
Here there is some evidence, apparently positive. But again, i doubt our implementation capacity over the next several years.

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Question 1: Do you agree that the UK needs a new industrial policy?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
'Horizontal' policies ok - education and training. Otherwise the legacy is indeed 'toxic' - been there, done that, and which of our successful firms have benefited from 'industrial policy'? What we need is a sensible immigration and visa policy that attracts and enables good people to stay. And we'll need some new institutions if we cease to rely on those in EU - e.g., medical. And remember most of the best in brightest in Whitehall (those who haven't left) will be heavily occupied with Brexit over the next several years - what left for 'industrial policy'?

The Future of Central Bank Independence

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Question 3: More generally, do you agree that it is desirable to maintain central bank independence? Again focus on the near future, say next 48 months.

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Some of the old literature less relevant today. But the balance of the political economy arguments favours independence, with the necessary qualification that there must be accountability. Formally, this is weak for ECB, but Draghi and colleagues put a lot of effort into communication, and that helps, even when there is some discord.

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Question 2: Do you agree that the traditional argument that less central bank independence leads to higher inflation will (still) be relevant over the next 48 months in Western economies?

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Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Political pressure on ECB would, if effective, lead to lower inflation. But for Fed, higher inflation. For BoE, if the threat is indeed stagflation, unpredictable.

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