Wouter Den Haan's picture
Affiliation: 
London School of Economics
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

The Importance of Elections for UK Economic Activity

Question 1: Do you agree that the austerity policies of the coalition government have had a positive effect on aggregate economic activity (employment and GDP) in the UK?

Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident at all
Comment:
I think that the macroeconomics profession doesn't have the evidence to answer this question. Personally, I would have chosen for less austerity and in particular would have taken advantage of low interest rates to invest more in health, education, infrastructure, and the environment. But it is not completely implausible that the austerity policies of the coalition government prevented confidence from deteriorating further and by doing so had a positive effect on investment and employment.

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

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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:
Confident
Comment:
It is possible that spreading out the meetings will make the process less focused and may make it more difficult to respond to the very latest developments. however, the chance that something completely new and relevant happens during the week of the MPC process is simply not that big.
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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:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Under the current system, the minutes could possibly be affected by what happens AFTER the release of the policy decision. For example, if financial markets respond unfavorably, then there may be a temptation to change the minutes to save the image of the MPC. This problem, whether it is perceived or real, is no longer present under the new system. Releasing the inflation report at the same time means that the policy decision can be backed up by more solid evidence and actual numbers. To help the market digest the simultaneous release of all the relevant MPC documents, the Bank should give some guidance, especially initially, but the staff of the Bank should be capable of doing this.

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:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
It is not unthinkable that a refusal to renegotiate Greek debt will lead to a sequence of disastrous consequences, for example, with Greece leaving the Euro Area followed by a financial market panic. However, my hunch is that such a bad outcome is not the most likely outcome, because the Greek economy is now more decoupled from the rest of the Euro Area.

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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:
Not confident at all
Comment:
The fiscal position in the Euro Area periphery countries is still fragile and quite a few things, including a Syriza victory, could trigger another bout of market pessimism accompanied by increased spreads. Nevertheless, I suspect that a Syriza victory by itself will not have massive consequences because another round of Greek debt restructuring or even default is likely without a Syriza win as well and should have been priced in current spreads already.

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