David Cobham's picture
Affiliation: 
Heriot Watt University
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

The Economic Cost of School Closures

Question 1:What damage will school closures have on economic growth over a 10-15 year horizon?

Answer:
Minor
Confidence level:
Not confident

Will COVID-19 Cause Permanent Damage to the UK Economy?

Question 2: Which aspect of the economy poses the greatest risk for a slow recovery?

Answer:
Labour markets (e.g. unemployment hysteresis effects)
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Labour markets should be understood to subsume human capital issues too: there needs to be a lot of focus on retraining. And please let's not put the emphasis on forcing people to accept low-paid low-productivity jobs as has been the norm since 2010, that's not a way to improve long run economic growth or create a decent civilised society. At some point policymakers might also like to reflect on the fact that their job in this situation, and the lot of many people, would have been much easier if the UK had already had in operation some sort of basic income stream.

Question 1: How quickly will the economy rebound (e.g. to the pre-pandemic trend) once the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained and absent major policy interventions? 

Answer:
Recovery will be slow (5-15 years)
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
If the issue is when the UK will return to the (not very impressive) trend level and growth of the l2-3 years before the pandemic, then 5 years seems too few (but 15 too many).

COVID-19 and UK Public Finances

Question 2: What is the best way to (eventually) reduce public deficits and debt?

Answer:
None of the above, other, or no opinion
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The list of options omits economic growth, which raises tax revenue without raising tax rates, and raises GDP as the denominator. The priority should be to get a resumption of growth, and if that involves a little bit more inflation, fine. A lot of economic research, from the IMF and the OECD as well as academic economists, has shown the folly of austerity policies in response to the financial crisis, we surely do not need to go up that cul-de-sac again.

Question 1: How urgently should the UK government address the rise in public debt?

Answer:
There is no need to take or announce any budgetary actions to reduce the deficit or the public debt until the end of the pandemic
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Best to wait until some of the dust at least has settled, otherwise we can't see what we're doing.

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