Simon Wren-Lewis's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Oxford
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

Levelling Up Productivity Gaps in the UK

Question 2: Which policies could best help reduce regional productivity disparities?

Answer:
Devolution of fiscal and administrative power
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
A major obstacle to improving productivity and prosperity outside London is H.M.Treasury, which has been very reluctant to fund major infrastructure projects outside the capital, and even more reluctant to allow any devolution of fiscal powers. While that continues, not much will change.

Question 1: What is the primary factor driving regional productivity disparities in the UK?

Answer:
Transportation and connectivity
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
There is no 'primary factor': all are important and quantifying which is the most important is hard. However the lack of connectivity of anywhere in the UK besides London is a problem we can do something about, and it would make a big difference to the UK's cities and the areas around them. A good example of this is the bus network, which works well in London but is failing elsewhere.

Prospects for UK Economic Growth

Question 2: What is the most important contribution economic policymakers can make growth in the UK over the next decade? 

Answer:
Improving trade relations with the EU and/or other countries
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
See my answer to Q1. Reducing trade barriers with the EU (realistically through a soft Brexit) is critical. However maintaining a high level of aggregate demand and high public investment will also be very important. In contrast trying to 'repair' public finances will almost certainly reduce both aggregate demand and public investment and will therefore reduce growth.

Question 1: How do you see prospects for future (per capita) GDP growth in the UK in the next decade?

Answer:
Low growth because of UK-specific structural challenges
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
The specific structural factor for the UK is Brexit. This will depress investment and/or technical progress because of reduced trade and less FDI. However I suspect weak demand and international structural factors will also play a lesser role.

Surging Inflation in the UK

Question 1: Which of the following factors is the primary reason for the rise in inflation in 2021?

Answer:
Supply constraints
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
As UK output remains well below its pre-pandemic trend, we can eliminate excess demand as a cause. There is no sign of higher persistent wage inflation, so equally this has nothing to do with generalised pressure from the labour market (and higher expectations). We do know that both the pandemic and Brexit has caused supply problems.

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