We were looking today in AS macro at the policy options being considered as part of a strategy to drive a stronger recovery in demand, output, jobs and investment in the UK economy.
I am trying to encourage my students to put things into context as soon as possible in their longer essay-style questions. Here are some thoughts on a question on policies designed to bolster growth:
Some context remarks could include the following:
* A deep recession for the UK in 2009 and slow growth since - 2% or less since
* A state of semi-permanent recession and a persistent negative output gap (although this is hard to measure) - it may take some years for real GDP to recover the ground lost during the recession
* Unemployment rising towards 9% / 3 million and a major long-term unemployment problem not just among the young but with many other vulnerable groups and regions
* Fiscal policy options limited by stubbornly high fiscal deficit / divisions within the Coalition
* CPI Inflation remains above target (though forecast to fall sharply into 2012)
* Fiscal austerity plans now starting to bite including hundreds of thousands of jobs going in public sector
* Squeezed household incomes - falling real living standards for millions driving household spending lower in 2011 and 2012
* Weak export growth especially in crisis-ridden Euro Zone, too many UK exports going to debt-riddle, slow-growing advanced economies
* Fragile business and household sector confidence, low risk-appetite among financial officers in businesses
* Official interest rates already extremely low - not much can be done further to cut policy rates - UK interest rates held at 0.5% for three years
* And bond yields on 10 year Government debt is 2% or less (is this a sign of economic weakness and fears of price deflation/slow growth or a big opportunity for the government to tap the capital markets for debt-funded infrastructure spending?)
Options for driving growth
* Expansion of QE - the asset purchase programme is currently worth £325 billion
* Credit easing programme
* Intervention in currency markets (£ v Euro, $) to achieve a depreciation of sterling
* Infrastructure funding (targeted, regional impact, labour-intensive, capacity-building)
* Migration policy (easing caps, encouraging inward migration of talented skilled workers and entrepreneurs/students)
* Enterprise policy to encourage new business formation
* Research and Innovation incentives
* Bank nationalisation / British Business Bank
* Planning reforms (housing) to boost activity in construction
* Employment taxes e.g. Cuts in employers’ national insurance to expand employment
* Cut taxes on lower-paid jobs to boost work incentives
* Reforms to VAT (lower VAT to boost consumption, reform it to encourage property renovation etc)
* Incentives for environmental investment / low-carbon growth
* Youth training guarantees - needs to be ambitious, debate over degree of compulsion
* Fast-forwarding major capital projects e.g. Transport net
* Revising the budget deficit reduction plans (less austerity) - does repression-economics work?
Suggestions for reading
Paul Mason (BBC Newsnight): Repressionomics - can ‘financial repression’ solve debt crisis?
Matthew Taylor (RSA): Can German business ideas revive the UK economy?
Lord Browne: UK economic future ‘depends on engineers’
Guardian news: Half of UK’s young black males are unemployed (March 2012)
Larry Elliott (Guardian): A good job is hard to find for Britain’s young unemployed
Re-Thinking Economics (Mike Kitson)
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