Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The deficit is falling..

[Updated 17.00 with HMT response: see end]

The deficit is falling!  Today's figures show that the budget deficit for 2012-13 (public sector net borrowing, excluding some of the more obvious distortions) was £120.6 billion  - £0.3 billion lower than in 2011-12. So maybe the Chancellor's cunning plan - to reduce last year's deficit by not paying some of the UK's bills until this year, also known as "the cheque is in the post" strategy, has worked.  Or, more prosaically, the government has simply cut public investment again - net investment was £2.4 billion lower in March 2013 than in March 2012, while the current deficit was about £1 billion higher.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Recessions and recoveries: a historical perspective (updated April 9, 2013)

Here is NIESR's chart showing the path of recession and recovery in various previous downturns, updated for our estimate of monthly GDP, published April 9, 2013.  

Thursday, 4 April 2013

When it comes to migration, there are no winners in the numbers game

NIESR's research for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, by NIESR researchers Tatiana Fic, Mumtaz Lalani, and Heather Rolfe, on the impact of immigration from Bulgaria and Romania was published today. The key findings are discussed in detail by Heather Rolfe in the New Statesman here.  Here, Heather explains what's not in the research - an estimate of the numbers of new migrants likely to move to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania after January 1, 2014.

The (economic) objectives of immigration policy: a dialogue with Martin Wolf

I recently devoted a blog post to an analysis of David Goodhart's claim that people in Whitehall and Westminster made immigration policy on the basis of a view that "the only decent policy is to throw open our doors to all" - an assertion so self-evidently absurd I am still astonished an intelligent person could actually write it down and expect to be taken seriously. David's defence appears to be that he didn't really expect the words that appeared under his name in the Daily Mail to be taken at face value. This is not in my view how a serious researcher approaches a serious issue, but please read David's piece in full if you think I'm being unfair. 
However, the blog provoked a very interesting debate in the comments section, addressing much more real, substantive and difficult issues than David's original articles. In particular, Andrew Green from Migration Watch noted that (almost in passing) I had said that GDP per capita was a better measure of the economic benefits of migration than GDP; this in turn led to a lengthy discussion with Martin Wolf. The full set of comments (and there are a number of interesting contributions from others) can be be read here, but I thought that it was worth pulling out my exchange with Martin, which we also continued on email. I have edited it for readability, but don't think I've changed the main points. I am very grateful to Martin for allowing me to reproduce his words in this format. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A response from David Goodhart

[David Goodhart's response to my blog  is now posted below]
David Goodhart here
I agree with Martin! But can I just clear up Jonathan's original misunderstanding. He jumped on a couple of paragraphs in an excerpt of my book in the Daily Mail, and I think unfairly twisted them. I would not have expressed things in quite the blunt way that the Mail did (an excerpt often involves a bit of re-writing and simplifying, that is what happens and I am not blaming the Mail). But even in the Mail version "I" did not say that the Treasury policy was "driven" by a belief in the equal or greater importance of the welfare of Burundians.