Crash course economics talk

WP_20160309_19_12_42_Pro ab0494h Mechanics alice martin nef
Alice Martin of New Economics Foundation, speaking at The Mechanics in Nottingham.
A very punchy 25 minutes.
Rough notes follow. I’m not a great scribe so take these notes as hints of what was said rather than absolute statements.
We’re in a period of low growth. A century old premise of ongoing growth perceived as a given and desirable, with only ecologists pointing out that the planet would have limits of what could be supported. “Trickle down” of wealth has not happened.
Three theories on what’s going wrong on growth. 1. We don’t have the right tools. Low interest rates and low wages leading to [secular] stagnation. 2. New technologies are no longer producing big steps in higher productivity. 3. Inequality: lower income groups spend more of their money, creating demand and re-using money, compared to the ultra rich who have run out of things to buy and are hoarding. Aspects of inequality – too many people unemployed or in poor quality employment; trying to prop up spending through confidence – hence measures to prop up house prices.
So can ‘we’ own the low growth period? Two ideas: 1. redistribution of time to tackle overworking (and help gender balance too); can we use new tech more; do more green and purple (health and caring) jobs; 2. land & wealth: a) 30%-50% of land in England and Wales is not registered so use it better; b) 50%-70% of price increases are cos of increases in price of land, which gov’t leglisation forcing councils to sell of land is going to make worse.
Worth noting two micro-economic trends: private renting set to overtake owner-occupiers; self-employment is set to outnumber public sector workers (cos of nature of some new markets (e.g. new internet businesses) and cos of ‘deregulation’ of construction sector).
There will be another crash; there just will.  Not as such predicting an immiment one.  But UK not in a good place cos of high levels of personal debt.

(Again, a reminder that these points were taken from my rough notes. …
So this is me.)

Many of the above arguments have been rehearsed in full council meetings.
The Government policy is about shifting power and wealth rather than focus on genuine economic growth.
The south-east has grown faster than the rest of us, yet the lastest support for councils has been directed that way and the ‘city’ has decided that the best way for the country to grow is by further investment in the ‘city’.
The talk was to get new ideas for the economy, but it’s like we need a renewed way of getting the basics of what we want from an economy conveyed.  (Economics – the allocation of resources.)
You might say what about Beveridge’s ambition for the country about being against the five great evils; but perhaps being more ‘aspirational’ – work for all, health for all, success for all (education), homes for all, neighbourhoods for all (clean, safe and environmental)  – yeah, gonna need a better wordsmith.  But a common vision that gives people an easy apprectiation that they matter and they count and know why.


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