Wednesday, September 14, 2011

John Redwood and His Blue Tinted Glasses

A little too often I end up reading (and often) linking up to stuff written by US economists about the US economy. It often has a lot of relevance for the UK economy. I do now read a few UK economics blogs, and highly recommend some of them.

Towards the left of centre, and inherently sensible, is Duncan's Economics Blog. You may want to rule out the blog's writer, Duncan Weldon, because he was involved with advising the previous Labour government. I'd urge you to get past that, and remember that more often than not, politicians ignore the best advice of economists. Duncan is highly knowledgeable, and engages with those on both sides of the debates that rage within the discipline of economics. I'd recommend this perhaps most highly of the UK economics blogs I read - the only downside is that he doesn't post quite as frequently as some.

Another blog in the left-of-centre realm is Stumbling and Mumbling; while this guy (Chris Dillow) claims not to be an economist, he is very familiar with a lot of economics, and hence his blog is hugely interesting. In general its microeconomic, but it does step out into the macroeconomic, and this recent post on the 50p tax rate is, as usual, excellent. Of course, it should be pointed out, Dillow is a self-proclaimed Marxist.

Then, of course, there is the other side of the spectrum. There's David Smith's Economics Blog, written by a Sunday Times economics correspondent. Even if you are more persuaded by those who lean left, I'd strongly encourage you to be reading what those you disagree with say, and respond to it. That's one of the reasons I read these blogs. Smith is scathing at times about the previous government and the current opposition (I think unreasonably so), but is constructive in what he suggests, and his recent post on the possibility of future Quantitative Easing and other monetary measures is worth reading.

If you want to read someone that right wingers champion as a great economist, but who is actually a politician and hence anything he writes should be taken with a large pinch of salt, try out John Redwood (if you can get past that picture at the top!). Redwood is apparently a trained economist, yet he is clearly a politician first, economist second, if his recent post on immigration is anything to go by. You can try very hard, but you'll be hard pressed to find an economist who believes blocking immigration (particularly at some arbitrarily set cap) is a good thing, yet Redwood's constituents want this, and hence so does he, and he makes all sorts of contortions to justify why he opposes immigration. He is also unashamedly partisan, as this post about the banks shows. He can't resist a pop at the last government in his closing paragraph - choosing to ignore all the financial big bang legislation of the Conservatives in the 1980s and 1990s, instead trying in true politician style to lay all the blame for the size of the financial sector at Labour's door.

It's nonetheless good to read the blogs of people like Redwood, and if you're more of a right-wing disposition, Weldon and Dillow. You'll disagree with them undoubtedly, but it will help you greatly as you develop at university as an economist to think about why you disagree, and why you think they are wrong; are your arguments really up to scratch?

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