Policy debate

Are long term policies in the sector you know most about quite right? Or are there issues that would benefit from a technical airing before being put to the vote? Could long term policies be improved, or altered to suit the 21st century better? Put your case here and try it out anonymously to see what other economists think.

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The Referendum: should the UK leave the EU?

For British people the EU Referendum is the big decision in 2016 . Surely this important long term decision should be made on long term fundamentals? Yet nearly all the commentary is about whether In or Out will create or lose X thousand jobs in a year or two, make households £Y000 worse or better off etc. These are all short term consequences. You wouldn’t choose whether to marry someone – or more appropriately divorce someone – based on whether or not they were going to get a pay rise next week. […]

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Has the recent electricity capacity market auction succeeded?

The first auction can be considered a qualified success as the required capacity was secured and the clearing price is relatively low but: Little new capacity has been secured. The new capacity is almost all gas-fired and includes just one major CCGT and many smaller gas-fired plants. Existing plants may achieve windfall gains. In particular, the energy cost savings purported to arise in 2018/19 because of greater available capacity may not materialise as: Market price spikes may not be controlled (as most of the contracted plants are part of larger […]

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Plan B

Plan B: an alternative high-speed rail-and-road plan for the UK

hs2, the proposed High Speed rail line from London to Birmingham and northern England, has its critics, many of whom can be ignored because they are NIMBYs, or people who deny that transport links constrain our economic growth, or people who simply deny the need for higher living standards. But most people do want higher living standards, meaning conventional economic growth, and to move around our island more quickly and more freely. More and more people agree that poor transport links do limit the British economy. This is the core […]

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Transport Policy – maintenance expenditure

Is the UK spending enough on transport maintenance? People blame potholes in British roads on exceptional floods, droughts or frosts, and the government offers a few hundred million every year to fix the latest winter’s floods or frosts. But any road engineer will tell you that the real work-driver is the volume of traffic in southern Britain, which far exceeds original design capacities. The AA says sums of £5-10bn may be required to overcome the road maintenance backlog, though obviously this lobbying organisation has an axe to grind. But isn’t there a […]

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The process of making national investment decisions

The assessment process – use voters not economists to assess the benefits? Who should assess the long term benefits from large infrastructure investments such as HS2 or major new flood defences?  We typically compare projected costs with benefits discounted from decades or centuries ahead. Few deny economists should be involved in the comparison process, but are economists the best people to assess the basic economy of the distant future, and hence the benefits created by this investment? The job tends to be left to economists by default, but are they really the best […]

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