From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Sifting the practical from the fashionable
Date April 11, 2021 7:59 AM
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* THINK 2021

As of tomorrow, we will get some of our freedoms back. Activities we would have considered prosaic a year ago now feel like forbidden fruit. But in the coming week, we will be able to visit retail outlets which hitherto have been deemed "non-essential" by the state and enjoy a drink on licensed premises (albeit socially distanced and al fresco). A government licensing scheme may come into place this summer – whereby we will be required to share medical information if we wish to attend a football match or drink inside a pub.

The topic of Covid certification has divided opinion among my IEA colleagues, with some taking the view that private premises should be entitled to determine their own entry criteria, others so desperate to facilitate a return to normality that they are willing to accept some intrusions in order to get there, and another group who see the concept of coronavirus passports as an unacceptable incursion into individual liberty and privacy.

My own view is that even if one accepts the right of property owners to set their own rules of admissions, they should have to fund any database or infrastructure themselves to enforce such provisions – not be allowed to rely on a taxpayer-funded database.

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The topic featured on my weekly Live with Littlewood ([link removed]) discussion show last week and you can catch up here ([link removed]) . I also discussed the pandemic, vaccinations and lockdown with Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister. And I heard her views on the Northern Ireland Protocol which is impeding free trade between NI and the rest of GB. If you missed the broadcast, you can watch it here ([link removed]) . The interview was picked up by the national and regional press, including by ITV News ([link removed]) and the Evening Standard ([link removed]) .

Of course, Friday brought the sad news of the death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Our nation will be a much less colourful place for his passing. Among his many interests, he seemed engaged by the IEA’s free market thinking, as reported by Charles Moore in T ([link removed]) he Telegraph ([link removed]) . I have shared a letter he wrote to the IEA on social media here ([link removed]) , which has been viewed over half a million times. Wise words which are perhaps even more apposite now than they were when he wrote them in 1983.

Thanks for all your support and here's to brighter days ahead.

Mark Littlewood
Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs

The Spectator ([link removed]) has gathered dozens of the late Duke of Edinburgh's best quotes from his years by the Queen's side. Among them, as Mark mentioned above, an extract from a letter Prince Philip wrote to the Institute of Economic Affairs back in 1983, which is proudly framed at our office in 2 Lord North Street. He said:

"Fashion is not restricted to clothes, and when ideas become fashionable they are just as resistant to objective criticism as the length of skirts. That is why all economic ideas need to be freely discussed and judged against the facts of real life. I hope that 'Economic Affairs' will help all its readers to sift the rational from the wishful and the practical from the fashionable."

As millions mourn his passing, we hope this note leaves you with a smile.

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Casting doubt... The past year has accelerated changes in our viewing habits, with Netflix and other popular streaming services increasing their viewership at the expense of the BBC.

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In his latest column for The Times ([link removed]) , IEA Director General Mark Littlewood said changes in how the BBC operates could therefore come sooner than previously thought. It could become a subscription service, or perhaps a narrow, boutique broadcast platform. Mark appeared on Times Radio to discuss the future of the BBC – listen to a clip here ([link removed]) .

Winning big... Following the news that Bet365 boss Denise Coates paid herself £469m last year – the UK's biggest ever salary – IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham appeared on Times Radio to discuss CEO pay alongside a representative from the High Pay Centre and former trader Gary Stevenson. You can listen back here ([link removed]) .

Taking precautions... The EU's travails over vaccine supply have revitalised calls in some free market circles for the scrapping of the precautionary principle. Writing for the IEA blog, IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer examines the case for a liberal precautionary principle. You can read the full blog here ([link removed]) .

And this week IEA Head of Media Emily Carver wrote her column for Conservative Home ([link removed]) on the need to challenge what she called the pseudo-scientific theories of "white privilege", critical race theory and unconscious bias training, in light of the backlash to the Report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

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The report was also one of three talking points on this week's Live with Littlewood ([link removed]) . IEA Acting Academic and Research Director Professor Syed Kamall joined Emma Webb, Deputy Research Director at the Free Speech Union, and Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked, to give his take on the report's findings. Also on the panel were Sunday Times columnist and Director of the Centre for Policy Studies Robert Colvile, and journalist and politician Suzanne Evans. You can catch up here ([link removed]) .
THINK 2021

After a brief pause in 2020, THINK is back in 2021 – this time online. Now in its seventh year, the conference is the go-to event for the best and brightest students in the UK to come together and look at ways to solve the world's economic problems.

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We've been working hard behind the scenes to bring together some of the most prominent and thought-provoking economists from all over the world to speak about a vast range of topics, from international development to the sharing economy. And we are thrilled to announce Tim Harford as our first speaker, with more names to be announced in the coming weeks.

The conference will take place on Saturday 12 June and is free to attend on Zoom – you can register here ([link removed]) .

For more information, please visit ([link removed]) or email the IEA's Education, Outreach, and Programmes Manager Brittany Davis at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . We hope you can join us!

The Swift Half with Snowdon... In the second episode of the IEA's latest YouTube series, our Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon sat down with Freddie Sayers, Executive Editor of UnHerd, Presenter of Lockdown TV and Editor-in-Chief of YouGov. They discussed the UK's handling of the pandemic, looking at how other countries, such as Sweden, have fared. You can catch up on Friday's show here ([link removed]) .

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No such thing as a free lunch... This week, IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz took part in a debate hosted by CapX with Tom Bergin, author of 'Free Lunch Thinking: How Economics Ruins the Economy'. They discussed the case for lower taxes, whether the minimum wage costs jobs, and the impact of regulation on innovation, among many other topics. You can catch up here ([link removed]) .

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Kristian also wrote for CapX ([link removed]) this week on the latest house price data, which he argued "exposes Britain's pitiful record" when it comes to housebuilding. While we may have had 'record housebuilding' in recent years, Britain is failing compared to our European neighbours, not least France which built 200 per cent more new housing units than the UK in 2018.

The economics of beauty... Is 'lookism' the great unspoken prejudice of our time? And if there is a level of discrimination against the less fortunate looking among us, what might the policy implications be?

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Host and IEA Head of Media Emily Carver was joined by our Director of Communications Annabel Denham, Tom Whipple, Science Editor at The Times, and Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at the IEA to discuss the economics of beauty. You can watch on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

The panel was partly inspired by a blog post written by Len ([link removed]) in 2019, which looked at discrimination by appearance and the public policy concerns it raises. You can read Len's analysis on the IEA blog here ([link removed]) .

Wish EU were here... While the UK steams ahead with its vaccine rollout – over 32m have now received their first dose – many European nations are lagging far behind. How did they get stuck in the slow lane, and could a sluggish return to normal ignite a second eurozone crisis?

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To discuss the political and economic implications of the EU's vaccine woes, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood chaired a fascinating panel discussion with Julian Jessop, independent economist and IEA Economics Fellow, and Matthew Lynn, financial journalist and author. You can watch on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

We are delighted to announce the launch of this year's Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize. The essay competition is open to all A-Level and IB students, with the chance of winning a first prize of £500, and £250 each for three runners up. The top 20 entries will also all be invited to a special one-day event at the IEA in the autumn term.

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The prize for this competition is named after Dorian Fisher, the wife of Sir Antony Fisher, founder of the IEA, who was a long-time supporter of the Institute and its work. You can find out more details on the IEA website here ([link removed]) .

Please send you entry to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) , clearly stating your name and school. The final deadline for this year’s competition is Friday 30 July.

*In Conversation with... Matthew Syed

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On Tuesday 13 April, from 6-7pm, the IEA will host journalist, author, and former table tennis player Matthew Syed for the latest in our In Conversation series of videos with senior figures from across public life. The event will be chaired by IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon.

Matthew Syed is an author and highly acclaimed speaker in the field of high performance. He has written six bestselling books – including Rebel Ideas, Bounce, and Black Box Thinking – and has worked with many leading organisations to build a mindset of continuous improvement. He is also a multi-award-winning journalist for The Times and a regular contributor to television and radio. In his previous career, Matthew was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade.

To register for this event to ask questions live, click here ([link removed]) or you can watch live on YouTube here ([link removed]) .

*In Conversation with... the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP

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On Monday, 26 April, from 6-7pm, the IEA will be hosting the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Steve was elected as Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010 and during his time in Parliament has served as Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Health Minister, and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. He was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in February 2020.

The conversation will focus on the current economic crisis facing Britain, how Brexit could change the UK, and the general political climate in 2021. The event will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

*Institute of International Monetary Research Money Webinar Series – Spring 2021

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The Institute of International Monetary Research has released its 'Money Webinar Series' schedule for the Spring 2021, in collaboration with the Vinson Centre at the University of Buckingham.

The first talk will be on Wednesday, 14th April with John Greenwood of Invesco. He'll be discussing 'The Hong Kong Monetary System: temporary fix or long term solution?' . You can register here ([link removed]) , and for more details of future events, click here (http:// [link removed] ) .


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