From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Challenging expectations
Date May 2, 2021 8:00 AM
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* THINK 2021

It is a human trait to take good things for granted – until they are gone it’s often hard to see how valuable they are. Liberal democracy – as imperfect a governance system as it is – is still closer to the ideals of a free society than the strongmen rule that is so prevalent across the world. As Dr Eamonn Butler, author of the new IEA Primer ‘An Introduction to Democracy’ ([link removed]) , said in in an IEA webinar ([link removed]) earlier this week: “For those who haven't got democracy I would give it three cheers and to those of us who do, I’d probably give it one.”

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While we have many battles to win here in the UK and across Europe to make our societies freer and our economies more prosperous, we should appreciate the fact that Britain is one of the few liberal democracies in the world. This is why all of us at the IEA find it important to work with our sister organisations across the globe and help them on the road towards more self-governance, more liberalism, and more liberties.

Yet, we cannot forget that democracies in West are becoming less liberal and more intrusive – the scope of their powers seems to be ever-expanding. Limiting the reach of democratically elected governments remains an important battle, but it's easier to restrain democratic regimes than totalitarian ones. That’s why basic concepts such as d ([link removed]) emocracy ([link removed]) , e ([link removed]) ntrepreneurship ([link removed]) and f ([link removed]) ree trade ([link removed]) need to reach every corner of the world – and that’s what the 500+ translations of IEA publications by our partners help us to achieve.

Your continued commitment to support our endeavours not only enables us to make Britain a more liberal place, but it also helps our international partners across the world shape their societies in a more freedom-oriented direction. For some, it means a step towards becoming a bit more like Britain: an imperfect liberal democracy.

Adam Bartha
Director, Epicenter

As Adam mentioned, the IEA this week published 'An Introduction to Democracy' ([link removed]) by Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute.

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In the book, Eamonn defines democracy, explains its purposes, and shows the difference between genuine democracy and the many sham versions that currently exist. He outlines the history of democracy and the benefits it brings, as well as its limitations. Eamonn explores why so many people today have become disillusioned with democratic politics – and what, if anything, can be done about it.

You can download the book from the IEA website here ([link removed]) and catch up on the IEA Book Club webinar – with Eamonn, Adam and Garett Jones, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and author of "10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust the Elites a Little More" – on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

Over the last decade, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has gained traction among some economists and politicians as a miracle set of policy proposals which promise economic prosperity without conventional concerns for government debt and budget constraints. But as the old adage goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In a new IEA research paper published this week and titled 'Modern Monetary Theory: Why it can’t provide sustained economic growth and low inflation ([link removed]) ', Dr Juan E. Castañeda, Director of the Institute of International Monetary Research, challenges some of the myths around MMT.

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Proponents claim the government can use the central bank to create infinite amounts of money to fund government spending. However, a ([link removed]) s Juan points ou ([link removed]) t ([link removed]) , MMT fails to acknowledge the evidence that increased quantities of money in the economy will lead to inflationary pressures.

Juan also calculates that had the UK government – which has already shifted towards MMT principles over the course of the pandemic – adopted a full MMT policy, whereby the Bank of England financed all government spending, the annual rate of growth of money would have been above 48 per cent in 2020, risking inflation in the medium to long term.

You can read the full paper here ([link removed]) and listen to our podcast, in which Juan discusses his research, here ([link removed]) .

The news round... On Thursday, IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham appeared on BBC Politics Live. The panel discussed the ongoing controversy over the Prime Minister's flat refurbishment, the resignation of First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster, and the uptick in second-home buyers in Cornwall. You can catch up on the programme here ([link removed]) .

Annabel also reviewed the papers on Times Radio yesterday, discussing government plans to make flexible working "default" and the news that the care home isolation rule would be scrapped for low risk trips in England.

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Committee corridor... On Wednesday, IEA Senior Academic Fellow Professor Philip Booth gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee as part of the inquiry into zero-emission vehicles. Philip argued that road pricing would have benefits both in terms of reducing congestion by redistributing traffic to less congested times of day, and by allowing for more private investment in the UK's road network. You can watch Philip's contribution to the inquiry here ([link removed]) .

In a comment to the press, Philip warned that road pricing must not be seen as "a cash cow" to replace lost revenue sources from fuel duty and vehicle excise duty. You can read his full comments here ([link removed]) .

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Double trouble... Philip Booth was also quoted in The Telegraph ([link removed]) , reacting to US President Joe Biden's plan to double Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Philip urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak not to follow in Uncle Sam's footsteps, reminding readers that CGT is a double tax, which acts as a disincentive for economic activity. Read Philip's full reaction here ([link removed]) .

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Leading the fight back... In an article examining the government's increasingly interventionist instincts, Times columnist Iain Martin highlighted the role the IEA has played over the years in advocating greater economic freedom as the best route to prosperity. Iain also mentioned the IEA's launch of the Free Market Forum ([link removed]) , which has attracted over fifty MPs. Read the full article here ([link removed]) .

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Privatisation Paranoia... With Donald Trump no longer in office, fears that the UK government is planning to "sell off the NHS" to US corporations have subsided. But as IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz writes i ([link removed]) n an article for 1828 ([link removed]) , this won't halt conspiracy theories over covert privatisation. The usual suspects, Kristian says, are already "spinning theories about how the government is using the Covid crisis as an excuse to privatise the NHS through the backdoor".

Global Britain... IEA Head of Education Dr Steve Davies wrote for 1828 ([link removed]) on the recent Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Steve argued that while the geostrategic and geopolitical elements of the Review are clear and realistic, the same cannot be said for the concrete defence policy conclusions, which reflect an outdated idea of the UK’s capacity and military and security needs. You can read Steve's analysis here ([link removed]) .
THINK 2021

We are thrilled to announce our fourth guest speaker for the THINK conference this year: Juliet Samuel, Telegraph columnist, fellow at Policy Exchange and advisor at the Free Speech Union.

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THINK 2021 will take place on Saturday, 12th 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!

*In Conversation with... Steve Barclay

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On Monday, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood interviewed the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in the latest of our In Conversation series.

Mark asked the Minister when the government plans to drag Britain's finances out of the red – and whether there is any ambition to run a fiscal surplus once the economy has stabilised. Mr Barclay defended the government's record and discussed its levelling-up agenda. You can watch the full event on the IEA YouTube Channel here ([link removed]) .

*School of Thought: Ayn Rand

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We have released a new 'School of Thought' video, which focuses on the great liberal thinker Ayn Rand.

IEA Acting Academic and Research Director Syed Kamall hosted Dr Onkar Ghate, senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, to discuss the writer's life and the impact her work has had on liberal thought. Watch the episode here ([link removed]) – and read the book on which the School of Thought series is based here ([link removed]) .

*UK-India trade webinar – now available on the IEA Podcast

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Last week the IEA published 'Eastern Promise: Assessing the Future of UK-India Trade' ([link removed]) , a new briefing paper by IEA Academic Fellow Shanker Singham. To mark its release, we hosted a webinar ([link removed]) with Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan, Ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija, Syed Kamall, Shanker Singham and Mark Littlewood.

The webinar is now available as a podcast, so you can listen on the go here ([link removed]) or watch the event on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

*Live with Littlewood

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After a break this week, Live with Littlewood will be back on Wednesday, and we'll be marking the show's one-year anniversary with a fantastic panel of guests and a fresh new look. You can watch live on the IEA YouTube channe ([link removed]) l ([link removed]) .

*MA in Political Economy by Research

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The IEA is working with the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham on the delivery of an MA in Political Economy by Research.

The programme can be completed by distance learning and is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in the history of economic ideas and the application of economics to questions of public policy.

Online seminars will cover topics on Adam Smith; David Ricardo; John Stuart Mill; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neoclassical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics.

For further information, please follow the link here ([link removed]) .


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