From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Olympic spirit
Date August 15, 2021 8:00 AM
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One of the highlights of my summer is the opportunity to engage with the students participating in the IEA’s internship programmes – a core part of our work as an educational charity.

Every year, a total of around 40 undergraduates and 120 sixth-formers enjoy a packed programme of lectures, seminars, debates, discussions, events, and social activities. This summer I’ve given talks on the economics of climate change, free trade, government debt, and digital currencies, as well as on careers in economics and the pros and cons of lowering the voting age.

I’ve gained a lot from doing this – and hopefully the students have too!

Elsewhere in Westminster, there are growing frictions between the Prime Minister and his Chancellor. This is partly just political theatre. Tensions between Downing Street neighbours are also nothing new and can often be healthy.

Nonetheless, the fiscal and economic fallout from the Covid pandemic has raised the stakes. The apparent ease with which the government has borrowed and spent an enormous amount of money has encouraged many to believe that it can and should continue to do so in future.

This is dangerous thinking. The government had to step in during the pandemic, because large parts of the economy were shut down. The Bank of England has also played its part by printing money to buy government debt. Both policies only made sense when the economy was stuck in recession.

Of course, every spending proposal should be judged on its own merits, and there is a risk that sensible policies will get ditched. But the battle to restore some discipline to the public finances has rarely been more important.

Julian Jessop
Economics Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs

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There are rare occasions when the European Commission wants to mirror British legislation. The upcoming plans to introduce a pay transparency mechanism to tackle the gender pay gap is one such example.

In this case, the EU should definitely not follow the UK's lead. As IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham explains in her new briefing paper for ([link removed]) EPICENTER, ([link removed]) gender pay gap data is both hard to calculate and hazardous to interpret. Different versions of the pay gap (between full-time workers, part-time workers, mean, median) will result in different answers and trends.

Some of these gaps are often a result of individual preferences, and in many countries the expression ‘motherhood pay gap’ would be a lot more precise than ‘gender pay gap’. Besides contributing to false narratives around gender inequality and misguided policy conclusions, the reporting measures are a burden on businesses – it’s no coincidence that the government lifted the reporting requirements during the pandemic.

The EU has the chance to learn from our mistakes and scrap their plan to introduce similar measures. You can read the paper 'Mind the gap: Pay transparency provisions in the EU' here ([link removed]) .

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Free-market liberalism in Germany has received a much-needed boost thanks to the recent opening of the Library of Liberalism in Berlin. Assembled by our sister organisation Prometheus ([link removed]) , the library serves as a meeting point for young academics, and is accompanied by a scholarship programme to support up-and-coming liberal thought leaders.

The library opened with 1500 classics of liberal thought, including over 40 IEA publications from our greatest authors of the last 60 years. As the Director of Prometheus Frank Schäffler put it: “Encouraging, training, and connecting young intellectuals in Germany and beyond is the key for a freer and better world".

Our library wants to embody the challenge addressed by Hayek: "Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark."

It is comforting to know that we are not alone in this, side by side with our friends all over the world. The IEA, as the mother and model of all liberal think tanks, is a very special partner in this regard. Find out more here ([link removed]) .

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Olympic spirit... Following the Tokyo Games, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood examined the economic case for hosting major sporting festivals. In his fortnightly column for The Times ([link removed]) , Mark argued that the business case for holding the Olympics on home soil is "somewhere between flimsy and non-existent".

Mark noted that, while great sporting events may lift our spirits and captivate us all, in financial terms, they are "very expensive consumption decisions", rather than meaningful investments.

You can read Mark's column here ([link removed]) and listen back to his interview with Times Radio here ([link removed]) from 15 minutes in. Mark appears every second Monday morning at 10.50am to discuss his column on the channel.

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Paying the price... The Bank of England forecast last week that inflation will hit 4 per cent by the end of the year. As prices rise, IEA Policy Analyst Alexander Hammond was quoted in The Sun ([link removed]) , suggesting weekly grocery bills could leap by £2.54 by Christmas.

Alex argued that the Bank of England must immediately stop "its obsession with quantitative easing" and avoid any further tax increases which will put further pressure on the British consumer.

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Spending spree... It is estimated that households have accumulated more than £180billion in unplanned savings over lockdowns. As Chancellor Rishi Sunak has predicted, we are likely to see a significant increase in retail spend over the summer and into the autumn.

In an article for the Sunday Express ([link removed]) , IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton argued it's an exciting time for our high streets, as consumers rediscover "such joys as trying on clothes rather than ordering them from distant warehouses".

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On the blog...
Are there limits to economic growth? Or is the idea of a "finite planet" simply a fairy tale? On the IEA blog this week, historian Dr Rainer Zitelmann explores the argument that infinite growth is impossible.

While it is true that some resources are limited, Rainer argues that one resource in particular is unlimited: human ingenuity, which can best develop under capitalism and has led to companies constantly looking for new ways to produce more efficiently, and using fewer raw materials.

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In the latest episode of the IEA podcast, IEA Communications and Marketing Assistant Kieran Neild-Ali discussed the UK's climate change strategy with IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer.

The podcast covers the recent IPCC report, Labour's new 'Green New Deal' and the upcoming COP26 conference, highlighting the shortcomings of state intervention in tackling climate change.

The pair discussed the free-market environmentalist alternative to heavy state interference and explored whether greener nations like the UK should make large polluters like China pull their weight in the battle to lower CO2 emissions. You can listen to the podcast here ([link removed]) .

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Applications are still open for two new positions in the IEA's development team. We're looking to recruit a Head of Foundations and Trusts to join our highly motivated fundraising team, responsible for building relations with private individuals, corporations, foundations and trusts.

We're also on the hunt for a new Donor Relations Officer, who will support the development team, researching individuals and companies, supporting publications and events, and maintaining our systems.

For more information on both roles, and to apply, click here ([link removed]) . The final deadline is Sunday 22nd August.

Thank you to all of you who have already signed up to become an IEA Online Patron. Becoming a Patron grants you VIP access to our latest videos, priority invites to our virtual events, and the opportunity to engage directly with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood and the IEA team. For just a small donation you can get all these benefits and more.

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To visit the page and find out more about the IEA’s Patreon, follow the link here ([link removed]) or watch our trailer here ([link removed]) .

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In the latest of our free speech series, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton speaks to IEA Head of Education Dr Steve Davies to discuss Steve's chapter in the IEA's new book Having Your Say ([link removed]) , in which he examines the threats to freedom of speech in universities.

Universities, like other organisations, have the right to prohibit certain types of expression and behaviour from their premises, and impose contractual obligations on employees.

However, recent challenges to free speech in higher education, often driven by radical students demanding suppression of ideas, are a worrying phenomenon. A major part of the problem is the lack of institutional diversity in higher education. You can read 'Having Your Say' here ([link removed]) .

*Liberalism and the Free Society in 2021

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In 2021, the world is emerging from an extraordinary health crisis. It now confronts an extraordinary freedom crisis.

Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips’ latest book Liberalism and the Free Society in 2021 ([link removed]) takes a sober look at how institutions of liberal democracy are now tested — in the US and worldwide — by lockdowns, cronyism, cancel culture, and more.

Exploring trends from the Global Index of Economic Mentality and drawing insights from an international network of experts and activists, the book offers readers a deeper understanding of the fragility of freedom’s future. Importantly, Brad also shares reasons for hope as well as a path forward for building a larger coalition around the timeless values that sustain free societies

Brad sat down with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood to discuss all this and more. You can watch their conversation here ([link removed]) .

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On Wednesday, 18th August at 5.30pm, the IEA and the University of Buckingham will be holding a 'taster' webinar for our joint Distance Learning MA by Research in Political Economy, which starts this Autumn.

IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton will talk through the programme and take questions. Len will also be joined by Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, IEA Head of Education Dr Steve Davies and Director of the Vinson Centre at the University of Buckingham Professor Philip Booth.

They will discuss the meaning of political economy, how we should understand the process of policy-making, what the most important economic questions are, and how leading thinkers of the past can help us understand the problems of today.

All are welcome to this online event. Please follow the link here ([link removed]) in order to register, and for further information on the course, clicl here ([link removed]) .

*Economics Thought Leaders Symposium (ETLS)

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A reminder that applications are open to attend this year's Economics Thought Leaders Symposium. ELTS is an annual three-day residential symposium, jointly hosted by The Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Senior undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to apply and, for those offered a place, it is entirely free to attend – there is no charge for accommodation, food or materials.

The theme for this year’s unique and exciting programme is the Future of Economic Thinking.

There are just 16 places available on this exclusive programme. To apply please send a CV (no more than two pages) and cover letter explaining why you would like to attend (250 words) and 500 words on which economic thinker you would erect a statue for to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The deadline for applications is 15 Aug 2021 at 23:59:59.


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