Patrick Minford and fan club: the carpetbaggers of Brexit

First published: Infacts, 17/11/2017

Economists for Free Trade (EfFT), a small pro-Brexit group, claimed earlier this year and again this month to the Pavlovian joy of the Brexit-leaning media, that leaving the single market and the customs union would deliver a boost to the UK economy of around 7% of GDP, worth about £135 billion per annum. Here is why the claim is misleading, and why those propagating it are the carpetbaggers of Brexit.

The term “carpetbagger”, originally used by Southerners in the US against Northerners in the aftermath of the Civil War, was used pejoratively to denote the latter’s opportunism and manipulation. The idea that leaving the EU will be a magic bullet for the UK fits this kind of narrative well….Read more:

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Trump’s trade war with China: he’s about to turn the volume back up

First published:, 14/11/2017

Donald Trump will be home in Washington this week after a long trip through Asia, the centrepiece of which was a visit to Beijing, where he was feted by President Xi Jinping. The latter offered his guest an unprecedented private dinner in the Forbidden City and a red carpet welcome in Tiananmen Square. If you were following these developments, you could be forgiven for thinking that Sino-US relations couldn’t be sweeter, but you’d be wrong. Now he’s home, there’s a high probability that Trump’s visceral opposition to China’s trade policies will propel initiatives already under way in Washington to get tougher with Beijing.

On the surface, it looks as though the trip to China went well. There were good photo moments and no awkward joint press conferences. In a volte-face from his rhetoric at home, Trump pleased his hosts by saying that he blamed his predecessors, not China, for the large US-China trade imbalance: the US’ trade deficit with China this year will be just shy of $370 billion. Trade deals worth $250 billion were proudly announced, ostensibly a big win for the US. Further, in an apparent move to open the finance sector up to US and other firms, China said that it had decided to lift the ceiling on the ownership by foreign financial firms of Chinese banks, asset management companies and insurance companies…..Read more:

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Here’s an idea: what if Trump tried appointing an actual economist to lead the Federal Reserve?

First published:, 6/11/2017

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The US is starting to resemble an emerging market—and not in a good way

First published:, 23/10/2017

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Xi Jinping consolidates his power in China

First published:, 17/10/2017

As the Chinese leader tightens his grip, serious economic questions remain

Five years ago, Xi Jinping’s path to the Chinese presidency at the 18th Communist party congress was shrouded in political intrigue. With days to go, he disappeared for two weeks. To this day, no one knows why.  Yet, as president, Mr Xi has succeeded in a Leninist crusade to reshape and gain control of the party, military and internal security apparatus. With more personal authority than anyone since Mao Zedong, and having transferred power from ministries and technocrats to party officials and committees, he has the opportunity at the 19th party congress, which starts on Wednesday, to consolidate his position and stamp his authority on the government. Normally, the “odd number” congress, marking the first half of a 10-year leadership term, has been of limited interest outside China, except for examining those seen to be in line for succession in five years. This time, though, is different…..Read more:

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