Classics revisited: “The Housing Question” by Friedrich Engels (1872)
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
“A multimillion-pound luxury penthouse flat named after the revolutionary socialist thinker Friedrich Engels is the latest example of Manchester repurposing its radical history for profit, local people have said”, an indignant Guardian reported the other day. I understand their frustration. If an organisation that I fundamentally disapprove of – say, a company that runs “Unconscious Bias Training” seminars, or some such woke grift – decided to name its office building “The Hayek”, on the grounds that Friedrich Hayek once used to live in the area, I would have some misgivings too. It seems, i ..read more
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Why the political Right needs to overcome its obsession with immigration
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
First things first. I believe that the vast majority of the people who want to cut net migration are neither bigots nor Xenophobes. I do not believe that these people are “scapegoating” or “demonising” migrants, and I certainly do not believe that they only hold the views they hold because they have been stirred up by the “the media” or by some populist. Here’s what migration-sceptics believe: They believe that successive governments have betrayed them by repeatedly promising to cut net migration, without ever actually doing it. They believe that the economic gains that immigration was sup ..read more
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The Economics of National Service
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Daniel Freeman
3d ago
National Service, another failed idea that never dies, is in the news again. It would be tempting to dismiss the proposals that are currently being discussed as a short-lived election gimmick, and there is a good chance that that is precisely what they are. However, like most terrible policies, the idea enjoys a fair amount of popular support. According to a recent YouGov poll, 47% of the public are in favour of it (including about a third of young and middle-aged people), while 45% are opposed. A similar poll by JLP finds 42% in support, but only 34% opposed. So while we should probably not ..read more
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Book review: “The Road to Freedom: Economics and the Good Society” by Joseph Stiglitz
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
Joseph Stiglitz’s new book, The Road to Freedom, joins a queue arguing that capitalism is based on exploiting the weak and wreaking havoc on workers, the environment and our ethical system. Remarkably the problems of Western liberal democracies’ are said to stem from the ideas of F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, “the most notable mid-twentieth-century defenders of unfettered capitalism […] without rules and regulations”. Their liberal ideology is lumped together with those labelled ‘the Right’, neoliberals, market fundamentalists, libertarians, and conservatives. According to Stiglitz, all of t ..read more
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Rent control: the failed idea that never dies
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
Political arguments are often 80% about framing and vibes. A common rhetorical strategy in political debates is to present your own view as ‘the common-sense position’, the position that any fair-minded, reasonable person would adopt, while presenting your opponent as a deluded, wilfully blind ideologue. Rent controls are a good example. Opinion polls consistently show that rent controls are a popular policy, but some scepticism still remains. Their proponents cannot deny that rent controls would represent a major departure from the way rental markets – and markets in general – currently oper ..read more
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Review: “Rent control effects through the lens of empirical research: An almost complete review of the literature” by Konstantin Kholodilin
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
The Journal of Housing Economics has recently published a paper entitled “Rent control effects through the lens of empirical research: An almost complete review of the literature”, written by Dr Konstantin A. Kholodilin from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). It is a meta-study which summarises the empirical literature of the various effects of rent controls. It identifies 16 studies that specifically look at the impact of rent controls on the supply of rental properties. The oldest of these looks at Glasgow from 1968 to 1975, the newest one looks at Berlin from 2018 to 2021 ..read more
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Empire, the slave trade, and Britain’s wealth
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3d ago
Will Hutton, the well-known political commentator and former Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, has gone into print in The Guardian to attack Kemi Badenoch’s recent speech in which she rightly criticised the simplistic view that British commercial wealth and industrialisation depended on slavery and colonialism. Hutton also lays into a new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs by Kristian Niemietz entitled Imperial Measurement: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Western Colonialism which, based on academic historical research conducted over several decade ..read more
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The libertarian case for Brexit – restated
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
2M ago
Back in January the IEA published a blog post by Emmanuel Comte with the title “Why Brexit was a mistake, from a libertarian perspective”. I believe this judgement is wrong – or at best, premature – but the libertarian case for Brexit does often need restating. Dr Comte, a Senior Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), argued that the UK’s departure from the EU had actually increased government control of the economy, rather than reduced it, and therefore that it had failed a crucial ‘libertarian’ test. The blog prompted a lot of tedious claims o ..read more
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Review of the Resolution Foundation’s “Housing Outlook” report
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
2M ago
The Resolution Foundation has published a report entitled Housing Outlook, written by their Research Director Lindsay Judge and their Principal Economist Adam Corlett, which looks at UK housing costs in an international comparison. There have, of course, been previous cross-country comparisons, which show what proportion of their total household budget an average household spends on housing costs. The problem with such comparisons is that they sometimes tell us more about the housing market conditions of the past than about today’s housing market conditions. Suppose three neighbours, all owne ..read more
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What the supply-side deniers at the Guardian get wrong about Britain’s housing crisis
Institute of Economic Affairs Blog
by Kristian Niemietz
3M ago
Last Tuesday, the Guardian published an article entitled “The end of landlords: the surprisingly simple solution to the UK housing crisis” by Nick Bano. It is another exercise in supply-side denial, as the subtitle makes clear: “Mass-scale housebuilding isn’t necessary – there is already enough housing stock”. The article is easily summarised: Britian has no housing shortage. We have a housing crisis, in the sense of a crisis of housing affordability, but it has nothing to do with supply. The real problem is “landlordism”, i.e. the existence of a private rental sector. Private landlords are s ..read more
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