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Public debt and the more subtle ways we risk cheating future generations

Two decades ago, the American economist Laurence Kotlikoff proposed a structure of “intergenerational ac­counting” to enable us to better understand the ways in which our actions today impinge on the welfare of generations to come. Only if we develop and broaden that framework can we start to address the question Roche put to his fellow parliamentarians 350 years ago.

The welfare cap replaces political judgment with spin

Whatever initial misconceptions spin doctors may promote, reality will out.

Scottish independence matters less than you think

The centre of political gravity in Scotland is far to the left of that of the UK and that is at the centre of the concerns – widely held but little expressed – of Scottish business over independence.

Sovereign Scots may have to drop sterling

If I represented the Scottish government in the extensive negotiations required by the creation of an independent state, I would try to secure a monetary union with England, and expect to fail.

Politicians bow to pressures to bend data

For a time, the coalition government seemed willing to let figures tell their own story rather than one written by their political advisers; but that time seems to have passed.

For a stimulus, boring is best

The objective of monetisation has not been to put money in the hands of consumers and businesses but to put money in the vaults of banks.

The allies who moulded the welfare state

Social policy would, in the long run, owe far more to Eleanor Roosevelt’s claim that “everyone has the right to a standard of living” than to Beveridge’s assertion that “management of one’s income is an essential element of a citizen’s freedom”.

My generation should repay its good luck

Young people might reasonably ask their parents or grandparents why a much richer society cannot now provide the benefits it provided for an earlier generation. I am not sure I have a good answer.

Building can help Britain balance the books and boost jobs

Keynes famously advocated reducing unemployment by employing people to dig holes and fill them in again: today it would be enough to employ them to fill the potholes that are already there.

Why the Pembury road matters more than the Olympics

This month’s budget in Britain will provoke yet another round of debate on austerity versus stimulus. But the issue of how we spend what we have is more important than the issue of what we spend.