The difficulty of attributing policy success

When an economy is booming and prosperous, governing politicians like to take much of the credit and put it all down to their successful policies. They may occasionally stray into a more balanced and honest assessment and give credit to the ‘hard-working’ people of the nation. But it seems to be difficult for them to resist a bit of ego-stroking. Continue reading

Success: all down to the individual?

Few people would deny that being born into a developed capitalist country leaves one with many more opportunities to achieve financial and material success than into a poor country with weak and undeveloped political and economic institutions. Clearly, such success is partly down to individual effort, but also to the larger forces operating in the society in question. Continue reading

Another example: Richard Koo’s ‘Yin and Yang’ and fiscal policy

Following on from the theme of my previous post, the economist Richard Koo offers another example of where a changing economic environment changes the appropriateness of a particular policy, in this case fiscal policy. This is particularly relevant to the UK and US, as well as economies in Europe, where the mantra of fiscal austerity, or aiming to balance the government budget, seized the consciousness of politicians quite soon after the Great Recession of 2008. Continue reading

‘Pick the right time and flourish, miss the wrong time and perish’

‘Nowhere is there a principle which is right in all circumstances, or an action that is wrong in all circumstances.’

The header, and following quote, come from the book of Lieh-Tzu, an ancient Chinese book of Taoist fables, and neatly summarises a point that I made in a previous post, that one set of economic policies can be effective in one context, and fail or be less effective in a different context. Continue reading