policy@manchester launches

Public policy community comes together

12 Jul 2012

The University of Manchester has established Policy@Manchester as a network bringing together a range of academics working in a variety of public policy areas. Continue reading

Surpluses, Budgets, Parliament, and Accountability Down Under (Australia): some random thoughts

I am in Australia as “Accenture-Crawford School Distinguished Visiting Professor” at Australian National University in Canberra. Many thanks to both Accenture and the excellent Crawford School of Public Policy.

I’ve been doing a fascinating series of meetings, seminars and lectures with academics and senior public servants from across the Australian federal (commonwealth) government. I have had generous access to the ‘corridors of power’ including with a wide range of Prime Ministers and Cabinet (PM&C) officials, Department of Finance and Deregulation (DOFR) officials, and the Clerk to the Senate. And many academic colleagues have been helping me get my head around Australian Federal Government procedures.

Here’s a few, fairly random, thoughts about it: Continue reading

The Class Ceiling – Posh Boys (and Girls) Still Rule OK

When Tory MP Nadine Dorries described her Prime Minister and Chancellor as ”two arrogant posh boys” it prompted me to start thinking about my own experiences of class in British society over the past half century.

My conclusion – there is, still, a ”class ceiling” in British society. True, it is weaker than it once was but it still exists, especially in some of our major institutions. Continue reading

BT Infinity – Infinitely Unavailable?

Yesterday I got an email from BT, once again extolling the virtues of BT Infinity* and inviting me to sign up. As I am a BT customer – which is why they had my email – it wouldn’t have been too difficult to check that BT Infinity is not available where I live.

(*For those of you outside the UK, this is (privatised) British Telecom’s optical-fibre based network).

Continue reading

Greek Deficit and Tax Evasion

One issue that keeps coming up around the Greek crisis is the degree of tax evasion. In the slide below I report the average Greek budget deficit per year on a decade by decade basis since the 1960s (figures on the left – calculated from OECD figures in an excellent paper you can find here). Continue reading

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, or a Free Market

My recent post suggesting three simple reforms to financial markets provoked a bit of a squall on Twitter. The Free Market Fundamentalist Tendency especially seemed incensed that any restrictions on markets was a good idea.

Most of the criticisms were either simply abusive – such as that I’m “bonkers” – or ideological rants with little substance. But a few were at least thoughtful attempts to refute or critique what I had suggested. Chief amongst the latter was an extended critique by Christie Malry. Continue reading

Three ‘Simples’ Principles for Controlling Run-Away Finance?

I have been thinking about what sort of moral principles ought to apply to finance, including banking. The sort of thing I’ve been thinking about are some fairly simple things that would appear obvious to most of us, but apparently don’t apply to the world of finance.

Today I heard a Lib Dem MEP say something to the effect of “what are we going to do, stop the markets from doing certain things”? Well, er, yes. We stop ‘the markets’ from trading in human body parts, or in whole humans for that matter. We don’t allow them to freely trade nuclear weapons, or other WMDs. In other words there are all sorts of moral and practical restrictions placed upon the markets, for our own protection. After the gigantic and still unfolding damage unrestricted financial markets have managed to inflict, isn’t it time to consider what they should not be being allowed to do? Continue reading

The ‘Managerial Revolution’ is Over: They Won?

“Income Data Services, which totted up pay, bonuses and various share awards, says the average FTSE 100 executive director pocketed a 49 per cent rise in the last financial year to bring their remuneration to £2.7m a year. Chief executives had to make do with a 43 per cent rise, poor lambs.”

James Moore, The Independent, 28 Oct 2011.

This week I was teaching one of my MBA classes about ‘power in and around organizations’, which was also the title of a book written by the academic Henry Mintzberg back in 1983. Thirty years ago Mintzberg concluded that most of the evidence suggested that the power of senior management within corporations has massively expanded and that it was now they, rather than the technical owners – i.e. shareholders – who really controlled the organizations. Continue reading

The Riots: It may be the Under-Class that did it, but it’s the Uber-Class that lost it

So, the riots have come. They had an almost inevitable quality to them – indeed last December I outlined one scenario for when they would happen (see The Great Train Wreck of 2013). Continue reading