Tim Congdon

Bank-bashing with a vengeance

Over the decades of (relative) macroeconomic stab- ility in the second half of the 20th century, profit-seeking com- mercial banks and state-owned central banks worked together to lower the cash-to-asset ratios in the banking industry. An understanding grew that profitable and well-capitalised commercial banks should be able to borrow cash from the central bank if

Rural romanticism

The bibliography to Zac Goldsmith’s The Constant Economy includes The Trap by his father, Jimmy Goldsmith. The bibliography to Zac Goldsmith’s The Constant Economy includes The Trap by his father, Jimmy Goldsmith. When it was published in 1993, The Trap caused a bit of a stir because it challenged the consensus that free trade and

There is nothing magic about this Keynesian fad

Mr Brown’s bank recapitalisation exercise has been portrayed in the British media as a financial and political coup. The Financial Times has been particularly enthusiastic, describing it as ‘a global template’. Mr Brown’s admirers apparently believe that the British government’s programme is both intellectually original and a real-world success, and is therefore being copied in

A load of hot air

Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the New York based Earth Institute, has established a formidable reputation as someone who thinks hard, and worries even harder, about the future of the planet. His latest book, Common Wealth, like its predecessor, The End of Poverty, reviews the major issues of international economic development in the early 21st

Guru to five presidents

Seated next to her at dinner, I was prepared for a dull evening with a politician. ‘Tell me, Chairman Greenspan,’ she asked, ‘why is it that we in Britain cannot calculate M3?’. I awoke. M3 is an arcane measure of money supply embraced by followers of Milton Friedman. We spent the evening discussing market economics

Two giants and wizards

‘Investigation favourable except conceited, egotistical and snobbish.’ The outcome of the Federal Bureau of Investig- ation’s 1955 enquiry into John Kenneth Galbraith was eventually revealed to him under the USA’s Freedom of Inform- ation Act. It added to his already immense store of anecdotes about the richness and variety of American public life. The FBI

Charity hopeth all things

Should rich nations give to poor nations? Put bluntly like that, the question of international aid demands the answer ‘yes’. Anyone who tries to qualify the ‘yes’ is liable to be criticised as selfish, unfeeling and inhuman. In his The End of Poverty Jeffrey Sachs sharpens the question. Should very rich people in very rich

A dove with a touch of hawk

Sir Samuel Brittan has long been a national institution. As economics editor of the Observer in the early 1960s and the principal economic commentator on the Financial Times from 1966 to his retirement in 1998, he wrote an influential weekly newspaper column for almost 40 years. He still contributes to the Financial Times, often to

Not such a low and dishonest decade

If it is to be interesting, contemporary history has to be a battle between good guys and bad guys. In his The Roaring Nineties Professor Joseph Stiglitz lets the reader know at an early stage in the proceedings that he is a good guy. As he says in the preface, when he first fell in

The dawning of a new Europe

By accident the war in Iraq has given Britain the opportunity to rethink and to recast its relationship with Europe. It has shown that an understanding between two nations provides and, since the mid-1950s, always has provided the emotional core of the European Union. This is an understanding between its two leading original members –