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Britain’s productivity puzzle and the failings of Trussonomics (LSE September 2022)

This LSE blog, co-authored by Ben Clift and Sean McDaniel, argues that Britain’s productivity puzzle reflects not individual failings of workers, but dysfunctionalities in Britain’s model of capitalism and the politics that upholds it. It uses this insight to critiques the Truss Government's economic policy agenda. It discusses the overlapping problems of British productivity. They explain why any analysis that foregrounds the supposed laziness of British workers only serves to let politicians, institutions, and the state off the hook.

This draws on Ben ands Sean's research published in the British Journal of Politics and International RelationsLink opens in a new window . This paper was recently selected by the editors as part of a virtual special issue on British Politics in times of crisis.

Budget 2023: why the UK’s fiscal watchdog does not share the chancellor’s optimism (The Conversation, March 2023)

Ben Clift's commentary for The Conversation on Jeremy Hunt's budget, UK economic growth prosects, and the politics of independent fiscal oversight. It analyses OBR scepticism and the prospects for solving the BRitish economy's strucutral supply wide weaknesses relating to sluggish productivity, low business investment and labour market particiaption rates.

It draws on research published in Ben's new book The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Politics of Technocratic Economic Governance (Oxford University Press, 2023)



Contested Technocratic Governance: Trussonomics and the OBR (UK in a Changing Europe - September 2022)

In a blog for the UK in a Changing Europe, Ben Clift explores tensions between the Truss Government and the OBR. In light of the lack of economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) accompanying the September 2022 ‘mini-budget’, this blog examines the political challenges facing technocratic economic governance institutions such as the OBR.



European clashes of capitalisms and political economic restructuring through successive Economic crises (SPERI blog, October 2022)

A SPERI, blog co-authored with Sean McDaniel (Manchester Metropolitan University) analyses of the The clash of capitalisms through successive European crises: towards a nuanced understanding of capitalist restructuring. European pressures manifestly constrain and shape national capitalisms, yet this analysis finds they are fragmented and differentiating, producing capitalist variegation rather than convergence.

This draws on Ben ands Sean's research published in New Political Economy.



OBR commentary on Sunak's spring statement: the inevitable politics of technocratic economic governance (UKiCE, April 2022)

Ben Clift uses the Chancellor's spring statement to explore the yawning gap between the theory and practice of Technocratic economic governance. He argues that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s commentary on Sunak's statement, and its other activities, reveal the multifaceted politics inherent in the operations of this independent and ‘apolitical’ body.



Politics of technocratic fiscal oversight - the OBR and the March 2023 Spring Budget (UKiCE, March 2023)

In this comment piece for the UK in a Changing Europe, Ben Clift examines the role and position of the OBR in light of the March 2023 Spring Budget, highlighting its role in shaping the economic policy space.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK’s independent fiscal watchdog, exemplifies the technocratic economic governance - expert oversight of and input into often rules-based economic policy - that has become pervasive in advanced democracies. Despite the technocratic self-image, the OBR – whilst not partisan – is not wholly apolitical. In carrying out its remit, the body is deeply involved in the politics of UK economic policy. Technocratic fiscal oversight is, it turns out, a deeply political process.



Technocratic economic governance is a much more social and political process than many advocates of economic rules-based policy acknowledge, (LSE, April 2022)

Analysing UK macroeconomic policy rules and their operation unearths numerous dimensions of the politics of technocratic Fiscal policy-making, writes Ben Clift. Firstly, policy rules are marshalled for partisan purposes. Secondly, a politics of economic ideas surrounds the invention, revision, and interpretation of fiscal rules. Thirdly, Technocratic economic governance entails selecting methodological approaches necessarily built on particular political economic assumptions. Finally, politicians cook the books to present their economic record favourably against fiscal yardsticks, thus there is an inevitable politics of technocratic economic governance.

This blog draws on Ben's newly publishedLink opens in a new window British Politics articleLink opens in a new window.



Unobtrusive politics of technocratic fiscal oversight in Britain (LSE, April 2023)

This blog for the LSE poltics and policy assesses the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)'s assessment of Jermey Hunt's March 2023 'budget for growth'. It underlies the key role for discretion and judgment – for example regarding the economy’s growth trajectory – inherent within technocratic fiscal oversight. The technocratic veneer that enshrines the UK Fiscal Watchdog, the OBR obscures the inevitable politics of rules-based fiscal governance as well as the tensions between economic policy-makers and independent overseers.

It draws on research published in Ben's new book The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Politics of Technocratic Economic Governance (Oxford University Press, 2023)