I have been increasingly worried about media bias over the past few decades. This seemed to start with anti-EU propaganda – at best highly distorted and at worst completely fictional stories in the right wing press. This started when Boris Johnson was the Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent and is well documented in the New Statesman: Boris Johnson peddled absurd EU myths – and our disgraceful press followed his lead.
When the Tory/Lib Dem coalition formed in 2010, two major lies were that the GFC was caused by Labour government overspending and that austerity was necessary to put the UK on a sound financial footing. My suspicion has always been that this was simply an excuse to reduce the size of the state – a long held libertarian dream – and in any event doomed to fail, as detailed in this paper by Profs Palan and Murphy. It certainly very much seemed the public was being lied to.
The Eurozone crisis had a major impact on my home country of Ireland, of course, where there was massive banking debt which the Government and Irish taxpayer had to clear, rather than the ECB acting as a lender of last resort. Because Ireland does not have a sovereign currency it was unable to use a variety of mechanisms such as QE. The crisis ended when the Eurozone changed this policy and became a lender of last resort to most countries, with the exception of Greece. The crisis was again misrepresented in the press.
From this side of the Atlantic I was completely horrified by Trump. He seems to lie with total immunity. From the Washington post:
Powered by his two-hour stemwinder at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 — which featured more than 100 false or misleading claims — President Trump is on pace to exceed his daily quota set during his first two years in office.
The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 claims a day.
As of the end of March 3, the 773rd day of his term in office, Trump accumulated 9,014 fishy claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
Then there is Brexit. A campaign riddled with – in Prof Michael Dougan’s words – “Dishonesty on an Industrial scale.” What is horrifying is that the Brexiters are doubling down on their lies, largely unchallenged by the BBC and amplified by the right wing press such as the Sun, Mail, Express and Telegraph.
These themes have regularly featured in Prof Simon Wren-Lewis’s excellent blog mainly macro and now he has combined the content into this interesting book. This book presents some of his most important work, telling the story of how the damaging political and economic events of recent years became inevitable.
“This is a book you should read, for understanding what went wrong in the past is our only hope of doing better in the future?”
Paul Krugman, Nobel prize-winner
“Simon Wren-Lewis is the rare economist of both the science and the craft of his field. In this exemplary collection of his blog-writings, Wren-Lewis shows how economic theory, evidence, and sound judgement can be combined to produce good economic policy. Unfortunately, austerity policies, which Wren-Lewis opposed from the beginning, shared none of those features. This is an admirable and accessible guide to where macroeconomic policy in Britain (and elsewhere) has gone wrong in the last decade.”
Dani Rodrik, Harvard University