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November 26, 2007


Bob B

All very curious. Here is Gordon Brown today on Keynes:

"For most of the past half century we have had a Keynesian paradigm - either you are in work or you are on welfare. And in the old days it was the economy that had to create work - what prevented full employment was lack of jobs. Now we need a new and very different paradigm. If in the old days the problem as unemployment, in the new world it is employability. If in the old days lack of jobs demanded priority action, in the new world it is lack of skills."

And in the Financial Times today, we have Lawrence Summers (professor of economics at Harvard and previously US Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration) saying what urgently needs to be done to avert recession in America:

Whose economics am I to believe?

Maynard Handley

You forgot fallacy 5, the Economist's fallacy:
The assumption that the quantity of stuff in the world can magically expand to accommodate an ever larger and wealthier population.

There is only so much land in the world, only so large a sustainable fish catch, only so much tropical timber, only so much oil. The more once-poor people (China and India) there are sharing in the goodies, the fewer goodies there are going to be for the West. All the changing of skill-sets in the world will not change this fundamental reality.

We've now had thirty five years of scientists telling us our population growth is unsustainable, and thirty five years of know-nothing economists (not to mention their idiot allies in the religious and political spheres) telling us no, no, magic extra oil and fish and irrigation will bubble out of the earth if we only pray hard and cut taxes.

nigel Clarke

Interesting comment but as Gordon Brown has been wrong on most of his statistics I feel I can only give him 10 out 6 on his predictions.


Does it really matter what Brown says about upskilling the workforce if the actions his administration actually take are counterproductive to any such statements?




You are correct on all points. But it doesn't change the fact that there is a significant micro-economic problem concerning work skill aquisition in a rapidly changing world, where firms can not capture the value of their investment in training, and individuals carry high risk and opportunity cost in doing it themselves.

Lifetime learning = micro-economic reform. 60 hour weeks (for parents leading to divorce) and leaving skill acquisition to chance on the job training aren't the answer.

Glenn (aka angry economist)

The lastest employment demand forecasts from Warwick Uni's Institute for Employment Research are in 2014 for 10.4 million employees in low or no skilled jobs - representing 33% of all employees.


Who's gonna wait tables, sell the Evening Standard, pick up litter etc? these jobs still need done, you don't need a degree to do them.

Chris - you're right about replacement demand.

I think Brown has got mixed up between the level of skills required for a job and the qualifications of the workforce. The projections for workforce with no quals might well chime with his spiel. But what matters is skills demanded and deployed in the job, not qualifications of the workers.

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