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Adam Smith Institute
The Adam Smith Institute is one of the world’s leading think tanks. Independent, non-profit and non-partisan, it works to promote libertarian and free market ideas through research, publishing, media commentary, and educational programmes. The Institute is today at the forefront of making the case for free markets and a free society in the United Kingdom.

Adam Smith Institute

One wing good, two wings better

90 years ago, the Air Ministry dismissed monoplanes as fighter aircraft on the grounds that biplanes had served us well in World War 1 and biplanes were what our world-beating aircraft industry built. The fact that monoplanes were breaking airspeed records and winning international races merely indicated their suitability for amateurs. It should have been no surprise, come 1939, that British “string bags” proved no match for the Luftwaffe’s monoplanes.  Luckily, and just in time, the private...

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As we enjoy pointing out, private equity pays very well

The scolds over at the High Pay centre keep telling us that CEOs get much too much money. Quite why said scolds have an interest in how shareholders spend their own money is unexplained but they do keep making the point.One of their explanations is that the diffuse interest of shareholders in a publicly listed company means that the CEOs as a class - to include all those directors, exec and non-exec - get to bamboozle the owners into those high payoffs. If this were true it would not be,...

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How joyous to see the Laffer Curve in the wild again

A little reminder for those who insist that the Laffer Curve is just a product of an overactive - and neoliberal of course - mindset:NHS workers who have taken on extra shifts in the fight against coronavirus are at risk of sleepwalking into giant tax bills. Doctors and healthcare professionals working overtime during the pandemic could face eye-watering charges because of continuing issues with the “tapered” annual allowance for pensions.The contention of that Curve from Art Laffer is only...

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The begging bowl is usually a little better hidden than this

The claims here might actually be true. That the development of electric vehicles in the UK requires that there be a UK electric battery plant. Further, that such a battery plant requires advantages in order to be created. We can’t say that we’re convinced of this, we see no reason why it should be necessary, nor even desirable, that the two pieces, the car and the battery, be made in close geographic proximity. After all, the diesel engines for BMW’s mini are made in Austria, international...

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Hayek was right about the National Health Service

No, not that we’d all become slaves the moment that the NHS tottered into action. Not that he said that anyway - rather, that once health care was politically delivered then health itself was going to become a political matter. George Monbiot complaining about this in his column:A recent study shows that diseases mostly afflicting women tend to receive less funding than those mostly affecting men. Scientific effort is also, to a large extent, a function of the effectiveness of patients’...

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Unilever’s mistake about the supply chain

This is worse than a mistake, it’s an error:Millions of people around the world are in line for a pay rise after Unilever pledged that every worker in its supply chain will earn the living wage by 2030.One of the canonical works of popular economics is I Pencil. An inverted reading of which is that the supply chain of something - of anything at all - is the global economy.As it’s not possible to ensure that everyone in the global economy is paid a particular wage the effort is doomed from the...

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Zambia buys a copper mine – the most lively experiment is about to happen

Zambia is buying the Mopani copper mine from Glencore. Glencore is lending the bankrupt - well, it’s in default, anyway - country the money to buy the mine. This is going to be a fascinating experiment.We can’t help but think that the timing’s a little wrong. Zambia sold the mine, or at least Glencore took it over, back in 2000, when the copper price was 65 cents per lb US. Today it’s $3.50. Selling at the bottom and buying at the top doesn’t look that great a deal for Zambia it has to be...

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Reasons for optimism – autonomous vehicles

One of the technological developments that will transform the British, and much of the world’s, economy is the emergence of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. It will make a huge and positive change in the way in which people and goods are transported by land, sea and air. It will be a positive development because it will be faster, safer and cheaper. The artificial intelligence that controls autonomous vehicles will not make the driver errors that are the major cause of road traffic deaths,...

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Abolish stamp duty – transactions taxes are bad taxes

A certain head of steam is building up behind a good idea. The current alleviation of stamp duty on housing transactions should not just be extended, the tax itself should be abolished:Better still would be to scrap the damn thing altogether, for the reasons above.Or Tom Clougherty, formerly of this parish:But there’s a bigger picture here, too. Stamp duty is without question the worst tax on the UK statute books, wreaking havoc on Britain’s already troubled housing market and imposing an...

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On the one off nature of a wealth tax

Jamie Hambro is sceptical of the insistence that a wealth tax will be a one off imposition:I have some difficulty with thinking of a wealth tax as a one-off if it is repeated for five consecutive years. And I doubt it will end after five years. Income tax was introduced in 1799 as a one-off tax to help pay the costs of the Napoleonic Wars (this after a wealth tax on houses, horses and carriages and servants and another new tax – inheritance tax – failed to raise enough).That seems a fair...

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