IEA Conversations
Going chilly on Chile?

Going chilly on Chile?

February 19, 2020

Chile used to be considered the economic poster child of Latin America – economic liberalisation led to huge gains in terms of GDP, life expectancy and lifting people out of poverty. But in recent months, the country has been mired in violent protests, to which there is still no end in sight.

Who is to blame? For large parts of the Western media, the answer is simple: the culprit is neoliberalism! The Guardian titles: “Blame the Chicago Boys”, a reference to the foreign-trained economists who liberalised the Chilean economy during the Pinochet dictatorship. Open Democracy claims that “This economic system […] has benefitted the economic elites whilst creating inequality and suffering for the majority”. Inevitably, there have been some nostalgic references to Chile’s brief experiment with socialism in the early 1970s, the implication being that if only that experiment had continued, Chile would be a vastly better place today.

This presents us with a good opportunity for some stocktaking of the situation of a country that continues to fascinate a lot of observers on both the Left and the Right. So how should we evaluate the situation of Chile today: neoliberal hellhole or rags-to-riches success story? What explains the Left’s ongoing fondness for a brief socialist experiment that ended nearly half a century ago? What might Chile look like today if the socialists had succeeded? Can free-market liberals defend the legacy of the Chicago boys with a good conscience, given that those reforms were carried out under a brutal military dictatorship?”

The IEA's Dr Kristian Niemietz discusses the topic with the IEA's Darren Grimes.

Africa 2020: The “hopeless continent” no more

Africa 2020: The “hopeless continent” no more

February 13, 2020

In the year 2000, The Economist magazine described Africa as the “hopeless continent”, adding that the “new millennium has brought more disaster than hope to Africa.”But the 54 countries that make up the continent have some of the youngest and most vibrant populations in the world, accounting for over 17% of the world's population. 

The last twenty years have seen life expectancy and literacy rates shoot up and child mortality plummet, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. So what has driven these changes and can the momentum be maintained over the next twenty years? 

Joining the IEA's Emma Revell to discuss this is the IEA’s Alexander Hammond, Policy Adviser to the Director General at the IEA.

Do you wheely want to hurt me?

Do you wheely want to hurt me?

February 6, 2020

The government, in yet another attempt to look like they’re on top of the green agenda, has just brought forward its ban on all diesel, petrol and hybrid cars to 2035. From that date, you will only be allowed to buy electric or hydrogen vehicles. Our wise central-planners reckon those gas-guzzling, polluting SUVs we all like so much will be banished from the road, and all those petrol stations will be replaced with sleek charging stations.

But the state has a terrible record of telling us what to drive. It is only a few years since it used tax policy to get us all to buy diesels and no one needs to be reminded how that worked out. It was later discredited and severely damaged the market for second-hand diesels. The subsidies fuelled a rise in diesel cars, increasing air pollution. How we get around is changing at lightning speed – it would be better to allow consumers to shape that future instead of the state trying to dictate it. Or would it?

Joining the IEA's Darren Grimes to discuss is the IEA’s Dr Richard Wellings, Head of Transport at the IEA.

Déjà brew: 100 years on from prohibition

Déjà brew: 100 years on from prohibition

January 24, 2020

This month marks the centenary of one of the most radical public health initiatives ever undertaken in a democratic society – prohibition.

While there are few voices in Britain calling for a return to criminalising alcohol, prohibition still exists today in different guises, including quasi-bans on sugary drinks, cigarettes and gambling.

So, should we be concerned about where this type of paternalistic intervention is leading us? And what – if anything - can we do about it?

This week on the IEA podcast, Emily Carver, the IEA’s Media Manager is joined by Christopher Snowdon to discuss the legacy of prohibition.

Christopher is Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA, and author of a range of books and publications including The Art of Suppression, The Crack Cocaine of Gambling and Kill Joys: A Critique of Paternalism.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean. 

The last decade was the best in human history

The last decade was the best in human history

January 15, 2020

Everything is getting better. Let nobody tell you what the second decade of the 21st century has been bad! The astonishing feature of the United Kingdom’s overbearing sense of gloom is that it is totally detached from measurable economic factors in the real world. Shouldn’t we instead be in a celebratory mood, bursting with optimism and hope. Instead, we are the equivalent of fans of a football team on a wonderful run of form who seem permanently convinced that the next match will result in crushing defeat.

Of course, the doomsayers say that past results are no guarantee of future performance. They are technically correct in that assertion, of course, but the past does surely act as a reasonable guide and it is worth us being aware of just how fantastic the recent performance of humanity has been.

Today’s guest on the IEA podcast, interviewed by the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes, has recently argued that we are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history. Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 per cent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 per cent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline. The size of the world economy grew by over a third in the past decade and now stands at more than $86 trillion. If anything, this upward trend is showing signs of accelerating. World GDP can reasonably be expected to surpass $100 trillion before the next decade is out.

Matt Ridley's books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 31 languages and won several awards. His books include The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome, Nature via Nurture, Francis Crick, The Rational Optimist and The Evolution of Everything. His TED talk "When Ideas Have Sex" has been viewed more than two million times. He writes a weekly column in The Times (London) and writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal.

Davos 2020: Should Javid leave it to the skiers?

Davos 2020: Should Javid leave it to the skiers?

January 9, 2020

$52,000 to spare? In the mood for some bubbly? Well then Davos is the place for you!

Despite the apparent ‘Boris Ban’, Chancellor Sajid Javid is expected to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos later this month. The glamorous Swiss resort is famous for attracting big names - but should the Treasury be leaving Davos to the skiers? 

The conference has always been a controversial one; at $52,000 per ticket, one does wonder whether it really fulfils the Forum’s mission of “improving the state of the world”, or if it is just another gathering of the ‘champagne’ elite. The image of government cosying up to billionaires and big business is not new- isn’t it time to break away from this forum of apparent rent-seekers?

Dr Richard Wellings, the IEA’s Deputy Research Director discusses his take on the event, as well as the growth of the ‘crony capitalism’ it is associated with. The IEA’s Darren Grimes asks him how he thinks we can deal with this issue, and the powerful ways in which a free-market economic approach can help. The wider role of government, including the apparent misconception of their responsibilities leading up to the 2008 Crash, is explored also. 

As the author and editor of several papers, books, and reports, including A Beginner’s Guide to Liberty (Adam Smith Institute, 2009), Dr Wellings is certainly well placed to explore these matters at length during this podcast. 

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

How ideas can change the world

How ideas can change the world

January 2, 2020

The mission of Network for a Free Society is to encourage opportunity and prosperity by promoting understanding of the principles of a free and responsible society, and the foundations on which it is based: limited government, the rule of law, protection of private property, free markets, and free speech.

The organisation is extremely active in its efforts to distribute classical liberal CDs, texts, and small grants to individuals all over the world interested in learning about and promoting the ideas of freedom.

Today's guest, Linda Whetstone, is Chairman of Network for a Free Society and discusses with the IEA's Darren Grimes her decades-long fight for freedom. Linda takes Darren through the success stories and challenges of exporting ideas around the world and tells one or two inspiring stories of her time at the helm of the Network.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean. 

Nanny State on Tour

Nanny State on Tour

December 26, 2019

‘Nanny state’ foreign aid has ballooned in recent years. The majority (84.4 per cent) of the £44.6million was spent from 2016 to 2018. Annual spending on lifestyle intervention projects equalled £17million in 2016, £16.7million in 2017 and £3.9million in 2018.

Why is this?

The IEA's Christopher Snowdon chats to an IEA author Mark Tovey, about his recent report 'Nanny State on Tour', which is free to download here.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

2019: Year in Review

2019: Year in Review

December 18, 2019

The IEA’s Year in Review has been a feature of the IEA podcast channel since its launch.

Find out in our round-up of 2019, who the IEA’s Director General Mark Littlewood, Associate Director Kate Andrews and Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon’s Person of the Year is, the trio’s Favourite Film of the Year is, their Political Moment of the Year and their Top Prediction for 2020.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Podbean.

How can we make sense of the political realignment taking place in the United Kingdom?

How can we make sense of the political realignment taking place in the United Kingdom?

December 11, 2019

How can we make sense of the political realignment taking place in the United Kingdom?

In one of the very first Live from Lord North Street podcast episodes, the IEA’s Dr Stephen Davies discussed this topic with Kate Andrews. Having developed his political realignment theory for several years now, Steve offers in our podcast today an explanation the ongoing political realignment, particularly highlighted the UK’s general election. He discusses the triggers for change (including Brexit and the growing support for socialist ideas), the reshuffle of political structures, parties, voting blocs and redefinition of what it means to be on ‘the left’ and ‘the right’, both in the UK and abroad.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.