Mark Harrison

The Return of DIY Economics

Writing about web page http://www.ft.com/indepth/autumn-statement-growth-review-2011

Some years ago, David Henderson coined the phrase“do it yourself economics.” DIY economics, he argued, was made up of the practical models of causation that ordinary people use to understand the economic world around them. In the world of DIY economics, he noted, public spending and exports are good because they create jobs;industry is more deserving of support than services; cheap goods made by foreigners are a curse, not a blessing; and whatever the problem is, the government ought to do something.

DIY economics is clearly expressed in responses to yesterday’s autumn statement by the Chancellor. I’m going to comment on just one aspect: the length of causal chains. In the world of DIY economics there is never more than one step from cause to effect. I will give two examples, one concerning the burden of taxes and another concerning the housing market.

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