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Cluster index: Nick O’Hear

Making sense of the coronavirus.

Nick O’Hear: ‘What is the effect on the economy and are we trashing it? You often hear that you can’t put a price on life but that is exactly what the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has to do.’

The tragedy of Brexit.

Nick O’Hear: ‘I doubt if there will be a second referendum because there is a high risk of the result being in favour of leaving. We will continue to hear that the people have spoken and we have to respect their “instruction”. We are heading for the softest of all possible Brexits or BRINO (Brexit in Name Only).’

Brexit and the backstop.

Nick O’Hear: ‘Under the Agreement there is no role for the EU in dispute resolution. There is no reason to suppose that the BIC will not find simple practical solutions. There is good will on both sides.’

Looking for disaster in Brexit.

Nick O’Hear: ‘When the EEC was formed, the Common Agricultural Policy was created. This was primarily devised to assist French agriculture and protect it against competition. Consequently. there is no sanction against the EU for legislating against GM or chlorine treated chickens. Not everybody wants to eat these foods but that is not a good reason for banning them.’

All that is good for us.

Nick O’Hear: ‘This then is the battleground. Power has steadily been wrested from individual nations and concentrated in the EU Commission and Council of Ministers. The people of Europe don’t like this much more than the British do. It is not as though Brussels is giving us a healthy diet of economics and social justice. Policies on migration and the Euro have been ruinous for some nations. It is about time we all followed the Swiss and allowed the people to decide.’

A short history of an always-growing national debt.

Nick O’Hear: ‘The main current issue is not that the national debt is too large, but that it is growing in a time of peace and prosperity. The argument revolves around the need for austerity and a more Keynesian view that we should invest for growth. Martin Slater points out that even Keynes believed in restraint.’

A respectable case for Brexit.

Nick O’Hear: ‘When things go wrong the EU can be pitiless. The Greeks are in a dreadful mess. Unemployment is 21 per cent, but youth unemployment is a catastrophic 45 per cent. Even if much it was their own doing, they have amassed a mountain of debt (180 per cent of GDP) with consequent failing public services. Austerity won’t get them out of this.’

The beauty of Quantitative Easing.

Nick O’Hear: There is one way of balancing the books. It is the elephant in the room. Nobody talks about it. It is the old method – inflation. Of course, agreements within the European Union forbid this but there is not much alternative. With inflation governments reduce the value of their debts at the expense of the saver. It transfers wealth from the prudent to the profligate and gets the government out of jail. They will blame it on the banks, bank bonuses, climate change and the oil companies, but since all European countries are in the same sort of mess you can bet your bottom dollar that inflation is what we will get!