Iwan Morgan

Iwan Morgan is the author of "Reagan: American Icon" , which will be published in the UK in October and in the US in January.

  • Trumped-up Reaganomics

    by Iwan Morgan

    Reagan indeed cut taxes -- but he also raised them. Here's what else Trump needs to understand about the Reagan economy. 

  • Brexit Blues

    by Iwan Morgan

    Britain is going to leave the EU at some point – the only question is over the terms of withdrawal.

  • The Joyless Recoveries in the UK and the USA

    by Iwan Morgan

    Voters who are divided on issues from Obamacare to the battle against the Islamic State agree that the failure of Republicans and Democrats to work together is damaging the nation.

  • The Ten Biggest Economic Policy Mistakes from the Depression to the Recession

    by Iwan Morgan

    Image via Shutterstock.

    I have just finished teaching a graduate course on the management of the U.S. economy from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. Given that economic crises bookended the syllabus, student interest in the review session unsurprisingly focused on discussing macroeconomic policy errors more than successes.

    This set me thinking as to what I would adjudge the ten greatest economic policy errors from the late 1920s to the present. My list and rationale appear below. But first some caveats.

    Such a listing tends to focus on short-term rather than long-term consequences because the latter are more difficult to track and link to specific policies. It can also be difficult to separate policy effects from broader structural movements in the U.S. and world economies that would have produced similar outcomes anyway. Furthermore, judgements about whether policy outcomes are good or bad reflect the values of the assessor -- people with different political views to mine would likely produce a different list.

  • Austerity Doesn't Work, and Neither Will You

    by Iwan Morgan

    Image via Shutterstock.

    In the over 250-year-old history of modern capitalism, the economic output of the West has consistently ticked upward, with just a few deviating blips from the dominant trend of growth. Even the greatest crisis of capitalism, the Great Depression of the 1930s, looks on paper to be no more than a brief interruption to the historic course of Western economic expansion. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that any sign of forward spurt from the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its economically anaemic aftermath is greeted with optimism that the historically proven resilience of capitalism is fuelling regeneration.

  • The New Age of Austerity

    by Iwan Morgan

    Thurman Arnold, assistant attorney general in the Roosevelt administration from 1938 to 1943.

    The double-whammy of recession and sovereign debt crisis has made austerity the buzzword of politics in European Union nations in recent years. Now the A-word has become increasingly a part of political rhetoric in the United States. In his recent book Age of Austerity, journalist Thomas Byrne Edsall argues that America has already entered a new age of austerity that will remake its politics in the second decade of the twenty-first century. In his view the intensified polarization of Democrats and Republicans constitutes the first shots in a struggle over diminished national resources. Gone for good, he argues, are the days when the two parties could engage in a tacit compromise to fund their respective social-program expansion and low-tax agendas from the proceeds of economic growth.

  • A Business Background is No Guarantee of Being a Successful Economic President, Mr. Romney!

    by Iwan Morgan

    Credit: Wikimedia Commons/HNN staff.

    Mitt Romney claims that his success in business qualifies him for election as president in order that he can put the national economy right just like he has previously succeeded in putting many a business enterprise back on its feet. According to him, "Americans need a conservative businessman to get this economy moving again, not career politicians. That is why I am running."

    Critics have been quick to point out that his business success with Bain Capital in particular involved destroying jobs as well as creating them. However, his claims that entrepreneurial competence will translate into effective presidential leadership on the economy have resonated with public opinion, and appear to have gained increased legitimacy in the wake of a successful performance in the first presidential debate. 

    Regardless of the shortcomings of Obama’s economic leadership, Romney’s argument that his business experience will make him a more successful economic manager than his Democratic rival is a spurious one if judged on the historical record. 

  • The Romney Economic Plan's Misreading of History

    by Iwan Morgan

    Ronald Reagan holding a staff meeting on his first day in office. Credit: Wikipedia

    Last week, the Romney campaign responded to criticisms of its tax and economic proposals by issuing a new white paper, "The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth and Jobs." Authored by Greg Mankiw of Harvard, Glenn Hubbard of Columbia, John Taylor of Stanford, and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, this makes three claims in trashing the Obama administration's record on recovery and virtually promising a re-run of morning-again-in-America if the GOP candidate is elected president in 2012.  First, recovery from the Great Recession has been terribly slow even by post-financial crisis downturn standards; second, the Obama administration made a grievous error in relying on spending stimulus to renew the economy; and third, the tax cuts, spending cuts and deregulatory initiatives proposed by Romney will usher in a period of rapid growth to revitalize employment and generate a bountiful harvest of budget revenues.

  • Eurotrash

    by Iwan Morgan

    Another week, another crisis for the euro -- and there's plenty of more crisis weeks to come! It's going to get a lot worse for the euro -- but can it ever get better? It's far more likely that the euro project is in terminal decline and that nothing can save it.

    If the euro were a business, it would have been wound up by now. It has an awful business plan that only appeared to work in the benign economic conditions of  the first few years of this century and whose inadequacies were painfully exposed when it first experienced economic problems. Only the core business -- that is, Germany -- has been able to withstand the harsher economic conditions in existence since 2007. There is boardroom squabbling, the workforce is in rebellion, and no one has a viable Plan B for a sustainable way ahead.

    Eurozone leaders claim to have a survival plan but the details are murky and appear largely to be more of the same: structural reform to make member economies more competitive; a new fiscal pact to ensure member states live within their means; and some new infrastructure spending to soften the impact of austerity that is making voters angry.

  • BRIC by BRIC: The Changing Global Economic League

    by Iwan Morgan

    China’s anticipated overtaking of the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy has become the focus of much comment of late. Equally important, however, are the changes already happening and likely to accelerate regarding the rising challenge of other BRIC nations in the world economic league. Earlier this month, Brazil replaced the U.K. as the sixth largest economy. This was a moment of some symbolism: Brazil used to be part of what historians have called Britain’s "informal empire," being under the sway of British trade, capital, and inward investment in the nineteenth century.

    In the last decade, Brazil has consolidated its status as an agricultural and processed foodstuffs superpower, commodities that now account for a quarter of GDP and 36 percent of exports. It has become the world’s largest producer of sugarcane, coffee, tropical fruits, and commercial cattle (whose number is 50 percent larger than in the United States.). Brazil has also discovered massive oil reserves in the Atlantic, which have helped make it the world’s ninth-largest oil producer and raised the prospect of it eventually becoming the fifth-largest. The country is currently engaged in a massive program of infrastructure improvement to enhance growth, funded by the proceeds of its recent wealth creation.

  • Is the U.S. in Relative Decline? Sadly, the Answer is Yes.

    by Iwan Morgan

     The U.K. press is currently full of reports about the visit of China's leader-designate, Xi Jinping, to Washington this week. "The princeling and the professor" was one paper's editorial take on the Xi-Obama get together. Apart from personalities, however, what has consumed British interest is the accompanying debate about whether the U.S. is in decline.  We've been there a century before, so we're agog to discuss if this signals a historic moment in the process of principal power succession from the U.S. to China.

    This blog is contribution to this debate. It focuses on the issue of America's relative economic decline.  I have to say -- with regret -- that I see this as already in process: it's no longer a question of whether -- but of pace and extent. 

  • The Lost Generation? Youth and the Great Recession

    by Iwan Morgan

    As the governments of the European Union countries and (possibly, but less likely) the United States peer ahead to the threat of a new recession in 2012, one common demographic group in these nations is still deeply mired in the effects of the Great Recession that supposedly ended in 2009.  Youth unemployment for the 16 to 24-year-old age group averaged 18.3 percent in the U.S. and 21 percent across the 27-member E.U. in 2010-2011.  In the E.U., the highest youth unemployment rates have been in Spain, with 45 percent, and Greece, with 42.9 percent, which offer a marked contrast to the relatively low levels in some economies—notably the Netherlands (7 percent), Austria (8.3 percent), and Germany (8.9 percent).  Unemployment is also above the E.U. average in Italy (27 percent) and France (23 percent), while in the U.K. it has been around 20 percent.  These figures are not far behind the 21.8 percent youth unemployment in the long stagnant MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries.   

  • The UK's Deficit Dogma: The Lessons for the U.S.

    by Iwan Morgan

    In the U.S., the failure of the congressional super-committee to reach agreement on deficit reduction looks set to trigger massive automatic spending cuts in both domestic and defense programs from 2013 onwards.  While debt reduction is unquestionably necessary in the medium to long-term, placing it ahead of building a strong economic recovery is likely to do more harm than good.  The United States should look no further than the United Kingdom for proof of the folly of prioritizing fiscal austerity over laying the foundations for post-recession economic growth.