Ben CHu, The Independent

Ben CHu

The Independent

United Kingdom

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Recent articles by Ben:

Coronavirus recession could see government change Bank of England's inflation mandate, says former minister

Officials in the UK Treasury are “probably” considering whether to change the Bank of England’s inflation-targeting mandate due to the massive economic shock imparted by the coronavirus crisis, according to a former minister. Lord Jim O’Neill, who was commercial secretary to the Treasury in 2015, wants the central bank to shift from its current target of keeping inflation at 2 → Read More

I'm alive because of immigration from Hong Kong – but the UK needs to do much more than issue passports

If, 178 years ago, grasping British imperialists had not bullied a decrepit Chinese empire into giving up a “barren rock” in the South China Sea I probably wouldn’t be writing these words today. My father came to the UK from Hong Kong in 1960 when he was nine years old. He met my mother in the North of England and they started a family, which is where my own story starts. → Read More

Why the furlough reforms risk a hard landing for the economy

As any astronaut knows, coming back down to Earth is just as dangerous as taking off. Those hazards will have been in the minds of Treasury officials as they designed the details of how the government’s jobs furloughing scheme will be withdrawn. Take away the subsidy from firms too rapidly and you risk a spike in joblessness as companies sack furloughed workers that they can → Read More

The lockdown exit strategy shows this government thinks Primark is more important than parenting

Chairman Mao proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky”. But this was something else the Communist dictator got wrong. For it’s much more than half – certainly in locked-down family households in England. → Read More

Lockdown threatens to widen gender pay gap, researchers warn

The unequal impact of the lockdown on families with children risks widening the gender pay gap, researchers have warned. Analysis of a new survey of English family households by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London found women are more likely to have stopped doing paid work since the lockdown began. And even if they are still working, women are → Read More

The lockdown could be a watershed moment for this nation of shoppers and shopkeepers

Napoleon described Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. But in recent decades we could equally well be described as a nation of shoppers. Last year our total spending at shops, supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations totted up to around £8bn every week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). → Read More

Public sector borrowing: How big is it and should we be getting worried?

The UK government borrowed £63.5bn in cash last month from financial market, the Office for National Statistics has reported. As expected, state spending was driven up by new pandemic-related emergency spending while tax revenues were crushed by the impact of the economic lockdown. → Read More

Ministers should not bet on the coronavirus recession providing economic cover for a no-deal Brexit

Advisers seem to be calculating that it will be difficult to disentangle the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit from the fallout from the Covid slump, thus making it less likely they will be blamed for inflicting unnecessary further suffering on the UK population. Ben Chu looks at whether they’re right or not → Read More

Negative interest rates: what are they for and what would they mean for you?

The Bank of England Governor confirmed this week that the Bank is considering pushing its main interest rate into negative territory for the first time in its 324-year history. → Read More

Richest people in UK have grown even richer over past two decades, new research confirms

The richest people in the UK have been getting richer faster than previously thought according to new research which includes the capital gains enjoyed by those at the top. Most measures of inequality only include cash income and show the pre-tax total income share of the top 1 per cent – around 500,000 people – has remained broadly steady at around 14 per cent since the late → Read More

Why are investors paying the British government so it can borrow their money?

The UK government auctioned a tranche of debt to the financial markets on Wednesday which, for the first time in history, had a negative yield. That means that if the investors were to hold the debt until it matured they would get less back than they paid for it. → Read More

Chancellor says no quick economic bounce back from recession 'the likes of which we have not seen'

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has delivered a downbeat assessment of the likelihood of a rapid recovery for the UK economy from the massive recession brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Giving evidence to the House of Lord Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday Mr Sunak said it was “not obvious that there will be an immediate bounce back”, noting that even if firms re-opened → Read More

Economically the young are suffering most in this crisis – and they need special support coming out of it

Ignore the crocodile tears of those who weep for the burden of the public borrowing on young people while simultaneously pushing for spending cuts that harm their future economic prospects → Read More

CoronaNomics: Esther Duflo and Achim Steiner on how to avert disaster in the developing world

A top United Nations official and a Nobel economics laureate warn it is in the interests of the rich world to help poor countries to weather the potentially catastrophic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, and Esther Duflo, who won the economics Nobel prize in 2019 for her pioneering work on policy → Read More

How Europe's economies have been impacted by lockdowns

Analysis: The impact of measures to halt the spread of coronavirus across the European continent has so far been uneven. Ben Chu considers whether there are lessons that can be drawn → Read More

Coronavirus: Government borrowing this year heading to £300bn says Office for Budget Responsibility

The Government’s annual deficit is heading towards £300bn thanks to emergency coronavirus crisis measures, according to the latest estimate from the Treasury’s official forecaster. → Read More

How much does government's furlough scheme cost, compared to 2008 banks bailout, Trident and HS2?

Earlier this month the Chancellor Rishi Sunak noted that the cost of the Government’s jobs furlough scheme – around £14bn for every month – was as much as the monthly expenditure on the National Health Service. But that’s not the only emergency spending being rolled out. There’s also £15bn of grants for small firms and £10bn of support for the self-employed. → Read More

Yes, the GDP figures are very bad – but they're only a glimpse of what's yet to come

The fall in the UK’s economic output in the first three months of this year, as reported by the Office for National Statistics, is big – the largest contraction since the last recession. But be in no doubt that this is really a glimpse into the abyss, rather than the plunge itself. → Read More

Coronavirus: Rich countries must fund 'Marshall Plan' for world's poorest countries, says Nobel-winning economist

Rich countries should respond to the coronavirus emergency by creating a new “Marshall Plan” of massive financial support aid for lower income nations, one of the world’s most respected development economists has argued. Experts have warned that decades of progress in alleviating poverty and raising living standards in developing world are potentially in jeopardy not only → Read More

Rishi Sunak's furlough scheme reforms look reasonable

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? No one sensible disputes that the Government’s jobs furlough scheme has been a good – indeed vitally economically important – innovation amid the unprecedented Covid-19 economic emergency. → Read More