Sam Bowman, CapX

Sam Bowman


United Kingdom

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  • Unknown
  • CapX
  • Quillette Magazine
  • MustBeRead
  • Adam Smith Institute
  • City A.M.
  • Cato Unbound
  • Medium
  • IBTimes UK

Past articles by Sam:

Boris has one last chance at meaningful planning reform – will he take it?

Last week gave us a picture of things to come in Britain. First, the Government raised National Insurance contributions by 2.5%. This was ostensibly to pay for “social care”, but the money will mostly go to the NHS, with social care’s problems left largely unaddressed. Then, on Saturday, The Times reported that the Government will […] → Read More

Beware the dead hand of the digital regulator

Should bureaucrats decide how Google designs its search results page? The Government seems to think so. It plans to set up a new body that will regulate tech companies in much the same way as British Gas and Thames Water, with all the box-ticking and drag on innovation that involves. What’s worse, over time, this […] → Read More

Planning is a competition issue too

Competitive markets are important not just because they affect the price of things we buy, but also the look and feel of where we live, and even where we go when we die. Conservative MP John Penrose’s new report on competition calls for a return to a Thatcherite focus on choice and consumer-friendly economics. He’s … → Read More

Tobias Ellwood is wrong: we'd be far worse off in a world without Big Tech

Critiques of big tech are ten a penny, but it’s not often that you hear a politician, let alone a Conservative one, saying we should shut down tech companies altogether. So it was a surprise to see Tory MP Tobias Ellwood arguing in the Mail on Sunday that we would be better off if the … → Read More

The FTC's case for breaking up Facebook is deeply flawed

Facebook is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 US states for its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram in 2014 and 2012, respectively (as well as over restrictions about third-party API access to Facebook’s platform, which I will not try to cover here). If these plaintiffs are successful, they could lead to … → Read More

How competitive is the UK economy?

Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a report on the state of competition in the UK. (Disclosure: I was part of a group that gave some comments to the CMA during the drafting of this report.) The report relies heavily on aggregate data to make judgements about the health of … → Read More

Arms out to help out: the case for a Covid vaccine payment

There are currently 11 Covid-19 vaccines in late-stage trials and over 200 others being developed. When one is finally approved as safe and effective, the next challenge will be persuading enough people to get immunised. But many may be reluctant to do so, thanks to a combination of caution given the unprecedented speed of vaccine … → Read More

Let's build Hong Kong 2.0 here in the UK

News that Hong Kong’s British National (overseas) passport holders could soon have a path to move to the UK and gain citizenship is a good first step to help people escape growing Chinese authoritarianism in that great city. But it is nowhere near enough: there are only 300,000 current BN(O) passport holders out of Hong … → Read More

Corbynite Economics

A review of Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation by Grace Blakeley, Repeater Books (September 2019) 300 pages. It is tempting for Jeremy Corbyn’s critics to write off his electoral promises as bribes—a last-ditch attempt from the most unpopular major party leader in memory to buy his way to victory. There’s some truth to this when it comes to pledged levels of public spending. But… → Read More

Labour's manifesto is extraordinary

Labour’s manifesto is nothing if not bold. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have committed to hundreds of billions of pounds of new spending commitments, part-financed by the £80 billion in tax rises the party outlines in its costings document. Most of these taxes would fall on investment – in total, Labour claim they would increase … → Read More

More Mayism is the last thing the Conservatives need

We've tried Mayism already. It's not popular and it doesn't work → Read More

You're not a centrist. You're a liberal

Opposition to paternalism is the essence of liberalism → Read More

Is capitalism in need of a radical transformation?

'Radical Markets' is interesting, original and frustrating → Read More

Sam Bowman: Aping the Eurozone’s overly tight monetary policy would be the quickest way to a Corbyn government

Replying to Alex Morton's column of a week ago, the ASI's Senior Fellow argues that the response to the financial crisis was imperfect, but more right than → Read More

Parting thoughts —

Today is my last day as Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute. I joined back in 2010 at a junior level, helping out with the research. Over the years was able to rise up the ranks and help to shape the Institute’s research and overall mission. It’s a bittersweet day for me. I’m enormously p → Read More

Index funds and monopoly power —

Like many other people I have a stocks and shares ISA that puts my money into a set of index funds, which are baskets of investments in every publicly traded company in various stock markets, weighted by the market cap of each company. Effectively, it allows me to invest in ‘the market’ as a whole, → Read More

Minimum alcohol pricing is policy-based evidence-making —

The Scottish government can now legally bring in minimum alcohol pricing, which will require alcoholic drinks to be sold for at least 50p per unit of alcohol. For reference, a can of 5% strength beer has 2.5 units and a 750ml bottle of 13.5% strength wine has 10 units, so their minimum prices will b → Read More

Full expensing: the best idea in politics you've never heard of —

What’s the best idea in politics that nobody’s ever heard of? I think it’s what’s called “full expensing”, a tweak to the corporation tax rules that could eliminate a lot of the damage that tax does. It’s obscure in Britain, but new evidence is beginning to show that it might just be the single best → Read More

What should we do after the Common Agricultural Policy? —

I’m often amazed by how woolly the language used by groups like the National Farmers’ Union really is. Wacky ideas like “food security” (as if there is any conceivable scenario where Britain will be laid siege to by U-Boats) and farmers having some special “stewards of the countryside” conne → Read More

Why are houses in London so expensive? —

Oxford Economics’s Ian Mulheirn writes that London’s housing market isn’t expensive because of a lack of building, and building more wouldn’t lower prices. I disagree. Claim one: housebuilding has outstripped household formation, so if anything we have a surplus of housing. Household f → Read More