Hitting the right target, at the right time, and with the right arrows

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Afternoon all, Dishy Rishy has been sloshing the dosh. Again. This week it’s £30bn, a big deal in pre-pandemic land but only a 20 per cent increase on the £160bn already announced since March. All together that’s lots of cash. But no, it doesn’t prove Jeremy Corbyn was always right about borrowing more, or that … Continued

Making a mess in economics

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Morning all, Boris Johnson used to want to be Churchill. Now it’s FDR. I see there’s been a lot of snide remarks about the fact that re-announcing £5bn infrastructure spend isn’t quite the same thing as Roosevelt’s doubling of federal government expenditure during the 1930s. Personally, I think we should all be grateful for what … Continued

Levelling up China and levelling down VAT

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Afternoon all, Welcome to this heatwave edition of TOTCs. It nearly didn’t happen at all – I stop functioning once the mercury hits 25°C. Forget COVID-19, the sunburn-and-sweat risk should have been enough to put people off sardine-ing it up on Bournemouth beach yesterday. But I’m liberal enough to see that for each sun-phobic vampire … Continued

The public benefits of strikers and tweeters

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Afternoon all, Coronavirus? There’s NOT an app for that we learnt today. And unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for the unemployment spreading across Britain either. 600,000 fewer people on payrolls in just two months was the headline from this week’s depressing job news, while we’ve now seen the numbers on Universal Credit rise from 3 to 5.3 million since … Continued

Slumps, supply chains and solutions

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Afternoon all, Happy “the economy’s shrunk 9 times faster than it ever has before” day. I’m sure we’re all grateful to the ONS for getting Friday off to such a perky start with the GDP stats out this morning. The nation’s official statos even made an animated chart to ram home the point that we’re not just taking TV shows … Continued

Observing, understanding and improving society – for everyone

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Afternoon all, One of the surprising outcomes of two months of lockdown is how tiring its physical and emotional impact has been. And along with the responses of anger and activism, it’s hard not to feel drained too in the face of truly awful scenes from the United States – scenes that leave many waking … Continued

Making school cool and the great garden divide

Top of the Charts 'Insights' round-up: May 2020

The latest from Resolution Foundation Chief Executive Torsten Bell’s weekly Observer column, Insights. Read more of the latest economics and policy research in our weekly reading email, Top of the Charts (sign up here). Mortgage holidays are a breeze, but try taking a rent break All recessions are bad, but in different ways. Different industries … Continued

Netflix subscriptions and union cards in lockdown Britain

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Afternoon all, I see we’ve spent the week discussing optimal eye testing strategies, and introducing chunks of the country to the beauty spots of the North East. Good news for the tourism industry of County Durham in the long run, but a catastrophe for getting a grip in the midst of this crisis. Well done … Continued

Fixing Dodgy Charts, Dodgy Interviews and Dodgy Zooming

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Afternoon all, We’re heading into that phase of an economic crisis where the stats start to confirm the pain households have been facing. Tuesday’s jobs stats demonstrated that fast-rising unemployment is hitting family finances – with 450,000 fewer employees in April and vacancies down 50 per cent – and today’s public finances update showed that April saw a new … Continued

Why blaggers do it better

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Afternoon all, I hope you’re adjusting to the brave new world of opening things up rather than shutting them down. It’s definitely taking time to adjust to – practically, but emotionally too. I’ve not ventured to the garden centre yet, but just to flag that I’ll be really angry if you lot have ransacked the … Continued

Examining the past and policy prep for the future

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Morning all, Today the nation’s meant to be celebrating – happy VE day to you all. Here’s the totally clear summary of how you’re expected to celebrate. Ahead of a sunny three-day weekend the government says sunbathing is back on… but only after the weekend (and the sun) have gone. Hurrah at lockdown being lifted. But be “cautious” … Continued

Measuring merit fairly and proper pay for carers

Top of the Charts 'Insights' round-up: April 2020

The latest from Resolution Foundation Chief Executive Torsten Bell’s weekly Observer column, Insights. Read more of the latest economics and policy research in our weekly reading email, Top of the Charts (sign up here). In the coronavirus jobs wipeout, the young and low earners suffer most This recession stands out for its scale and speed, … Continued

Dark histories and happy hipsters

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Afternoon all, Happy international workers day to you – although obviously it’s not a very happy one with this quarter probably seeing more workers not working than at any time in our history. There’s a reason food bank use is up 80 per cent, despite unprecedented government support for firms and families. The job of … Continued

Happy lockdowns and what not to watch on TV

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Afternoon all, Hope you’re all feeling suitably relieved now that the Donald has cracked this virus thing. Didn’t see the injecting disinfectant suggestion coming, but at least we now know why he’s that colour. Much more reassuring news came from the retail sales stats today (not from the unsurprising record headline fall obviously). A recent run of zoom meetings … Continued

How not to be a know-it-all

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Afternoon all,   Anyone else feeling slightly inadequate in the face of this Captain Tom Moore guy? He’s managed to raise £18m for the NHS despite being old enough to have been born just as the last global pandemic was winding down in the early 1920s. And I’m pretty sure he’s done more exercise than … Continued

Exiting the economic shock

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Morning all, It’s been another week of massive news bringing with it important realisations – the Queen reminding us all she’s a legend, our worries about our Prime Minister reiterating that this virus is NOT the flu, and the Labour Party realising that being a serious opposition during a national crisis might be the way … Continued

The chart to top all charts

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Afternoon all, This is the week scary economic data started to join the scary health data. Daily updates on infections and deaths have reduced their shock (although not the tragedy), but we have never before heard news of almost a million people making new benefit claims in just two weeks. At five times the rate … Continued

Wanted sons and unwanted calories

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Afternoon all, We’ve come a long way between TOTC editions. Not only is the state underwriting wages for those without work to do, but it’s about to start paying out grants of up to £7,500 to the self-employed even if they’ve never been so busy. The sheer pace of claims going into Universal Credit (477,000 … Continued

Unprecedented support for employees’ wages last week has been followed up by equally significant, and even more generous, support for the self-employed. But gaps remain


Yesterday, the Chancellor announced that last week’s pledge to underwrite 80 per cent of the wages of employees without work to do during this crisis is being matched with significant grants to the self-employed. This is an important addition to existing plans to support employees, and in many ways a more generous offer. The Self-Employed … Continued

Trusting the experts on pandemics, politics and economic research

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Afternoon all, Hope everyone’s had a relaxing week. We have not. Budgets are generally fairly dark, sleep-deprived times in RF towers anyway, but coronavirus-infected Budgets, where loads of the numbers are out of date and don’t reflect what the Chancellor has actually announced, are the work of the devil. We’re in uncharted unchartable territory. That … Continued

Confused economists, bad scientists and rubbish burglars

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Top of the Charts #96: Confused economists, bad scientists and rubbish burglars   Afternoon all,   It’s been a week of swift developments politics and virus wise. Very good news for Joe Biden, less good for the global population – especially those of Joe Biden’s more advanced years. Next week’s Budget is still happening (see … Continued

The problems with getting into schools – and closing them down

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Afternoon all, Heathrow isn’t going ahead. Coronavirus is. It turns out that bugs are better than Brits at travelling the world. Even if we had a runway the whole proto-pandemic thing means flying is so 2019. But no over-reacting please – we’ve only just lived down the embarrassment of the run on Northern Rock, we … Continued

Sad songs and tough Budgets

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Afternoon all, Hope everyone’s enjoyed the calmer week in politics. After last week’s Chancellor-related fireworks, losing a Downing Street adviser over a bit of eugenics chat is small fry. Things are so chilled across the pond that they’re focusing on films. Donald Trump doesn’t understand how Parasite can have won the top Oscar. Now he … Continued

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