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the UK economy.

The next chapter

The Economics Observatory has been awarded funding for a further two years. Plans are already in place for new collaborations with colleagues from central government, the devolved nations, and the regions of the UK. The Data Hub is going to grow, and there are plenty of events in the diary already.

Newsletter from 23 January 2023

We are pleased to announce that the Economics Observatory has been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (UKRI-ESRC) for another two years. This means that we will be able to continue running the project, posting daily articles that answer policy-related questions from a wide range of stakeholders. We will be organising and contributing to many more events, both online and in person. We have included a number of dates for your diary at the end of this newsletter.

The whole ECO team is very grateful to colleagues at the ESRC and the University of Bristol, as well as the project’s partner organisations, for all their help and support over the past two years. We look forward to working with you as we develop the Observatory further in 2023 and 2024.

ECO and Westminster

Over the next two years, we will be working closely with policy-makers based in Westminster. Continuing our demand-led approach, we will meet regularly with decision-makers at the heart of central government. This will include members of the Government Economic Service (GES) – one of our key partners during the first funding phase – as well as other analysts and researchers from a broad range of government departments.

Over the past two years, it has been fantastic to work with colleagues from HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education and many others. Speaking directly to civil servants from across a wide range of policy areas will ensure that we continue to produce content that is responsive, fresh and relevant to the latest challenges facing the UK economy. We also look forward to working with other government-adjacent and London-based groups, such as the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

On the research side, we are delighted to continue our close collaboration with the National Institute of Economic Social Research (NIESR). We look forward to welcoming back Jagjit Chadha (Director) and Adrian Pabst (Deputy Director for Social and Political Economy) to our board of lead editors, and welcoming Stephen Millard (Deputy Director for Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting) as a new member. NIESR will continue to provide ECO with valuable insights from their cutting-edge macroeconomic policy research, helping shape the editorial pipeline over the coming months and years.

Also joining the board is Rahat Siddique. Rahat is a senior economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and will provide ECO with editorial guidance on the challenges facing different UK sectors, with a particular emphasis on regulation and competition policy. Over the next two years, this will help ECO to build closer ties with British industry, ensuring our work is useful for readers in both the private and public sectors.

Beyond NIESR and the CBI, we also look forward to strengthening our ties with other London-based research groups, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Resolution Foundation, together with several of London’s top universities, including the London School of Economics, University College London and King’s College London.

The devolved nations and UK regions

In the next phase of the project, we will be increasing our engagement with researchers and policy-makers in the devolved nations and UK regions and cities. This work will address challenges that are specific to these places, as well as bring insights from national and international research to regional and devolved contexts.

In the coming months, we will be running policy seminars – and publishing articles on the website – focused on education, rural economies, net zero and productivity. The Data Hub will also be expanded to include more regional data, where available.

Reflecting our intention to expand our regional and sub-national work, we welcome Stuart McIntyre (University of Strathclyde) as a lead editor. Stuart will help to lead on a number of new initiatives to support engagement with key research questions facing regional and sub-national policy-makers across the UK, as well as continuing to contribute to our work on education and the labour market.

Abi Adams-Prassl (University of Oxford) is also joining the team of lead editors. Abi’s research on consumer and family choice and behaviour will bring a valuable new insight to our work.

Data plans

Our vision for the end of this next phase is to be a go-to place for good examples of science communication. This will include both the highest quality written material and open and accessible data visualisations.  

Strengthening our data portfolio will be a vital part of the Observatory’s work over the next two years. Central to this will be extending our existing collaboration with national and international data bodies, such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and EUROSTAT; extending our Data Hub; and introducing features that visually explore existing statistical datasets offered by the ONS, the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) and others.

The ECO website currently receives around a million visitors each year. This opens the opportunity to analyse and publish our own usage data in a research setting. We will be introducing advanced analytical tools to leverage our visitors’ attention and improve how our data is represented in charts and visualisations, contextualised by the topic of each article.

Dates for the diary

The annual round of global events in economic research and policy-making kicked off last week with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Closer to home, at the Scottish Parliament, the University of Glasgow launched a year-round series of activities to celebrate the life and legacy of its most famous alumnus, the pioneering economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith, three hundred years after his birth.

A second event this week – the #AdamSmith300 launch – brings together researchers to discuss Smith’s contribution to economics, philosophy and the arts – and much more follows. As part of the tercentenary celebrations, the Economics Observatory and University of Glasgow are running a competition that offers students the opportunity to rethink Smith’s work for the 21st century.

Other upcoming events in economics to look out for include:

The UK government’s Spring Budget, 15 March

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will present a spring budget to Parliament – and he has asked the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to release its latest outlook for the economy and public finances alongside the government statement.

Economic History Society (EHS) 2023 annual conference, 31 March to 2 April, University of Warwick

The annual gathering of the UK’s economic historians features several researchers who’ve written for the Observatory. John Turner, one of our lead editors, is managing editor of the Society’s journal, the Economic History Review.

Scottish Economic Society (SES) and Royal Economic Society (RES) joint annual conference, 3-5 April, University of Glasgow

Two of the UK’s annual gatherings for economists are combined this spring. The programme features keynote lectures by several top researchers, including Carol Propper of Imperial College London, a recent past president of the RES and one of our lead editors, Chicago economist and former governor of India’s central bank, Raghuram Rajan, LSE economist and current member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, Silvana Tenreyro, and leading development economist Dani Rodrik of Harvard delivering the SES President’s lecture.

Adam Smith Tercentenary week, 5-10 June, Glasgow and beyond

This focal point for the tercentenary commemorations of the person generally considered the father of modern economics will include a day-long symposium on 10 June where international scholars and practitioners will bring Adam Smith into conversation with contemporary issues. Plenary speakers include two more of our lead editors, Tim Besley of LSE and Diane Coyle of Cambridge.

Observatory news

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Authors: Denes Csala, Richard Davies, Ashley Lait, Charlie Meyrick, Romesh Vaitilingam
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