VIDEO: In conversation with Britain’s leading pro-Brexit economist

Roger Bootle is the founder and Managing Director of Capital Economics, and one of the few high profile economists who supported Brexit. His most recent book, ‘The Trouble with Europe’, was published in 2014. 

In the second of a new series of interviews with leading economists, Roger speaks to openDemocracy about the key challenges facing Britain’s economy, and the economic policies needed to overcome them.

  • Seriously?


      The interview appears not to be intentionally comedic.

    • Red

      We should ask OD to interview you instead and spare us this clique.

  • P Em67117

    I am not an economist, but the rationale for Brexit is so weak that I could challenge what this man has to say.
    The economist explains the difficulties facing the UK economy: 1) lack of investment, 2) low productivity – not unusual for service economies, 3) predominance of financial services and London, while other regions are not doing as well, 4) lack of training and education, 5) the strength of the pound (until the referendum), 6) unsustainable trading deficit (we import more than we export), etc. etc.
    He ends up explaining what at the core of the problems is: the capitalist system doesn’t have the right incentives for long-term investment and sustainability; on the contrary it encourages short-term profit. This is a problem affecting all capitalist societies, which I totally agree.
    What? The EU is not the cause of all our evils??? Nope. The economist doesn’t mention the EU once when explaining UK’s broken economic model.
    All what he has to say, at the end of the interview, when specifically asked, is that the EU is protectionist and heavily regulated. Really? The latest news was that the US was starting a trading war and that the EU was supporting free trade.
    And the solution is deregulation. Really? The scandal of the century is that Facebook has been mining our data and allowing manipulators (like Cambridge Analytica) to use it and interfere with fair democracy. Who is pushing for more regulation to digital companies and more taxes?! The EU.
    The people who believe in the invisible forces of demand and supply in this century are delusional. What is contradictory, is that he recognises that markets (when explaining what’s going on with the financial systems) are not efficient or transparent. Can you make up your mind? Do we need regulation or not?
    Free trade = Welcome privatization of the health services, welcome chlorinated chicken (which is a proxy for unhygienic production) and substandard food, welcome more greedy pharma and further financial deregulation, no protection to farmers at all…
    But no worries, he seems happy with the depreciation of the pound, it can fall even further and mitigate it all…


    If there is an antonym for “visionary”, then this interview qualifies superbly for the word. Far from offering any sort of insights, Bootle is content to regurgitate neoliberal platitudes that have been disproven now for about three decades for most economists, and for one decade for everyone else.

    In other respects, this interview consists of a stream of correct facts without a credible story linking them together. I hesitate to propound a “crisis of advanced capitalism”, but it is plausible. When the value of money (as measured by interest earned on deposit accounts) is stuck near zero for a decade, and governments refuse to spend money on demand management either because they cannot raise it, or ideologically refuse to countenance the idea (e.g. Germany), one wonders how developed countries will recover. The obvious answer is that they will not, remaining content to reside in zero-growth, low-pay and high income/wealth inequality.

    In this general context, Brexit has nothing to offer and a lot to lose. Bootle fails to address either of these issues. If this is the best economist that Brexiteers have on their team, then the UK is well and truly fucked.

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