No One Has Time For A Completely Free Market

The free market often sounds quite simple and straight forward. Consumers simply decide whether product A or B benefits them more and then choose accordingly. If the same or similar product is sold by shop A or B consumers simply choose whichever is cheaper, better quality or otherwise benefits them. It is easy and doesn’t require any complicated plan or someone telling consumers what is best for them, people simply decide themselves. This is the market as described by economists, politicians and writers, especially when they are trying to make a political point. After all, if the market is so simple and straight forward, why do we need the government interfering? All these rules and regulations only get in the way, surely it is better for everyone if we just leave the consumers to decide for themselves. Continue reading “No One Has Time For A Completely Free Market”

Health – A Market Like No Other

As part of my economics degree and my wide reading of economics books, I have had the idea of the market drilled into my head. The market is continually praised and idealised as the best way to organise resources in society. When then is health the major exception? Why do we not pay for medical treatment the same way we pay for a house or hire a doctor like we hire a plumber? Why is health treated in such a completely way, and why is this differential so widely accepted? Continue reading “Health – A Market Like No Other”

The Bitcoin Bubble Has Burst

Well it has finally happened. We looked at those charts of ever rising price of bitcoin and said this cannot last, and it hasn’t. The bitcoin bubble has finally peaked and now all that is left is to watch its steady and inexorable decline. But this post will not simply be full of smug gloating (though I see no reason why there shouldn’t be at least a little bit of smugness). You see, the crash of bitcoin mirrors other financial crashes and gives us an opportunity to draw some conclusions. It is best to view bitcoin as a giant experiment of how an economy would operate without a central bank. Continue reading “The Bitcoin Bubble Has Burst”

Horse Burgers And Food Regulation

Abolish government regulation of food, what could possibly go wrong? Over the last few weeks the Irish and UK food industry has been rocked by the discovery that many beef products actually contained horse meat. This has raised all such of questions and it is highly likely that other frauds were committed. In this context, it is worth examining why we have government intervention in the economy. It is regularly asserted that the government is only a burden on the private sector and that we would all benefit if the market was left alone. Do consumers need the government to protect them from unscrupulous businesses or can the market regulate itself? Continue reading “Horse Burgers And Food Regulation”

What We Don’t Know

For the free market to work it is assumed that everyone knows everything, or at least everything they need to know. However the world is full of things we know nothing about. This is the problem of asymmetric information, where one person knows more than the other. This creates many problems which hamper the operation of the free market and prevent it from reaching the perfect equilibrium. Continue reading “What We Don’t Know”

Conservative Logic

There is no such thing as a free lunch . . . except for free trade which makes everyone everywhere better off

It is naive and foolish to imagine there is some magic pot of gold which will make us all magically richer . . . but competition magically makes everyone richer

As Adam Smith said, the “invisible hand” of the free market ensures everyone is best off . . . even though Smith never said that about the market but rather about protectionism.

We should never rely on one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t take account of the specifics of each case . . . and cut taxes in response to every problem

The government makes everything worse . . . which is why countries like Somalia which have no government are so much better off Continue reading “Conservative Logic”

The Market Is Never Free

It is common to hear people call for the removal of the government from the market or launch defences of the ‘free’ market. It is asserted that governments always get things wrong and that regulations only make things worse. Conservatives proclaim that if the economy was only left in the hands of the free market everything would be better. However there is no such thing as the free market. It doesn’t exist and probably never did. Every market has some rules and regulations that even conservatives admit are necessary. We have grown so use to them that we don’t see them but they are still there. The market is never free. Continue reading “The Market Is Never Free”