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Kirsty Styles chats to James Meadway, Senior Economist at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), to break down all the big issues in macroeconomics in the UK and beyond. New episodes on Mondays.

Kirsty Styles chats to James Meadway, Senior Economist at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), to break down all the big issues in macroeconomics in the UK and beyond. New episodes on Mondays.
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Kirsty Styles chats to James Meadway, Senior Economist at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), to break down all the big issues in macroeconomics in the UK and beyond. New episodes on Mondays.




What does a progressive border policy look like?

The Windrush scandal outraged the nation last year. But last week the Home Office reinstated deportation flights to Jamaica for criminal offenders who they say are foreign nationals. Meanwhile, parliament passed a new immigration bill last month, promising to control the “number and type” of people coming to the UK. The home secretary came under fire for proposing a £30,000 income threshold for EU immigrants. A lot of the debate we hear about immigration is made in economic terms. But it’s...


How the economy is damaging our mental health

This Thursday is Time To Talk Day, a day meant to encourage people to talk about mental health. But what are the wider social and economic factors that are causing poor mental health in the first place? Is the economy itself damaging our mental health? Is modern life making us sick? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith talks to Hana Riaz, who is researching the impact of gentrification on mental health, New Economics Foundation organiser Becki Winson, and NEF wellbeing researcher Annie Quick. If you, or...


Why economics needs a rethink

Last week saw a record number of the world's elite flying their private jets to Davos for the World Economic Forum. Oxfam reported that in the 10 years since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires around the world has nearly doubled. It’s fair to say, the economy isn’t working for everyone. Every week on this podcast we look at a different economic problem and how to solve it, but what if economics itself – the way we teach it, talk about it and think about it – is the real...


What's really making the NHS sick?

Two years ago, nurses and doctors warned that the annual NHS winter crisis was now 'the new normal'. In the cold weather, hospitals were overwhelmed by patients that they did not have the space to treat. But we've had a milder winter this year. Is the same true for the health service? Two weeks ago, the prime minister announced a new 10 year plan for the NHS in England, promising ‘world class’ care. But critics say nothing much has changed – and that the NHS will continue to lurch from...


Lexit vs Remain and Reform

Grace Blakeley argues the case for 'Lexit' (a left-wing exit from the European Union) while Laurie Macfarlane thinks 'Remain and Reform' is our best option. With a vote on the Prime Minister's deal imminent, what are the options? Paul Mason recently described Lexit – the leftwing case for Brexit – as a political fantasy, but is there still a progressive case for leaving the EU? Was there ever one? Or is our best chance to stay in the EU and reform it? Can it even be reformed? We wanted to...


Populism (Live) with Jonathan Smucker & Chantal Mouffe

Can populism be progressive, and what role did it play in the US mid-terms this year? We’ll be back with a brand new series in the new year, but in the meantime we wanted to bring you something a bit different: the best bits from a live event hosted by the New Economy Organisers Network in London in November about progressive populism. The guests were the political theorist Chantal Mouffe, who literally wrote the book on progressive populism ('For A Left Populism'), and the American...


Summer climate breakdown

We’ve just had a few days of respite from the craziest temperatures, but this summer’s heatwave has felt unusual. Parks turning to dust and reservoirs running out. Record temperatures and sweeping fires. It feels as though, this summer, we’ve had a glimpse at what our ‘new normal’ might look like. It’s a disaster on a global scale and it’s been taking hold for some time. So why aren’t we in a panic? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Dave Powell, head of environment at the New Economics...


Why the interest rate hike was a bad move

Last week the Bank of England moved interest rates to their highest level in almost a decade. If you’ve got a mortgage, it might get more expensive. If you’ve got savings, you might get a bit more interest on your money. Does this tell us anything about what the Bank of England thinks is going to happen to the economy? And was it the right decision? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith speaks to Alfie Stirling, head of economics at the New Economics Foundation. Find Ayeisha's new 4-part BBC Radio 4 series,...


Can populism be progressive?

Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump; Erdogan in Turkey and the Five Star Movement in Italy; Podemos in Spain and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. All of them have been described as populists. But what does ‘populism’ actually mean? How can it include people with wildly different ideologies under the same umbrella? Is it possible to be a progressive populist – and even if it is, should progressives use that label? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by academic and writer Eliane Glaser, and Michael...


The rise of the data oligarchs

There are troubling signs that the new data-driven economy is inheriting all the same problems as the old one: power imbalances, monopolies and a lack of accountability. How gloomy should we be? Will technology inevitably lead us to a digital dystopia? Or could there be a whole range of potential futures, some of them shiny and welcoming, others dark and scary? Hanna Wheatley is joined by New Economics Foundation researcher Duncan McCann, and Carl Miller, research director for the Centre for...


Brexit: what next?

In between the resignations and the reshuffles, what have we learned about about where Brexit will go next? Much of the focus has been on the response to the deal the prime minister reached with her cabinet at Chequers, but what was in the deal itself? How practical is the government’s position on Brexit? And what are the alternatives? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Marley Morris, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, and Andrew Pendleton, NEF's director of...


Is it the end of the road for the high street?

Is British shopping in crisis? Major names are struggling or closing down, nearly 22,000 jobs are at risk, and the UK now has an estimated 1,800 fewer high street shops than it had a year ago. Are we all just moving online and shopping from our sofas, or is this a sign that our economy might be in deeper trouble? Does Brexit have anything to do with it? Will Greggs be okay? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Krissie Nicolson, founding organiser of the East End Trades Guild, and Will Brett,...


Can we tax our way to a cleaner planet?

One of the most fashionable economic ideas of the past decade has been ‘nudge’ theory – the idea that a little prod from government can encourage us to change our behaviour and be better citizens, maybe without even realising it. Meanwhile, good old-fashioned regulation seems to have been decidedly out of favour with recent governments – and leaving the market to just do its thing isn’t all that popular with campaigners. When it comes to the environment, do all of these approaches have their...


Happy birthday NHS?

Happy birthday, NHS! That was the message from the prime minister last week, as she announced an extra £20bn of funding for the NHS in England by 2023. But is that enough? And where will the money come from? There’s been talk of a ‘Brexit dividend’ – does that mean the infamous battle bus promise has come true? Or will some of us have to pay more tax to keep our NHS on life support? And whatever happened to fixing our broken social care system? This week, Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by...


One year on from the Grenfell Tower fire

The fire at Grenfell Tower a year ago last week was, above all, a tragedy for its residents, their friends, and their families. It’s also come to symbolise a deeper crisis in British society – at least in the eyes of many people. On this week's podcast, we’re giving you an update on what we’ve learned since that night; what the inquiry has heard; and the shifting national conversation about Grenfell. Ayeisha Thomas-Smith speaks to Luke Barratt, business reporter at Inside Housing, and Katya...


Does the Windrush scandal signal the end of Britain's 'hostile environment'?

Papers destroyed by the Home Office. Forced out of work. Denied cancer treatment. Held in detention. Deported. Those are just a few of the terrible stories we’ve heard about the treatment of the Windrush generation over the past few months. We’ve had a change of Home Secretary, but will there be a change in policy? The government set up a ‘Windrush taskforce’ in April – but will it right these wrongs? And what does the ‘hostile environment’ policy say about the UK’s difficult relationship...


Universal Basic Income or Universal Basic Services?

Universal basic income – an idea that almost no one had heard of just a few years ago – is now one of the most fashionable concepts in progressive politics. With automation increasing and wages stagnating, the theory is that giving everyone a set amount of money each year will liberate them to do what they want with their lives – and keep them out of poverty. But some people think universal basic income is a utopian impossibility. Others think it’s dangerous. So there’s a proposal for...


What if Russia cuts off our gas?

A nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury has led to a retaliation by the UK government – expelling diplomats and ramping up a war of words. With Putin winning another huge election victory last week, some people are worried that we’re entering a new Cold War. Meanwhile, UK gas supplies have run low thanks to the recent winter freeze. What if Russia were to switch off our gas? Has it done it to other countries? And how would we get by? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is...


Can we bring down house prices without crashing the economy?

It’s one of the biggest contradictions in British politics. Across the country, baby boomers who own a house cheer as the value of their property rises. Meanwhile their millennial children watch on in horror, as owning their own home increasingly falls out of their reach. Politicians talk about building more homes but very few of them talk about directly reducing house prices. If house prices are too high for people to be able to buy houses, how can we bring them down? And can we do it...


Why are university lecturers on strike?

Universities up and down the country have been shutting down as lecturers have walked out, arguing that the changes to their pension schemes could leave them thousands of pounds a year worse off in retirement. If you don’t know the difference between your defined benefits and your defined contributions, getting your head round the issues can feel like doing an economics PhD before you’ve done your 101. So this week we’re breaking down what the university strikes are all about, and what they...