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The expulsion of politics? What the UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility tells us about the limits of technocracy
7th June 2024 • The Rhodes Center Podcast with Mark Blyth • Rhodes Center
00:00:00 00:43:01

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When it comes to governing our economy, estimates rule the day. We want to know what effect a policy might have on the government’s budget, on economic growth, on employment…in the next 1 year, 5 years, 10 years…you get the idea. If you want to make (or critique) public policy, you better have numbers to back it up. 

To get those types of estimates, economists and politicians often rely on institutions like the Office for Budget Responsibility in the UK, or the Congressional Budget Office in the United States. As a result, their estimates and fiscal projections form crucial data points in our modern politics and policymaking. 

We like to think that these estimates and projections (not to mention, the people who make them) come from somewhere outside of our partisan politics. That while our values might be debatable, the numbers, at least, aren’t.

But, as Mark Blyth’s guest on this episode explains: that idea is a fantasy, and to the extent it obscures the values and politics that are baked into organizations like the Office of Budget Responsibility, it’s a dangerous one. 

On this episode, Mark Blyth talks with Ben Clift, author of “The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Politics of Technocratic Economic Governance.In it, he pulls back the curtain on Britain's Office for Budget Responsibility, and reveals the hidden processes and ideologies that shape the estimates and projections that come out of it. In doing so, he shows how the OBR – and other institutions like it – are much more political than they appear. 

Learn more about and purchase “The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Politics of Technocratic Economic Governance

Learn more about the Watson Institute’s other podcasts

Transcript coming soon to our website




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