On Monday 11 March, we were delighted to host Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at Imperial College London and member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), at Department of Economics at the University of Birmingham for his first speech since joining the MPC last September.

At the event, Jonathan spoke on the Brexit deal and the future trade relationship between the UK and EU following the UK’s departure. Speaking on the Prime Minister’s current proposition, Haskel highlighted that even if Theresa May’s deal is passed, the transition deal could last longer than the currently planned 12 months, citing this as a reason that UK business investment will remain low for the next few years.

Another reason for an unpromising future for UK business investment, as brought to light by Haskel during his speech, is that companies are unsure whether Britain will have a customs union agreement with the EU. Haskel said, “For business, the question of whether that is a customs union or free-trade area is vital since that gives more of a steer as to whether there will be relatively frictionless trade with the EU or not.”

Concluding his speech, Haskel reminded the audience of the Bank of England’s forecasts, which show that Britain will enjoy less trade and output growth in 15 years’ time than if it remained in the EU.

Professor Peter Sinclair from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Economics organised the event, and commented, “Monetary policy generally works better when people have gained some insight into policymakers' thinking about key economic issues relevant to future policy.

For this reason, MPC members give public speeches periodically - most occur in London. However, on 11 March, its newest member, Professor Jonathan Haskel, chose to give his first speech to the Department of Economics at Birmingham. He spoke about what has been happening recently to investment in the UK, and the role of uncertainty. The speech was very warmly received, and attracted many lively questions from students in the audience as well as wide reports in the international media.”