We need more London

So let's build it.

The Economist's Ryan Avent has a great turn of phrase when discussing London's sky-high house prices, and the supply constraint which has caused them:

The world craves London and is willing to pay vast amounts of money for a piece of it. And there are few logistical limits to making more London: a process that would generate huge flows of income and employment for Britons… One could free building rules dramatically (lowering the shadow tax rate) and raise actual property taxes to help fund new infrastructure, and still have everyone come out ahead.

Or almost everyone, I should say. Property owners would not. And that's the reason there is a problem in the first place. London property owners, as a class, are effectively an incredibly successful rent-seeking operation greedily sucking up the economic surplus generated by the city's economy.

London is a limited commodity. Not everyone can live there, it's true. But it's not actually as limited as it seems. We could build a lot more London than we do. Avent, with the incision of an outsider turning his eye to matters bogged down in local politics, offers some pretty good reasons to do so, and some responses to the most common reasons against. Worth a read.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.