"The fiscal mandate is no longer coherent"

NIESR's Jonathan Portes on the Autumn Statement.

Although the boost (£5 billion, or 0.3 per cent of GDP) to public investment is welcome, there is nothing in the Autumn Statement which will make a significant difference to growth or employment in the short term. Moreover, it is highly unfortunate that the money has been found by overriding the automatic stabilisers, which previously were working well in preventing a worse downturn. For the foreseeable future, the OBR forecasts that output will continue to be well below trend, and unemployment will remain correspondingly higher than necessary. Much more ambitious action was called for. 

Over the medium term, the key point is that, with the abandonment of the debt target, the fiscal mandate is no longer coherent (as I argued here); there is no longer any rationale for any particular pace of deficit reduction. It would have been sensible for the government to consult on a replacement.

Photograph: Getty Images

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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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.