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28 September 2015

Who is advising Jeremy Corbyn on economics?

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have selected an economic advisery committee to help create a “coherent alternative” to austerity.

By Stephanie Boland

The details of Labour’s new economic advisory committee are out, with “rockstar” economist Thomas Piketty top of the list. Known for his best-selling 2013 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty joins figures such as anti-austerity heavyweight Joseph Stiglitz in advising Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell as they set out their “economic vision”.

Speaking before the announcement, Corbyn spoke of his “mandate to oppose austerity and to set out on economic strategy based on investment in skills, jobs and infrastructure”. His team reflects this: aside from Piketty and Stiglitz, McDonnell has recruited experts on globalisation, inequality and innovation to present what he calls “the coherent alternative our country so desperately needs”.

But who are the rest of Corbyn’s team?

Mariana Mazzucato

Professor Mariana Mazzacuto is an economist at the University of Sussex whose work explores the relationship between “financial markets, innovation, and economic growth”. She sits on the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers, a group dedicated to growing the Scottish economy and combating inequality in Scotland. Last year, Mazzacuto won the New Statesman SPERI prize in political economy for her research which demonstrates how the state, like the private sector, can encourage innovation.

Anastasia Nesvetailova

Professor Anastasia Nesvetailova is the director of City’s Political Economy Research Centre. Her work focuses on global economics and liquidity – roughly speaking, the ease with which assets can be bought or sold without drastically affecting their price.

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Her most recent monograph, Financial Alchemy in Crisis: The Great Liquidity Illusion, explored the 2007 global financial crisis, suggesting that an illusion of liquidity and the banking sector’s “bullish” lending led to an inevitable meltdown.

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Ann Pettifor

Ann Pettifor is an analyst of the global financial system who predicted the global crash as early as 2003 and published a 2006 monograph entitled The Coming First World Debt Crisis.

In 2011, she co-authored The Economic Consequences of Mr Osborne, a “radical analysis” of the UK’s recent macroeconomic history which concluded that fiscal consolidation – a policy George Osborne sought to implement to lower deficit and debt – had “not improved the public finances” in previous scenarios

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel prize-winning economist based at Columbia University. Having previously made major contributions to the understanding of welfare economics and wealth distribution, he is a frequent commenter on inequality in the New York Times and other publications. He has long criticized austerity policies.

Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty is best known as the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which proposed a radical system of progressive wealth taxes to combat inequality and prevent wealth being concentrated in an elite few.

The 2014 Financial Times book of the year, Capital has faced criticism since its publication both in terms of its empirical findings, and in terms of its central thesis. (Charles Goodheart, for instance, a former Bank of England official now based at the LSE, has argued that changes in population are sufficient to debunk Piketty’s argument.)

Simon Wren-Lewis

A professor of economic policy at the University of Oxford, Simon Wren-Lewis recently argued in the New Statesman that Osborne’s budget was an excuse to reduce the size of the state.

Writing in the Independent today, Wren-Lewis described his intention to help set out a left-wing “pro-investment, anti-inequality” agenda which can achieve consensus in the Labour party.

David Blanchflower

David Blanchflower is a professor in economics at Dartmouth, where he works on labour economics including unemployment. He has recently called austerity “bad economics” and dismissed Osborne’s budget as a “lunatic plan”.