Professor Tony Thirlwall gave a keynote address at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva in February, to celebrate the 30th birthday of the founding of the flagship Trade and Development Report.

Tony’s address, titled ‘Reflections on some of the Macroeconomic Issues Raised by UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Reportover Three Decades’, is now published in the Trade and Development Report, 1981-2011.

Click here to read Tony’s statement and the full report.

Professor Roger VickermanProfessor Roger Vickerman delivered a keynote lecture to the University of Hong Kong’s influential Institute of Transport Studies on 25 April. His lecture, titled ‘On the Wider Economic Impacts of Transport Projects’, was part of the Institute’s Distinguished Transport Lecture Series 2012.

During his lecture, Professor Vickerman looked at the methodologies currently used to determine whether transport projects bring wider economic benefits.

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The Bank for International Settlements' Quarterly Review featured two articles by one of the School's PhD students, Jack Meaning, that dealt with unconventional monetary policies.

The first, published in December received international press coverage and was discussed on the front page of the Financial Times. Jack, with co-author Feng Zhu (BIS), estimates the financial market impact of the large scale asset purchase programmes carried out by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England since the crisis, which have become more commonly known as quantitative easing. Using a range of methods the paper finds these programmes significantly lowered financial yields.

The second paper, published on 12 March, discusses the potential for further monetary stimulus via a 'twist' style operation in which the central bank sells assets at the short end of its portfolio to fund purchases of longer dated assets leaving the overall size of their balance sheet unchanged. By doing this the central bank can withdraw maturity from the privately available supply and twist the yield curve, lowering yields at longer maturities relative to the short end.

Using the US as a case study, the article finds significant potential for these initiatives, and more generally finds further support for asset purchases as a tool for monetary policy. However, it does raise issues of fiscal-monetary co-ordination.

These two articles form the basis of a forthcoming and more comprehensive paper on the effectiveness of asset purchases as a tool for monetary policy, which Jack will present at the Bank of England next month.

The School’s Professor Chris Heady, an expert on the effect of taxes on growth, says last week’s Budget could have mixed implications for growth.

He commented: ‘The public discussion of the recent UK budget is likely to continue focussing on the fairness of the budget, in terms of who gains and who loses. However, it is also important to assess its implications for growth, which is primarily driven by investment and productivity.

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School’s expert on transport economics Professor Roger Vickerman comments on road privatisation proposals.

He said: ‘Prime Minister David Cameron has announced proposals to investigate ways of bringing private capital into developing and running Britain’s road network. The popular reaction to this was predictable: another example of selling off the nation’s assets and paving the way to mass tolling. But in fact this is nothing new. For years the Highways Agency has let both new road developments and major improvements to private contractors under the Private Finance initiative.

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