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Economist Jim O’Neill: Scotland debate shows communities want more power

20 Sep 2014

Leading economist Jim O’Neill, who wrote a report arguing that over-centralised decision-making in Whitehall is ‘stifling economic growth’, is speaking at The University of Manchester on Tuesday (23 September). A press conference has been planned ahead of his public lecture.

In the report, Professor O’Neill, who is chairman of the City Growth Commission and Honorary Professor of Economics at The University of Manchester, urged the Government to give cities in the UK more power to levy their own taxes and have greater control over how public money is spent. He says the Scottish Referendum debate had demonstrated the desire for communities to have greater influence over their own futures.

Professor O'Neill also called for all political parties to consider ways of boosting the UK’s structural growth trend within their election manifestos. A number of their ideas, such as improved cross-Pennine train links, have already got on to the policy agenda. (The Commission’s final recommendations will be published on 22 October.)

Speaking at the University’s Arthur Lewis Centenary Lecture on Tuesday, Professor O’Neill will discuss the continued rise of the importance of China and debate whether the US and China are swapping their roles as exporters and importers. He will also suggest that, contrary to pessimistic belief, the world’s underlying economic growth trend is rising, although achieving this potential is being held back by the Euro Area’s ongoing challenges.

The former chief economist of Goldman Sachs made his name as an economist when he coined the term 'BRIC' in 2001 - the acronym refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are all deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development. BRIC came into widespread use as a symbol of the shift in global economic power away from the developed G7 economies towards the developing world.

Also on the day of the lecture, a mural and portrait will be unveiled at the University to mark the centenary of Arthur Lewis, one of the founders of development economics. As Britain’s first black professor, he joined The University in 1948. Professor Lewis went on to complete most of his important work at Manchester, was knighted in 1963 and in 1979 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

The mural will be an inspirational feature on the wall of the five storey Arthur Lewis building, named in his honour, and which is home to the School of Social Sciences.