Institute of Economic Affairs
|Type||Free market think tank|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is a corporate funded, non-profit, right-wing libertarian and free-market think tank based in Westminster, London, United Kingdom. Founded by businessman and battery farming pioneer Antony Fisher in 1955, it promotes free market economics. It publishes a magazine, books, and holds lectures regularly.
In 1945, Antony Fisher read a summary of The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. Later that year, Fisher visited Hayek at the London School of Economics. Hayek dissuaded Fisher from embarking on a political and parliamentary career to try to prevent the spread of socialism and central planning. Instead, Hayek suggested the establishment of a body which could engage in research and reach the intellectuals with reasoned argument.
In June 1955, The Free Convertibility of Sterling by George Winder was published, with Fisher signing the foreword as Director of the IEA. In November 1955, the IEA's Original Trust Deed was signed by Fisher, John Harding and Oliver Smedley. Ralph Harris (later Lord Harris) began work as part-time General Director in January 1957. He was joined in 1958 by Arthur Seldon who was initially appointed Editorial Advisor and became the Editorial Director in 1959. Smedley wrote to Fisher that it was
"imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines which might be interpreted as having a political bias. … That is why the first draft [of the IEA’s aims] is written in rather cagey terms".
The Social Affairs Unit was established in December 1980 as an offshoot of the Institute of Economic Affairs to carry the IEA's economic ideas onto the battleground of sociology. "Within a few years the Social Affairs Unit became independent from the IEA, acquiring its own premises." In 1986 the IEA created a Health and Welfare Unit to focus on these aspects of social policy. Discussing the IEA's increasing influence under the Conservative government in the 1980s in relation to the "advent of Thatcherism" and the promotion of privatisation, Dieter Plehwe, a Research Fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, has written that
In 2007, British journalist Andrew Marr called the IEA "undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history". Damien Cahill, a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, has characterised the IEA as, "Britain's oldest and leading neoliberal think tank".
Purpose and aims
It has supported legislation banning charities receiving public funds from lobbying the government (this does not affect IEA itself; as a registered educational charity it is exempt from many taxes, but its funding is private). Charity Commission rules state that "an organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political". In July 2018 the Charity Commission announced that it was to investigate whether the IEA had broken its rules.
Since Britain voted to leave the European Union (Brexit) by March 2019, the IEA has lobbied consistently for a hard Brexit without customs and regulatory alignment, etc.; a report it published in July 2018 proposed using Brexit to remove rules protecting agency workers, to deregulate finance, annul the rules on hazardous chemicals and weaken food labelling laws.
The IEA supports privatising the National Health Service (NHS); campaigns against controls on junk food; attacks trades unions; and defends zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships and tax havens. Its staff frequently appear on BBC television promoting these positions.
Concerns about political independence; investigation
David Davis, Steve Baker and Lord Callanan, ministers at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) at the time, all recorded meetings with the IEA in the first three months of 2018. The Observer reported on 29 July 2018 that the director of the IEA was secretly recorded in May and June telling an undercover reporter that funders could get to know ministers on first-name terms and that his organisation was in "the Brexit influencing game". While seeking funding, Littlewood said that the IEA allowed donors to affect the "salience" of reports and to shape "substantial content". The recording was to be given to the Charity Commission on 30 July.
The Charity Commission, considering that the allegations raised by the recordings were “of a serious nature”, on 20 July 2018 opened a regulatory compliance case into the IEA due to concerns about its political independence, after it became known that it offered potential US donors access to ministers while raising funds for research to promote free-trade deals favoured by proponents of a "hard Brexit". The Commission has powers to examine IEA financial records, legally compel it to provide information, and to disqualify trustees. The IEA denies it has breached charity law.
The register of lobbyists was also considering whether the IEA should be registered. It was also revealed that, after the IEA published a report recommending more casinos, the casino industry donated £8,000 to the IEA.
Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, welcoming the investigation into the IEA, said "on the road to Brexit, a small group of establishment figures, funded to the tune of millions, are covertly pursuing a political campaign in favour of extreme free trade, acting in effect as lobbyists for secretive corporate interests. ... there are serious questions that high-ranking Conservative ministers must now answer about their dealings with the IEA."
It was also revealed that Jersey Finance, representing financial interests in Jersey, paid for an IEA report saying that tax havens (such as Jersey) benefited the wider economy, and did not diminish tax revenues in other countries. The report recommended that their status be protected. The IEA did not disclose the funding from Jersey Finance. A similar IEA report about neighbouring Guernsey was funded by the financial services industry there. Following these revelations, the IEA said that funding they received never influenced the conclusions of reports, and that their output was independent and free from conflict of interest.
The IEA is a registered educational and research charity. The organisation states that it is entirely funded by "voluntary donations from individuals, companies and foundations who want to support its work, plus income from book sales and conferences" and that it is "independent of any political party or group". The IEA's sources of funding are not known, except that there has been long-term funding by British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris International. The IEA has written policy papers arguing against government funding for pressure groups and charities involved in political campaigning.
Funding from multinational tobacco, alcohol and food corporations
The IEA does not disclose their sources of funding but has been criticised by health charities and The Guardian for receiving funds from major tobacco companies whilst campaigning on tobacco related issues. British American Tobacco confirmed it had donated £40,000 to the IEA in 2013, £20,000 in 2012 and £10,000 in 2011 and Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International also confirmed they had provided financial support to the IEA. In 2002 a leaked letter revealed that prominent IEA member, the conservative writer Roger Scruton, had authored an IEA pamphlet attacking the World Health Organisation's campaign on tobacco, whilst failing to disclose that he was receiving £54,000 a year from Japan Tobacco International. In response the IEA said it would introduce an author declaration policy. The IEA says that it "accepts no tied funding".
An organisation called 'American Friends of the IEA' had received $215,000 as of 2010 from the US-based Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, donor-advised funds which support right-wing libertarian causes.
Think tank Transparify, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, ranked the IEA as one of the three least transparent think tanks in the UK in relation to funding. The IEA responded by saying "...It is a matter for individual donors whether they wish their donation to be public or private – we leave that entirely to their discretion.", and that it has not "...earmarked money for commissioned research work from any company".
Funding to the IEA from the alcohol industry, food industry, and sugar industry has also been documented. IEA Research Fellow Christopher Snowdon disclosed alcohol industry funding in a response to a British Medical Journal article in 2014.
Arthur Seldon proposed a series of Papers for economists to explore the market approach to the issues of the day. Eventually these emerged as the Hobart Papers; 154 had been published by August 2006. In addition, 32 Hobart Paperbacks had been released along with 139 Occasional Papers, 61 Readings and 61 Research Monographs. A large number of other titles has been published in association with trade and university presses.
The Journal of Economic Affairs was first published in October 1980 and continues to be published to the present day. IEA publications are sold throughout the world – reprinted and translated into over twenty-five languages. In the UK, many IEA titles have become mandatory in university and classroom reading lists.
IEA papers are arranged in a series of titles, each with its own 'brand image'. The main series of publications is complemented by the IEA's quarterly journal Economic Affairs.
In September 2008, the institute started the IEA blog.
According to the IEA, although not an academic body, the institute's research activities are aided by an international Academic Advisory Council and a panel of Honorary Fellows. The IEA say that their papers are subjected to the same refereeing process used by academic journals, and that the views expressed in IEA papers are those of the authors and not of the IEA, its trustees, directors or advisers.
The IEA has also published research in areas including business ethics, economic development, education, pensions, regulation, taxation and transport.
Books and papers
- The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek (1945) PDF The condensed version of as it appeared in the April 1945 edition of Reader's Digest ISBN 0 255 36530 6
- WHO, What and Why? Transnational Government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organization Roger Scruton (2000) ISBN 0 255 36487 3
- The World Turned Rightside Up A New Trading Agenda for the Age of Globalisation, John C. Hulsman ISBN 0 255 36495 4
- The Representation of Business in English Literature, Introduced and edited by Arthur Pollard Readings 53; ISBN 0 255 36491 1
- Anti-Liberalism 2000 The Rise of New Millennium Collectivism, David Henderson ISBN 0 255 36497 0
- Capitalism, Morality and Markets,Brian Griffiths, Robert A. Sirico, Norman Barry & Frank Field Readings 54; ISBN 0 255 36496 2
- A Conversation with Harris and Seldon, Ralph Harris & Arthur Seldon Occasional Paper 116; ISBN 0 255 36498 9
- Malaria and the DDT Story, Richard Tren & Roger Bate Occasional Paper 117; ISBN 0 255 36499 7
- A Plea to Economists Who Favour Liberty: Assist the Everyman, Daniel B. Klein Occasional Paper 118; ISBN 0 255 36501 2
- Waging the War of Ideas, John Blundell Occasional Paper 119; ISBN 0 255 36500 4
- A Tribute to Peter Bauer, John Blundell et al. Occasional Paper 128; ISBN 0 255 36531 4
- Employment Tribunals Their Growth and the Case for Radical Reform, J. R. Shackleton Hobart Paper 145; ISBN 0 255 36515 2
- Fifty Economic Fallacies Exposed, Geoffrey E. Wood Occasional Paper 129; ISBN 0 255 36518 7
- A Market in Airport Slots,Keith Boyfield (editor), David Starkie, Tom Bass & Barry Humphreys Readings 56; ISBN 0 255 36505 5
- Money, Inflation and the Constitutional Position of the Central Bank, Milton Friedman & Charles A. E. Goodhart Readings 57; ISBN 0 255 36538 1
- Railway.com Parallels between the early British railways and the ICT revolution, Robert C. B. Miller Research Monograph 57; ISBN 0 255 36534 9
- The Regulation of Financial Markets, Edited by Philip Booth & David Currie Readings 58; ISBN 0 255 36551 9
- Bastiat’s The Law, Introduction by Norman Barry Occasional Paper 123; ISBN 0 255 36509 8
- A Globalist Manifesto for Public Policy, Charles Calomiris Occasional Paper 124; ISBN 0 255 36525 X
- Euthanasia for Death Duties Putting Inheritance Tax Out of Its Misery, Barry Bracewell-Milnes ISBN 0 255 36513 6
- Climate Alarmism Reconsidered, Robert L. Bradley jr (2003) ISBN 0255365411
- The Road to Economic Freedom', Philip Booth and John Meadowcroft, (2009) collection of IEA papers written by Nobel Laureates, foreword by Margaret Thatcher.
The IEA holds a range of events throughout the year at its 2 Lord North Street headquarters, from book launches and debates to conferences and lectures (including the Annual Hayek Lecture), Working Lunches and Political Economy Suppers. The 20th Annual Hayek Lecture was delivered on 5 July 2011 by Robert Barro of Harvard University.
IEA's Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (SMPC) was established in July 1997. The SMPC has met on a monthly basis since then. The decisions and minutes of the SMPC are published a few days before the Bank of England's own interest rate decision each month.
Personnel and fellows
- Mark Littlewood, Director General and Ralph Harris Fellow
- Philip Booth, Editorial and Programme Director
- John Blundell, IEA Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Robert L. Bradley, IEA Energy and Climate Change Fellow
- Dennis O'Keeffe, IEA Education and Welfare Fellow
- Richard D. North, IEA Media Fellow
- Mark Pennington, IEA Political Economy Fellow
- IEA: Chronology
- Adam Curtis (13 September 2011). "THE CURSE OF TINA". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- Muller, Christopher (1996). "The Institute of Economic Affairs: Undermining the Post-War Consensus". Contemporary British History. 10 (1): 88–110 [p. 102]. doi:10.1080/13619469608581370.
- Academic Identities – Academic Challenges? American and European Experience of the Transformation of Higher Education and Research, Dieter Plehwe, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, pp. 172–3
- Andrew Marr BBC 2007 A History of Modern Britain
- The End of Laissez-Faire?: On the Durability of Embedded Neoliberalism Damien Cahill, Edward Elgar Pub, 2014, p. 12
- Robert Walmsley, Interview: Mark Littlewood, Cherwell, 26 January 2014
- "Transparify". Transparify.org. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- George Monbiot (18 July 2018). "Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis". The Guardian.
- "Ministerial meetings, January to March 2018". UK Government, Department for Exiting the European Union. 28 June 2018.
- Robert Booth (29 July 2018). "Rightwing UK thinktank 'offered ministerial access' to potential US donors". The Observer.
- Robert Booth and Rajeev Syal (30 July 2018). "Thinktank faces double investigation after 'cash for access' claims". The Guardian.
- Jon Trickett (31 July 2018). "This thinktank scandal is another sign that our democracy is under attack". The Guardian.
- Robert Booth and David Pegg (31 July 2018). "Jersey Finance paid for IEA report rubbishing 'hotbeds of tax evasion' claims". The Guardian.
- Charity Commission. The Institute of Economic Affairs Limited, registered charity no. 235351.
- "about the IEA". Institute of Economic Affairs. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
- Snowden, Christopher. "Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why". IEA Discussion Paper 39. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "Cigarette packaging: the corporate smokescreen". The Guardian. London.
- "British American Tobacco's response to ASH – June 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Health groups dismayed by news 'big tobacco' funded rightwing thinktanks, The Guardian, 1 June 2013
- "Scruton in media plot to promote smoking". The Guardian. London.
- "Pro-tobacco writer admits he should have declared an interest". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- "Peer Review Protocol". IEA. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- "The educational charities that do PR for the rightwing ultra-rich". The Guardian. London.
- Sarah Neville, British think-tanks ‘less transparent about sources of funding’, Financial Times, 17 February 2015
- "How Transparent are Th ink Tanks about Who Funds Them 2015?" (PDF). Transparify. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Neville, Sarah. "British think-tanks 'less transparent about sources of funding'". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Miller, David; Harkins, Claire; Schlögl, Matthias; Montague, Brendan (2017). Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The web of influence of addictive industries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 102–108. ISBN 9780198753261.
- Scruton, Roger. "WHO, WHAT and WHY? Trans-national Government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organisation". IEA. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- "Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" (PDF). IEA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- "The Road to Economic Freedom". IEA. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- IEA: Events
- IEA: Annual IEA Hayek Memorial Lecture
- < IEA Shadow Monetary Policy Committee