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Annual Review 2011

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


From the Directors

2011 will surely be remembered as an eventful year. From

welfare, and of course, in fiscal policy. In all these areas,

the Arab Spring and the war in Libya, to the Japanese

we must roll back the frontiers of the state and unleash the

earthquake, the London riots and – yes – the Royal

incredible dynamism of the free market. Coming up with the

Wedding, the newspapers had no shortage of things to

ideas that make this possible – we call it policy engineering

write about. And then there was the seemingly perpetual

– is what the Adam Smith Institute is all about.

economic crisis, which naturally loomed large over the Adam Smith Institute’s work in 2011.

This Annual Review pulls together the highlights of our work in 2011, but a few things deserve special mention. As you’ll

But while many commentators and policy analysts lost

read on p.16, Sam Bowman launched City AM’s comment

their way in the face of a never-ending stream of bad

section The Forum with a full page article calling for ‘a new

news, the Adam Smith Institute spoke with clarity and

capitalist revolution’ – relegating shadow chancellor Ed Balls

force not just about the real causes of the crisis, but also

to the second page. Professor Kevin Dowd’s lecture (p.12)

about the rational ways of escaping it. Our principled

on ‘The Decapitalization of the West’ was an intellectual

approach, deeply rooted in liberty, free markets and limited

tour de force, as was education expert James Croft’s

government, made us stand out from the crowd; our track

groundbreaking report on profit-making schools (p.8). And

record opposing bailouts, exposing the unsustainability of

Freedom Week, our weeklong seminar for Britain’s brightest

the welfare state, and revealing the futility of government

young libertarians, was bigger and better than ever before

stimulus, lent our words striking credibility.


Sadly, the West’s economic woes look set to continue

There are few organizations in the world as intellectually

throughout 2012 – a fact that is unlikely to bring a smile to

vibrant, as forward-looking, and as media-savvy as the

anyone’s face. But this crisis remains an opportunity, as well

Adam Smith Institute. Thanks to our talented staff, our

as a threat. Now more than ever, it is vital that we come up

exceptional network, and the generosity of our donors, 2011

with radical but realistic visions for change – in monetary

was a very good year. With your support, we hope that 2012

policy and financial regulation, in education, health, and

can be even better.

Tom Clougherty, Executive Director

Dr Eamonn Butler, Director

Dr Madsen Pirie, President


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Economics Economics dominated the news headlines and the public debate in 2011. The British government started to implement its fiscal consolidation plan. Inflation continued to rise steadily. Recovery from recession faltered, and the eurozone teetered on the edge of collapse.

Throughout the year, the Adam Smith Institute was busy

coalition government’s plans did not go nearly far enough,

providing a strong and distinctive defence of economic

that they were only unwinding a very small part of the

freedom, fighting back against those who argued growth

extraordinary rise in spending that took place under the

could be centrally planned, who said that we could tax our

previous government, and that there was ample scope

way back to prosperity, or who suggested we could borrow

to be far more radical. They consistently debunked the

our way out of debt. The Institute also gave voice to a

‘stimulus’ myth while arguing instead for a thoroughgoing

positive agenda for economic reform, revolving around lower

overhaul of the government and the public sector.

taxes, deregulation, and financial and monetary reform. The ongoing crisis in the eurozone provided an alarming

Keynes Vs. Hayek

example of what happens when governments fail to bring

One of the key themes of the 2011 agenda was captured

debt and deficits under control. In 2011, the Institute’s

by July’s Radio 4 debate at the London School of

policy staff discussed the eurozone in a wide range of

Economics: Keynes Vs. Hayek. Did free markets get us into

forums, always stressing the severity of the crisis and

this mess, and do we need government intervention to get

highlighting its roots in government incompetence. They

us out, as John Maynard Keynes might have suggested? Or

were quick to point out that bailouts and fiscal integration

was it government’s fiscal profligacy, monetary ineptitude,

would not solve the problem, and that hasty and ill-

and misguided financial regulation that got us into trouble

considered bank recapitalisation risked making matters

in the first place? In numerous articles, media appearances

worse. Instead, they made the case for fiscal responsibility

and public speaking engagements in 2011, Adam Smith

and policies to boost economic growth.

Institute experts took the latter, Hayekian position.

An agenda for growth When it came to public spending, Institute spokesmen

One of the biggest political disappointments of 2011 was

repeatedly made clear that there was no alternative to

that the coalition government’s long-awaited growth strategy

spending cuts. Indeed, they frequently argued that the

turned out to be a damp squib. There were no moves to

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


address Britain’s utterly uncompetitive personal taxes. Nor was

capital gains tax to 18 percent. The report was backed up

there any significant progress in cutting red tape and freeing

by a concerted publicity campaign, and several members

up entrepreneurs. Instead, we saw the government involving

of parliament were seen carrying copies into the House of

themselves in the allocation of credit, picking industrial

Commons on budget day. Little wonder that the Chancellor felt

winners, and making dubious claims about the economic

compelled to reassure the House that the 50p rate would not

benefits of expensive infrastructure projects. A series of Adam

be a permanent feature of the British tax system, even if he

Smith Institute projects addressed these issues.

did not feel able to take up the report’s specific proposals.

On tax, the Institute released Peter Young and Miles Saltiel’s

Renewable Energy – Vision or Mirage? took aim at the

The Revenue and Growth Effects of Britain’s High Personal

government’s energy policy, exposing it is an uneconomic

Taxes in March, ahead of the Chancellor’s budget. It argued

exercise in picking winners. The report argued that far

that high personal taxes were hitting growth and would end up

from promoting ‘green growth’ and spurring an economic

hitting government revenue too. It made the case for scrapping

recovery, the government’s subsidy-intensive approach

the 50p tax rate and non-dom tax immediately, reducing the

to the energy sector would actually result in an insecure

higher rate of income tax from 40 to 35 percent, and cutting

and costly supply of energy, which would damage Britain’s

OPPOSITE: Clockwise: front page coverage of our renewables report in the Daily Telegraph; Eamonn writes on boosting businesses in the Sunday Post; the Daily Telegraph

cover our work on the minimum wage; Tom writes in the Sunday Times on the need for deregulation; Detlev Schlichter talks to the ASI about his book ‘Paper Money Collapse’.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

economic competitiveness. High Speed Fail assessed the

levy a proportional tax on all equity, bond and derivative

case for a new high speed railway line and found it wanting

trades. Exposing the flaws in this idea – which was heavily

in almost every respect. Crucially, analyst Nigel Hawkins

promoted by the European Union and numerous left-wing

said HS2 would prove enormously expensive and deliver

pressure groups – became one of the Adam Smith Institute’s

few economic benefits.

main campaigns. Two reports laid out our position: The

Tobin Tax – Reason or Treason? and Hanging London out On regulation, the Adam Smith Institute’s Eamonn Butler

to dry – The impact of an EU Financial Transaction Tax.

and Tim Ambler assembled a panel of five ex-regulators to

Author Adam Baldwin showed how a similar tax had failed

write Reflections on Regulation: Experience and the Future.

miserably in Sweden, pointed out that it could severely

In his introduction, Butler argued that the regulators should

impact one of the UK’s most important industries, and

return to their original purpose: to ensure that markets were

argued that rather than making markets less volatile, the

free and competitive, and then get out of the way. Tom

tax would actually make matters worse. The Adam Smith

Clougherty made that same argument in a Sunday Times

Institute said the tax would be “economic suicide”. Shortly

column based on the report.

afterwards, the Chancellor echoed that sentiment.

So much for the City

But it wasn’t just taxes threatening the financial sector in

Another perilously anti-growth proposal that received a lot

2011. Regulation also loomed large on the horizon, not least

of attention in 2011 was the Financial Transaction Tax, also

in the form of the Independent Commision on Banking, which

known as the Robin Hood Tax or Tobin Tax, which would

delivered its interim and final reports during the course of

ABOVE: Front covers of The Law of Opposites, The Case for NGDP Targeting and High Speed Fail. Coverage of Tax Freedom Day on the front page of the Daily Mail.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Throughout the year, the Adam Smith Institute was busy providing a strong and distinctive defence of economic freedom


Another area that the Independent Commission on Banking (perhaps understandably) did not tackle was accounting rules. Yet as a groundbreaking Adam Smith Institute study showed, this seemingly arcane policy area has had a far more profound impact on our financial sector than is commonly understood. In The Law of

the year. As far as the Adam Smith Institute was concerned,

Opposites banking insider Gordon Kerr exposed the way

the Commission’s recommendations represented a missed

in which international accounting rules have given the

opportunity. They failed to address the key problem with our

impression of illusory profits on bank balance sheets,

modern banking system – namely that governments subsidize

inflating bonuses and creating perverse incentives for

bank risk-taking through implicit and explicit guarantees of

banks to act recklessly. The report was launched at an

bank liabilities. Nor did they get to grips with the systemic

All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in the House of

risk inherent in the deficiencies – current and expected – of

Commons, and was covered by Bloomberg, the BBC, the

international capital regulation. In a series of briefing papers,

Guardian and the Daily Mail.

opinion pieces and public appearances, Institute spokesmen highlighted these flaws and advocated their own, free market

Money, money, money

approach: specfically, we must find ways of removing all

The financial crisis exposed an important flaw in our

government support from the financial sector, and ensure that

macroeconomic framework: inflation targeting failed

failed banks can be resolved in an orderly fashion.

to deliver a stable monetary environment, and allowed

ABOVE: Tom Clougherty and Dr Eamonn Butler on ConservativeHome and 50p coverage in City AM.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

enormously damaging asset bubbles to build up. Yet too few policymakers are thinking seriously about the

from the Great Recession noted American economist Scott Sumner outlined his plan for reform. He argued that a level-targeting regime for NGDP (or nominal income) futures would prove far superior to inflation targeting, and in the long run would make it possible to eliminate policy discretion altogether, so that monetary policy was

alternatives. In The Case for NGDP Targeting: Lessons

The financial crisis exposed an important flaw in our macroeconomic framework: inflation targeting failed to deliver a stable monetary environment, and allowed enormously damaging asset bubbles to build up

conducted ‘automatically’ in accordance with a predetermined rule.

Decapitalization of the West’, suggesting that central banks could be replaced by currency boards offering

Several of the monetary experts who spoke at the Adam

full convertibility into gold. Detlev Schlichter went even

Smith Institute in the course of 2011 took a different, and perhaps even more radical view. In his lecture on ‘The

further when talking about his book Paper Money Collapse, and advocated a shift to a modern version of

anachronism of state-controlled money’ George Selgin

the classical gold standard. Whatever happens in the

argued that the state should not be in the monetary

eurozone, the monetary debate looks set to gather pace

business at all. Leading free banking advocate Kevin

in 2012. The Adam Smith Institute will continue to be at

Dowd took a similar position in his lecture on ‘The

the forefront of it.

ABOVE: Front covers for our 50p tax report, Reflections on Regulation and Renewable Energy: Vision or Mirage?. Coverage of our 50p tax report on the Daily Telegraph and Douglas Carwell MP talking about the eurozone crisis and the outlook for 2012.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


ABOVE: Coverage of our report on the Financial Transaction Tax and Sam’s article on the the need for a capitalist revolution in City AM


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Education and Healthcare The Adam Smith Institute has long been a leader in radical thinking about Britain’s public services, and has a proud history of producing hard-hitting research and innovative policy ideas to extend choice, competition and freedom in healthcare and education. This work continued in 2011.

Arguably the most important piece of research published

clear: far from being skeptical of profit-making schools,

by the Adam Smith Institute in 2011 was Profit-Making

government should embrace them and help more children

Free Schools by James Croft, which explored the untapped

to escape the failing comprehensive model.

potential of the for-profit independent schools sector. Representing the first in-depth, empirical study of its kind

On the healthcare front, Miles Saltiel’s No need to flinch

in the UK, the report comprehensively debunked the idea

laid bare the deficiences of the National Health Service,

that the profit motive compromises standards in education.

analyzing World Health Organization data to show that

In fact, the opposite appeared to be true.

the NHS underperforms on both outcomes and value for money when ranked against similar countries.

The report identified 489 mainstream for-profit schools, serving more than 80,000 pupils. Perhaps contrary to

Chris Davies’ powerful reflection on four decades of NHS

expectations, 83 percent of these schools were non-

care, Reforming the National Health Service, went further,

selective. 80 percent were situated in urban or suburban

arguing that the NHS is fundamentally incapable of

areas. Most strikingly of all, 41 percent operated on fee

serving its customers effectively. His radical blueprint for

levels less than, or on a par with, the national average per

reform would see the entire NHS estate privatized, with

pupil funding in the state-maintained sector. Yet even these

taxpayer funding replaced by a national insurance fund

schools significantly outperformed the independent sector

capitalized with the proceeds of that privatization, and

as a whole.

sustained by employer-employee contributions and user co-payments.

The report didn’t just find that profit-making schools in the UK were capable of providing low-cost, high-quality, non-

Tom Clougherty’s popular think piece What a free market

selective education; it also found that this was a growing

in healthcare would look like went further still, imagining a

and increasingly competitive market, with huge potential

vibrant market completely free of government intervention

to increase capacity, and a strong incentive to do so. The

– and utterly unrecognisable from the healthcare sector as

policy implications of these groundbreaking findings were

it exists today.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


ABOVE: Coverage of our profit-making schools report in the Guardian; the front covers of our reports on Reforming the NHS and Profit-making free schools; Tom writes in The Spectator on Lansley’s reforms; Allister Heath writes about our report in his editor’s letter in City AM.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Adam Smith in 2011 Adam Smith (1723-1790) was the pioneer of modern economics. His great book, The Wealth of Nations (1776) explained the folly of governments trying to control and direct economic life, and the enormous gains that emerge from allowing people to trade freely with one another.

This is a lesson we must re-learn today. For when

Smith would also have regarded a government that spends

individuals, and indeed countries, voluntarily engage in

half the country’s GDP – and he was the inventor of that

commercial exchange, they do so because both sides

concept – as the greatest tyranny. He saw taxes as another

benefit. To maximise those benefits to humanity, we need

way in which established interests manipulate the economy

to encourage voluntary exchange, not restrict it.

in their favour and do down potential competitors. Taxes, he thought, should be as low as possible; they should

Smith believed that a free, competitive economy was by

encourage, not restrict trade; and they should be simple,

far the best way to help the working poor. He wanted

intelligible and convenient. So we can imagine what he

people to be able to use their own efforts and talents

might have thought of a tax code that in Britain today

to improve the lives of themselves and their families.

is now longer than The Wealth of Nations itself, and a

He deplored how important businesses – aided and

regulatory rulebook that is even longer.

abetted by those with the political power – actually promoted regulation as a way of keeping out

When Smith’s ideas were put into practice by reformist

competition from such sources and preventing the rise

nineteenth-century governments, it produced the greatest

of outsiders.

era of free trade, discovery and progress that the world has ever known.

Having lived through a major banking crisis in Scotland, Smith did advocate banking regulation. But his concern

It is an approach we must rediscover – which is one reason

was only to promote honest dealing in the marketplace.

why the Adam Smith Institute published Eamonn Butler’s

Provided that people traded openly and justly, and

The Condensed Wealth of Nations in mid-2011. Smith’s

competition was maintained, the most effective regulators

original is written in a dense and archaic style which,

would be customers themselves. There is no need for

coupled with the book’s length and its many digressions,

detailed technical rules beyond that.

makes it inaccessible for most modern readers.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


Smith believed that a free, competitive economy was by far the best way to help the working poor

The Condensed Wealth of Nations, by contrast, presents Smith’s ideas in modern language, with just enough of Smith’s examples and quotations to provide a sense of colour, and with marginal notes to explain how today’s economic concepts have developed from Smith’s early ideas. It gives the same treatment to Smith’s other great

book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and still manages to come in at just 83 pages. The following quote does not actually appear in The Condensed Wealth of Nations, but it does capture the flavour of Smith’s thinking, as well as the principles that guide the Adam Smith Institute: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”

ABOVE: Dr Eamonn Butler with David Smith, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times and guest speaker for the launch of The Condensed Wealth of Nations; the front cover of The Condensed Wealth of Nations


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Events The Adam Smith Institute hosts some of the most popular events in Westminster. Our evening events bring together diverse audiences and influential academics and politicians to discuss policy and ideas. This year we have increased the number of seminars and lectures and started to film all our events to maximise the reach and impact of our events programme.

Seminars & Lectures In January, Professor Steve Horwitz gave a lecture on ‘An Austrian perspective on the great recession of 2008-2009’, Dambisa Moyo, economist, spoke on ‘How the West was lost’ and Dr Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute explained ‘How to be a rational egoist’. During the Spring we also held a debate on the Alternative Vote, while Greg Clark MP, Mark Pennington and Tim Hellier talked on ‘The Future of Planning’ at an evening seminar. Chris Preble from The Cato Institute came to talk to the The UK’s fragile economic situation was a focus for a

Institute about “A libertarian perspective on foreign policy”

number of our lectures. Professor Kevin Dowd talked about

and in the Summer the Adam Smith Institute held a panel

‘The Decapitalization of the West’ whilst Professor George

discussion with the Free Society on “Education, freedom

Selgin pointed the finger of blame at ‘The Anachronism of

and the State” with speeches by Toby Young, David Davis

State-Controlled Money’. Detlev Schlichter argued that all

MP, Terence Kealey and Tom Clougherty. Dr Tara Smith,

paper money systems ultimately fail at his book launch,

objectivist and professor of philosophy delivered a lecture

hosted by the Adam Smith Institute, entitled ‘Paper Money

on ‘The Pursuit of Happiness – and the Tools Essential to

Collapse’. Dr Razeen Sally also delivered a fascinating

Attaining it”. On a less cheerful note, just before Christmas

lecture on the shift of the world economy to emerging

we held a panel discussion on “2012: the end of the world

markets and what this means for freedom. In December

as we know it?” with Douglas Carswell MP, Jamie Whyte,

we sponsored a discussion in parliament on how bad bank

Alex Massie and Brendan O’Neill. Although the panel

regulation generates illusory profits to accompany our

tended to hold a rather pessimistic view on 2012 there

report ‘The Law of Opposites’ by Gordon Kerr.

were some glimmers of hope to cheer the audience.

ABOVE: David Gauke MP, Freddie Cohen, John Redwood MP, Tom Clougherty and Allister Heath speaking at an Adam Smith Institute event at the Conservative Party Conference.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


Patrons Dinners

to kickstart growth in the UK in a lively discussion. We

In 2011 we continued the Institute’s tradition of holding

also held a panel discussion on ‘Economic Growth and the

private dinners for our most significant donors and

Planning System’ with Bob Neill MP, Steve Baker MP, Tim

supporters. Our guest speakers were Greg Hands MP,

Smith from Berwin Leighton Paisner and Tom Clougherty.

the PPS to George Osborne, David Laws MP, Sir Roger Douglas, the former Finance Minister of New Zealand, and

Parties & book launches

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, the former Scotland Secretary.

Following tradition, the Adam Smith Institute held its annual

All of our dinners are off-the-record and present a unique

Bloggers’ Bash just before Easter, with Tim Montgomerie,

opportunity to hear the most eminent political figures talk

Harry Cole and Douglas Carswell speaking to a packed

candidly about the state of the economy and current events.

room of bloggers and Tweeters. Our summer boat party was also well attended with a mix of students, supporters

Party Conferences

and MPs enjoying an evening cruise along the Thames

This year we focused on the Conservative Party Conference

despite the rain! We held two book launches this year.

in Manchester. We held three fringe events, all of which were a huge success and well-attended. On the first day we

We launched ‘The Condensed Wealth of Nations’ with a

held a panel discussion on ‘The Individual v the State: The

drinks reception at which David Smith, economics editor

Battle for lifestyle freedom” where Philip Davies MP, Dan

of the Sunday Times, gave a short speech on the many

Hamilton, Alex Massie and Chris Snowdon discussed sin

merits of Eamonn’s book. We also held a triple book launch

taxes and increasing interference of the State into people’s

for JP’s ‘What the Immigrant Saw’, Madsen’s ‘The Emerald

personal consumption and lifestyle choices.

Warriors’ and Eamonn’s primer on Milton Friedman. In December we held our Christmas Party at the St Stephen’s

Our most popular fringe event focused on ‘Wealth Creation

Club with John Redwood speaking. The room was packed

and the Coalition: An Agenda for Growth’. David Gauke MP,

and buzzing with MPs, journalists, supporters and students

John Redwood MP, Allister Heath from City AM and Freddie

dropping by to celebrate the end of another successful year

Cohen, Finance minister of Jersey, debated the best ways

for the Adam Smith Institute. ABOVE: Guest speaker Peter Stringfellow with Eamonn Butler at one of our student events; John Redwood speaking at the Christmas Party; Elizabeth Truss MP speaking at our student conference; and Dr Razeen Sally delivering a lecture on the shift to emerging markets.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Students The Adam Smith Institute sees student outreach and education as a core part of its activity, and it runs through everything the Institute does – from its online and social media presence, to its publications, seminars and lectures. Few think tanks attract such a youthful audience. But the Institute also runs a variety of dedicated student programmes, which went from strength to strength in 2011.

The Next Generation

and the profit motive’ from leading libertarian thinkers.

The Next Generation is the Adam Smith Institute’s group for

This year’s ISOS debate saw philosopher-turned-journalist

the under 30s, which meets most months in Westminster.

and media commentator Jamie Whyte face the Institute of

Guest speakers this year fell into two main camps. First, we

Ideas’ Patrick Hayes on the motion, ‘This house believes

had the ‘next generation’ of political leaders, with new MPs

there are no such things as free markets’. In our post-

Sajid Javid and Elizabeth Truss making the case for a radical,

conference survey, 96 percent of respondents rated ISOS

free-market government, and MEP Syed Kamal talking

as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’.

about his battles for liberty in the EU. Then we had three speakers adressing controversial libertarian topics: legendary

The Liberty Lectures

club-owner Peter Stringfellow gave us his take on personal

September’s ‘Liberty Lectures’ conference was open

freedom; SpikedOnline’s Brendan O’Neill argued the London

to more advanced students, and featured longer, more

riots were ‘a mob made by the welfare state’; and drug

in-depth talks and discussions – which were subsequently

policy expert Steve Rolles advocated legalization. The Next

made available on the Adam Smith Institute’s YouTube

Generation also hosted a debate ahead of May’s Alternative

channel. Tim Evans explored the proper role of

Vote referendum, which pitted No2AV’s Dylan Sharpe against

government, Jamie Whyte wondered how moral capitalism

the IEA’s Mark Littlewood.

was, Eamonn Butler explained how markets work, and Andrew Lilico examined the real causes of the financial

Independent Seminar on the Open Society


The Adam Smith Institute’s long-running conferences for sixth-form students continued in 2011, with nearly two

Freedom Week

hundred schoolgoers hearing robust, free market talks on

Freedom Week, organized in partnership with the Institute

topics like ‘political interest and consumer power’, ‘public

of Economic Affairs, was the jewel in the crown of the

goods and the myth of market failure’, and ‘externalities

Adam Smith Institute’s 2011 student programmes. 40

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011


The Adam Smith Institute sees student outreach and education as a core part of its activity, and it runs through everything the Institute does

affliliated student societies and look set to continue growing

students – more than ever before – came to Sidney Sussex

whether Islam and libertarianism can be reconciled, and

College, Cambridge, for an expenses-paid week of learning

asked ‘Where next for education?’ Freedom-fighting MP

about liberty and free markets. Topics covered included

Steve Baker gave the keynote address.

rapidly. In October, they held their first Liberty League Annual Conference in London, with the Adam Smith Institute as a sponsor. Head of Research Sam Bowman chaired a panel discussion on ‘How the state harms the poor’, while other sessions put the Chicago and Austrian schools of economics head-to-head with one another, explored

the Austrian school of economics, public choice theory, classical liberalism and social justice, and the history of

European Students for Liberty

freedom. In addition to attending lectures and participating

Another great thing to come out of 2011 was the

in discussions, attendees had the opportunity to network

establishment of European Students for Liberty, which

with fellow students, leading academics, and think tank

aims to help students acquire the skills, momentum,

representatives – all in a relaxed atmosphere with nightly

and connections necessary to effectively advance liberty

social activities.

across Europe. The Adam Smith Institute was one of the main sponsors of its inaugural conference, which took

UK Liberty League

place in Leuven, Belgium, in November. The conference

In early 2011, three members of the Adam Smith Institute’s

attracted over 220 students from 25 different countries,

Next Generation group independently set up the UK Liberty

who enjoyed three days of lectures, workshops, and social

League, an umbrella organization for classical liberal campus

events. The conference was also broadcast live on the

groups across the UK. They already have more than 20


ABOVE: Students at our day-long ISOS conference; young people at a Next Generation meeting and students at the ESFL conference in Leuven.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Media Outreach Media outreach is a central part of the Adam Smith Institute’s work. Our spokesmen regularly appear in print, and on broadcast and online outlets making the case for freer, more competitive markets and greater individual freedom.

Commentary Apart from promoting our latest publications, representatives of the Institute have been commenting on topics as diverse as tax simplification, the Eurozone crisis, welfare reform, economic growth and education reform.

Broadcast We regularly take part in interviews, debates and panel discussions on a wide range of programmes both on radio and TV. For example, in the last month (December 2011) ASI representatives have appeared on Sky News, Bloomberg TV, Radio 4’s PM show, BBC News, BBC World Service and a number of regional radio stations.

Print Traditional print media is still one of our main sources of media coverage, with our op-eds, report coverage and

Our spokesmen regularly appear in print, and on broadcast and online outlets making the case for freer, more competitive markers and greater individual freedom

comments featuring in national and regional newspapers

worldwide. The Institute has a number of strong writers,


which has ensured we produce a high number of comment

The Adam Smith Insititute blog remains the focus of our

pieces in the papers. Our Head of Research, Sam Bowman,

online activity. However, we also write for a number of online

was even given the privilege of writing the first op-ed piece

news sources and blogs to complement this. In particular,

for City AM’s new forum section on the need for a new

we regularly write for ConservativeHome and the Spectator’s

capitalist revolution. In 2012 we will be seeking to set up even

Coffee House blog. Our reports and comments also often get

more op-eds in order to maximise our impact in the media

picked up by websites such as the Daily Mail Right Minds

and to better promote free markets and limited government.

blogs, and many specialist online media.

ABOVE: Eamonn on BBC News discussing public resentment of high taxes.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

ABOVE: Tom discusses the need to cut public spending on Al-Jazeera; Madsen calls for the 50p tax rate to be scrapped on Sky News; Sam talks about the public sector strikes


on Al-Jazeera; Tom addresses the relationship between the media and politics on CNBC; Adam Smith Institute author Gordon Kerr promotes ‘The Law of Opposites’ on Bloomberg.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

New Media Engagement The Adam Smith Institute is proud of its active following and engagement on online and social media platforms. Its blog is one of the most popular think tank destinations in the world, and it is one of the most well-followed think tanks on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Adam Smith’s example of the power of specialization and

The new Adam Smith Institute website, launched at the

cooperation as the inspiration for our group efforts.

end of 2011, is the latest chapter in our proud history of online engagement. As the first British think tank with a

Traffic to the blog has risen by about 50% over 2011, from

website, and the first with a blog, the Adam Smith Institute

an average of around 2,000 visitors per day in 2010 to an

has always led the field in quality online content. Our new

average of around 3,000 visitors per day in 2011. We are

website is stylish and easy to navigate, and will set us in

aiming to increase this even more in 2012 by introducing

good stead for years to come.

new writers and developing the blog’s voice so that it becomes the go-to place for irreverent, sharp comment

The website also sees the launch of a new “Articles”

from a libertarian perspective.

section, which will host thoughtful extended articles on liberty and the modern world that will consolidate its place

Facebook and Twitter

as the go-to destination for liberal thought in Britain. Since

As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is

its launch, it has hosted articles on topics ranging from the

central to our new media strategy. Our fan numbers on

impact of profit on schooling to private security provision in

Facebook grew from 2,700 to over 5,000 during 2011,

parts of Kenya.

and our Twitter followers more than doubled from around 2,750 to over 7,000. These two platforms are critical to

The Blog

our continued growth and success as an organization,

The ASI blog remains the focal point of most traffic to our

because they deliver a high-quality readership and allow

website, and is the most popular think tank blog in the UK

the potential for rapid dissemination of our articles.

by some distance. A group blog with regular contributions by ASI staff and external writers like Tim Worstall and

Both Facebook and Twitter allow us to engage with our

Christopher Snowdon, it gives the Adam Smith Institute

supporters and critics constructively, so that we can

a platform on which to comment on the day’s news on

answer questions, share interesting links and help to foster

our own terms. With the launch of our new website, the

the growth of an online community of liberty-minded

blog has been rechristened ‘The Pin Factory’ – taking

people in the UK and overseas.

The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011

Youtube While we have had a presence on Youtube for several years, 2011 was the year when we fully began to embrace



The new Adam Smith Institute website launched at the end of 2011


this platform. We have begun to record all of our events

The potential here is enormous: as our Youtube channel

and upload them as soon as possible, giving our events a

grows in subscribers (driven by Facebook, Twitter and blog

much greater impact and allowing people from all around

followers), it will allow us to leverage our events to give our

the world to watch them.

message of liberty a truly global reach. The unified strategy of social media outreach that the Adam Smith Institute has

For example, a popular lecture by economist Detlev

had so much success with in 2011 will help 2012 to be our

Schlichter had over 100 attendees; but this is dwarfed by

best year yet for online presence, confirming the Adam Smith

the 1,300 people in Britain, the US and Europe who have

Institute as the think tank with the best online presence of

watched it on Youtube.

any UK think tank, left or right.

ABOVE: The new, our YouTube video channel, and our Twitter feed.


The Adam Smith Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2011









According to The Global ‘Go-To Think Tanks’, published by the University of Pennsylvania, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, January 18, 2011.

Supporting Adam Smith Institute As the accolades above suggest, the Adam Smith Institute

The one pledge we make to all our donors is this: we will make

is one of the world’s leading think tanks. Its ideas don’t just

your money work as hard for freedom as it possibly can. We

change minds; they also change the world.

run a tight ship, and take pains to be as lean, efficient and effective as possible. Many think tanks have much bigger

We hope this Annual Review has given you a taste of what we

budgets, but few deliver as much ‘bang for the buck’ as the

do. From our vital media commentary and our agenda-setting

Adam Smith Institute.

research and events, to our unparalleled online outreach and peerless student programmes, the Adam Smith Institute is

To find out more about supporting the Institute, go to

at the forefront of defending, and extending, freedom in the, or get in touch with our

United Kingdom.

communications director, Sally Thompson (sally@adamsmith. org). Donors receive hard copies of our research and books,

It is essential work, and we enjoy every minute of it. But

and get advance invitations to our events. Significant donors

nothing would be possible without the support and generosity

regularly attend our much-loved Patrons’ Dinners, for off-the-

of our donors. We are an independent, non-partisan, non-

record discussions with leading political figures.

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But most importantly, all of our donors get to be part of a noble cause, a member of a movement that seeks to

Now more than ever, it is vital that friends of liberty stand up

bring freedom and prosperity to each and every individual.

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Remember, our existence and our effectiveness depends

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make the consistent, principled case for free markets and a

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making a donation to the Adam Smith Institute today.


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Annual Review 2011  

This report reviews the Adam Smith Institute's work in 2011, covering its policy research, events, student programmes, and communications ou...