Steve Davies (IEA): Why the Future Could Be a World of City States?

If you believe in maximum freedom and minimum government, do not miss the highlight of the 2016/17 academic year. Dr Steve Davies, Head of Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs, is coming to Oxford to talk about the promising future of city states.

Maps of the world typically show it divided into solid blocks of colour, marking sovereign territorial states. Most of our history is about how those states appeared and evolved while our economic and political analysis takes this picture of the world as its starting point.

However it is an ever less accurate picture of the actual social and economic world that we inhabit. Rather we are increasingly living in a world of city regions, which are the real basic units of the world society and economy. Our political institutions however do not reflect this.

Might we be moving to a world of city states, in which Hong Kong and Singapore are the models of the future? In addition we think that there was an inevitable historical trend to territorial states, whether nation states or empires. In fact the city state and league of city states have been important rival ways of organising political life in many times and places. This may soon be true again.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception.

TIME: Tuesday May 16th, 6pm
LOCATION: Lincoln College, the Oakeshott Room

About our speaker:
Dr Steve Davies is Head of Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. Previously he was program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) at George Mason University in Virginia. He joined IHS from the UK where he was Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Economic History at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. A historian, he graduated from St Andrews University in Scotland in 1976 and gained his PhD from the same institution in 1984. He has authored several books, including Empiricism and History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and was co-editor with Nigel Ashford of The Dictionary of Conservative and Libertarian Thought (Routledge, 1991).

The event is co-organised by European Students for Liberty.

Peter Kaznacheev on the Future of Petro-States

Many thanks to Peter Kaznacheev, Director of the Centre for Resource Economics, who came to speak to us this week on the future of petro-states. The talk, entitled “Debunking the Myth of the Resource Curse”, was very insightful in explaining how oil-dependant economies adapt (or fail to adapt) to the new reality of cheaper oil.

In his talk Peter explained what might have caused the recent fall in oil prices. For decades the price of a barrel has been extremely sensitive to military conflicts in the Middle East. However, the expansion of ISIS in the region in 2014 did not cause another rise in price. Quite the opposite, we saw one of the most dramatic drops. According to Peter, we have entered the era of the “Oil Zen”, and the innovation boom in the industry, especially the shale revolution in the U.S., is in many ways responsible for that.

In 2014 (for the first time since the 1970s) the U.S. crude production surpassed that of Russia and Saudi Arabia. The long period of inflated prices, which started in the 1950s with a wave of nationalisations across oil-producing countries, is probably over, Peter said. The shale revolution shifted leadership in the industry from authoritarian and corrupt regimes to the countries with stronger democratic institutions and more favorable business climate.

Anti-corription protests in resource-rich economies, according to Peter, show that the “resource nationalism” model is being seriously questioned by the people of these countries. The Petrobras corruption scandal triggered mass civil protests against Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff and consequently lead to her impeachment. Corruption scandals occurred a number of oil economies in recent years: from Nigeria and Malaysia to Venezuela and Russia.

The “resource curse” hypothesis, Peter claimed, is supported not so much by scholars as by the leaders of resource-rich countries who prefer to blame economic stagnation on oil abundance. However, oil exporting countries, such as Canada, Australia, Norway and Malaysia, demonstrate that it is possible to build a prosperous and innovative economy with a significant share of income from the sale of hydrocarbons. Evidence is at odds with the idea that mineral exporting countries are doomed to rent-seeking and corruption.

Peter Kaznacheev is an energy economist, researcher and columnist. In parallel to the Centre for Resource Economics, he also runs a consulting firm helping businesses to adapt to the new era of cheaper oil. Previously, he worked as a business developer at BP, and before that (in 2002-2005), as a senior advisor in the Russian Presidential Administration. Peter is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, a network of international scholars founded by F. A. Hayek. His most recent policy paper Curse or Blessing? How Institutions Determine Success in Resource-Rich Economies was published by the Cato Institute.

Everyone took a copy of the books “Peace, Love Liberty” and “Why Liberty”, both collections of essays written by distinguished scholars, entrepreneurs, activists and edited by Tom Palmer, Vice President of Atlas Network.

Here are some photos of the event (for more photos check our Facebook page):


Debunking the Myth of the ‘Resource Curse’ — Peter Kaznacheev talk

The “resource curse” hypothesis postulates that resource-rich countries are doomed to stagnation. However, a number of countries with high levels of economic freedom demonstrate that it is possible to build a prosperous economy with a significant share of GDP from the sale of minerals. It is not the price of a barrel, but the quality of institutions – namely, secure property rights, a favorable tax regime, minimal red tape – that determine whether oil is a blessing or a curse.

What caused the fall in oil prices in 2014? How will global politics be affected by the changing energy environment? Will countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia stick to the traditional model of “resource nationalism” or are we likely to see elements of modernisation? 

Find out on Tuesday, 21th Feb (Week 6), at 6.30 pm. The address is Deakin Room, Founders Building, St. Antony’s College (62 Woodstock Rd).

Our guest speaker will be Peter Kaznacheev, an energy economist, researcher and columnist. He runs the Centre for Resource Economics, a think tank, and a consulting firm helping businesses to adapt to the new era of cheaper oil. Previously, he worked as a business developer at BP, and before that (in 2002-2005), as a senior advisor in the Russian Presidential Administration.

Peter is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, a network of international scholars founded by F. A. Hayek. His most recent policy paper Curse or Blessing? How Institutions Determine Success in Resource-Rich Economies was published by the Cato Institute.

Why We Still Need to Read Hayek? Let’s Discuss!

Being a Hayek Society, we are starting a series of discussions on Friedrich Hayek’s heritage. Our initial meeting will be dedicated to The Road to Serfdom, the book that became a powerful and influential manifesto for many generations of classical liberals.

Hayek warns of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from central planning. Now that the global anti-liberalism, both in its leftist and rightist version, is on the rise, how can we avoid ‘the road to serfdom’?

  • What’s wrong with central planning?
  • Can we have political liberty without having economic freedom?
  • Why socialist ideas are so appealing to intellectuals?
  • How does propaganda help dictators survive?
  • What can a book written half-a-century ago teach us about the world we live in?

Let’s discuss! We encourage you to (re-)read The Road To Serfdom, at least partially, and prepare your thoughts and questions. FREE BOOKS from the Institute of Economic Affairs will be waiting for you.

Date: Friday, 17th Feb (Week 5), 5.30 pm.

Location: Deakin Room, St. Antony’s College

After the discussion, we can have a dinner at St. Antony’s College for £4.50 only and then go on a Friday’s pub crawl!

Meeting with Geoffrey Neale, U.S. Libertarian Party ex-Chairman

Many thanks to Geoffrey Neale, ex-Chairman of the U.S. Libertarian Party, for coming to meet us on January, 25th.

The third largest political party in the U.S., it was founded in 1971 as a response to the Vietnam War, conscription, and the end of the gold standard. After resigning as an LP Chairman, Geoff inspired the foundation of the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties. In 2016, he took part in Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign which became the most successful LP electoral campaign to date.

At King’s Arms, Geoff enjoyed discussing British and American politics over a pint — we did too!



Hilary Term Wk7

Many thanks to Professor Evans for a most interesting lecture on the past, present and future of the UK political economy on Monday. In under an hour he covered 200 years of the UK public sector, from the Napoleonic Wars to present, the nature of government, Adam Smith, governance in the digital age and more besides!

There was a very engaging discussion afterwards during the Q&A and continued over drinks, on topics ranging from the UK’s economic relations with China to Brexit.

Here are some photos from the event:

IMG_5016[1] 160229 OHS Tim Evans group photo

We hope our supporters have enjoyed this term’s programme of events and we look forward to welcoming you back in Trinity.


Linda Whetstone talk

Linda-whetstone photo

Many thanks to Linda Whetstone for coming to speak to the Hayek Society on Monday.  Linda Whetstone is Chairman of Network for a Free Society and a member of the boards of the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation USA, the Mont Pelerin Society and the Istanbul Network for Liberty.

Linda addressed the issues most in common in affecting the world’s poorest, including a lack of property rights, widespread corruption and violence in autocratic regimes, with the threat of prison and abuse faced by those who openly discuss democracy, and the many obstacles to setting up business. She also examined successful cases, such as Hong Kong; once one of the world’s poorest places, with few natural resources, where real poverty fell by half in just ten years, and India, where the introduction of property rights in some areas has meant farmers can club together to invest in wells and tractors to share between fields they now own as well as work.

Ideas for a free society CDs image

Everyone took a copy of the Ideas for a Free Society CD, a free mini-library of 125 texts containing a selection of contributions by some of the primary scholars and thinkers who have developed ideas which relate to the free society and their applications to public policy. This is distributed to 50 countries around the world to partners of Network for a Free Society, who then distribute copies to schools and Universities.

Because of the limited access there is to texts in many countries around the world, Network for a Free Society created this mini-library to make it easy to copy and share: all you need is a PC with a PDF reader. Although these are fairly old fashioned technology they are relatively cheap to send and this makes texts available in countries where internet connection maybe too slow or expensive to be widely useful and available. As well as English, the CD is available in languages including French, Chinese, Kyrgyz, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Arabic and Farsi.

Find out more about the work of the Network for a Free Society here.


Hayek Society at the Oxford Forum debate: Should university be free?

Committee Member Anne Cremin did a sterling job this evening, representing the Society at the Oxford Forum Debate. Speaking in opposition to the motion, Anne argued that it is not fair for the lowest paid to fund free education through taxes for the benefit of those who will go on to earn much high wages as graduates. She also made the point that opponents of tuition fees support unfair alternatives, such as the graduate tax.

Guy Butler, the Oxford Forum President, said ” While there was no formal adjudication or audience result it seemed pretty clear that the majority of the audience sympathised with the opposition.”

Well done Anne for winning them over!

Christopher Snowdon- IEA Director of Lifestyle Economics


Many thanks to everyone who came this evening for a very successful event with our guest speaker Christopher Snowdon, the Institute of Economic Affairs’s Director of Lifestyle Economics. Christopher’s talk on sugar taxes, their ineffectualness and their causing most harm to the poorest promoted some very interesting questions and further discussion and debate over drinks afterwards.

You can read Christopher’s report on sugar taxes, jointly written with Rob Lyons, which was distributed this evening, here.