Institute of Economic Affairs

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Institute of Economic Affairs
Abbreviation IEA
Formation 1955
Type Free market think tank
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Director General
Mark Littlewood

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is a think tank based in Westminster, London, United Kingdom. Founded by businessman 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.[1] 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.[1] Instead, Hayek suggested the establishment of a body which could engage in research and reach the intellectuals with reasoned argument.[1]

In June 1955, The Free Convertibility of Sterling by George Winder was published, with Fisher signing the foreword as Director of the IEA.[1] 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.[1] He was joined in 1958 by Arthur Seldon who was initially appointed Editorial Advisor and became the Editorial Director in 1959.[1]

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.[2] "Within a few years the Social Affairs Unit became independent from the IEA, acquiring its own premises."[2] In 1986 the IEA created a Health and Welfare Unit to focus on these aspects of social policy.[1][2] Discussing the IEA's increasing influence under the Tories in the 1980s in relation to the "advent of Thatcherism" and promotion of privatisation, Dieter Plehwe, a Research Fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, has written that

The arguably most influential think tank in British history... benefited from the close alignment of IEA's neoliberal agenda with corporate interests and the priorities of the Thatcher government.[3]

In 2007, Scottish journalist Andrew Marr called the Institute "undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history".[4] 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".[5]

In October 2009, the IEA appointed Mark Littlewood as its Director General with effect from 1 December 2009.[6]


Arthur Seldon proposed a series of Papers for economists to explore the market approach to the issues of the day.[1] 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.[1] A large number of other titles has been published in association with trade and university presses.[1]

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.[7]

IEA papers are arranged in a series of titles, each with its own 'brand image'. The main series of publications is complemented by the Institute's quarterly journal Economic Affairs.

In September 2008, the Institute started the IEA blog.


The Institute's research activities are aided by an international Academic Advisory Council and a panel of Honorary Fellows. All IEA papers are subjected to the same rigorous independent blind-refereeing process that is used by leading academic journals.[8] The views expressed in IEA papers are those of the authors and not of the Institute (which has no corporate view), its trustees, directors or advisers

The IEA has also published research in areas such as business ethics, economic development, education, pensions, regulation, taxation and transport.

Books and papers[edit]

  • 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[9]
  • 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
  • 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 [10]
  • The Road to Economic Freedom', Philip Booth and John Meadowcroft, (2009) collection of IEA papers written by Nobel Laureates, foreword by Margaret Thatcher.[11]


Twelve economists engaged in the IEA's work have gone on to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics: Gary Becker, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, John Hicks, James Meade, Douglass C. North, Elinor Ostrom, Vernon L. Smith, George Stigler and Oliver E. Williamson. The condensed version of Hayek's The Road to Serfdom has been republished by the IEA, while the work of Nobel Prize Winners is reprinted in The Road to Economic Freedom with a foreword by Margaret Thatcher. The IEA has also published research in areas such as business ethics, economic development, education, pensions, regulation, taxation and transport.


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.[12] The 20th Annual Hayek Lecture was delivered on 5 July 2011 by Robert Barro of Harvard University.[13]

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.[14]


The IEA is a registered educational and research charity.[15] 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."[7] It is "independent of any political party or group.".[7] The IEA has written policy papers arguing against government funding for pressure groups and charities involved in political campaigning.[16]

The IEA does not formally 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.[17] British American Tobacco confirmed it had donated £40,000 to the institute in 2013,[18] £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.[19] In 2002 a leaked letter revealed that prominent IEA member Roger Scruton had authored an IEA pamphlet attacking the World Health Organisation's campaign on tobacco whilst consulting for Japan Tobacco International in a personal capacity.[20][21] In response the IEA said it would introduce an author declaration policy.[21] The IEA also states on its website it "accepts no tied funding".[8]

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 libertarian causes.[22]

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.[23][24] 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".[25]

Notable people[edit]

Honorary Fellows[edit]

Personnel and fellows[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j IEA: Chronology
  2. ^ a b c 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. 
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Andrew Marr BBC 2007 A History of Modern Britain
  5. ^ The End of Laissez-Faire?: On the Durability of Embedded Neoliberalism Damien Cahill, Edward Elgar Pub, 2014, p. 12
  6. ^ Robert Walmsley, Interview: Mark Littlewood, Cherwell, 26 January 2014
  7. ^ a b c "about the IEA". Institute of Economic Affairs. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "Peer Review Protocol". IEA. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Scruton, Roger. "WHO, WHAT and WHY? Trans-national Government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organisation". IEA. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Climate Alarmism Reconsidered" (PDF). IEA. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "The Road to Economic Freedom". IEA. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  12. ^ IEA: Events
  13. ^ IEA: Annual IEA Hayek Memorial Lecture
  14. ^ < IEA Shadow Monetary Policy Committee
  15. ^ The Institute of Economic Affairs Limited, Registered Charity no. 235351 at the Charity Commission
  16. ^ Snowden, Christopher. "Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why". IEA Discussion Paper 39. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Cigarette packaging: the corporate smokescreen". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ "British American Tobacco's response to ASH – June 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Scruton in media plot to promote smoking". The Guardian (London). 
  21. ^ a b "Pro-tobacco writer admits he should have declared an interest". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "The educational charities that do PR for the rightwing ultra-rich". The Guardian (London). 
  23. ^ Sarah Neville, British think-tanks ‘less transparent about sources of funding’, Financial Times, 17 February 2015
  24. ^ "How Transparent are Th ink Tanks about Who Funds Them 2015?" (PDF). Transparify. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  25. ^ Neville, Sarah. "British think-tanks 'less transparent about sources of funding'". Finanial Times. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bosanquet, Nick (1983). Economics: After the New Right. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff. pp. 79–87. ISBN 0-89838-135-5. 
  • Cockett, Richard (1995). Thinking the unthinkable: think-tanks and the economic counter-revolution, 1931–1983. Fontana Press. ISBN 0-00-637586-3. 

External links[edit]