BBC BLOGS - Stephanomics
Main | Next »

About Stephanie Flanders

Post categories:

Stephanie Flanders | 09:13 UK time, Friday, 23 January 2009

I've been the BBC's economics editor since April 2008. Before that, I had been Newsnight's economics editor since October 2002.

flanders_226.jpgI've been a policy wonk as well as a journalist. From 1997 to 2001, I worked as a speechwriter and advisor to the US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, where I was involved in the management of the emerging market crises of the late '90s. (You could say they were a rehearsal for the crises of 2007-8.)

I've also worked as a reporter for the New York Times, and as principal editor of the UN's 2002 Human Development Report.

Before heading off to the US, I wrote leaders and economics columns for the FT, and worked as an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and London Business School.

My father was Michael Flanders, of the 1950s and '60s musical comedy duo, Flanders and Swann; you can listen below to a programme I made about him for Radio 4's The Archive Hour in June 2007. But I don't plan to end any of my reports with a rendition of I'm A Gnu.

I live with my partner in west London, with our son Stanley and our daughter Claudia. She is a child of the credit crunch.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ah .. Larry Summers, that might explain the minor knowledge gap.

    Of course nobody saw this coming .. did they ;)

    I dare you to interview Peter Schiff on the BBC :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome to the Blogosphere, Stephanie. You've certainly picked an interesting time to start this blog!

    If you've managed to inherit even a tenth of your father's talent, I'm sure your blog will be more worth reading than most.

  • Comment number 4.

    hey Stephanie, welcome back..
    will be checking your blog and views

  • Comment number 5.

    Someone might want to ask "what sectors will eventually grow to get us out of the recession"

    Not the City that's for sure.

    We should be investing in such sectors

  • Comment number 6.

    Flanders and Swann? Oh, that's magic. I used to watch them on TV at the end of the 50s/early 60s and I was too young to appreciate them. In more recent years however I've come to appreciate how brilliant they were. You must be really proud of your father.

    I suppose you must get corny jokes about "This is the Gnus" all the time. So I won't crack one here.

  • Comment number 7.

    I remember someone who did A level economics at a school in Borneo in 1970 telling me at that time, "this stuff is fine for explaining the past but it cant predict anything because its not a science - at least not in the Boyles Law sense". George Soros has more or less said the same. Why does the BBC them still continue to give credibility to this pseudoscience. e.g in every broadcast there is the inevitable interview with some worthy in the banking and finance sector where they are asked, in all seriousness, questions like "how long will this last", " have we bottomed out yet". As if they have any idea! They just get paid to say something dressed up as science - with the usual caveats and conditions. Might as well ask Mystig Meg. Why does everyone believe (or pretend to believe) this stuff or take it so seriously. Human behaviour is too complex to be modeled esp when there are 6billion of them.

    There is of course much vested interest in keeping this fairytale going. Politicians realised long ago that it looks good if you can talk as though you can direct the economy using technical language. And academicists and publishers also have a lot to lose if the science in economics was largely debunked. But until everyone in the newsmedia, in politics, finance and business schools admit that "economic spin" is what has been dished out for the last 20 year, the public will continue to be fooled. But I guess there is too much at stake for such honesty.

  • Comment number 8.

    welcome back. you picked a fine time to go on maternity leave, didn't you...greatest economics stories for a generation and you were mopping up baby sick. not that that is not a very worthy thing to do of course.

    I've often thought Robert Peston was doing the work of two in your absence...but then I think he's enjoyed the limelight. He's a celebrity now.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good to hear more from you Stephanie. Your clear, factual reports are sorely needed.

    In the present crisis there seems to be a big gap between what the media reports and actual economic facts.

    In particular the B of E bank lending figures show that UK bank lending to non financial businesses has been growing at a double digit percentage rate.

    But the media keep reporting that the banks (who have government support) are not lending, repeating what the politicians and business representatives are saying.

    The media also keep saying that the banks have not passed on the interest rate cuts without investigating what the change in interest rates are that banks have to pay for their funds (it is not the B of E minimum lending rate).

    Similarly, the media keep reporting that the banks have been "given" money by the taxpayer whereas it has either been lent to them at a commercial rate; invested in them as preferred shares at a 12% interest coupon; or invested in ordinary shares at a price which is only about a tenth of what they had been a year previously.

    So the "bail-out" money has not been given away and the taxpayer may well get more back in total than has been lent/invested.

    It seems to me that in any country where there the banks are private the central bank has to act as lender of last resort because banks necessarily lend longer term than they borrow. Why has the media not reported upon how well the B of E has performed this role compared with the US and European central banks?

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Stephanie, welcome back.

    We have missed your intelligent analysis and analytical approach. There has been a bit to much hyperbole whilst you have been away.

    Pity about the timing on the baby front. You must have been chomping at the bit to get back.

  • Comment number 11.

    Welcome back Stephanie. It will be great to have someone reporting on the economic situation factually, clearly and not over-dramatically. Evan Davis was equally good. So as long as you learnt from him, you will continue the BBC's good tradition.
    It will definitely make a very pleasant change from the histrionics of Peston - who speaks as though he knows it all, and knew it all before anyone else did.
    Evan is doing an excellent series on BBC2 'The City'. This is clear, well explained and does not attempt to suggest he saw it all coming (as Peston did and still does).
    Keep with the Evan style and I will start to listen to the economics news on the BBC again.

  • Comment number 12.

    I wonder why everyone especially remembers 'I'm a Gnu'. I was always particularly fond of 'The Missing Horn' (after Mozart). Anyway, welcome back.

  • Comment number 13.

    A warm welcome back Stephanie. Lucid and fluent., it's a pleasure to listen to you, even when bearing bad news.

  • Comment number 14.

    Twas always the Hippopotamus Song for me.

    Good luck - I think you will need it! Oh to be party to your office sweep on when it will all end.

  • Comment number 15.

    Warm welcome to the blog and the return back to the BBC....Stephanie.....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 16.


    Please change the title of your blog.

    Stephanomics is a real turn off.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Stephanie

    Wellcome back, we need economic thought to be represented in the media and your replacement Hugh Pym has offered little.

    May I suggest that after your questions concerning your own circumstances when interviewing David Cameron, starting your blogs with an article about you might be considered a trend best avoided.

  • Comment number 18.

    Dear Stephanie,

    I read your informative economics blogs with interest. Pardon my ignorance on this matter but just where exactly does the Government borrow its billions from? Is it the IMF, China or rich Gulf states? It would be useful to know just who we will be indebted to for the next 15 to 20 years or so.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Welcome back to the fray!

    Many Congratulations on the new addition to the family!

    There will be more than enough important economic news to keep you busy and interested for months to come.

    I will not write to complain if you do not sing I'm a Gnu or the Hippopotamus song, but please do not suppress any latent musical talent.

    I think that the light entertainer in you emerged briefly on Newsnight with the GORDAX Index - very entertaining. Bring it back I say!

    However, far be it from me to encourage a career limiting move, or for you to be accused of treating the office of Prime Minister frivolously.

    Laughter is therapeutic for all of us and we do need to lighten up amongst the current gloom and daily job losses news stories; important though it is that they are recorded.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Stephanie,

    You probably will not remember this but I babysat you once when your elder sister (Laura?)was unwell.

    I remember asking your name and you said you wouldn't tell me as no one ever remembered it. You were very determined then, aged about 6 or 7 as I recall.

    You did tell me eventually, I said there was no way I could forget your name. When asked why I told you my sister is called Stephanie.

    Who cares for your children whilst you are working and travelling?

    Regards, PixieMum

  • Comment number 25.

    I am delighted to hear you are Michael Flanders daughter, he was best man at my eldest brother's first wedding.
    But don't you think you resume should contain a bit more about your qualifications to write about economics? e.g. degrees etc.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Blimey, this blog has taken long enough to establish. How lon ago did Evan Davies stop writing Evanomics? Anyway, glad that this is underway, I thought that there might be a difficulty with your role as after the announcement you seemed to fall off the radar.

  • Comment number 29.

    Re: benhimself (comment 1)

    Also see The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer (ISBN 0712699910)

    Lietaer worked for the National Bank of Belgium where he developed the precursor to the Euro, and was president of Belgium's electronic payment system. He has held research and teaching posts at Berkeley, Leuven and Naropa universities. He was named "world's top currency trader" by Business Week in 1992.

  • Comment number 30.

    hi stefanie. iam from greece. I would like to know whats really hapens in this country who i live. I watch the mass-media for the world recession see the government takes measures here the only thinks look is the gallup-poll.Realy they get out of eurozone the Greece? Witch is the really face of these country in europe? thanks a lot stefanie for your time.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Stephanie,

    I was just wondering about what your qualifications are. What degree have you got and at which university? I'd like to know because I currently study Economics at A level and I'm thinking about studying it at University.


  • Comment number 32.

    2. At 12:26pm on 23 Jan 2009, AvensisTom wrote:

    Of course nobody saw this coming .. did they ;)

    This is a wonderful selection of footage illustrating:

    1) Peter Schiff certainly saw the crash coming;
    2) Many of the other "talking head" guests illustrate that they were smug and terribly wrong!

  • Comment number 33.

    Re: "I'm a Gnu"

    Oh go on. You KNOW you really want to!

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    We love Stephanie!

    There's something very refreshing about the complete absence of hysteria, arrogance, self-importance and a full-blown Messiah complex in this particular blogging BBC economics journalist. If only that could be said for all of her colleagues. ;)

  • Comment number 36.

    Hello Stephanie,
    I am concerned that many journalists are making this into a worse crisis than it needs to be. Journalists should surely report 2 things: firstly the facts and secondly a professional analysis. Please spend about 30 mins looking at this video of such an analysis. It is made by Dr Eli Goldratt, a physicist and leading management educator. It provides sorely need hope and a logical way forward.

  • Comment number 37.

    Stephanie, I just watched your short interview on bbc news, where you were talking about the Quantitive Easing (Printing Money) that the government is undertaking. I am very concerned about this policy and was shocked by the rather nonchalant way this was being reported, as if it was a normal activity!

    There is no idea being given about how much money is being printed and through what mechanism and there is no indication on what basis the decisions are being made and how the QE will be reported to the public. In essence it's very opaque.

    Most worrying of all (as you stated in your interview) the BoE is going to be buying government bonds. The logical implication I can take from this is that the govt is now unable to finance its operations through taxation or borrowing, so is now printing money to do it. This is exactly what the govt of Zimbabwe did, and we all know the problems this caused!!

    So my question is - why are these policies not being questioned and critiqued in any way by the mainstream media, including yourself?

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm fairly new to blogging and only came across "stephanomics" about 6 weeks ago.

    I must disagree with "friendforlife" #16, about the name of your blog .

    It was the name that prompted me to sign in. And in the words of the TV commercial, "it does exactly what it says on the tin".

    PS May I join your fan club?

  • Comment number 39.

    #16 & 38

    It's Stephanomics IMO, because the last economics editor of the Beeb, Evan Davis, had a blog called Evanomics.

    Steph, (or Stephanie?) you've an interesting face, and an even more interesting CV. I shall look you up at the FT, though the name rings a bell.

    I'm always surprised that more women do not chose to have children when times are bad, I guess it's just counter-intuitive.

    I've shunted you to the front of my tabset after Paul Mason and Pesto, I shall read with interest.

  • Comment number 40.

    Steffie: Remember your folks' old friends in Argentina? We still remember you - as a tot - and Laura (with who we had no luck in contacting in California...
    "Stephanomics" is a tremendous success among my friends in Britain (we're still living in Argentina). Your take on how the present world economic crisis is affecting emerging nations (like Argentina) which depend largely upon exports of various commodities to developed countries would be greatly appreciated.
    All the very best from Denis Dunn and family.

  • Comment number 41.

    Stephanie, pleased you have entered the blogshere. As there have been one or two personal posts here, I'll take the opportunity to add mine. I was in your sister Laura's class at primary school in Chiswick. I actually remember you at six or seven at the time and you were a joyful child - I really hope that not that much has changed! Now, as probably one of the most important puplic commentators on the economy, you might tolerate the occasional post here from me - my CV not being quite in your class!
    Congratulations on the arrival of Claudia: hopefully the credit crunch will be 'lessons learned' by the time she understands the phrase. Steve.

  • Comment number 42.

    The chickens are coming home to roost and nothing broon's broadcasting (c. fill in your own expletive) says can explain the the monumental disaster apart from complete incompetence from HMG.

  • Comment number 43.

    Couldn't one argue that it is entirely legitimate for a chancellor to give unrealistically optimistic growth forecasts in order to boost confidence?

  • Comment number 44.

    But ... isn't "Stephanomics" just a tad arrogant?

  • Comment number 45.

    I well remember Michael Flanders and Donald Swan as I have their LP of "At the drop of a hat", and especially the song "I'm a Gnu". I was a student in Imperial College then in the late 50's. I trust your blogs will be as "entertaining" in content as their performances! Good Luck. Incidentally I'm from Malaysia which was then a colony!

  • Comment number 46.

  • Comment number 47.

    If when the recession ends things will not be how they were before it started, how will we know when it has ended will we just have to believe what we are told or will Stephanie tell us?

  • Comment number 48.

    No one yet has linked The Data Protection Act and the role of Credit Agencies etc to the responsibility for the recent financial crisis. The Data Protection Act was supposed to protect the individual - instead, through the Credit Agencies it creates an information base for banks, an information base that may well be inaccurate. The Credit Agencies produce information about people but the one person they do not get in touch with is the person him/herself to vertify the accuracy of the information that they have collected. The more you borrow, the higher the credit rating. Those who exercise caution are penalised. The marketing of banks used these "credit ratings" to pursue and even pressure people to take greater credit. Is it not time for the BBC to expose the Date Protection Act and the Credit Agencies?

  • Comment number 49.

    Stephanie, you are a breath of fresh air on the BBC news, but can you explain why when the B of E puts money into banks, eg Northern Rock it is taxpayers' money and it is at risk but when it is put into the system as "quantitative easing" it is just created out of nothing?
    Prof Tim Congdon in Nov 2007 wrote that the B of E just "created" money to put into NRK at no cost, therefore instead of costing "the taxpayer" the B of E was actually making money out of its penal interest rate charged to NRK. Who is right?

  • Comment number 50.

    You are very HOT!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi SF,
    Welcome back. Look forward to read your blogs.
    Kind regards.
    A Bhatt

  • Comment number 54.

    It's interesting to reprise your blog Stephanie. The only names which you ever seem to mention are those of Centre-Right politicians. Why is this? I don't think that I've seen you use the actual name of a Centre-Left politician anywhere. A mischievious person might accuse you of political subterfuge!

  • Comment number 55.

    Why isn't the interest on the £175bn borrowing (£21bn) never mentioned,or,the overall interest payments on the Govt borrowings ?

  • Comment number 56.

    How about Agbonlahor on the monetary policy committee. I think his speed and quick wit would do a lot to stablize the economy and might free up Dunn down the middle. Spoke to Mervyn King a few times about this and he thinks it's a goer.

  • Comment number 57.

    Welcome back. I guess you don't need telling that the backdrop to the election is the poor state of UK finances and we the public will be looking to your expert eye and succint writing style to keep us informed via your blog. May the force be with you.

  • Comment number 58.

    Can someone explain why Iceland are compelled to pay back UK and Dutch savers?

    The Bank of England fought to avoid paying BCCI savers back. Our Government were quick to prop up our nationals who lost out, but why should this lumber Icelanders for years to come?

  • Comment number 59.

    As economics editor could you please educate your colleague Mr Peston on some economic fundamentals?
    His populist rantings are an embarrassment to the BBC's impartiality, he seems to be more interested in garnering glowing 'comments' from his sicophantic followers than actually writing anything credible.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    Dear Stephanie,

    I came across this area by looking at your blog about this weekends get together in the snow.

    May I say , I value your comments on the TV, and prick up my ears when you are wheeled in for comment. You make a great deal of sense and deliver your reporting, and views in a moderate and straight forward manner..

    Very much appreciated, long may it continue.



  • Comment number 63.

    a small boy and a girl wanted to go to the wishing tree. so they set out. do they reach there? do they know where the wishing tree is? are they carrying enough supplies and information? that is how anything usually begins (nobel prizes, etc. notwithstanding). strategic policies that do with geo-strategic import or just plain economy. fairy tale beginnings are always there.

  • Comment number 64.

    I have not found any comment on the NISER's rolling quarterly estimate of GDP which shows output grew to the three months ending January at 0.4%. I suppose good news is no news these days.

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with Stephanie. Despite of getting help from EU its basic problem won't be solved. However, Greece got to take some tough decision in order to reduce debt. Greece got to cut spending substantially long time, meanwhile, GDP growth has to be over 4%. Its gonna be painful time for Greek people.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.


    Why is it that "Great Britain" or the British public can sit back and take all this rubbish from the Government that the recession is over, lets get real this recession will not be over for at least 20yrs, yes business's are seeing some kind of uptake, but that doesnt mean to say we are out of recession. Wait for price rises, or Hyper inflation to kick in, quantum easing will have a rather reverse effect on solving the economy, quantum easing is just another word for " Right to print money out of thin air" and charge the public, the tax payer even more tax to pay for our Government bail out of banks, soon there will be another tax for something that we have no idea about and the average person will suffer, along with their children and their childrens children.

    Lets take a look at the FTSE 100 index back in 2007 before the recession, approx 6456 points in that year, now 2010 the FTSE is approx 5310 points, now lets do the math, in 2007 6456 - 5310 = 1146 points less than before the recession, How long it will take to reach the 2007 figure when we will be OUT of recession Who knows?

    I dont know about you but we are all to blame for this recession, yes we can point the finger like good English Folk do, but take a look at ourselves and admitt we failed ourselves for not doing anything about it..

    NOW, pull your finger out and Lets Get on With It and make Britain Great Again.

  • Comment number 68.

    Stephanie, I always find your comments well informed and am therefore surprised that you seem shocked that the financial markets are looking at the size of government debt with despair after all the governments have tapped the bond markets for years as a source of funds and were heavily involved in the 'new financial instruments' (look at Greece) as there ever increasing desire to keep on spending continued to grow and they used this to paper over the cracks. The reality is that this and many governments have mismanaged Western economies for years and are far more concerned with short popularity than actually doing what is required. If we look East the economies have been much better managed in the last decade as they had to learn very painful lessons post LTCM, we however have continued to spend all our tax revenue (including huge amounts from the city that everyone now likes to look at with huge anger and as a percentage of GDP we are taxed more heavily taxed than any other European country). Whilst I accept that many banks did not shower themselves in glory, the reality is that this mess is down to a number of people that can be counted in 10's not 100's and those people no longer work in the city and certainly no longer work at the banks, the people that are left are in the main incredibly hard working decent people who have seen many of there friends and colleagues be made redundant. I am sure this is not the most popular view as banker bashing is so easy, but the truth is without the city and its tax revenue we may as well turn the lights off now

  • Comment number 69.

    Hi Stefanie..
    This is Nick Athan from Greece...As an economist you are i have a question for you...
    Greece External Debt is about 175% of GDP(125% Public which creates 40% of GDP AND 50% Private which produces 60% of GDP)..
    Show we have a Public which produce 4 units and its debt is 17.5 units and a private sector which produces 6 units and its debt is 4 units...
    Greece is ranked 16 th about external debt from the most 22 debted developed countries...with number 1 ireland and ....can you imagine .. number 2 UK...
    UK has an external debt about 400% of its GDP...The debt per capital is about 150000 dollars compared to greece which is about 50000 or Belgium which is about 140000...
    Dont you think that a dirty game is played against greece.....
    Unfortunately the financial numbers does not justify all this attacks...
    One more thing...UK private sector produces about 80%* of UK GDP

    Athan Nick

  • Comment number 70.

    Hi Stephanie

    Well done for a totally biased headline. Typical labour bbc

    "It's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives." Strip away the distractions and the gimmicks, and that was basically what the chancellor wanted to tell us in his Budget statement today.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.