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Why do bad companies stay in business for so long? Just ask an economist

Why do bad companies stay in business for so long? Just ask an economist

A bookseller in the Yorkshire Dales has hit the headlines, branded a “shopkeeper from hell”. He called a customer a “pain in the arse”, and has been the subject of numerous complaints to the local parish council about his rudeness. To complete the outrage, he charges 50p

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What Dirty Harry tells us about economic forecasters’ Michael Fish moment

What Dirty Harry tells us about economic forecasters' Michael Fish moment

Economic forecasters are in the dock. Last week, none other than the chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, was confessing the crimes of the profession. The failure to predict the financial crisis was, Haldane said, economic forecasting’s “Michael Fish” moment. Thirty years ago, the

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Farewell to the game theory master who helped prevent a nuclear apocalypse

Farewell to the game theory master who helped prevent a nuclear apocalypse

Last year was a year of celebrity deaths. But perhaps the most significant of all received very little coverage. Just before Christmas, Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate in economics, died aged 95. In the early, tense years of the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union in

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The death of cash, the rise of trade unions and other eclectic 2017 predictions

The death of cash, the rise of trade unions and other eclectic 2017 predictions

It’s certainly been an eventful year. But rather than dwell on the past, what sort of things can we expect in 2017? Here are a few eclectic predictions. Sweden may become the world’s first cashless economy. Notes and coins are already fast disappearing as a means of payment, and

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Forget “post-truth”: A compelling vision drove Brexit and Trump triumphs

Forget "post-truth": A compelling vision drove Brexit and Trump triumphs

The buzz-phrase of the moment in political discussion is “post-truth”. Shell-shocked metropolitan liberals are astonished by both Brexit and Donald Trump’s success. How could their own rational analysis not find favour with the electorate? People in the internet age must be no longer capable of recognising the

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Rampant corruption – not just the euro – has doomed Italy to stagnation

Rampant corruption - not just the euro - has doomed Italy to stagnation

So farewell then, Matteo Renzi! The resignation of the Italian Prime Minister after his heavy defeat in Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform has created turmoil. Fears have been resurrected about the stability of the Italian banking system, and even the possibility of Italy leaving the euro has

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The OBR shouldn’t be expected to forecast so far into the future

The OBR shouldn't be expected to forecast so far into the future

Economic forecasts have become a political hot potato. The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) predictions, presented as part of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, have put the government under pressure. The OBR has revised down its forecast for GDP growth over the next four years by 1.4 percentage

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Forward guidance is just another delusion foisted on us by mainstream macro

Forward guidance is just another delusion foisted on us by mainstream macro

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, was on good form last week when he appeared at the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons. Asked what “forward guidance” meant, he answered smoothly: “The thing about forward guidance is that it is guidance that is forward. Which

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Dump opinion polls for social media to understand people’s real preferences

Dump opinion polls for social media to understand people's real preferences

So the pollsters got it wrong again.  After the general election last year and then Brexit, it is perhaps not surprising.  What is surprising is just how wrong they were.  The real problem is the enormous confidence with which they pronounced that Clinton would win. The Princeton

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From the NHS to Brexit, give people a choice and they’ll make a good one

From the NHS to Brexit, give people a choice and they'll make a good one

A current headache for the government is the performance of the NHS, and whether it is running out of money. This was making the front pages until the judges’ decision on Brexit pushed it off. Successive governments have discovered that the finances of the health service are

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