Archive for the Blog Category

Why are crime rates falling?

Economic statistics are the bane of forecasters’ lives. Cynics might say that this is because the data reveal how bad their predictions are. But a big practical problem is that initial estimates of the state of the economy can be revised substantially. These issues are as nothing

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Open borders or fair wages: the left needs to make up its mind

As published in the Guardian on Tuesday 24th March 2015 as part of their ‘Economics – Immigration Special’ Mass immigration increases inequality. This is the unpalatable fact the liberal left in Britain refuses to accept. Markets are imperfect instruments. But it is not necessary to subscribe to

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Do Budgets really matter?

All eyes will be on George Osborne’s Budget today. An immense amount of media attention and serious commentary will be devoted to it. But do Budgets really matter? How much difference would it make if successive chancellors simply did nothing, apart from indexing various allowances and benefits

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Does Miliband understand the importance of incentives?

Ed Miliband has long had a problem with voters not perceiving him as “normal”. His famous struggle with a bacon sandwich in some ways says it all. But at a much more important level, he seems to have little or no empathy with one of the most

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Will the internet lower long-term growth – or do we need to embrace change?

Are we doomed to secular stagnation, to permanently lower rates of economic growth? The debate was sparked off nearly a decade before the financial crisis by the top US economist Robert J Gordon. He took a pessimistic view of the impact of the new wave of technology

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Popular culture is the driving force of inequality

The Oscars have come and gone for another year. Winning an Oscar is very often the basis for either making a fortune, or turning an existing one into mega riches. Jack Nicholson has an estimated worth of over $400 million, and stars like Tom Hands and Robert

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Crocodile tears for the poor

INEQUALITY is now a buzzword in Britain. Scarcely a week goes by without a new publication by an academic or journalist lamenting the levels of poverty facing swathes of the population. They are bolstered by a complicit metropolitan liberal elite, who shed crocodile tears for the poor,

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Shouting at the supply-chain: is there a better way?

EVERY year, the supermarkets hire substantial batches of high-flying graduates to work in their buying departments. The urban mythology is that these expensively-educated young people are paid to shout down the phone, browbeating suppliers to offer yet more discounts. This hectoring seems to be at the heart

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Can Game Theory Help the Greeks?

Game theory is a big topic in academic economics. It is scarcely possible to graduate from a good university without exposure to its abstruse logic. So perhaps the Greek government, replete with economists, is using game theory to plan its tactics. Or is Chancellor Merkel herself being

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Birthday parties and the NHS: We Need More Markets

Many outrageous things happened around the world during the course of last week. But, judging by both the level of popular interest in the story and reaction to it, the most heinous was the decision of a mother to send an invoice to the parents of a

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