Archive for the Blog Category

The cost of being late: do incentives always work?

Economics provides us with a really big insight into how the world works. People respond to changes in incentives. A great deal of public policy is based on this principle. You want fewer people to drive into Central London? Introduce a congestion charge and make it more

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The ‘Gentleman in Whitehall’ does not know best

The government is relaxed about people cashing in their pension schemes to buy a Lamborghini. But the left-leaning liberal commentariat is certainly not. Abuse has been heaped onto George Osborne’s Budget measure of removing the requirement for people to buy an annuity. The main thrust of the

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Lancashire and London have dominated the Premier League. Can it last?

The Premier League season draws to an exciting close. It is by no means clear who will be champions, or who will gain the coveted top five European qualifying spots. There could even be a surprise. If Liverpool win, for the first time since 1995 a team

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“It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s the narrative!”

The improvement in the economy has seen a narrowing of the gap in the opinion polls between the Conservatives and Labour. In the key marginal seat of Bury North, a Tory gain in 2010 by just 2,200 votes, they recently took a council seat from Labour. Bill

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Trends in Inequality: Truth and Myth

Concern about inequalities of income and wealth is now a fashionable topic. It featured strongly in the gathering of the world’s top brass at Davos earlier this year. Much of the popular coverage of the topic gives the impression that not only is inequality at record highs,

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Ukraine and Russia: why they’ve proved Friedman’s ‘MacDonalds’ doctrine wrong

On 31 January 1990, a great event took place in Pushkin Square, Moscow. A branch of MacDonald’s was opened. The same excitement was generated in Kiev on 24 May 1997, when the MacDonald’s franchise was extended to the Ukraine. The American author Thomas Friedman wrote in 1999

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Frangleterre… Labour Mobility undermines Tax and Spend regimes

Pimlico Plumbers will be a familiar brand to many readers – it has a prominent advert on the approach into Waterloo station. But the company is now calling for plumbers who are fluent in both English and French, and says applicants will be interviewed by a native

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Forward guidance needed for companies, not consumers

Most of the commentary on the UK’s economic recovery focuses on consumers. Are they taking on too much debt again to finance their spending? Is there a bubble in house prices, as people get excited about bricks and mortar again? Certainly, in terms of its sheer size,

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German revival exposes deep fissure within Europe’s economies

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Germany was seen by many as the new ‘Sick Man of Europe’. Between 1991 and 2005, GDP growth averaged only 1.2 per cent a year, compared to 3.3 per cent in the UK. Since then, the German economy has revived dramatically.

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Onion Economics

There is something about onions which brings out the worst in bureaucrats. Orlando Figes’ A People’s Tragedy chronicles the early years of the Russian revolution. Under war communism, the Bolsheviks attempted to exert state control over the entire economy. A long list of vegetables was drawn up,

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