Archive for the Blog Category

No decent economist will be surprised to see renewables push up electricity prices

No decent economist will be surprised to see renewables push up electricity prices

British Gas is putting up the price of its dual fuel tariff by an average of 5.5 per cent at the end of this month. EDF, whose standard tariff is already one of the most expensive, will raise it by a further 1.4 per cent next month.

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Cyber society needs monopoly-busting competition, not misguided regulation

Cyber society needs monopoly-busting competition, not misguided regulation

The hostility towards the virtual monopolies enjoyed by tech giants such as Google and Facebook reveals some strange bedfellows. The European Commission is well known for its enthusiasm for regulation. No surprise, then, that last year the Commission fined Google €2.4bn – billion! – for giving its own

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The misguided sugar tax is an ineffectual way to price the externalities of obesity

The misguided sugar tax is an ineffectual way to price the externalities of obesity

One of George Osborne’s last acts as chancellor in 2016 was to announce the so-called sugar tax. This came into force last week, in line with the original timetable. Drinks manufacturers are taxed according to the volume of sugar-sweetened beverages they produce or import. The tax increases

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Should AVs be held to higher standards?

Should AVs be held to higher standards?

In the three weeks since the first fatal crash involving an AV and a pedestrian, plenty of questions have been raised about the safety of self-driving cars. A question to think about soon will be: ‘how safe should AVs be expected to be before they will be

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Forget exploitation, motorists choose to pay sky high fuel prices

Forget exploitation, motorists choose to pay sky high fuel prices

Politicians have an irresistible urge to meddle. The latest example is the fanfare orchestrated just before Easter by Chris Grayling, the transport secretary. He wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to criticise the price of fuel at motorway service stations. Grayling called for the UK’s

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Why can PwC charge such superhuman fees? It’s all in the power of bargaining

Why can PwC charge such superhuman fees? It’s all in the power of bargaining

The liquidation of Carillion continues to feature prominently in the news. Last week, the story was the fees being charged by PwC, the accountancy firm tasked with salvaging money from the wreckage. It emerged that PwC’s fees, which take priority in terms of being paid over the

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The chancellor should heed Keynes – and keep public spending down

The chancellor should heed Keynes – and keep public spending down

Last week’s Spring Statement by chancellor Philip Hammond has led to predictable calls to “abandon austerity”. With massive hyperbole, Labour accused him of “astounding complacency” in the face of what they claimed to be the worst ever public funding crisis. The facts are rather different. Far from

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The social media battle against fake news has begun – beware your own emotions

The social media battle against fake news has begun – beware your own emotions

Did Donald Tusk, the former Prime Minister of Poland and now president of the European Council, conspire with Vladimir Putin to murder the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski? Many Poles believe this preposterous story, I learned last week at a fascinating conference on social influence at the

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Altruism and information deficits: What snowstorms teach us about economics

Altruism and information deficits: What snowstorms teach us about economics

While weather may not seem like a typical economics topic, there are always interesting aspects to behaviour in any context. Quite a number of drivers, for example, appear to have ignored notices of road closure. They drove on regardless, until becoming stuck in the snow. In Greater

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Surplus is necessary for resilience in an unpredictable world

Surplus is necessary for resilience in an unpredictable world

Our flood management systems are under increasing pressure. In recent years the UK has been hit by several extreme floods which have ruined homes and businesses, and taken lives. Population growth and climate change are expected to make flooding worse: analysis for the 2017 Climate Change Risk

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