CEO compensation and Jamaican demands for reparations: two sides of the same coin

David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica last week led to vociferous demands for the UK to pay the Caribbean island billions of pounds in reparations for slavery.  Most people here reacted with predictable eye-rolls and sighs.  Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, nearly two centuries ago.  Jamaica has been independent since 1962, over […]

How do you deal with someone who thinks the Earth is flat?

Imagine you are relaxing at a bar enjoying a drink after a hard day’s work.  The person next to you strikes up a conversation.  Initially he seems reasonable.  But soon he begins to go on at length about how the Earth is flat and how a misguided cabal of scientists hides this truth from us.  […]

Keynesians are wrong: Cutting public spending can boost economic growth

The key aim of George Osborne’s economic policy has been to eliminate the financial deficit of the public sector.  The main way of trying to achieve has been to squeeze public spending.  The orthodox economic textbooks maintain that this withdraws demand from the economy, and so leads to the growth rate being slower than it […]

Guaranteed bank deposits and the market for lemons

One aspect of the Greek crisis which will affect many readers is the reduction in the amount of cash in a bank deposit which is protected.  The Bank of England announced that the current guaranteed amount of £85,000 will be cut to £75,000 on 1 January.  This has led to predictable outrage, with Andrew Tyrie […]

Bribing the electorate: new rules of the game thanks to zero inflation

The temptation to believe in the concept of a free lunch is one which has proved irresistible to numerous governments through the ages. Henry VIII, for example, has seized popular imagination once again through the brilliant portrayal of him by Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall. Bluff King Hal is the nickname often associated with the […]

Capitalism is stable and resilient

The financial crisis did succeed in creating one dynamic new industry.  Since the late 2000s, there has been a massive upsurge in op-ed pieces, books and even artistic performances offering a critique of capitalism. A founder member of the Monty Python team, Terry Jones, is the latest to get in on the act with his […]

Why is inflation so low?

Zero inflation is trending. The consumer price index in the UK was at the same level in February as it was a year earlier. The reporting of this figure on the BBC website created some unintended amusement, however. The drop to zero, we were told, was “sharper than many analysts had expected”. And what was […]

Prospect theory: will the Greeks keep a hold of Nurse?

Will 2015 be the year in which fantasy economics in Europe is finally put to the test? Somewhat to the surprise of many commentators, in December the Greek political class failed to elect a new president even after three attempts. Parliament has now been dissolved and an election will take place on 25 January. The […]

A Tale of Two Financial Crises: the 1930s and Now

As the seventh anniversary of the start of the economic crisis approaches, it is an appropriate moment to take stock. At the time, the recession was simply not recognised by conventional economic forecasts. These continued to foresee positive growth until the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the autumn of 2008. But the latest national accounts […]

Bond market yields imply gloomy growth prospects

Very strange things have been happening in government bond markets. The yield on 10 year US bonds is currently around 2.25 per cent. It makes intuitive sense that the Germans, with their longstanding reputation for fiscal prudence, are enjoying a much lower rate, some 0.8 per cent. Similar levels obtain in most of the countries […]