Archive for the Paul Ormerod Category

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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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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The university pensions strike is a selfish bid to hold future generations to ransom

The university pensions strike is a selfish bid to hold future generations to ransom

University lecturers began a strike over their pensions last week. The dispute may even run on and jeopardise the summer exams. The main issue is that the universities’ pension scheme seems to be in substantial deficit. To solve the problem, a move from defined benefits to defined

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Let’s join the IFS in acknowledging our misplaced fetishisation of economic data

Let’s join the IFS in acknowledging our misplaced fetishisation of economic data

Tomorrow, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish its latest estimates on how much the UK economy grew between October and December 2017, compared to July to September. Last month, the ONS thought that there was an increase of 0.5 per cent. The economy cannot be

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Master the art of brinkmanship to run Brexit rings around Barnier

Master the art of brinkmanship to run Brexit rings around Barnier

Michel Barnier invokes a wide range of emotions this side of the Channel. To his credit, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator appears to have a stronger grasp of the insights of game theory than his UK counterparts. Thomas Schelling, the polymath winner of the Nobel Prize in

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How European commissioners really allocate EU funding

How European commissioners really allocate EU funding

“Pork barrel” has been a theme in American politics for almost as long as the United States has existed. Many members of Congress work hard to secure public works projects, agricultural subsidies and the like for their own districts, almost regardless of the economic arguments for and

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