Why Julian Assange shows that only intelligent machines can be truly rational

Is Julian Assange rational? There are no prizes for guessing the responses of most City A.M. readers to this question. He faces questioning over allegations (which he denies) in Sweden, and he claims that America will try to extradite him and put him in prison for a very long time. Assange has chosen instead to […]

Groucho Marx and Property Bubbles

The commercial property market in London has been booming for several years.  The Bank of England is concerned about yet another property bubble building up.  The executive director for financial stability, strategy and risk at the Bank, Alex Brazier, warned in a speech last month that positive sentiment in the industry must be “tempered by […]

Short termism in Financial Markets

There has been an immense focus on the Financial Sector in the years since the 2008 Financial Crisis, and rightly so. It was the worst since the Great Depression of 1929 and systemic risks in the financial sector contributed heavily to the depth of the recession. Since then there have been Libor scandals, misselling claims, […]

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 […]

Groupthink and the troubles at Tesco

The latest fiasco at Tesco could prove an embarrassment for more than just the retailer. There appears to have been an over-recording of profit of some £250m, and some are asking questions about the company’s auditors. Of course, the full story has yet to emerge, and Tesco’s auditors did flag issues in their most recent report. […]

‘Re-inventing’ London: Planning for the Future

London is changing.  But then, it always is.  The theme of my new book, ‘Reinventing London’ is that change is the lifeblood of a great city.  Over the past thirty years it has replaced around 1 million jobs in manufacturing, largely around the edge of the city and along the radial routes, with more than […]

Britain’s New Industrial Policy: Can We Learn from the Mistakes of the Past?

The phrase ‘industrial policy’ seems to take us decades back in time. In 1964, a powerful catchphrase of the new Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was the need for Britain to embrace the ‘white heat of the technological revolution’. Sadly, by the 1970s this vision had deteriorated into a list of institutions, stuffed with dull […]

Everything is crystal clear with hindsight

Are government bonds risky? This question arose a year ago, during a meeting with my bank. I wanted a low risk portfolio, but they noted that I did not want to hold UK government bonds. Whether it was the regulator who was insisting, or whether it was the way the bank was interpreting some Delphic […]

Banging up bankers is the wrong punishment – it won’t change behaviour

The behaviour of the banking sector in the run up to the crash is still very much in the public eye. But this is nothing new. Readers of a certain age may recall Bernie Cornfeld, and his company Investors Overseas Services (IOS). It failed dramatically in the 1970s after allegations of fraud. IOS encouraged the […]

What would Keynes have said? Ouija board active!

The loss of triple A status on UK government bonds has intensified the demands for a Plan B. So-called Keynesians demand an increase in both public spending and the public sector deficit. What might Keynes himself have said about the current situation? Lacking a Ouija board, I am unable to communicate directly with the great […]