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Coronavirus fatality rates are way down – why has the government not taken this on board?

Coronavirus fatality rates are way down – why has the government not taken this on board?

King Canute has had a bad press. The monarch sat on the beach on his throne with the deliberate intention of demonstrating to his courtiers that he could not stop the waves from coming in. But in popular thinking, he is the deranged king who believed he

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On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

Decisions, whether by individuals, companies or governments, are often made with imperfect and incomplete information. This is so obvious as to hardly seem worth stating. But for well over a century economic theory assumed that decisions were made with complete information. Economists knew full well that this

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The national productivity recovery depends on getting people back to the office

The national productivity recovery depends on getting people back to the office

Office workers continue to display reluctance to return to their workplaces, despite encouragement from the government for them to head back. The immediate consequences for the service jobs in cities which depend on people commuting into the office are apparent, hence the government drive. But is office

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Sweden shows us whether lockdown was worth the economic cost

Sweden shows us whether lockdown was worth the economic cost

Did Sweden get it right in its response to Covid? There is increasing interest in this question. Contrary to widespread belief, the Swedes did introduce a few legally enforceable restrictions on behaviour. For example, public gatherings of more than 50 people were forbidden in March. Private ones

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Busting the myth of the selfless bureaucrat

Busting the myth of the selfless bureaucrat

There seems to be a fundamental problem with quangos. Hardly a day seems to go by without some new story of incompetence and mismanagement emerging. Public Health England (PHE) is at least going to be put out of its misery by health secretary Matt Hancock, and replaced

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The costs of lockdown can no longer be justified

The costs of lockdown can no longer be justified

In an otherwise depressing week, two pieces of very good news emerged from India. In Mumbai, blood tests conducted by the city authorities on 6,936 randomly selected people found that some 40 per cent had coronavirus antibodies. Just 6,000 deaths have been reported so far in a

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Great expectations: The Darwinian wars of economic and epidemiological forecasting

Great expectations: The Darwinian wars of economic and epidemiological forecasting

A key concept in modern economics is, to use the jargon term, rational expectations. The idea has dominated orthodox macroeconomics over the past 30 years. Not all economists have been persuaded of its merits by any means, but nevertheless, its influence has extended far beyond academia, into

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Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Another day, another lurid, headline-grabbing number of deaths to expect from Covid-19. This time, it was a study from the Academy of Medical Sciences. A second wave, we were warned, could kill 120,000 this winter in hospitals alone. To be fair, this study was a projection rather

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Office clusters are as crucial to productivity as they ever were

Office clusters are as crucial to productivity as they ever were

The Prime Minister is now demanding that offices reopen to revive economic activity in the centres of towns and cities. But there is not much sign of a return to work. The preferences of the workforce are an important factor in the very slow pace of return.

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The costs of lockdown could far outweigh the benefits

The costs of lockdown could far outweigh the benefits

Radical leaders such as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland have gained plaudits through their relentless focus on eliminating Covid-19. But this comes at an obvious economic cost. Tourism is some 15 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP, and major destinations such as

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