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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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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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There are economic lessons to learn from TfL’s hated bus announcement experiment

There are economic lessons to learn from TfL’s hated bus announcement experiment

The Transport for London (TfL) bus experiment has proved to be overwhelmingly unpopular. Supposedly at every bus stop (but more usually once the bus has pulled away) a disembodied voice informs the passengers that the bus is about to move. The hated announcement is being run as

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Carillion shouldn’t be brought under state control, but maybe central banks should be

Carillion shouldn’t be brought under state control, but maybe central banks should be

A strong thread in the acres of print about the Carillion debacle is that the private sector should not really be involved in infrastructure projects. The public sector would, apparently, do it better. Readers who experienced life under the nationalised rail and telephone systems might be forgiven

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