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Um Bongo: a spotlight on modern social and economic behaviour

Readers who either had young children or were children themselves in the 1980s will recall the Um Bongo jingle.  The advert assured us it was drunk in the Congo.  A survey published last week to mark the 60th anniversary of British television advertising showed that no fewer

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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

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The national accounts are the new JK Rowling

A potential candidate for the world’s most boring book is the Office for National Statistics’ National Accounts: Sources and Methods.  This book, all 502 pages of it, is currently available in hardback on Amazon for just 1p.  It does exactly what it says in the title.  It

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Why economics can prevent Europe’s refugee crisis from becoming even worse

Emotions are running high over the refugee crisis, with heart-breaking images arousing waves of compassion across Europe. As ever, however, economics lurks in the background. The tragic stories of refugees coming to Europe rightly elicit a call to help those in need, but we must understand the

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Whatever it is, Corbynomics is not mainstream

A group of economists hit the headlines last week with their claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies are supported by mainstream economics.  Perhaps the best known of them is David Blanchflower, a Monetary Policy Committee member when Gordon Brown was Chancellor.  He predicted before the 2010 General Election

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History shows why robots won’t destroy our jobs

Economics is often described as the dismal science, but it often contains cheerful material. A paper by the leading American economic historian Joel Mokyr made for exuberant holiday reading. Written for the top Journal of Economic Perspectives, it is entirely in English and contains not a single

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A-levels, culture, and the great regional divide

Last week saw the ritual tears and joy of the announcement of the A level results.  An encouraging aspect was the increase, albeit small, in the percentage of entries in traditional academic subjects, now standing at 51.2 per cent.  This is yet another example of incentives at

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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

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Response to Cecil the Lion’s death is a sad lesson in the irrationality of public opinion

Alas poor Cecil! Close personal friend of mine, sadly dead now. The catchphrases of the Scottish comedian Bob Doolally capture the outpourings of grief among the Twitterati at the death of the now famous lion. The mourning is mixed with incoherent rage, as long-standing opponents of torture

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Technology is replacing school ties in companies’ battle to keep their employees honest

The activities of the House of Lords are very much in the news at the moment.  But the members do carry out serious work, not least on the economic affairs committee.  Last week, Lord Green, former chairman and chief executive of HSBC, appeared before them.  Yes, the

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