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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

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Car crash on the Office for National Statistics website… Is it cos I is Welsh?

The website of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently been re-designed. A perfectly functional, low tech website has been transformed into a really cool delivery platform. It looks great. The only drawback is that it is very difficult to find any useful data on it. The ONS

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Quality counts: Marshall-Lerner and the trade balance

The balance of trade does not attract much attention these days. Maybe it should. The UK has run a deficit in traded goods every single year since 1983. In recent years, this has soared, to over £60 billion a year since 2004, exceeding 5 per cent of GDP. Fortunately,

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The rapid rise of the food bank can’t just be blamed on government austerity

FOOD banks are a rapidly growing phenomenon in the UK. A few years ago, they barely existed, but an estimated half a million people now make use of them every week. On the face of it, it seems that poverty has sadly become endemic since the financial

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Trouble at Co-op Bank raises questions about fitness of the mutual model

IT’S not all fun and games at the Co-op Bank. Just over a month ago, the bank was serious about acquiring 632 branches from Lloyds. Now its debt has been downgraded six notches to junk status, and veteran HSBC banker Niall Booker has been brought in as

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A wake-up call for the Department of Transport: do the proper sums, HS2 is worth it

The High Speed 2 rail project is under fire on many fronts. The Nimby protests in the affluent Home Counties have been augmented last week by more weighty criticism by the National Audit Office (NAO) of the scheme. At least, this is how the NAO’s work has

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Scotland could be a scientific test bed for monetary theory

According to the Scottish National Party, after the referendum on independence next year, Scotland will be a land of milk and honey. The highest per capita levels of public expenditure in the UK can easily be sustained. The whole of the revenue from North Sea oil and gas will

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Ignore Krugman: We’re not caught in another depression

Spotting and identifying new species is always exciting. And the last couple of years has seen the emergence of a new type of economic commentator, the recovery denier.  Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, wrote a piece at the end of last year in which he compared the

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Will Barnet or Brentford ever topple Manchester United?

Manchester United have walked away with the Premiership title yet again. In the last seven seasons, they have won no fewer than five times. Over the past 22 years, they have never finished outside the top three. Will they ever be overthrown, especially given the stupendous sponsorship deal the

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There are errors and errors. Does the Reinhardt and Rogoff miscalculation mean that Osborne should change tack?

The distinguished American academic economists, Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff, have been very much in the news. Their 2009 book, This Time is Different, was a comprehensive examination of financial crises over the past 800 years. The work received many plaudits and awards. They suggested that when

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