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Why the financial system has the same qualities as cancer

Massive fines for banks, gross misbehaviour, huge bonuses for failure, bailouts at vast expense to the taxpayer: it’s little wonder that politicians and pundits can almost invariably win cheap applause by describing the financial system as being a cancer on society. But in a deep way, cancer

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FIFA, corruption and economic growth

The FIFA arrests have dominated both front and sports pages. We must await the outcomes of the trials before pronouncing on individuals.  But amongst soccer fans, the organisation is a byword for sleaze and corruption. England spent £21 million on the campaign to secure the 2018 World

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How should London tackle its housing shortage?

The unrelenting climb in property prices and lack of affordability in the market has led to consensus amongst the public and policy makers that the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis. Average house price to median income ratio is a common measure of affordability

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Markets are good, but we need clear signals

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the general election result is the abuse which is now being heaped on the metropolitan liberal elite from many quarters.  Theirs is truly a difficult mind set to comprehend, based as it is on an unshakeable belief in their own omniscience.

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Opinion Polls, Financial Crashes and Groupthink

The election is done and dusted, but many interesting questions remain. Was there a swing to the Conservatives at the very last minute, or was it indeed possible to foresee the victory in advance? Snippets are emerging which suggest that the electorate had made up their minds

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The election, the polls and why someone was always going to be eating their hat….

Paddy Ashdown had to eat his hat. Alastair Campbell had to eat his kilt. In fact, the majority of the electorate has eaten a piece of metaphorical clothing. The inaccuracy of the pre-election polls has been blamed on the shy Tory voter and the influence of the

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The Subtle Costs of a Mansion Tax

An exciting email pinged into my inbox at the end of last week. It was a link to the contents of the latest issue of the American Economic Association’s journal ‘Economic Policy’. For most people these are not usually as gripping as, say, a Ken Follett novel.

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Day care for dogs and the output gap

I am keen on dogs. Recently, I have seen an advert for a special canine toothbrush designed to get rid of the pet’s bad breath, surely a difficult challenge given what dogs get up to. Vans promoting home beauty visits for dogs have proliferated for some time

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Bribing the electorate: new rules of the game thanks to zero inflation

The temptation to believe in the concept of a free lunch is one which has proved irresistible to numerous governments through the ages. Henry VIII, for example, has seized popular imagination once again through the brilliant portrayal of him by Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall. Bluff King

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The 38 per cent tipping point on tax

Ed Miliband’s proposal to tax non-doms more harshly may be good, populist politics. But does it make economic sense? At most, the yield will be around £1 billion, even if people do not alter their behaviour in response to the change in policy. The actual amount generated could

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