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Is this a pleb I see before me? Reality and perception in the markets

Andrew Mitchell, the government’s chief whip, remains in some difficulty after his exchange with the police at the gates of Downing Street. At the heart of the incident there is an objective reality. Either he used the word pleb, or he didn’t. Either the police were officious

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We are all better off than we think

Apple’s iPhone5 has already smashed sales records.  The first day on which consumers could make purchases over the web, more than 2 million online orders were placed.  Little wonder that JP Morgan has estimated that sales of the iPhone5 could add as much as 0.5 per cent

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A Tale of Two Recessions: Grounds for Optimism

The economic news at the moment is mixed, and the impact of the 2007-2009 financial crash is far from over. But looking back into the past may give us something to feel cheerful about. There have only been two global financial crises in the past century, that

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Pharmaceuticals and Taxation: International Experience

Here is a summary of a presentation that Volterra associate Nick Bosanquet recently delivered in Sao Paulo at a  conference sponsored by Interfarma – the Brazilian Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.   Brazil can look forward to a very positive development period between now and the next Olympics There is a

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How Big Is My Multiplier?

The debate rages about whether the Chancellor should implement a Plan B, or C or D or even Z. There seems to be a plethora of alternatives. But many of them share a key common theme. Namely, that an increase in public spending will boost output in the economy

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Why teachers are just like bankers

The current highly emotional debate about GCSE grades is not very enlightening.  But what has happened tells us a lot about how incentives matter, how they affect outcomes.  And at the same time, it shows that unless a proper set of social norms is in place, incentives

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How to unpick the apparent paradox of falling GDP and rising unemployment

GDP estimates are eagerly awaited in the City, and dominate the media headlines.  Huge significance is attached to arithmetically trivial differences, whether between market expectations and the announced figure, or to subsequent revisions to the data. But GDP is not something which can be put in a

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USA vs China continued… The Influence of Networks (and the Olympics!)

The last three Olympics have seen a titanic battle between the US and China to head the medals table. If you combine the total of the last three Games, China stands just ahead, with 121 golds to the United States’s 116. But, the US topped the table

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Who will rule the 21st Century

This is a nice big question to ponder on the holiday beach or in the rented villa. A vast amount has already been written on the rise of China and whether the US will be replaced as the global superpower. And where exactly does Europe fit into

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The Olympics, traffic in Central London and a bar in Santa Fe

We all know now about the empty roads and deserted shops, all quite contrary to the official announcements before the Games began.  No doubt Transport for London used their massively complicated, expensive models of the transport network to deduce that the system would be under massive strain.

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