The curious case of Boris Johnson’s popularity after a year of lockdowns

In 1993, economics Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman published a paper with the enigmatic title “When More Pain Is Preferred to Less”. He and his colleagues conducted two experiments with the same group of people.  In the first, the participants had to hold their hand in cold water for a specified time.   They had to keep […]

In the case of sugar, the nanny state really does know best

Boris Johnson created a furore last week by announcing that he was considering getting rid of the so-called sugar tax. Was he right to question the levy, or does it serve a purpose? Introduced in April 2018, manufacturers now have to pay more tax if their drinks contain a high amount of sugar. The producers […]

Why austerity must be the order of the day for May’s chancellor

On the face of it, the Brexiteers have a bit of explaining to do. A week before the vote, Boris Johnson dismissed fears about the value of sterling, and accused the governor of the Bank of England of “talking the economy down”. Yet the economy does seem to have stalled, property funds have had to […]

Have Bankers Been Practising Socialism? The Debate About the Top 1 Per Cent

Boris Johnson has got into trouble for his statement that it is “surely relevant to a conversation about equality” that just 2 per cent of “our species” has an IQ over 130. Over the past couple of years, the Occupy movement has made headlines by attacking the top 1 per cent. The summer 2013 edition […]

A stitch in time. We need smarter government, but less of it

What is the connection between the content of Boris Johnson’s speech this week to the CBI, tax avoidance and evasion, executive pay, petty crime and plagiarism by students?  This is yet another one where economics can help us with the solution. Economists have long used the example of a factory which imposes costs on other […]