History shows us that slavery is an economic catastrophe as well as a moral one

Antique Statues

Slavery has certainly been in the headlines in the past couple of weeks. Given this sudden interest in this area of history, it is worth considering the economic lessons it can teach us, as well as the moral ones. Slavery was abolished in England itself in the twelfth century. Then in 1772, Lord Mansfield gave […]

Mythbusting coronavirus is vital for life to go back to normal

Deserted Marble Arch

As the government plans the timetable for getting Britain back to work, opinion polls continue to show strong support for the lockdown. An Opinium poll at the weekend is typical. Unsurprisingly, given the overwhelming scientific evidence on dangers associated with large gatherings, a massive 84 per cent of respondents thought stadiums should not be reopened […]

Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

City of London from Reigate Hill

Lockdowns are starting to be eased in Europe. Austria, Denmark, Italy and Spain are all moving back towards normality. At some point during May, the UK will follow. We can reflect on what the government has got right and wrong so far in the opening phase of the pandemic. This is emphatically not to apportion […]

Coronavirus: A traffic light loosening gives the economy hope

Empty Streets

The strategy of exiting from the lockdown is far too important to be left in the hands of health professionals. The government’s advisors have played very valuable roles in helping to avert the sort of crisis which overwhelmed the health services in Northern Italy. Many who were seriously ill with the virus died unnecessarily because […]

A lesson in cognitive dissonance for the Corbynites

Jeremy Corbyn

Behavioural economics — which extends the ability of economics to explain the world — has become very fashionable. Richard Thaler, Nobel Prize winner for his work in this area, observed that most of the time, the rational choice model of standard economics works well. People gather information on the various alternatives open to them, and […]

For richer or for poorer? The economic case for marriage is worth remembering

Wedding rings

An important piece of social news emerged last week. According to the Office for National Statistics, the divorce rate in 2018 fell to its lowest level for nearly 50 years. The overall trend is clear and well-established. The divorce rate rose steadily from the late 1950s, with sharp rises immediately following the Divorce Act of […]

What kind of person crosses the Nevada desert to investigate UFO conspiracies?

Area 51

Area 51 is a mysterious place. Located deep in the Nevada desert, it is home to highly classified US military operations. Rumours abound that it harbours secrets about extraterrestrial life. In June, a podcaster released an interview with someone who claims to have studied flying saucers in Area 51. The video spread like wildfire on […]

Retailers beware, the online shopping revolution isn’t going anywhere

Empty High Street

Another week, another retailer biting the dust. The baked potato specialist Spudulike has closed all 37 of its branches, with a loss of nearly 300 jobs. Shopping centres are undergoing a sudden and dramatic squeeze, with many retailers only able to stay in business if granted a dramatic rent reduction. Last week, Intu Properties, owners […]