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 […]

Citizens’ assemblies would hand power to establishment experts

School children protest

Citizens’ assemblies have become the height of fashion. The London borough of Camden is currently holding one on how to reduce carbon emissions in the area. Last month, Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to set one up to consider constitutional issues in Scotland. The Irish government’s one on abortion featured in the 2018 referendum on the […]

You can’t take the economics out of football

Baku Olympic Stadium

The appearance of Liverpool and Spurs in the Champions League final and Arsenal and Chelsea in the Europa Cup one has generated massive interest. But the official ticket prices for the games are surprisingly reasonable. Liverpool and Spurs have been offered 16,613 tickets each. Five per cent of these are expensive, at £513 each. A […]

The economics of tourist overload

I am in Edinburgh for a few days at the Festival, where even Jeremy Corbyn has appeared. Disappointingly, he was not playing the role of Carmela Soprano, the mafia don’s wife who is always present but never involved. Previously, I had been on Skye. Last month, I attended a conference in Venice. Edinburgh, Skye, Venice, […]

The intellectual imperialism of economics

Holiday reading

At this time of year, most people are focused on leisure. The holiday you have just had, the one you are on now, or the one you are just about to go on. With exquisite timing, the 1 August issue of the top Journal of Economic Perspectives has a symposium of papers about work. The […]

Economics is doing just fine, thank you, without adopting psychology’s blunders

Psychology Experiments

Criticisms of economics have abounded since the financial crisis. Even Nobel Prize winners like George Akerlof of Berkeley have got in on the act. A key demand is for economics to adopt a more recognisably human portrait of behaviour in its theories than the rational calculating machine of the textbooks. Psychology rather than pure economic […]

The misguided sugar tax is an ineffectual way to price the externalities of obesity

Sodas

One of George Osborne’s last acts as chancellor in 2016 was to announce the so-called sugar tax. This came into force last week, in line with the original timetable. Drinks manufacturers are taxed according to the volume of sugar-sweetened beverages they produce or import. The tax increases with the sugar content. The aim is to […]

Altruism and information deficits: What snowstorms teach us about economics

London Snow

While weather may not seem like a typical economics topic, there are always interesting aspects to behaviour in any context. Quite a number of drivers, for example, appear to have ignored notices of road closure. They drove on regardless, until becoming stuck in the snow. In Greater Manchester, which seems to have been the vortex […]

Mind the gap: Economics is catching up to the fact that we’re not always rational

Chalk Farm Underground

Do Tube strikes make Londoners better off? At first sight, the question is simply absurd. The answer is surely “no”. But a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics comes to the opposite conclusion. Cambridge economist Shaun Larcom and his colleagues analysed the two-day strike of February 2014. They obtained detailed travel information on nearly […]

Comparison sites are forcing businesses and economists to rethink price theories

Man at laptop

The competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a report about Price comparison sites at the end of last month. They seem simple enough, but these straightforward sites raise interesting issues for economics. Overall, the CMA was pretty positive about the DCTs – digital comparison tools, to give them their Sunday best name. The conclusion was […]

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