The mountain of debt cannot be ignored no matter how much the economy grows

Politicians and regulators are increasingly concerned about one phenomenon: buy-now-pay-later (BNPL). Nearly a year ago, the government agreed to regulate BNPL lenders, with an independent review chaired by City expert Christopher Woolard warning the sector represented a “significant potential consumer harm”. A Treasury consultation on BNPL only closed at the end of last year. It […]

Lending a hand: government loans to energy firms can’t be the final answer

Some of the media seem to have become addicted to gloom. Most outfits have become cautiously optimistic on Covid-19, but the prospective double squeeze on living standards has rushed in to fill the gap. Consumers are faced with tax increases and sharp rises in energy bills. The surge in the world price of energy means […]

Unchallenged inflation will make strike action the norm in a new labour market

Last Friday, London once again muddled through the inconvenience of yet another Tube strike. Another one is planned for the middle of December. They are just as much a feature of the metropolitan scene as Big Ben. Until more of the trains are automated, Tube staff will retain the capacity to cause disruption. But this […]

The influencer economy: online ranking systems are a purveyor of inequality

To the victor the spoils.  This well-known phrase might be thought to relate to the recent Olympics. Except that it is not a really accurate description of the Games themselves. True, the gold medallist gains more kudos than the silver or bronze. But at future athletics meets, for example, all three can expect an increase […]

Longer lockdown based on hypotheticals would come with serious economic costs

The penny is finally beginning to drop. The health service’s focus on giving absolute priority to the treatment of Covid-19 generates costs and problems on a massive scale. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has warned of the huge pressures on the NHS from the backlog of non-Covid cases. Many of these are life-threatening […]

Businesses face a fresh tipping point of staff shortages and wage hikes

For years, inflation has not been an issue. Since the late 1990s, annual inflation in the UK has averaged 2 per cent, with a peak of just over 4 per cent. In the US, there was a similar story, with even less variability. This is in stark contrast to the 1970s and 1980s, when the […]

To level up, Boris Johnson needs to build homes in satellite towns

A key priority for the government is to revive the fortunes of Britain’s old industrial towns.  Boris Johnson promised to bring jobs and skills directly to these areas, so people no longer need to leave in order to prosper. The economic revival of regional cities in the past two decades or so has put even […]