“It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s the narrative!”

The improvement in the economy has seen a narrowing of the gap in the opinion polls between the Conservatives and Labour. In the key marginal seat of Bury North, a Tory gain in 2010 by just 2,200 votes, they recently took a council seat from Labour. Bill Clinton famously said about elections “It’s the economy, […]

Trends in Inequality: Truth and Myth

Concern about inequalities of income and wealth is now a fashionable topic. It featured strongly in the gathering of the world’s top brass at Davos earlier this year. Much of the popular coverage of the topic gives the impression that not only is inequality at record highs, but that it is confined to the wicked […]

Frangleterre… Labour Mobility undermines Tax and Spend regimes

Pimlico Plumbers will be a familiar brand to many readers – it has a prominent advert on the approach into Waterloo station. But the company is now calling for plumbers who are fluent in both English and French, and says applicants will be interviewed by a native French speaker. This is just the tip of […]

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 […]

Britain’s New Industrial Policy: Can We Learn from the Mistakes of the Past?

The phrase ‘industrial policy’ seems to take us decades back in time. In 1964, a powerful catchphrase of the new Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was the need for Britain to embrace the ‘white heat of the technological revolution’. Sadly, by the 1970s this vision had deteriorated into a list of institutions, stuffed with dull […]

Russia: how the crisis might affect future growth

The performance of the BRIC economies over the past decade or so has been mixed. Russian growth, though impressive by Western standards, has lagged that of both India and China. This is particularly true since 2008. I got an insight into the problem at a conference last week at the Economics Institute at St Petersburg […]

Alibaba: not just the Forty Thieves. China at the Cutting Edge

In the whole of the 20th century, only a few countries managed to transform themselves and join the club of rich economies. Japan is the most prominent example. The key question for the first half of the 21st century is whether or not China will manage to do the same. It is a difficult and elusive feat, […]

Always Look on the Bright Side

The American economic recovery carries on apace, with a net rise in employment of almost half a million over the past three months. The Office for National Statistics has decided that the UK never had a double dip recession, and the texture of the economic news has turned positive. But economics is not called the […]

Banging up bankers is the wrong punishment – it won’t change behaviour

The behaviour of the banking sector in the run up to the crash is still very much in the public eye. But this is nothing new. Readers of a certain age may recall Bernie Cornfeld, and his company Investors Overseas Services (IOS). It failed dramatically in the 1970s after allegations of fraud. IOS encouraged the […]