Beware the dysfunctional consequences of imposing misguided incentive systems

Lehman Brothers Headquarters

Following the disclosure of salaries at the BBC, it has hardly seemed possible to open a newspaper or switch on the television without being bombarded by stories about pay. By pure coincidence, an academic paper entitled “Pay for Performance and Beyond” has just appeared. So what, you might ask? Except that it is one of […]

What climate warrior Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes teaches us about punishment

Natalie Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes: don’t you just love her? One of the Black Lives Matter campaigners, our Nat caused chaos by occupying the runway at London City Airport, on the grounds that climate change is racist. She and eight others, including a former member of the Oxford University Croquet Club, were sentenced by the courts last week. […]

There’s a smart case for diversity – but it’s not the one you think.

Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, hit the headlines last week with his confession that even he could not understand much of the material which pension providers give to customers. Less noticed, however, was a speech he gave the previous week at a dinner organised in aid of Children in Need on […]

Do markets solve the problem of discrimination?

The Prime Minister recently announced that the civil service will now introduce name-blind recruitment.  When people apply for public sector jobs, their name will not appear on the documents sent to the appointment panel.  Major companies such as HSBC, KPMG, the BBC and the NHS are following suit.  Economists have produced a substantial body of […]

FIFA, corruption and economic growth

The FIFA arrests have dominated both front and sports pages. We must await the outcomes of the trials before pronouncing on individuals.  But amongst soccer fans, the organisation is a byword for sleaze and corruption. England spent £21 million on the campaign to secure the 2018 World Cup. The height of our attempts to influence […]

Popular culture is the driving force of inequality

The Oscars have come and gone for another year. Winning an Oscar is very often the basis for either making a fortune, or turning an existing one into mega riches. Jack Nicholson has an estimated worth of over $400 million, and stars like Tom Hanks and Robert de Niro are not far behind. Even winners […]

Crocodile tears for the poor

INEQUALITY is now a buzzword in Britain. Scarcely a week goes by without a new publication by an academic or journalist lamenting the levels of poverty facing swathes of the population. They are bolstered by a complicit metropolitan liberal elite, who shed crocodile tears for the poor, while ruminating on the current situation. Unfortunately, much […]

Shouting at the supply-chain: is there a better way?

EVERY year, the supermarkets hire substantial batches of high-flying graduates to work in their buying departments. The urban mythology is that these expensively-educated young people are paid to shout down the phone, browbeating suppliers to offer yet more discounts. This hectoring seems to be at the heart of the recent decision of the Groceries Code […]

In Praise of Inequality in Science

Does inequality in the output of scientists matter?  Inequality is a fashionable topic these days, and evidence for its existence is keenly sought in all sorts of places.  John Ioannidis, a health policy researcher at Stanford, and his colleagues have found it in the research outputs of their fellow academics.  In a paper published in […]

Economists are not impressed by Piketty’s views on inequality

The financial crisis has undoubtedly created a demand in popular culture for works which portray capitalism in a bad light, such as the recent best seller by Thomas Piketty.  Piketty’s writing has gathered increasing attention from economists, and his arguments do not really bear scrutiny. The focus of Piketty’s work is the long-run evolution of […]