Why cricket is like spam

The holiday season gets into full swing, but a shadow has been cast by the abysmal failure of our boys to get anywhere near the enormous target of 509 which Australia set them to win in the second Test match.  It may seem preposterous even to have thought they would.  But a revolution seems to […]

Banks, cancer and Stephen Hawking

Massive fines for banks, gross misbehaviour, huge bonuses for failure, bailouts at vast expense to the taxpayer: it’s little wonder that politicians and pundits can almost invariably win cheap applause by describing the financial system as being a cancer on society. But in a deep way, cancer and the financial system do have much in […]

Markets are good, but we need clear signals

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the general election result is the abuse which is now being heaped on the metropolitan liberal elite from many quarters.  Theirs is truly a difficult mind set to comprehend, based as it is on an unshakeable belief in their own omniscience. Yet this is confounded on an almost daily […]

Opinion Polls, Financial Crashes and Groupthink

The election is done and dusted, but many interesting questions remain. Was there a swing to the Conservatives at the very last minute, or was it indeed possible to foresee the victory in advance? Snippets are emerging which suggest that the electorate had made up their minds well before polling day. Rod Liddle, the entertaining […]

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 […]

Maybe We Need More Markets and Fewer Regulators

Economics provides us with a really big insight into how the world works. People respond to changes in incentives. A great deal of public policy is based on this principle. You want fewer people to drive into Central London? Introduce a congestion charge and make it more expensive. It works. In practice, of course, estimating […]

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 […]

Valentine’s Day: Myth and Reality

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us.  Many readers may recall a time when its main purpose was for love-struck teenagers to communicate, anonymously or otherwise, with the objects of their desire. Now, it is big business. It is hardly possible to enter a pub or restaurant without being exhorted to publicly display fidelity and love […]

Farewell Facebook?

So farewell, then, Facebook! That is the conclusion of a highly technical paper by two Princeton researchers, John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, which received a lot of publicity in the press last week. The authors conclude that “Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 per cent of its peak user […]