What Dirty Harry tells us about economic forecasters’ Michael Fish moment

Economic forecasters are in the dock. Last week, none other than the chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, was confessing the crimes of the profession. The failure to predict the financial crisis was, Haldane said, economic forecasting’s “Michael Fish” moment. Thirty years ago, the BBC weatherman predicted that the UK would avoid […]

Farewell to the game theory master who helped prevent a nuclear apocalypse

Last year was a year of celebrity deaths. But perhaps the most significant of all received very little coverage. Just before Christmas, Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate in economics, died aged 95. In the early, tense years of the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union in the late 1940s and 1950s, Schelling’s ideas were […]

The death of cash, the rise of trade unions and other eclectic 2017 predictions

It’s certainly been an eventful year. But rather than dwell on the past, what sort of things can we expect in 2017? Here are a few eclectic predictions. Sweden may become the world’s first cashless economy. Notes and coins are already fast disappearing as a means of payment, and retailers are legally entitled to refuse to accept […]

Forget “post-truth”: A compelling vision drove Brexit and Trump triumphs

The buzz-phrase of the moment in political discussion is “post-truth”. Shell-shocked metropolitan liberals are astonished by both Brexit and Donald Trump’s success. How could their own rational analysis not find favour with the electorate? People in the internet age must be no longer capable of recognising the truth. Both the Brexiteers and Trump certainly created […]

Rampant corruption – not just the euro – has doomed Italy to stagnation

So farewell then, Matteo Renzi! The resignation of the Italian Prime Minister after his heavy defeat in Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform has created turmoil. Fears have been resurrected about the stability of the Italian banking system, and even the possibility of Italy leaving the euro has been raised. But the problems of the Italian […]

Dump opinion polls for social media to understand people’s real preferences

So the pollsters got it wrong again.  After the general election last year and then Brexit, it is perhaps not surprising.  What is surprising is just how wrong they were.  The real problem is the enormous confidence with which they pronounced that Clinton would win. The Princeton Election Consortium was probably top of the class, […]

Look to Twitter for why Britain’s economy proved Project Fear wrong

The economic data on post-Brexit Britain is beginning to emerge.  We discovered last month that employment in May to July grew by 174,000 compared to the previous three months.  Last week, the Office for National Statistics published its estimate for the output of the service sector of the economy in July.  This shows a 0.4 […]

Why the same flaws afflict economic data as political opinion polls

Who will win the US presidency? Opinion polls have got a bad name in Britain, at least. During the 2010 general election campaign, many suggested that Gordon Brown could still continue in power in a minority government or coalition. The polling record in the 2015 campaign was even worse. Most polls showed the two main […]

Corbyn is completely out of touch with the real debate about UK austerity

Following the Brexit vote, normal service seems to have resumed. A key question in economic policy since the General Election of 2010 has moved centre stage once again: should the government abandon austerity? At one level, the question has an easy answer. Interest rates are now so low that the UK government can borrow for 30 […]

Sorry, Prime Minister: Legislation won’t end excess in the boardroom

A key platform of our new Prime Minister is to curb what she perceives to be boardroom excesses.  “It is not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change”, she said. One of her proposals is to allow employee and worker representatives to sit on company boards, a suggestion which has not gone down […]

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