The curious case of Boris Johnson’s popularity after a year of lockdowns

In 1993, economics Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman published a paper with the enigmatic title “When More Pain Is Preferred to Less”. He and his colleagues conducted two experiments with the same group of people.  In the first, the participants had to hold their hand in cold water for a specified time. They had to keep […]

Behavioural economics has had its Nobel moment, but take it with a pinch of salt

Behavioural economics has received the ultimate accolade. Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago Business School has been awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in this area. Economics over the past 20 to 30 years has become far more empirical. Leading academic journals do still carry purely theoretical articles, but far less […]

Ticket prices, fairness and behavioural economics

Who wants to watch the Scousers play football? Certainly no Mancunian, and probably no self-respecting Londoner either. Yet demand for tickets at Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC, is high. Indeed, there is excess demand: more people want to watch the games than there is room for in the stadium. In keeping with the precepts […]

Are economics graduates fit for purpose?

Are economics graduates fit for purpose? This is a hot topic in policy making circles. A year ago, the Bank of England hosted a day conference on the topic. Diane Coyle has edited the proceedings in a neat little book What’s The Use of Economics: Teaching the Dismal Science After the Crisis. There was a […]

A stitch in time. We need smarter government, but less of it

What is the connection between the content of Boris Johnson’s speech this week to the CBI, tax avoidance and evasion, executive pay, petty crime and plagiarism by students?  This is yet another one where economics can help us with the solution. Economists have long used the example of a factory which imposes costs on other […]

Kahneman and schizophrenia in economics

I was at a fascinating session last night, with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman in conversation with a leading thinker from the advertising world, Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy and Mather.  Kahneman was talking about his book Thinking Fast and Slow, a summary of his life’s work. I am a great admirer of Kahneman.  Trained as a […]