Articles

Top nations like Denmark do well without pushing others around

We once suffered from Norman Angell’s “Great Illusion” that prosperity was the product of aggressive control of territory and resources — and now we know better. The wealth of Denmark is instead built on exporting bacon and drugs to control diabetes — an appropriate combination — around the world.

At last, is boring banking making a comeback?

Do the almost simultaneous announcements this month of a new regime at Deutsche Bank, and an extensive restructuring at HSBC, symbolise a fundamental change in the structure of financial companies?

In an interconnected world it remains hard to make borders go away

More than twenty years have passed since the creation of the single European market and the Schengen common travel area. And yet while much appears to have changed, more has remained the same.

Asset allocation should be the outcome (not the driver of) investment decisions

David Swensen, Yale’s endowment manager, recently claimed that the choice between broad asset classes is the only investment decision that adds value. But the evidence is shaky because most institutions hold very similar equity portfolios.

To keep the UK united we need a coherent vision of the union and its advantages

The Conservative prime minister is making the same mistake as Lord Robertson did in 1995 with plans to make Scotland “the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world”. The concept of the union is gradually being drained of any content.

Take care with summary statistics when the underlying population is changing

Since 2008, UK employment has risen substantially and working hours have increased but output has barely grown. To explain this productivity puzzle we must dig into the detail of how aggregate statistics are built up.

Labour Party’s economic rethink should focus on good corporations

The UK’s Labour Party failed to provide a convincing economic narrative and duly lost the 2015 general election. In future it would do well to recognise the role it can play in promoting good corporations; reestablishing the political and social legitimacy of the market economy.

The next UK government must stop being a housing market spectator

British housing policy is a tale of disaster. It’s time to use the sector as an instrument of counter-cyclical policy rather than allow it to be a prime source of instability.

The bumpy road ahead will most likely lead to Scottish independence

It is — just — possible to visualise a UK in which the SNP is one of several power brokers in a more fragmented party system. But such an outcome requires imagination and co-operation beyond the capacity of most of the politicians who fill our screens.

UK election confirms many beliefs are held in the absence of facts (truthiness)

We are all subject to confirmation bias — a tendency to find, or interpret, facts to support opinions we already hold. But truthiness is more extreme, occuring when conviction is prized over information.