Articles

Why simple and robust regulation is the way to reduce financial complexity

Much of the complexity of modern finance is the result of regulatory arbitrage – avoiding or minimising restrictions by engaging in a transaction with more or less identical effect but more favourable regulatory treatment. Many regulators still cling to the hope that it could be eliminated if only rules were sufficiently extensive and sufficiently carefully prescribed. But this is an illusion.

No universal law predicts the outcome of disruptive innovation

The use of hindsight to reformulate a question in such a way that it validates one’s original thesis is especially widespread among consultants and gurus. But an approach sufficiently loosely formulated that it can explain everything after the event actually explains nothing at all.

Authors should back Amazon in the battle with Hachette

Established companies in all industries are inhibited in their response to radical change by vested interests inherent in their existing business models. Now, in publishing, it’s time for the author to be placed where he or she should be – in charge.

How to fix Scotland’s independence depositor dilemma

If Scotland introduces its own currency the first minister should declare that all contracts made in sterling – or dollars – will continue to be payable in that currency.

If you take the bonus, you should take the rap

When falsification of reports, or mis-selling of payment protection insurance, is common practice rather than the avocation of one rogue individual, the culpability of those in charge should be automatic.

Why mean outcomes are often meaningless

There is never such a thing as a single true and fair view, only a range of possible outcomes. To assess a value from the mean outcome is as meaningless as the observation that the average person has 1.99 legs.

Competition in banking does not necessarily benefit consumers

Limited competition may actually yield worse results for customers than either full-blooded competition or a cartel. Perhaps that explains the particularly tentative approach of the Competition and Markets Authority.

‘Trust me, I am a financial adviser’ is not good enough

Concepts of fiduciary obligation have been watered down in the modern financial services sector. It is time to reverse that.

A British identity crisis has hobbled the No campaign

The Scottish referendum is unlikely to produce a majority for independence. But in the absence of a positive assertion of what it means to be British, the United Kingdom is sleepwalking towards separation.

The ‘best’ health care is not always the one that keeps us alive

Can Britain’s NHS really be the best in the world – except for keeping its patients alive? John reviews the paradox.