Articles

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.

We can reform the economics curriculum without creating new disciplines

Following the global financial crisis there has been much discussion of curriculum reform in university economics teaching. More pluralism is required, but there is no need for “two communities within the same discipline”.

Ice cream, apathy and the paradox of two party politics

John describes lessons for democratic politics from Hotelling’s model of spatial competition.

Why our planes are growing safer and our finances are not

One reason modern air travel is reassuringly safe is that investigation into accidents is honest and thorough. The contrast with finance could hardly be greater.

Must we endure excessive drug prices to encourage pharmaceutical R&D?

A mechanism of funding pharmaceutical research which leads to drug prices far in excess of marginal cost is bound to lead to anguish and injustice. But is there a better idea?