Articles

If “capital is back” it’s in a different sense

The days when economic power was acquired by inheriting the mill are long gone. Mr Buffett began his business career as a mill owner, but closed the mills and went into insurance. That is the reality of capital in modern economics.

London’s airport expansion plans must consider scale and competition

The Independent Airport Commission must choose between the scale advantages of monopoly and the innovative benefits of competition. Airline history favours the former, experience of other industries supports the latter.

Scottish No vote was not the end of an argument, but the beginning

The close independence vote, together with the hasty promises that preceded it, have rendered unsustainable the quiet compromises that had defused the Scottish issue in British politics.

Hard work and talent combine for sporting and business success

The rout of the Brazilians by the Germans at this year’s football World Cup and British success in cycling seems to reinforce the thesis that hard work trumps talent. Yet it is not just modesty that leads me to suspect that even after 10,000 hours I would not be ready to perform at Wembley Stadium.

More Rembrandts than art dealers please

The National Trust announced that a painting of a raffish Dutch gentleman wearing a white feathered hat, on display at Buckland Abbey in Devon, is in fact a self-portrait by Rembrandt, worth £30m. But who created that £30m value, and when?

Precise inflation figures ignore evolutions in product quality and consumer choice

Price indices are compiled by measuring the changes in the cost of buying a fixed bundle of goods chosen to represent the consumption of an average household. But what the average household buys changes with the arrival of new goods; and with changes in relative prices; as well as with variations – good and bad – in quality

Votes for UKIP and independence reflect inadequacies in our political system

Citizens express dissatisfaction with the current state of politics and the economy in time-honoured fashion, by hostility to anonymous others and complaint that too much power is exercised by people who are out of touch with their needs.

Rule of the vigilante is not the way to handle business misconduct

There are good reasons for state action in areas of business misconduct. But announcing ad hoc measures against companies in the news is the wrong way.

Economic growth allows us to choose longer lives – surely that’s a good thing?

Life-saving advances are the greatest benefit of technological change. And yet when pundits discuss the future, the excitement around driverless cars and nanotechnology gives way to long faces when the topic moves to human longevity. It may be nice to live longer, but what about the effect on the economy?

Payday loans should be regulated more pragmatically

Payday lending changed its character because technological changes made it possible to target a new demographic profile. A genie has escaped the bottle, and it has to be coaxed back gently; attacked directly, it is likely to prove slippery and evasive.