Last week I received a communication from the Electoral Commission about the coming EU referendum. The pamphlet states the case for each side and gives instructions on how to vote. At first sight that process epitomises democracy in action. But on closer examination the leaflet illustrates why momentous decisions should not be made this way.
25 May 2016, Financial Times
18 May 2016
The term “helicopter money” is derived from a vivid image created by the US economist Milton Friedman in which a central banker showers notes on a grateful populace. More recently, the notion has been promoted by Adair Turner, the former chairman of the UK financial regulator, in his book, Between Debt and the Devil .
11 May 2016, Financial Times
The problem of western democracies such as Britain and the US is that the institutions of a two-party system in which alternating governments compete to attract votes in the centre do not work well when politics is no longer arranged on a one-dimensional spectrum from left to right. Recent political upheavals are only the start of the resulting instability.
04 May 2016, Financial Times
Buffett’s method is to find well-run companies and give them more freedom than they would enjoy on public markets. Yet other conglomerates use financial engineering and impose “transferable” management skills.
27 April 2016, Financial Times
Does it lift your heart to hear that “Britain is uniquely placed to lead the world in a smart power revolution”? Do you share the ambition of George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, to discover “what the government needs to do to become a world leader in 5G infrastructure”? Here’s why my heart sank when reading these words in the plans of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission.
20 April 2016, Financial Times
Explaining your possibly complex financial affairs to unsympathetic journalists adds to the already too long list of reasons why able people might not want to go into politics. And such scrutiny draws attention away from genuinely serious and widespread tax evasion, corruption and money laundering, practices.
13 April 2016, Financial Times
Recent stumbles by Bernie Sanders illustrate a misdirection in his attack on the banking establishment. The central problem is not so much “too big to fail” but “too complex to fail”.
06 April 2016, Financial Times
There is a world of difference between low-probability events drawn from the tail of a known statistical distribution and extreme events that happen but had not previously been imagined. And it is usually the latter that give rise to crises — and opportunities.
30 March 2016, Financial Times
“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” The principle encapsulated in these words from Thomas Jefferson sounds fair. But we should be more anxious to fund the work of non-partisan institutions with direct policy relevance, like the Bank of England, IFS and Royal Society.
23 March 2016, Financial Times
The belief that the zero lower bound to interest rates is a significant obstacle to stimulating demand supposes that there is a host of projects that promises a prospective return less than zero but more than, say, minus one half per cent. This completely misunderstands the nature of the barriers to long-term productive investment. We need less financial ingenuity and more common sense.
28 August 2007, Financial Times
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