Articles

Solutions to the Greek debt crisis should be found through pragmatism not blame

The Greek crisis is not simply the result of Athens’ inept public administration but also of an extensive carry trade on eurozone convergence by northern European banks, notably in France and Germany, which obtained short-term profits by matching northern eurozone liabilities with southern eurozone assets. For every foolish borrower there is usually a foolish lender.

It sometimes makes sense to fix the market rather than its results

The 2015 election was an almost unmitigated disaster for the UK Labour party. Yet there was one significant success — an intellectual one. It’s called “predistribution”. And it has already been put to use by the new Conservative administration with a 40% increase in the minimum wage.

Has the EU pushed integration too far and too fast?

The empires of history have generally collapsed from overstretch, which led to restive populations on the peripheries, and then to doubts about the wisdom of the project in the home country itself. These symptoms are recognisable in Europe today.

The best answer to the West Lothian question is to ignore it

The logic of English votes for English laws is irresistible. But the core issue is that it is genuinely difficult to identify purely English matters in a United Kingdom of which England constitutes 85 per cent of the population.

HS2 is yet another politically-driven project in search of a rationale

Projects acquire political momentum of their own. The original rationale is forgotten, if indeed it ever existed. And so it has been with HS2, the project to build a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and then to the north of England.

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.