Articles

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.

Government by announcement undermines UK energy policy

Government by announcement is now characteristic of British politics. The goal is to make statements that will receive favourable media coverage. But this has been particularly damaging to energy policy.

Scottish No vote makes independence more likely

The No side never grasped that the central argument of the Yes campaign is that Scotland is different. Every measure that respects the differences, far less emphasises or extends them, gives strength to those who favour independence.

Scotland can prosper whether Yes or No

Scotland has prospered as part of a United Kingdom and could prosper as an independent country. Which course is more appropriate is a question of identity and values, not economics. And whatever the outcome of the referendum, sensible people will work together to ensure that outcome produces the best possible economic result.