Articles

Scottish independence vote will continue to shape British politics

Anyone who thinks that the Smith Commission proposals on further devolution for Scotland will defuse the remaining issues lives in a political bubble distant from the interests of ordinary voters.

Rationality will be at work this Christmas

At Christmas people will spend time with relatives they do not much like, give presents that the recipients value at less than they cost, and eat and drink more than they know is good for them. This is not completely irrational.

To assess value it’s wise to escape the market crowd

The belief that an aggregate of casual opinions provides a better process of value discovery than a flow of informed judgment through close engagement by investors, is an article of faith rather than a matter of empirical evidence.

Home ownership has distributed wealth but raised generational inequality

The ability of young people today to benefit from future house price appreciation depends in large part on their parents’ capacity to pass on the benefits of past house price appreciation to them. But that injustice is different in nature and cause from the inequality that concerns Occupy Wall Street, or the purchasers of Prof Piketty’s book.

Income tax in Scotland can only go up if new powers are exercised

There is only one way in which the Scottish government’s new freedom to vary income tax can be exercised, and that is to raise it. That was not what the supporters of more devolution had in mind when they asked for additional powers.

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?