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Incremental improvements to infrastructure offer better value for money

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.

Britain’s ‘great leap forward’ was start of nuclear power failure

British technological failures have been compounded by a political phenomenon I have come to think of as “great leap forward syndrome”. The idea is that the best way to compensate for stumbles and missteps is to move, at one bound, ahead of the field.

Quantitative easing and the curious case of the leaky bucket

In the modern financial economy, the main effect of QE is to boost asset prices, as market gyrations of recent weeks have clearly illustrated. But is the pursuit of higher asset prices an effective or desirable means of promoting economic growth?

Fair value is not the same as market price

The growth of the trading culture has encouraged the belief that the only measure of value is what someone is willing to pay. But this is a mistake.

New York’s wonder shows planners’ limits

If unplanned social interactions are the key to a vibrant city, they are also the key to a vibrant organisation.

Given a choice voters opt for safety

Confronted with the specifics, rather than the principle, of constitutional change, many voters revert to the status quo.

The parable of the ox

Since the ox was no longer being weighed, the key to success lay not in correctly assessing its weight, but rather in correctly assessing what other people would guess. Or what others would guess others would guess. And so on.

Lessons from the house that Lewis built

The British retailer John Lewis, owned by an employee trust and long a favourite of metropolitan women, has now become a favourite of their politician husbands.

A smart business is dressed in principles not rules

In the regulation of business affairs, from dress codes to rules on takeovers, it is always tempting to try to translate general principles into specific rules. But the world is rarely sufficiently clear and certain for this to be possible, and if it seems so today it will have ceased to be so tomorrow.

Choice – Renata Salecl

Faced with the choice of over a hundred 100 jams, I reduced the number of alternatives to 30 or so, and then … well, I finally walked out of the shop without having bought any jam at all. People are overwhelmed by variety of choice.

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