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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.

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.

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

Why simple and robust regulation is the way to reduce financial complexity

Much of the complexity of modern finance is the result of regulatory arbitrage – avoiding or minimising restrictions by engaging in a transaction with more or less identical effect but more favourable regulatory treatment. Many regulators still cling to the hope that it could be eliminated if only rules were sufficiently extensive and sufficiently carefully prescribed. But this is an illusion.

The welfare cap replaces political judgment with spin

Whatever initial misconceptions spin doctors may promote, reality will out.

Economic abstractions conceal the true contours of human life

No economic model can describe “the world as it really is”.

How big data lets us see a little further into the unknown

Big data can help us understand the past and the present but it can help us understand the future only to the extent that the future is, in some relevant way, contained in the present.

The world’s rich stay rich while the poor struggle to prosper

The dispersion of productivity among already rich countries has increased. Norway and Switzerland have surged ahead but laggards such as Italy – and indeed Britain – have struggled to keep up with the pack.

For truth on immigration, look to the Bard not politicians

Politicians, like gang bosses and football fans, routinely attempt to establish or reinforce their leadership by inciting hostility to other groups.

Economists: there is no such thing as the ‘economic approach’

Economics is not a method but a subject – one defined by the problems it sets out to tackle not the techniques it uses.