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Rise in US and UK inequality principally due to financialisation and executive pay

The people who ran big companies were always relatively well paid, but the meaning of “relatively well paid” is now altogether different. Finance employs more people, recruits more able people and pays them a lot more. These effects have not been seen in countries, such as France and Germany, that have proved more resistant to financialisation.

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?

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.

‘Trust me, I am a financial adviser’ is not good enough

Concepts of fiduciary obligation have been watered down in the modern financial services sector. It is time to reverse that.

How the health and safety culture can curb moral hazard

What does the death rate from violent accident in England over seven centuries tell us about moral hazard in the financial system?

Regulators will get the blame for the stupidity of crowds

Just as dammed water finds new channels of escape, crowdfunding seems to provide a way around the blockage.

Do not criminalise traders just for being in the know

Obtaining better information about companies is essential to the efficiency of markets and society: obtaining it fractionally earlier is of no public value at all.

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.

Is it better to play it safe or to place bets that risk bankruptcy?

Although transactions with low probability of large loss and high probability of small gain carry the potential for disaster, they can appear attractive for a very long time – perhaps for ever.

London’s mayor is half right on envy, greed and inequality

Envy is both inseparable from economic progress and destructive of social cohesion. Some inequality is inevitable, and there seem to be three principal factors that make it more tolerable.