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Sales of sherry in Britain have fallen by more than half in the last ten years. The Wine and Spirits Trade Association blames taxation. But, as so often, the reasons are not economic, but social and cultural.
As politicians vie with each other to express their love of manufacturing industry, John pulls together thoughts developed over three decades on what he has come to call the 'manufacturing fetish'.
Recent stumbles by Bernie Sanders illustrate a misdirection in his attack on the banking establishment. The central problem is not so much “too big to fail” but “too complex to fail”.
Two recent events have served to highlight the range of difficult questions raised by pharmaceuticals regulation. Last week, a man died in the French city of Rennes after a clinical trial of a painkiller went tragically wrong. In New York last month, the company controlled by former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, raised the price of the life-saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a tablet to $750.
Bad events in organisations are generally the product of bad systems rather than bad people. So, while it is right to place responsibility for the VW scandal with the chief executive rather than the individuals who falsified emissions tests, we need to go on and ask what it is about modern corporate life that has made such misbehaviour not only possible but appear increasingly common.
If the capital costs of Heathrow expansion could be substantially reduced and its actual financing costs were also trimmed, that project would merit further consideration. Otherwise, a second runway at Gatwick appears simpler, cheaper, less risky and less politically unpalatable.
A mechanism of funding pharmaceutical research which leads to drug prices far in excess of marginal cost is bound to lead to anguish and injustice. But is there a better idea?
Michael Porter warned on the danger of being “stuck in the middle”. Companies, he said, must either gain a cost advantage or emphasise product differentiation. But what really matters is enjoying a competitive advantage in the market position you choose.
Established companies in all industries are inhibited in their response to radical change by vested interests inherent in their existing business models. Now, in publishing, it's time for the author to be placed where he or she should be - in charge.
Can Britain’s NHS really be the best in the world - except for keeping its patients alive? John reviews the paradox.