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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

GDP is flawed – just not the way most people think

It is a poor criticism of a thermometer that it does not tell us how comfortable we feel.

A stealthy step towards abolishing income tax

The man who “laboureth much, and sparing the fruits of his labour, consumeth little” should not, Hobbes argued, pay more “than he that liveth idlely, getteth little, and spendeth all he gets”.

Economic abstractions conceal the true contours of human life

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

The startling human progress that economists fail to see

The most important source of economic advance comes not from doing the same things better, but from achieving the same objective in a completely different way.

Philistines may carp but scientists should reach for the sky

Anthropology helps us understand the world, in ways that are helpful whether we are talking about the internal contradictions of communism or the pathologies of financial crises.

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.

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.

Why London homes remain affordable – it is the buyers who change

The monetary rewards attached to different occupations and social positions change from one period of history to another. The houses remain, the backgrounds of their occupants change.

Tendulkar was great – but the stats say he was not unique

Cricketers as gifted as Mr Tendulkar will appear from time to time, but it is unlikely that one as skilful as Bradman will appear in the entire history of the world.