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Fewer ingredients will best serve the VAT on food

The common sense that says “I know the difference between a Cornish pasty and a ham sandwich when I see it” is appealing, but we would rightly find it unacceptable that the decisions of a tax inspector should be based on the principle that he knows what to tax when he sees it.

Why banks’ ringfences risk being Chinese walls

The core problem is that banks have no intention of abiding by the spirit, rather than the letter, of any regulatory rules.

The beauty is in the data

The share of financial services in national income has increased. Should we be pleased, or concerned, by this development?

Love the bearer of bad news

No one loves the bearer of bad news. But short sellers, Wikileaks, accountants who mark to market, and even rating agencies, should be applauded for telling people the news they do not want to hear.

To rate a return, think of what you’re missing

Internal rates of return conflate rewards for risk with returns for patience.  That is why they are often misleading indicators of the profitability of...

True and fair values melt under a spotlight

The true and fair view is subjective, and no accounting principles, however extensive, can cover all conceivable situations.

Do not discount what you cannot measure

Bogus quantification attempts to compress complex problems and analyses into single observations.

Beauty in markets is best judged by the beholder

Once loans can be bought and sold, what matters is not their soundness but their price – with the predictable consequences of instability and price fluctuations far in excess of any reasonable assessment of underlying change in fundamental value.

Expenses have caught MPs with their pants down

Values of integrity, of public service, and of responsible stewardship of the money of others can never be replaced by rules or imposed by regulation.

A boom based on little more than a bezzle

When the future arrived in 2007, we learnt that others had febezzled from us on a massive scale. And that we had also febezzled from ourselves.