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Friday, November 15, 2019
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Introduce professional standards for bankers

It is true that professional reputations are not what they once were, that self-regulation of standards of competence has often been inadequate, that professions’ ethical standards have declined generally. But it is also striking that such decline is most noticeable in the areas of law and accountancy closest to financial services.

Surplus capital is not for wimps after all

John explains why capital is the stuff you have to protect yourself and why banks can never have enough of it.

Banks got burned by their own ‘innocent fraud’

There are only a few basic kinds of deception and self-deception in finance. John illustrates some of the key mechanisms.

Statistics, damned statistics and value added

Starting from a flawed productivity comparison, John highlights the difficulties in interpreting economic statistics.

Accounting rules for public duty and private failure

What are the similarities, and the differences, between the uses and needs of accounting in the public and private sectors?

Brown’s rules are a flawed basis for policy

The Treasury's fiscal principles - the golden rule and the sustainable investment rule - have failed for reasons similar to those that explain the failure of targets in other areas of the public sector.

An innumerate mistake haunting the government

Do not tinker with the tax system for short-term political advantage. Tax is always more complicated than you think and the results come back to haunt you.

Conflicting creeds: how to value art, houses and Asian stock

For fundamentalists, the value of an asset is the sum of the returns it will yield over its life. For fellow travellers, an asset is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

Arguments for private equity are not always convincing

Private equity promoters propose layer upon layer of debt, leveraged by non-recourse finance. But the same finance theory also tells us that you do not increase the value of an investment portfolio by increasing gearing.

Why data, soft or hard, cannot replace eyes and ears

In all areas of human endeavour, there are hard data and soft data. The happiness of a society or the progress of a civilisation, are multi-dimensional: components are determined by subjective consensus, not objective measurement.

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