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Adam Smith, Misanthrope

Adam Smith would, as is widely recognised, have been sceptical about the current vogue for ‘industrial strategy’: ‘The statesman who should attempt to direct private...

Five Books: Best Books for the Beginner Investor

John recently spoke to Five Books on the five books he recommends to people who are considering starting investing. Find the full interview here,...

The Great Economists Debate

Listen to my discussion with Linda Yueh and Andrew Scott on some of the great economists and big questions we face. https://soundcloud.com/londonbusinessschool/the-great-economists-debate-john-kay-andrew-scott-and-linda-yueh-event-audio  

Moving Beyond “Capitalism”

https://soundcloud.com/curioio/john-kay-moving-beyond/s-1dfFJ I wish we would stop using the word Capitalism. It is a 19th-century term, derived from 19th-century economic philosophy. But today people who would run...

Equity markets are thriving but are they relevant?

The equity markets with which we are familiar came into being in the 19th century to finance railways and railroads. Railways and railroads were...

The changing – and unchanging? – nature of the company town

The decline of manufacturing industry had been associated with the decline of the company town. In contrast, service companies have always tended to be fragmented. And yet there is one service industry which is conducted in large plants, in which people travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to consume the product, and which has been conducted in company towns not just for decades, but centuries.

Stakeholders with the most to lose should control struggling companies

When a corporation is unable to meet valid claims, control passes to the holders of these claims in a legally defined order of priority. But, as finance has grown more complex, these rules have come to look more shaky; they can falter dangerously in modern banking or in the case of a struggling retail business such as BHS.

Berkshire business model is simple and effective, yet rarely copied

Buffett's method is to find well-run companies and give them more freedom than they would enjoy on public markets. Yet other conglomerates use financial engineering and impose “transferable” management skills.

Central problem with banks is “too complex to fail” not “too...

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”.

What Uber and another John Kay teach us about innovation and...

Uber's superior service threatens London's black-cab drivers, just as (my namesake) John Kay's flying shuttle eventually led to rebellion by out-of-work Luddites in the 19th century. The losers from such innovations should in some circumstances be compensated. But restricting competition is against the public interest.

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