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Sometimes the best that a company can hope for is death

Humans have always found it hard to cope with the idea that every individual has a lifespan even as life itself goes on. The idea of a natural life cycle for a business, or industrial centre, is even more difficult to accept.

The wrong sort of competition in energy

Some complexity is unavoidable, but much of the complexity consumers experience is not.

Take on Wall St titans if you want reform

Effective banking reform should aim at structures, not at intensified supervision. Resilient systems are simple ones.

It is time to end the oligopoly in banking

Plurality and diversity are generally sources of stability – in banking as in nature.

When capitalism and corporate self-interest collide

Adam Smith had not imagined a world in which the Wealth of Nations would cross the world digitally at the click of a mouse. Nor had he envisaged one in which legislation would be drafted by paid lobbyists.

The $10 minibar beer is no basis for capitalism

If the winner of the competitive race is the company that is most innovative, not in productive efficiency or customer service, but in the ingenuity and opacity of its tariff structures, consumers will not be happy, or well served, in the long run.

Radical innovation rarely comes from within

The dynamism of a market economy comes from innovation in products and processes, and radical innovation in products and processes often – in fact usually – comes from outside the existing market structure.

Why you can have an economy of people who don’t sweat

The books that Britain exports have long been made from trees grown abroad. Then globalisation meant the paper was also made abroad, and increasingly the printing took place overseas. Soon selling a book will involve no physical objects. The division of labour becomes ever finer and generally increases the wealth of all involved in the production process.

The job of business secretary is to put the future first

A business secretary should focus on issues that enable business to improve how it serves the public. He should not act as a super lobbyist collating the suggestions of the chief executives and public relations consultants constantly banging on his door.

Robber barons of the Rhine

The distinction between the creation and the appropriation of wealth is vital, if not always clear. But our ability to recognise it will determine, not just the fate of individuals, but the future of modern capitalism.

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