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What Tesco knows and Woolies forgot

I do not think children should be taught that greed is the most powerful human motivation. The people who are most successful in business in the long run are people who are passionate about business, not money.

Some companies are too powerful to fail

Few things corrode business efficiency and effective markets more insidiously than the discovery that it is more profitable to win the favour of politicians than to win the approval of customers.

A passive approach to bank stakes is inadequate

The primary purpose of government investment in financial institutions is not to ensure that the taxpayer gets its money back – although that issue should certainly not be neglected – but to ensure that ordinary banking functions operate well.

Fannie Mae and the limits of public obligation

The gap between the assumed responsibilities of government for financial services regulation and its effective powers grows ever more costly. Fannie Mae and Equitable Life are the latest examples.

Lennon was right about music and the man

The notion that extending intellectual property rights in the music industry would provide pensions for ageing and impoverished crooners is an engaging fantasy.

No need to own the road: buy the tollbooth

Mr Buffett’s success demonstrates the weakness of one economic theory, the efficient market hypothesis, and the strength of another – the central role that the pursuit and defence of economic rents plays in modern corporate life.

Sovereign wealth is a force for stability

The political consequences of international trade are different from the political consequences of international investment. Yet the willingness of business to transcend political divisions in pursuit of commercial advantage is basically a force for peace.

Chain reaction that burned out ICI

Farewell to ICI, Britain’s leading industrial company for most of the 20th century. As a national institution, ICI nurtured some of Britain’s best management talent and developed the skills and knowledge behind the country’s most successful postwar industry.

Heathrow’s problems result from a flawed concept

There was too much haste in following up on successful early privatisations, in a perhaps justified belief that almost any organisational structure would be better than the British conception of nationalised industry.

Property rights and the wrong path to democracy

There are two methods of allocating property rights: Top down – by the dictates of a central administration – or bottom up – rights to land are acquired by working it.

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