Category Archives: Economics

Stop speaking like a corporate robot – for the sake of capitalism itself

Here’s a new year’s resolution for business: learn to speak human. The state of business language as a whole remains an abiding scandal. HSBC’s coinage of “demising” as a euphemism for “sacking” led last year’s pack, but corporate statements that resemble something delivered by an alien with a glitchy translator are hardly rare. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Liberal education

Why commercialism captures the true spirit of Christmas

It’s a shame all the shopping has to spoil the true meaning of Christmas. Or so we get told at this time of year, usually by the same prophets of good cheer who want us to celebrate the season by donning hair shirts and cutting back on the booze. Continue reading

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Filed under Christmas, Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Religion

Selfie-nomics: The world’s now a stage and we’re all performing

My smartphone has a feature I can’t ever imagine using – it promises to insert my live picture into any snapshot I take by turning on both front and rearfacing cameras at once. But I’m clearly behind the times. Even as I cling to my old-fashioned desire to take photographs of the things that I see, “selfie” – the new nickname for a photographic self-portrait – has been declared Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, following a 17,000 per cent increase in usage year-on-year. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, History, Human nature, Innovation, Publishing, Technology

Steampunk Economics and the future of leisure

There’s something repellent about the Conservative Party’s new slogan “For Hardworking People”. I can’t agree with those critics who think it is an empty promise. It reflects the values in which David Cameron believes. It suits the social incentives he is seeking to construct. But while encouraging people to work for their own betterment is unquestionably good, when it comes from the mouth of government it is impossible not to scent cynicism. For hard work is not an end in itself for people – only for a state keen to live off their backs. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education, Politics, Science, Technology

Exploring the Economics of God

What has Chicago got to do with Jerusalem? Economics and religion can seem an unlikely match. Yet these very different fields of human knowledge, each questing after its own set of slippery certainties, can inform one another. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Religion

Pity and the professional politician

I love this time of year. It’s a shame politicians have to ruin it. The weather is cool and crisp but mild enough not to be winter-miserable, the year is running towards its end but there’s enough time left to get stuff finished first. Nature is filling all fruit with ripeness to the core – except at the party conferences, full of rotten ideas and plastic-wrapped smiles. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, Politics

Ronald Coase: The unknown UK economist who quietly changed the world

Britain has lost a giant. Ronald Coase, the brilliant economist who shone new light on how and why companies form, died this week at the age of 102. It was too soon: his most influential paper was published half a century ago, but Coase remained sharp to the end, fighting for his countercultural approach. He launched a new journal, Man and the Economy, only last year. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, History

The ladder of innovation means ever more low-hanging fruit

Hardnosed business sense can improve charitable outcomes. That should be obvious enough, but it is a story that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

How cheering then to read this week of the difference Toyota made to the efficiency of New York’s food banks by sharing its commitment to kaizen, or continuous improvement. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Innovation

JK Rowling’s pseudonymous success is a triumph for democratic publishing

I don’t know why I’m bothering to write this. It’s not like Marc Sidwell is a pseudonym for JK Rowling. Few will have missed the recent overnight journey of Rowling’s pseudonymous crime book The Cuckoo’s Calling from bargain bin to the top of the bestseller lists once she was revealed as the author. Apparently not a cunningly timed publicity stunt but a genuine scoop, the story has been read by many as a fairytale gone wrong: a sign that only celebrity can succeed in the modern publishing world. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, Human nature, Publishing

Pie charts and Prejudice: Jane Austen the economist should grace our banknotes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a central banker in possession of a printing press must be in want of a Jane Austen tenner. Sir Mervyn King’s parting suggestion that the author of Emma may soon grace our currency was a cheering piece of news this week, especially in Pride and Prejudice’s bicentennial year. Her fans must now keep a sharp eye on King’s Canadian replacement, in case Mark Carney tries to cast Austen aside and smuggle in Celine Dion or Avril Lavigne instead. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Human nature, Literature