Category Archives: Finance

Robots won’t take all City jobs – they could even give you a pay rise

You’re back from the summer, but for how long? In case you missed it, one tech visionary thinks many City jobs could be automated within a decade. Dave Coplin, who glories in the title of chief envisioning officer at Microsoft UK, told the Telegraph that “the City could be run by algorithms”. Continue reading

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The real way to shake up British banking: Embrace the third party future

The lack of competition among Britain’s retail banks is under the microscope. Yet an important part of the solution is not getting enough attention. While breaking up big banks would not be as easy as Ed Miliband thinks, and the current height of the regulatory hurdles makes the field of entrants sparse at best, the potential for third parties to disrupt the consumer experience online is huge. Continue reading

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The Greeks have something to teach us about the importance of being idle

BUSINESS and leisure seem like opposites. Ambition’s drive to succeed and achieve has little truck with the pleasures of idleness. With 135 graduates fighting for every opening at investment banks and fund managers, who can afford to be caught with their feet up? Yet leisure is essential, even for the driven. It’s a chance to stand back and train for your next engagement with the enemy. The ancient Greeks understood this, which is why they called leisure skhole – the origin of our English word school – meaning both time held back from the demands of work and a lecture or discussion. Continue reading

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Filed under Finance, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education

How to build a self-healing bank

BANKS should be more like cats than washing machines. So suggests Nassim Taleb, ex-trader and controversial author of The Black Swan, who has a new book out in time for Christmas. What he means is that living things – cats, economists, bankers – display a property that even our best-designed machinery lacks: a quality that he names antifragility, fragility’s true opposite. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Finance

The sky’s the limit: Why the humble checklist beats masterful intuition

THOSE of us glued to the live feed of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space last week were also incidentally witness to one of the most powerful – and underappreciated – performance enhancement techniques known. If you were watching, the chances are you didn’t even give it a second thought. But there’s as much to admire in the moments before the jump as in Baumgartner’s record, sound-barrier-breaking feat itself. Continue reading

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The Batman of business: Private equity has the guts to do the dirty work

BATMAN and Barack Obama are conspiring to put private equity under a Bat Signal-shaped spotlight this week. The unlikely duo have come together thanks to the similarity between Bane – the name of the villain in The Dark Knight Rises – and the Obama re-election campaign’s attack against Republican Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital. Continue reading

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How to give like a businessman: The lesson of Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth

THIS week’s announcement that British venture capitalist Michael Moritz has given £75m to Oxford University is a welcome reminder of the great contribution that many in the financial services industry continue to make to worthy causes, either in public or behind the scenes. Moritz’s gift will support scholarships for the poorest students. In so doing, he joins the likes of hedge fund billionaire Arpad Busson and his Absolute Return for Kids charity and Lord Stanley Fink, the former Man Group chief executive, who donates 30 per cent of his income every year to charity, and City A.M., which raised £1.5m in its 2011 Christmas appeal. Continue reading

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The fall of Bob Diamond: How tragedy can stalk even the most powerful

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Filed under Business, Economics, Finance, Human nature, Liberal education, Literature

Greece’s history holds its hope for the future

PEOPLE say that Greece used to be great. That’s not quite right of course. They mean Athens. Ancient Greece was a jumble of city-states, some even worse than the political and economic disaster of Greece today. Sparta was a totalitarian state, a role model for the Nazis. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Finance, History

Poetry and capitalism make a heroic couplet

T.S. ELIOT was a banker, but that hasn’t stopped two poets from refusing to be shortlisted for this year’s prestigious, £15,000 Eliot Prize over a sponsorship deal with Aurum Capital, an investment firm specialising in funds of hedge funds. First Alice Oswald and now John Kinsella have given up their coveted places on the list. Kinsella told The Guardian he was an “anti-capitalist in full-on form”, while Oswald announced that “poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions”. Continue reading

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