Category Archives: Literature

Welcome to the banker-poets: Why creativity thrives in financial services

Why should I let the toad work/ Squat on my life?” With the summer holiday season upon us, it’s easy, even in a hardworking and ambitious place like the City, for the mind to turn to the pleasures of life outside the office. But Philip Larkin’s bitter question shouldn’t get the better of us for long. There’s an irony, after all, in a poem that complains about the livelihood that allowed the poet to write it. And as Larkin admits later in the poem, it is not the job so much as the toad of his own personal fears that keeps him from a freer but less financially secure life. Continue reading

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Why Britain needs its own Breaking Bad

Britain needs better liars. Having lost our tolerance for taking reality straight up, we need a more palatable way to swallow hard truths. And for this, truth sugared by fiction looks like the best option we have left. Continue reading

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Filed under Film, Human nature, Literature

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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It’s now left to Shakespeare to remind us of the depths we are capable of

IT’S POSSIBLE we are to be denied a free press thanks to a backroom deal made in Westminster. But when our right to know what is happening right now is being curtailed, we can at least turn to timeless things for comfort. I attended a thrilling production of Romeo and Juliet last night – but not one primarily for anyone reading this paper. It is instead part of a Deutsche Bank-sponsored initiative at Shakespeare’s Globe, designed to introduce a new generation to the bard. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, Human nature, Liberal education, Literature, Politics, Publishing

Google Glass won’t save humanity – but could show us a larger richer world

Two visions of our technological future are battling it out this week. Google has released a promotional video celebrating the potential of its astonishing, voice-activated heads-up display Google Glass, complete with acrobats on video chat in mid-air. Meanwhile, the new series of Charlie Brooker’s TV show Black Mirror continues with a bleak satire, White Bear, that shows a world where constant use of videophones serves to distance and brutalise, rather than bring us closer together. Continue reading

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Five reasons to raise a glass in Thanksgiving for our commercial society

BLESSED with a wife born in America, Thanksgiving is a festival I am learning to celebrate. In grim economic times, it is easy to focus only the negative. But we still enjoy the rare good fortune to live, for the most part, in peace and under liberty. Freedoms of association, speech, trade, and faith enrich our lives every day. Albeit a day late, tonight I will be raising a thankful glass with my friends to these five blessings of our commercial society: Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Business, Economics, Freedom, History, Innovation, Literature, Science, Technology

Sweden turns the page and Scandinavian noir explains why

EVERYONE knows that Sweden is a social-democratic paradise, where taxes are high, the welfare state is big and everyone enjoys the benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s true. In recent years, research like that compiled in Richard Wilkinson’s and Kate Pickett’s The Spirit Level has painted Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbours as political role models. The reality, as always, is more complicated. Thanks to a new publication from the Institute of Economic Affairs, the other side of the story is harder than ever to ignore. Continue reading

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Life isn’t short: But we’ve learnt to squander our time like spendthrifts

SUMMER’S lease is drawing to a close again. With less than a month until the autumnal equinox on 22 September, we’re running out of time to complain about the disappointing weather or attempt to cook burgers in one another’s backyards. Or, from another point of view, there’s four weeks left before the summer of 2012 is over: what shall we do with all that time? Continue reading

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Filed under Human nature, Liberal education, Literature

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

We need a political hero to slay the corporate undead

NO ONE will ever produce a film called David Cameron: Vampire Hunter. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, got a Hollywood blockbuster this week that reinvents his life as a fight to the undeath. Lincoln’s cod-historical battle with soulless, slave-owning bloodsuckers adapts a mash-up biography/monster novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose back catalogue of left-field bestsellers includes the wildly successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which sold 794,000 copies in 2009 alone. Continue reading

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