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Economy

Running the stops: an ordinary abnormality

Stock market fall

The US stock market experienced its biggest ever points fall on Friday; and prices continued to fall around the world as exchanges opened on Monday morning.  The story no doubt sold a lot of financial newspapers and sent a few policy makers into a tail spin.  But in percentage terms …

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Supermarket slump

Empty shopping trolley

In January, it became clear that UK high street retailers had recorded below-inflation sales growth.  As Tim Wallace in the Telegraph lamented: “Retailers suffered the weakest Christmas shopping growth for five years as higher prices hit family spending. “December’s retail sales rose by 1.4pc by volume compared with the same …

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Neoliberal environmentalism will not work

Neoliberal environmentalism

The solution to climate change, we are told, is via our collective purchasing power.  If, for example, we buy led lights, drive electric cars or contract with energy companies that supply 100% renewable electricity, our collective market power will force corporations to shift away from activities that produce greenhouse gases. …

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If we treated wages like inflation…

Inflation and pay

An uninformed observer might assume that the rate of inflation is calculated by simply measuring how much prices have risen.  This, perhaps, is why so many of us have lost trust in figures that say prices have only risen by 3 percent even as our rents, utility bills and food …

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A circular economy of sorts

Circular economy

One of the tell-tale signs that it is Davos week is that the media publish a raft of techno-utopian stories about just how great the economy is going to be in future even as it collapses around our ears (stock market bubbles aside) in the present.  One such was Elizabeth …

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How broadband got cheaper without you noticing

Chancellor inflation

If you are one of millions of struggling households, inflation is all about prices.  More to the point, despite statistics to contrary, since the crash of 2008 we have seen the cost of living increase even as our incomes stagnate. But suppose you are a politician with an election to …

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Brexit Britain to get a taste of peak oil

Truck stop

Britain may be about to get a flavour of what peak oil would be like if the UK’s Senior Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell’s concerns prove correct: “The British economy is facing a serious hit because of a dire shortage of lorry drivers.  The haulage industry is heavily reliant on overseas …

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Education, education, education is harming the economy

Graduate employment

I have a confession to make.  In the past, I have actively engaged in what is now known as “degree inflation.”  I ran the kind of organisation highlighted by Preston Cooper in Forbes: “Employers [that] increasingly require college degrees from job applicants, even when applying for positions that did not …

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The Potemkin economy

Potemkin economy

There is an old folk story concerning Grigory Potemkin, the governor of Russia’s southern provinces in 1774.  According to the tale, to hide high rates of poverty from the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, Potemkin ordered the construction of artificial villages along the banks of the Dnieper River as the Royal …

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The year of the white swan

White Swan

Economists attempt to explain away the failure of their forecasts with the metaphor of the black swan – something so rare and unexpected that nobody can be held responsible for failing to notice it.  The Great Financial Accident of 2008, the DotCom bubble and the stock market crash of 1987, …

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