Thursday , August 16 2018
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Economy

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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Brexit failure in sight

Brexit failure

In the final months of the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s desire to launch dangerous military adventures in the far-flung reaches of the Empire caused the head of the Military, Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke to remark that “before you plant your right foot somewhere you ought first to know …

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Where are the robots?

Automation

Peak oil demand was the big story last year – at least until the oil price rose above $60 a barrel and we all woke up.  The idea was that a brave new world of automated technologies powered by renewable energy was just around the corner.  There was even concern …

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The age of intermittency

Intermittency

Physicist David Korowicz once posed this thought experiment: imagine that all of the computer chips made since the financial crash of 2008 had some flaw that caused them to suddenly stop working.  Could we simply go back to the conditions of 2008? The answer, of course, is that if all …

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OBR is wrong… things are much worse

Black Swans

The big announcement in yesterday’s budget was not the cut to stamp duty, additional funds for Universal Credit or some extra cash for the NHS.  The real showstopper was the announcement that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had downgraded its growth forecast for 2017 from 2 percent to just …

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