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The everything pin

The everything pin

According to those who live in the world of finance, every bubble is in search of a pin.  The idea being that as the “smart money” moves into a particular asset, finance journalists take notice and spread the word.  Pretty soon, everyone with cash to spare has invested their savings …

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Drop the Brexit BS; this is serious

Yellow Vest

Among the less endearing habits of the anti-Brexit media is a tendency to latch onto any negative economic news as “evidence” that leaving the European Union will have a negative impact on the UK economy (it may actually be far worse than that).  For instance, Mary-Ann Russon at the BBC …

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The shape of things to come


Despite a series of stock market scares, see-sawing oil prices and central banks jacking up interest rates, it seems likely that we are going to get through 2018 without experiencing the economic crash that many expected at the start of the year.  But while we may breathe a sigh of …

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Be careful what you wish for

Wishing well

Recession was expected to follow when oil prices spiked up to $80 per barrel earlier this year.  Instead, increased output from Saudi Arabia and a series of exemptions for countries importing Iranian oil have helped prices fall back to a less recessionary $50 per barrel. In response, US President Trump …

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The view from outside the bubble

Economic media bubble

If there is one thing economic journalists love it is a “mystery.”  A popular favourite in recent years has been the famous “productivity mystery” in which, despite full employment, both output and wages have remained depressed.  This month saw another – somewhat similar – conundrum; the “energy-GDP mystery.”  A peculiarly …

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A dangerous exercise in self-delusion

Blind economists

Repeat after me, very slowly: There is no such thing as EXTERNAL on a finite planet.  This phrase ought to be printed in 24pt text at the very start of every economics textbook.  And no, I am not being pedantic here.  The prevailing belief among economists that there are things …

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Of rats, cobras and electric vehicles

Cobra effect

During the Vietnam War, American aid workers became concerned about the spread of disease resulting from a big increase in the rat population.  Since the ongoing conflict prevented any serious attempt to systematically eradicate the rats, the aid agencies devised a clever scheme to enlist the help of the indigenous …

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The Budget’s fundamental flaw


Yesterday’s budget statement by Chancellor Hammond was followed by the usual tired old pantomime media appearances this morning. “I’m ending austerity,” Hammond proclaims. “Oh no you’re not,” says Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell. “Oh yes I am,” Hammond retorts. There is, however, a fundamental point of agreement shared by both politicians.  …

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The royal ribbon problem

Royal ribbon problem

The image of some dignitary cutting a ribbon stands as an icon for the fruits of public spending.  The charity sector has its equivalent in the ubiquitous images of supersized cheques being handed over.  The image is supposed to reassure us that “something is being done,” and that we should …

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Cannibalism will begin before the collapse

Metal theft

There is still considerable disagreement among those who see a relatively near-term collapse of western civilisation as to exactly how that collapse will occur.  At one end of the debate are those who imagine an almost vertical descent into a new dark age.  In this vision an economic collapse far …

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