Can labour scarcity drive productivity?

Cityscape
To the bafflement of economists Britain’s economic recovery has been accompanied by growing demand for labour and falling wages. Since 2007 the number of people in work in the UK has risen by 2.7 million, an increase of 9%. Over the same time earnings, after allowing for inflation, have fallen by about 2.5%.

Continue reading

Posted on 03/04/2018

Measuring happiness

A happy man sitting on a chair
The idea of measuring national happiness has been around for decades and was pioneered by the government of Bhutan in the 1970s. Since the global financial crisis interest in measuring, and understanding, what drives happiness, has risen.

Continue reading

Posted on 30/03/2018

The meaning of Mr Trump’s import tariffs

Monday Briefing_Metal pipes
Donald Trump’s scepticism about free trade is longstanding and was a prominent feature of his 2016 presidential campaign. Such was the appeal of Mr Trump’s protectionist stance that his opponent and former free trade advocate Hillary Clinton found herself renouncing the Trans-Pacific Partnership she had once promoted.

Continue reading

Posted on 19/03/2018

Money for Nothing

Monday_Briefing_pound sign
In the aftermath of the financial crisis poverty, inequality and social inclusion have become high profile issues. To its adherents, and there are many, the solution is for the state to provide adults with a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to cover their basic needs, allowing them to earn whatever they wanted in addition. Implementing a UBI would represent a profound change in the role of the government and its effect on peoples’ lives.

Continue reading

Posted on 12/03/2018

UK consumer: good and bad news

Untitled
In a sign of the tough trading conditions on British high streets two well-known retail names, Toys R Us and Maplin, fell into administration last week.

Continue reading

Posted on 05/03/2018

What’s the value of a degree?

Graduate
Economists don’t agree about much, but there is a strong consensus that education is a powerful enabler of growth and living standards. In the last century, the number of years people spend in education has risen inexorably. Today better education and training are offering the answer to challenges as diverse as mass automation, low productivity and lack of social mobility.

Continue reading

Posted on 26/02/2018

Assessing America’s tax reforms

1 cent
Last December the US Congress passed a bill overhauling the tax code, the first major tax reform since 1986. The federal corporate tax rate was permanently slashed from 35%, the highest rate of any large, developed country, to 21%. The tax cut is partly financed by a one-off levy on profits retained overseas by US corporations, at 15.5% on cash and 8% on other investments.

Continue reading

Posted on 19/02/2018

Crash, panic, bounce, slide

Spiral
Last week’s equity market gyrations felt pretty dramatic. The US market dropped 5%, the worst week in two years. Europe took its cue from the US, with the FTSE100 and German DAX also down almost 5%. The VIX Index, a measure of equity market volatility, also known as the ‘fear gauge’, shot up from what, until recently, have been very low levels.

Continue reading

Posted on 12/02/2018

UK looking for a boost from the global recovery

MB tool kit
UK growth has softened since the EU referendum, and at a time when the rest of the global economy is picking up. The pace of UK activity has not closely followed the news flow on Brexit, illustrating how politics is one of many factors influencing growth.

Continue reading

Posted on 06/02/2018

How distance survived the communication revolution

A planet of cities
Errors in predicting the future of technology tend to be extreme. At one end are the naysayers, like the Hollywood mogul Darryly Zanuck, who in 1946 predicted that TV would flop, “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

Continue reading

Posted on 29/01/2018