Rising monopoly power may partly explain US inequality and productivity slowdown

A new theme in explaining slow growth and productivity and rising inequality: greater monopoly power in the US. * I’ve been thinking about my forthcoming teaching for the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme in June, which is always an interesting session, with a lively and challenging group of delegates from across the world. I try toContinue Reading

How can retail finance customers avoid being ripped off?

A condition for any market to work well is that consumers have enough information to make good decisions. This is rarely the case with services such as finance. * Theory, backed up by a lot of practical evidence, suggests that markets are a good way of organising many economic activities. But for markets to work,Continue Reading

Key concepts in finance: liquidity

What exactly is liquidity? The word liquidity is used in many different ways, often confusingly. It’s important to keep clear the centrally important concept of what liquidity is: the ability to turn assets into money quickly and at low cost. * It’s common to read in the financial press that central banks are keeping upContinue Reading

Further thoughts on the Hinkley Point C nuclear project

In recent weeks I’ve written two articles explaining why I believe that the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power project should be abandoned (though it still seems at present reasonably likely that the French government will proceed). The Guardian: Hinkley Point is a costly mistake, but only France can pull the plug Prospect Magazine: The folly ofContinue Reading

Thoughts on the Brexit debate

I’ve been asked a lot recently about my view on whether the UK should leave the European Union, which is the subject of a national referendum on June 23rd. I believe that in economic terms, there is very little that could be gained and a great deal to put at risk by leaving. On theContinue Reading

IMF study: corporate profitability positively associated with women in senior positions

On International Women’s Day it’s nice to report some more interesting research from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this time showing that gender diversity in senior corporate positions is positively associated with corporate profitability. * The IMF authors (Lone Christiansen, Huidan Lin, Joana Pereira, Petia Topalova and Rima Turk) studied the gender diversity and profitabilityContinue Reading

Nuclear book mentioned in Economist article on Hinkley Point C project

The Economist article is here. I agree with pretty much everything in the article but then it’s largely based on my book and my previous blog on why I hope the French government and EDF will abandon the project.

Why Hinkley Point C is in trouble

The world’s most expensive power station project, a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C in the UK, still hasn’t reached financial close, despite backing from the UK, French and Chinese governments. It might be best for the UK if it never does. The full story is told in my new book The Fall andContinue Reading

Interview about how the UK came to be paying France and China for a new nuclear power station

The Cambridge News interviewed me recently and you can read the result here: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/nuclear-soap-opera-explained/story-28728745-detail/story.html    

Some mostly good news on gender equality

Women’s access to health, education, economic opportunity and political power have been improving but the picture is very uneven geographically. Although most indicators improve with economic development the variation shows that a lot can be done even before countries reach western living standards. * Those who think of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as mainlyContinue Reading

What exactly is “the” exchange rate?

Exchange rates are ratios of the price of one currency to another. We should be careful about saying “the” exchange rate without being clear as to which particular ratio we mean and why. * Exchange rates often dominate the financial news. In 2016 the Chinese exchange rate has been frequently mentioned as a source of concern.Continue Reading

Markets versus economics

The turbulent financial markets in early 2016 can be seen as a battle between two groups of ideas – the economists see little reason for sudden concern but the markets are worried about hidden risks * Global stock markets performed worse in the first few weeks of 2016 than in living memory. Since markets are supposedContinue Reading

Davie Bowie innovated in finance too

David Bowie, among his many other creative achievements, was an innovator in finance, with the first ever intellectual property rights securitisation. * Nearly everyone seems to have been affected by the death of David Bowie, a uniquely creative and influential musical artist. I’ll add my own personal memories to the list. I think the firstContinue Reading

When bank notes were fun

The ever fascinating blog of the New York Fed tells us that, among the many different types of bank note issued by around 1,600 US banks during the nineteenth century, some included pictures of Santa Claus. Only in 1861 did the Federal Government start issuing paper currency; from that point the Treasury had a monopoly on noteContinue Reading

Some quotations on my birthday

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato (possibly – it is disputed) [I]in the whole world there are really only two problems. [..] One problem is, “you know what you want but you don’t know how to get it”, and the only other problem is, “you don’t know what youContinue Reading