Category Archives: Book recommendation

Trade and the global economy

In part of my new MFin elective Understanding the Global Economy and Financial System I explore the changing views of economists on international trade, which has been one of the most powerful causes of global economic growth over centuries. * The traditional view of trade – correct but incomplete The reason why trade works is specialisation. If… Continue Reading

Why are some countries richer than others?

The first part of my new MFin elective Understanding the World Economy and Financial System next term will explore the question, why are some countries richer than others? * One of the most important, interesting but hotly contested questions in economics is, why are some countries richer than others? The world is astonishingly unequal; the life… Continue Reading

Too much debt? There is a better way

Pretty much all financial crises involve too much debt. The global financial crisis was triggered by excessive lending for US property purchase. The slow recovery from the crisis is probably because of too much debt. China’s successful plan to insulate its economy from the post-crisis recession has left it with its own debt problem. Those… Continue Reading

Love after Love

I came across this poem in an interestingly random way and it immediately struck a chord with me. Love After Love The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You… Continue Reading

Paying for a coffee and habit persistence

An essential function of the financial system is paying for things. We take for granted the ability to move money from companies to employees, from customers back to companies and for a myriad of daily transactions. This aspect of the system is a bit like plumbing – essential but largely ignored until it goes wrong.… Continue Reading

Britain’s historic role in why Iran and the US are enemies

The summer lull is a time for conspiracy theories and wacky ideas to be rolled out to fill space in the media. But one current topic of discussion has a deadly seriousness: the probability of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran is believed to be reaching for nuclear weapons readiness, a state where… Continue Reading

London, my London

London is permanently in the news in Britain. But a number of recent stories get to the heart of what London is and should be, the subject of increasing disagreement among Londoners themselves. First we have the imminent Olympics, a £9 billion extravaganza that is both the largest logistical exercise in the UK in peacetime… Continue Reading

Never make predictions, especially about the future

Ridley Scott’s latest film Prometheus has been heavily pre-marketed but someone of my age group, who remembers the brilliant original Alien, just had to go and see it. A prequel to Alien, Prometheus is visually striking (like all of Scott’s films, except perhaps Thelma and Louise which is powerful in other ways) and occasionally gripping. It isn’t… Continue Reading

Something that money can’t buy

I’m reading a new book by the American political philosopher Michael Sandel, called “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”. It’s an interesting and characteristically thoughtful book on the way that market-based ideas and mechanisms have invaded areas of American life, from the naming of sports stadiums to the market for body parts.… Continue Reading