• Nuclear is only a small part of the answer to climate change

    Nuclear has a role to play in providing reliable carbon-free electricity, but in the US and Europe it is likely to be too expensive to have more than a small role. * As I have written two books about nuclear … Continued

  • Why markets ignore sovereign debt ratings for the US

    Debt rating agencies have no particular expertise or special information on sovereign debt, especially for developed economies, so their views don’t matter * News that Fitch downgraded the US sovereign debt rating from AAA (the highest rating) to AA+ (the … Continued

  • You can’t insure against climate change

    Climate change involves systemic risk, so it’s not possible to insure against, or diversify away the risk. * Over the years I have sometimes heard investors talk of insuring their portfolios against climate change risks. A group of students once … Continued

  • What is geopolitics?

    Geopolitics has two related but distinct meanings * International politics, the relationship between states, is complicated. What are a nation’s interests? Determined by who? How do national politics affect foreign policy? Can technology transcend geography? How do culture and “national … Continued

  • Avoiding another Cold War

    A child’s enquiry about the Cold War brings back memories and raises concerns for the future * The other day a friend’s child asked me, what was the Cold War? Children ask about history all the time, but perhaps in … Continued

  • The paradox of Chinese Communist ideology

    A country with several thousand years of distinctive cultural history is governed through European ideology * It is often said that China is one of the world’s oldest civilisations, tracing a history back to around 2,200BCE. Of course there were … Continued

  • The beginning of the end of the oil age

    Some people who know me don’t believe it, but as a child I wasn’t interested in international politics. But, like most people in Britain in the 1970s, I knew the name of the Saudi oil minister, because he was a … Continued

  • The case for bitcoin

    People are often surprised when they ask economists, what is money, and the reply is, well, anything that fulfills the functions of money is money: money is as money does. The classic definition of money is anything that is: i) … Continued

  • Ten years after Fukushima

    What happened? At 14.46 on 11 March 2011, the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan started in the Pacific Ocean about 72km (45 miles) from the Japanese coast. Occurring in fairly shallow waters, the earthquake caused a tsunami with a … Continued

  • The importance of infrastructure

    People paid to worry about bad stuff happening concluded long ago that one way to destroy the USA as a functioning state would be to explode a high altitude nuclear weapon above the country; the resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would … Continued