Author Archives: Simon Taylor

Being pro-markets, not pro-business

Being pro-business risks supporting incumbent firms against new entrants – this is not good. * Economists are generally in favour of markets as ways to organise activity. Introductory microeconomics teaches students about how a competitive market brings demand and supply together efficiently: consumers get choice in what to buy, and companies are forced to be… Continue Reading

Why an abrupt tightening of climate change policy may be our only hope

To spend time with climate scientists and energy economists these days is to take part in an increasingly tortuous mental conflict. Outwardly, scientists, policy analysts and academics hoping to influence policy must remain positive and optimistic, while keeping a strong sense of urgency. Privately, many are in despair at the lack of progress on cutting… Continue Reading

Institutions seldom die

Recent news that the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is thinking of lending to Sub-Saharan Africa shows how institutions evolve to find new goals rather than quietly close down. The EBRD, which I believe enjoys a high reputation in the development finance world, is a multilateral financial institution set up in 1991 to… Continue Reading

Could China’s population halve by the end of the century?

Demography, the study of population, is one of the few areas of the social sciences where long term predictions (over one or more decades) can have some value. This is because the dynamics of population growth depend on the current age structure (how many young versus old people), which is fixed in the short term,… Continue Reading

What has the world economy ever done for us? – EMBA elective reading 2 (*)

A lot of people in the richer economies appear doubtful that economic globalisation has been good for them. But there are hundreds of millions in the rest of the world for whom globalisation has been a critical part of their escape from poverty. * Globalisation means the greater international movement of goods and services, finance,… Continue Reading

Populism then and now – EMBA elective reading 1(*)

Consider the following list of political facts: high and rising income inequality; a perception that global market forces are leaving local people powerless; anti-immigrant feelings; blaming banks and monopolistic corporations; a perception that politics is dominated by the rich; anxiety about culture and values being eroded. This might well describe the US and some European… Continue Reading

Lost in (Russian) Music

At the age of eight, in a school with only 70 students, in a small village in the middle of Lincolnshire, a county not famous for much (except Sir Isaac Newton), and in a classroom with a view of a field of sheep (whose wool made the area wealthy in the the late middle ages),… Continue Reading

Perhaps money can buy you happiness

A lot of people believe that if they only had a bit more money – or perhaps a lot more money – then they would be happier. Many psychologists doubt this but some recent research on Swedish lottery winners suggests it is true. * Standard economic theory assumes that more of what you like is… Continue Reading

Is the US yield curve close to inverting – and does this mean a recession?

We have had a long period of economic growth since the great recession of 2009, leading many market commentators to fear a recession is overdue. One fairly reliable indicator of coming recession is an inverted yield curve – meaning that short term interest rates are above long term rates. This looks increasingly possible but is… Continue Reading

Why hyperinflation is thankfully rare

Venezuela’s economic difficulties include very high inflation which threatens to become another example of hyperinflation. But what is this and why is it historically quite rare? * Inflation in Venezuela has recently been reported as reaching 46,000% with the IMF projecting it could reach 1,000,000% by the end of 2018. An article in The Spectator… Continue Reading

What’s the future for peer-to-peer lending?

P2P (peer-to-peer) lending is the biggest and most developed form of alternative finance. But does it have any enduring value to add in the financial system? * P2P lending platforms have sprung up in many countries since the global financial crisis, particularly in China, where they are now in crisis. According to research from the Cambridge… Continue Reading

Financial innovations behind the US real estate boom and bust of 2002-2008

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which marked the point where the US financial system truly moved into crisis, it’s worth reviewing the innovations that led to the real estate bubble that lay behind Lehman’s (and Bear Stearns’) problems: the separation of mortgage origination from who owned the debt; securitisation;… Continue Reading

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