How to (not) get shafted at the Bureau de Change

5 August 2022|

Tired of paying extortionate exchange commission on foreign currency when you go on holiday? Annoyed that there is nothing you can do about it? Read on to understand how and why the Bureau de Change does it to us. It might help ease the pain. Changing money is the ultimate holiday challenge. What currency do they use there? And how many of those can I get for £1? Where to change it? How much to change? What if I don’t

Tracking cash for signs of a China banking panic

29 July 2022|

One of my favourite black-and-white movies is the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. It is probably just the monetary economist in me, but I particularly like the scene with the bank run on Bailey Bros Building and Loan Association. With just his honeymoon money left, George Bailey reasons with the depositors to temper their withdrawal demands, kissing Miss Davis when she asks for just $17.50! At the end of the day, the bank has $2 left and he and

When pleasantly warm becomes stiflingly hot

22 July 2022|

As I sat in the poorly insulated shed at the bottom of my garden that I use as a home office, on Tuesday of this week — the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, when temperatures exceeded 40°C in parts of the country — I was reminded of my colleague’s blog from 24 June. Andrew (the other Andrew, not me) wrote about the perceived impact on individual levels of productivity across the company of one particularly warm Friday, when

Party pooping

15 July 2022|

Thank Fathom it’s Friday! No doubt, our regular readers eagerly await this blog as a watershed moment in their working week. I can hear the sound of pens dropping, keyboards stopping mid-sentence and the occasional gasp of excitement punctuating the silence of the open-plan office as the weekly TFIF email drops in your inboxes. At Fathom, sending off TFIF also coincides with the beginning of ‘beer o’clock’, our customary post-work Friday drinks. To us, TFIF represents the joint celebration of

Gotta catch ’em all!

8 July 2022|

As children in the early noughties, my brothers and I would take any opportunity to relentlessly petition our parents to buy us a pack of Pokémon cards. We would offer deals such as promising to clean our rooms, or argue (with absolute honesty of course) that our friends’ parents were buying them hundreds of cards and they couldn’t possibly want us to be left out! Whichever method we chose, it rarely worked. Now that I'm older I can only laugh

Strawberries are not the only juicy prospects at Wimbledon

1 July 2022|

Emerald-green grass and pristine, light-coloured outfits are the hallmarks of the Wimbledon championships, commonly known as just ‘Wimbledon’ — the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament. For most, the experience would be incomplete without indulging (at some expense) in a bowl of juicy red strawberries and clotted cream. For wealthy tennis fans seeking an investment, however, Wimbledon offers an even juicier opportunity to splash out. That opportunity is not a bond, nor a stock, nor a ticket, nor even

It’s getting hot in here

24 June 2022|

Last week was hot; the mercury touched 31°C on Friday. That doesn’t happen too often in the UK. You might think that would be cause for celebration, but no — not in Britain. In Britain, it was too hot. Yep, that’s right — if there’s a reason to complain about the weather, we’ll find it… I asked my colleagues what impact they thought Friday’s weather had on their productivity. There were a variety of responses ranging from -20% to +10%

QE: not cause, but symptom

17 June 2022|

“QE…works in practice but it doesn’t work in theory” Ben Bernanke If you ask people what Quantitative Easing does, you’ll get a list of answers as large as the Fed’s balance sheet. For many, it seems, the purchase of assets by central banks can be used to explain whatever their bugbear happens to be. Inequality? Overvalued stock markets? Inflation? Elevated house prices? Currency wars? Actual wars? Commodity price rises? At different points, all of the above have been pointed to

Why do we drink Champagne?

10 June 2022|

“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.” – John Maynard Keynes Last weekend I celebrated a special birthday (yes, one with a zero on the end, but no, I’m not 50). As a treat, I decided to indulge: take my wife and one-year old daughter to Champagne; rent a luxurious villa with friends; visit a number of Champagne houses in a rented Tesla; spend a night at a super fancy chateau and buy (and drink)

Feeding the hype beasts

1 June 2022|

It’s Economics 1.01: the laws of demand and supply state that as prices increase, buyers will demand less of a good and sellers will seek to supply more of it. Together, these forces determine market prices. But what if I told you that you that many brands choose to intentionally under-price their goods — seemingly passing up the opportunity to maximise their profits in the process? Imagine this. You’ve just paid a visit to your favourite jeweller and bought a