Richard Blows

How COVID hit the ‘next generation’ of Xbox and PlayStation

27 November 2020|

I count myself extremely lucky. Not only am I one month into an excellent new job as an economist at Fathom Consulting, but — drumroll, please — last week I secured a launch day PlayStation 5. The rollout of the next generation of games consoles from Sony and Microsoft has not passed off entirely smoothly and has provoked plenty of controversy. With reports of scalpers pushing up prices to exorbitant levels on the secondary market,[1] and some customers receiving deliveries

Andrew Harris

From video refs to COVID vaccines

20 November 2020|

Ahead of last season, the Premier League (the top division of English football) announced the introduction of the VAR system. Sadly for us economists, this acronym had little to do with vector autoregressions. No, for football fans those three letters have a very different meaning — Video Assistant Referees. Much to the annoyance of supporters, VARs like to preserve an aura of mystery in their decision-making, and, safely immured in their headquarters at the Stockley Park VAR Hub, they may

Joanna Davies

Location, Location, Location

13 November 2020|

A friend recently advised me that when it comes to buying a house, you end up sacrificing one of three things — the impossible trinity of housing, if you like. Those three things relate to location, specification and price. Earlier this year, we compromised on the second, prioritising location above all else. At the time, we were emerging from lockdown and I remained hopeful that we’d be back to ‘normal’ before long. That meant that proximity to work (in London),

Andrea Zazzarelli

School’s not out for lockdown

6 November 2020|

I approach this second lockdown in higher spirits than the first. Higher, not stronger spirits. Yes, the single malt whisky stocks have been replenished, but so far I have felt no need to resort to the pharmaceutical-grade, 96% ABV Polish hooch that proved so popular during the first lockdown.[1] I could easily spend the rest of this column ranting about the endless missed opportunities that would have spared us a second wave of restrictions. Much as I love a good

Ellie Henderson

Beware of the zombies this Halloween

30 October 2020|

Halloween is a tradition originating from the Celtic festival of Samhain. 2000 years ago, this festival marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the winter, when evil spirits came to destroy harvests. It is characterised by horror and darkness, which those who have lived through the terror of 2020 will be quite accustomed to. Although Halloween may look a little different this year, one consistency is that many zombies will be present, but due to social-distancing rules,

Kevin Loane

An economist’s guide to the US presidential election

23 October 2020|

When asked to make a decisive call, economists are sometimes criticised for sitting on the fence. In our defence, there’s good reason for this: the world is uncertain. What happens will depend on a whole bunch of things, which are all subject to their own large uncertainties. On the one hand, this. On the other, that. Nonetheless, there are groups within the discipline who I’m willing to stereotype and make sweeping generalisations about. For example, some follow the ‘consensus’, closely

Greg Spanner

The Wikipedia Effect

16 October 2020|

Stating that “the internet has a huge impact on our decisions and actions” is unlikely to be met with much pushback from the general population. Most of us are acutely aware of the extent to which we are influenced by the content that we are exposed to online. However, the results of a study  into the impact of Wikipedia pages on choices made by tourists are still surprising. The study found that adding information to the Wikipedia page for a

Erik Britton

I’m a non-computable problem

9 October 2020|

This week, Roger Penrose (along with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez) received the Nobel Prize in Physics, for his work on black holes among other areas. But it’s his work on the philosophy of mind that appeals most to me, especially in his brilliant book The Emperor’s New Mind.[1] Economics has always shamelessly stolen techniques developed in other fields — and some of Penrose’s ground-breaking work has found its way into the field of economics too. The area I focus

Brian Davidson, CFA

The Social Dilemma: perfect viewing for a socially-distanced weekend

2 October 2020|

Don’t you hate that feeling when you’ve had an amazing two-week holiday in Italy, you get back to London, get given a bunch of new work, the weather is bad, COVID is on the rise and on Wednesday you find out that you are writing this week’s TFIF blog? You all know the feeling; and also the way that, when this happens, your mind flirts rebelliously with TFIF topics like ‘How to avoid writing a TFIF’, ‘The office politics of

Andrew Brigden

It’s not just coughs and sneezes that spread diseases

25 September 2020|

Identified cases of COVID-19 are rising in Europe, including in countries that were among the hardest hit in the first wave of infections. Popular support for government handling of the outbreak is particularly low in France, Spain and the UK, perhaps unsurprisingly. These are all countries where the reproductive rate of the virus seemed to move decisively above one in late summer. Support has always been low in France and Spain, averaging 39% and 41% respectively in weekly YouGov polls.[1]