Let it go

20 May 2022|

Macro is back. I cannot remember a time when people I have worked with have collectively nailed so many calls in such a short period of time. Risks we flagged throughout 2021 — about inflation, higher food and commodity prices, geopolitical tensions, market downside and policy risks in the US, UK and China —have all come to pass, often within tiny margins of error. It’s good to have a positive story to tell. Too often economists are treated either as

Why treats are a normal good

13 May 2022|

I reached an important chronological milestone this year. In early March I turned 50. A few days before this important event I was due to speak at a conference in Warrington. It was to be my first appearance in a suit since the pandemic hit. I was able to find assorted jackets and trousers hanging up in the office, and yet more in a wardrobe at home. But I struggled to put together a matching set. Having moved house last

Can cake help pay my rent?

6 May 2022|

In September, I’ll be moving into a shared house in Bath with three of my mates. We won’t be the first to get into a debate about how to split the rent, particularly when, as in our case, the rooms are all different. Two rooms have ensuites, while the other two share a bathroom, one of which is on a different floor to the bathroom. It just doesn’t seem fair to split the rent equally between us. This led me


29 April 2022|

I’m a massive fan of the late, great David Bowie. But this isn’t a blog about his music. It’s about an interview he did with Jeremy Paxman on BBC2’s Newsnight in 1999, where he talked very convincingly about the impact that the Internet was likely to have on our lives. You can find it here. Bowie is specifically interested in the relationship between the medium, the audience and the content, whether music or anything else. He points to the way

Under the mattress

22 April 2022|

The use of cash as a medium of exchange is in long-term decline in most countries. Consumers have increasingly switched to electronic payments and online shopping, trends that have only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic — leading some to suggest that the virus may prove the final nail in the coffin for notes and coins. Sweden is often highlighted as a harbinger of the future, where even most banks no longer have cash and beggars accept electronic donations![1] Interestingly, however,

In defence of doing something

14 April 2022|

In this column last week my colleague Kevin wrote a strong argument in defence of doing nothing in certain situations. In that blog, he referenced a colleague who had told him, in jest, that his default position on many policy issues was dovish and to do nothing: for example, on climate change, Russia/Ukraine, and setting interest rates. That colleague, I admit, was me. In response, I’d like to make the case for doing something. Unfortunately for Kevin, he is currently

In defence of doing nothing

8 April 2022|

Discussing Russia-Ukraine with a colleague, they remarked that my usual policy prescriptions were biased towards dovishness and favoured the status quo: “Climate change? Do nothing. Fed interest rates? Do nothing. Russia-Ukraine? Do nothing,” This comment was made in jest (and is not accurate!), but there was a nugget of truth in there. One that I’m willing to defend. Of course, a world where nobody did anything wouldn’t work. Doing something is rightly the default position for almost everything. However, sometimes

Congress mulls ban on CEO narcissism

1 April 2022|

In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the US President and members of Congress from both parties appeared yesterday in Washington DC (1.30pm EDT) to address what they referred to as “a critical personal problem that has evolved into a corporate epidemic with adverse financial market implications: narcissism”. Speakers referred to “The impact of the CEO’s personal narcissism on non-GAAP earnings", a research paper by four professors of accounting. The paper focuses on the use being made by CEOs of

How to flourish

25 March 2022|

When you are reading this, I’ll be holding my first child in my arms. Content. Relieved. And probably quite sleep-deprived, finding it hard to credit how James, my partner in crime, seems able to doze through our baby girl’s piercing cries in the night. (And yet a phone notification of a Leeds goal — albeit a rare occurrence — would no doubt elicit an instant reaction.) However I’m writing this back in February. It’s the early hours of the morning

Only in DC

18 March 2022|

I’ve just returned from our quarterly trip to Washington DC, and find I keep reflecting on a lunch I enjoyed on Wednesday. Six of us were sat round a table, perusing the menu and shooting the breeze in the usual way, different topics of conversations eddying between us without a real theme. We discussed crows (whether birds estimated to be three times the size of normal crows could really be crows); children (what ages were the easiest or most difficult