Why an Englishman’s castle is quite small

8 December 2023|

‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’ is a rather tired expression, which I must admit I’ve never quite understood. Some suggest it describes a perceived right to do whatever one likes within one’s own four walls. If, however, it is intended to describe the majestic proportions of a typical home in this country, then nothing could be further from the truth. While working on a client project recently I came across an interesting article containing estimates of the average size of

A (very) brief history of time

1 December 2023|

It’s that time of the year in Britain when most small talk involves a predictable moan at the increasingly dark afternoons. This seasonal phenomenon recurs as British Summer Time ends and clocks across the country go back an hour. But this annual ritual of adjusting our clocks is more than just a topic for small talk — it can serve as a reminder of how impactful timekeeping has been in shaping our societies. The origin of tracking time can be

Good news about getting old

24 November 2023|

I am 57 years old. Both my parents are still alive, well into their 80s, which is great. However, we recently learned that they are both suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which sucks. I am not going to dwell here on the symptoms of that disease of old age. Many other people have done that with great humour and tenderness, including David Baddiel and the late Terry Pratchett. I recognise the humour that they both drew attention to, and how it

Unenviable choices

17 November 2023|

Voters head to the polls this weekend to decide between an incumbent whose popularity has suffered amid high inflation, and an unconventional outsider candidate with weird hair. For Americans unhappy with the probable choices on offer in next year’s election, Argentina shows that it could be worse. Citizens of Latin America’s second largest economy are forced to choose between Sergio Massa, the Minister of Economy in a country with inflation at triple digits, and Javier Milei, an academic economist, who

Counting the days till Santa Claus

10 November 2023|

Is it the season to be jolly yet? Everyone has their own internal clock for when it’s time to turn on the Christmas lights. This year I started thinking about Christmas way earlier than I used to, due to all the festive possibilities that a new baby brings to a household. Yes — I acknowledge that this is an excuse, because our son is too young to care about Christmas. I am striving to contain my excitement (and the expenses),

Siya for President

3 November 2023|

“It’s more purposeful when you’re not just doing something for yourself, but for people who you don’t even know and have never met” – South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi Last weekend South Africa beat arch-rivals New Zealand 12-11 in the Rugby World Cup final. It is hard to explain to non-South Africans how much the win means to the people of South Africa, a country beset by problems and with a history of racial injustice and division, and how

Blue zones

27 October 2023|

I recently came across a Netflix series: ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones’. The series discusses so-called ‘Blue Zones’ – a zone with the highest life expectancy or the highest proportion of people who reach age 100 (i.e., centenarians). Five Blue Zones have been identified in the world – the Barbagia region (Sardinia), Ikaria (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Seventh Day Adventists (US) and Okinawa (Japan). The chart below indicates the share of the population that are centenarians in Okinawa

In defence of economics

20 October 2023|

“In the beginning the Universe economics was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”                                                                 Douglas Adams (almost) I think the doctored quote above probably reflects many people’s attitudes towards economists and economics in general. Being an economist,

What is a professional economist?

13 October 2023|

Every time I speak about my job with family and friends back home, I always get the same comment: “Oh, so you are an economist? Then, what shares should I invest in?” Exhausted by consistently being faced with such a huge misunderstanding, today I have decided to write about what a professional economist actually does. Spoiler: you’ll be surprised! Let me start by acknowledging that part of the blame lies with us economists, who for some reason have not been

Imbraciato time

6 October 2023|

Last week, the whole of Fathom gathered in a lovely country mansion for our first ‘away day’ in three years. Serious conversations were had, as were significantly less serious ones; a sordid murder mystery was solved amid incessant innuendo and balderdash; pranks were carried out and Olympic efforts undertaken; and all was accompanied by good food and copious amounts of drink. Truth be told, a lot of the drinks cabinet stayed untouched: not an indication of restraint, I’m afraid, but