The trouble with BMI

28 May 2021|

Lockdowns have not been good for the waistline of people stuck at home - not least me. Noticing that I was out of breath doing up my shoelaces, I dusted off the bathroom scales and… Horrors! An unpleasantly large number met my eyes. I had put on a corona-stone, and maybe more. A diet was required, but how much should I lose? The NHS weight loss calculator divided my weight in kg by my height in metres squared and gave

Hey kids, let’s talk about inflation

21 May 2021|

Everyone’s talking about inflation right now. With US consumer prices rising 4% in the year to April, it’s not hard to see why. Ask the general public what they think of this and they’ll probably succinctly conclude that higher prices are a bad thing. If you asked a typical economist for their views, what kind of answer do you think you’d get? Well, for a start, it's unlikely it would be succinct. But, if you did finally extract an answer

Dogecoin to the moon

14 May 2021|Tags: , , |

How many dogs have been to space? More than 20, if you’re interested.[1] During the 50s and 60s the Soviet Union sent numerous dogs into space, some of which never returned. Many investors will currently be hoping that Dogecoin (pronounced “dough-j”— you’re welcome, boomers), a meme coin (pronounced “meem”, no need to thank me twice), meets the same fate as the canine astronauts, and never returns from its sky-high price. (My impression of a general pile-in was confirmed when I recently

Should we limit alcohol sales?

7 May 2021|

For most British people, buying a bottle of wine on a Friday night after work, or picking up a few cold beers in preparation for Super Sunday, seems like the most natural thing in the world. If Boris Johnson suddenly announced that this wasn’t allowed, it would probably cause outrage. However, this is the grim reality for Swedes like myself, who grew up in a country with a state alcohol monopoly. When I lived in Sweden, there were few things

Let’s feast

30 April 2021|

There are around 260 million Orthodox Christians in the world. Followers of the Julian calendar, they will celebrate Easter this weekend. While religious observance is a mostly private matter, it has wider societal ramifications. These can be small, such as receiving dates before dinner in certain London restaurants during the holy month of Ramadan. In Ethiopia, where I am writing this, it leads to a (frustrating) see-sawing availability of grilled meat in many local eateries. Ethiopia hosts the largest Orthodox

The future of art

23 April 2021|

Is this the future of art: a twelve-frame animation of a smiling cat, with a biscuit for a body, leaving behind a rainbow as it flies through space? Well, some people think it is. In February of this year, a digital rendition of the ‘Nyan Cat’ meme sold for almost $600,000. This may come as a surprise, but it’s far from a one-off. In fact, last month, the renowned auction house Christie’s made history selling its first digital artwork, a

Will UK productivity ever improve?

16 April 2021|

After working in the Productivity & Structural Reform team at HM Treasury some years ago as a very junior economist, the fascinating subject of productivity has always remained dear to my heart. Back then under the Labour government, a key mission of the team was to close the UK’s yawning 45%[1] productivity gap with the US economy, and the smaller deficits with some of our European peers. After a period when UK productivity grew at a healthy pace of over

It’s time to talk about breastfeeding

9 April 2021|

After recently becoming a first-time dad, I have started dedicating more thought to ways that I can optimise my time and improve my multi-tasking skills: hold Baby and watch football; go for a walk and get Baby to sleep; clean the flat while resting in between exercise sets, and so on. It being my turn to write this week’s TFIF blog, I have decided to multi-task once more by writing about a baby-related topic I’ve come across in my new

Making up for lost time

1 April 2021|

How might an individual react if, at the end of some arbitrary accounting period, they find themselves with more cash in the bank than they had hoped for? A happy position to be in, right? When trying to answer these sorts of questions, economists tend to wheel out the tried and tested ‘lifecycle consumption model’ (or LCM). This says that an individual will use their expected lifetime resources to consume goods and services, period by period, in a way that

Food for thought

26 March 2021|

Ever thought about going veggie, or giving Veganuary a shot? Or simply tried to cut out meat and dairy from your diet? Well, you might be interested (or appalled, if you answered no to all of these!) to know that the UK Climate Change Committee is banking on Brits eating 35% less meat and dairy by 2050 in order to help the country reach its net zero carbon emissions target. Is it realistic to expect the nation that brought us