Forecasting difficulties

19 March 2021|

Brace yourselves: econometrics follows. Look at this time series. What happens next? Many macroeconomic time series look a bit like this. They are trended, but wobble around in interesting ways compared to that trend, and for long periods of time. You can see that by eye — and it’s even clearer if you put the series on a log scale, thus:   How would you go about forecasting this time series? Well, you might start by estimating the trend in

It’s a man’s world

12 March 2021|

Do we need to change the way men think? It’s a question that has echoed widely since the devastating news of missing Clapham woman Sarah Everard, whose remains have been found in a wood in Kent. Her fate has triggered a #MeToo response on social media, with many women breaking silence to describe for the first time their own experiences of abuse and feelings of unsafety. Men have spoken up too, including this comment from Jay Rayner: “If I find

Let’s make Monopoly great again!

5 March 2021|

As a boardgame enthusiast, a global pandemic is the worst case scenario. Sitting inside for hours around a board with friends all touching the same cards, tokens and dice is surely one of the easiest ways to transmit a virus — something that the UK government belatedly highlighted back in November last year. I discounted their suggestion of running a quiz instead as sooooooo April 2020, which left me and other board game fans with a handful of options. I

Lessons from a game of Monopoly

26 February 2021|

You may recall my beaming mood in my last blog post, courtesy of schools remaining open during lockdown? It didn’t last. Home-schooling was back in less than a week, and I was again guzzling down the latest vintage of Chateau Sour Grapes by the bucket-load. However, with schools due to reopen in about 220 hours - not that I’m counting - I will not bore you with a therapeutic rant. Instead, I am going to pass on my tip to

GDP — 87 years not out

19 February 2021|

Cricket is back on Channel 4. Here’s why I’m not sure that’s a good thing. My suspicion, and I’ll stress I know nothing about broadcasting rights, is that the only reason for its return is that Channel 4's competitors were reluctant to open their chequebooks. Even the most ardent of fans knows that Test match cricket has a PR problem. In a world where email has superseded the letter and Instagram has replaced the postcard, it’s not hard to see

Rediscovering connection

12 February 2021|

One of the many fallacies within our cognition is normalcy bias: refusing to plan for or react to a disaster that has never happened before. Sound familiar? There are some facets of the pandemic that could have been mitigated with prior planning and resistance to the forces of normalcy bias. But, with the benefit of hindsight, these have already been analysed to death. To me, the more worthwhile lessons from the pandemic come from the things that we forgot in

Economists vs epidemiologists

5 February 2021|

The ongoing pandemic is both an economic and a health crisis. Fear and lockdowns have had a devastating impact on economic activity. Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has resulted in at least two million fatalities. When it comes to the epidemiological response, political leaders often say that they are following the science. Who would argue with that? However, when it comes to the economic response, few would claim to be doing the same. Cynics out there might argue that economics is

Polls and polarisation

29 January 2021|

A survey by Pew Research Centre last October, just one month before US voters headed to the polls, found that 89% of President Trump’s supporters and 90% of Joe Biden’s thought the election of the other candidate “would lead to lasting harm to the US”. In the end the result was fairly close, especially in terms of the electoral college ‒ as it usually is in US presidential elections. But that closeness does not mean that the preferences of the


22 January 2021|

2020 was a remarkably revealing year. With what seemed like endless lockdowns, unprecedented uncertainty, and relentless family board games, by mid-December I found myself in a state of continuous thought I couldn’t escape. Like many people my age, coronavirus ejected me from an independent (and exciting) life at university to the all-too-familiar family home, in what seemed like the space of three weeks. As the months passed, I learnt a lot about myself and learnt even more about the power

The destination or the journey?

15 January 2021|

Joe Biden will be the next US president. The Democrats keep the House and flip the Senate. Things have turned out how most analysts and commentators, including Fathom, predicted. Officer Barbrady from Southpark would say, ‘Nothing to see here, move along.’ But Officer Barbrady is not a man known to care about the details. The journey from election night to Congress’ certification of Joe Biden as president-elect has been a rollercoaster, to put it mildly. Does that matter? Do we