Happy New Year!

8 January 2021|

Sometimes my morning run takes me from my house in Oxford to the canal towpath that runs north to south through the town. It’s very quiet and beautiful, mist rising off the jade water, the sun appearing through the mist. As you get closer to town, the canal is lined with narrowboats, some of which are visitors from the further reaches of the canal network. Others are permanent fixtures: homes alongside the towpath. The visiting boats are wonderful. They fill

Santa’s not the only one dishing out gifts this Christmas

18 December 2020|

I'd been looking forward to it so much — experiencing the hustle and bustle of London, as I took up my highly sought-after role with Fathom Consulting during my placement year from the University of Bath. Bright lights, big city, and all that! But COVID-19 has taken the sheen off my hopes and obliged me to work from my family living room in Belfast. No window-shopping on Regent Street for me this year, unfortunately. On the other hand, there are

The green industrial revolution

11 December 2020|

In the middle of November, when the 24-hour news cycle was resolutely focused on whether Donald Trump would concede the US election, and debates were raging over whether it was safe to invite your relatives over for Christmas dinner, you’d be forgiven for having missed the Prime Minister’s Green Industrial Revolution announcement. Setting out an “ambitious ten-point plan”, Boris Johnson said he aimed to create up to a quarter of a million jobs in “clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies”,

A peek through my rose-tinted spectacles

4 December 2020|

It's certainly been an eventful year; and as I wrote in a piece to clients earlier this week, the past few months have been no exception. First came despair. As we moved through autumn towards winter in the Northern Hemisphere, COVID-19 returned with a vengeance to parts of Europe already hit hard in the spring, causing many countries to reimpose nationwide lockdowns, with hospitals working close to full capacity or beyond. But then came hope, with news that a number

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

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

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),

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

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,

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