Andrew Brigden

A change in the weather is known to be extreme

21 September 2018|

The Brits love talking about the weather. That fact, one would imagine, is covered in the ‘culture’ section of any decent guidebook aimed at foreign visitors to these islands. According to a survey carried out by the BBC, a staggering 94% of us will have talked about the weather within the past six hours alone. For my grandmother, the weather was central to the success or failure of any occasion. “Haven’t we been fortunate with the weather?” she was often

Erik Britton

It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it

14 September 2018|

When Gandalf picks the Ring out of the fire and shows it to Frodo, words glow into life that were etched into the gold.[1] Frodo says: “I cannot read the fiery letters”. Gandalf explains that they are written in an ancient script, which he renders in the common speech as: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” This wasn’t just a pretty trinket, capable

Oliver White

High inflation sent down the Amazon

7 September 2018|

Since it started in 1995 as a website which only sold books, Amazon has morphed into a $1 trillion, global e-commerce behemoth, or ‘an everything store’ realising the vision founder Jeff Bezos had for the company when he started it from his garage. Much like a number of the world’s biggest brands, including Apple and Microsoft, Amazon had humble origins. In those early days, the power required to run early vintages of what would eventually become the Amazon servers meant

Erik Britton

AI makes me feel like a natural person

31 August 2018|

The Companies Act of 2006 (Article 155 (1)) states that a company must have “…at least one director who is a natural person”. I wonder whether any of Fathom’s directors fit that description. On closer examination, the legal definition of ‘a natural person’ is an entity to which can be accorded legal rights and responsibilities, and which can enter into a contract (that makes one a person, for legal purposes, and legal ‘persons’ include companies and other entities), with the

Andrea Zazzarelli

Not so lost in translation

24 August 2018|

“Summer of 2018” doesn’t roll off the tongue like the (in)famous Bryan Adams song. However, it too will stick in my memory, but for all the right reasons. Last October, my wife and I snatched a ridiculously cheap airfare to Japan for the whole family. The closest I had got to Japan before was through long and fascinating discussions with a Japanese flatmate about the cultural differences between us. The perceived gap from both sides was so large that it

Brian Davidson, CFA

Valuing a kiss

17 August 2018|

Occasionally when we're apart my girlfriend and I send each other little emoji kisses by text. Very cute and romantic, I know. A normal person would accept this situation, embrace it and continue to enjoy it. But one day my brain, as if controlled by some sort of economist God, got the better of me and I began wondering whether by texting too many kisses, we were lowering the value of a kiss. So I suggested that we restrict supply

Andrew Harris

Is beer really recession-proof?

10 August 2018|

It’s Friday and it’s almost the weekend. Here at Fathom, staff often celebrate by coming together to toast the week’s work and to chat about weekend plans and other trivial matters. It’s a great way to relax and I suspect a fair few of our readers will also venture out to the pub for a cheeky pint tonight — there are certainly worse ways to spend a Friday evening. Such meet-ups are a great tradition and, for many, drinks are

Erik Britton

The price of independence

3 August 2018|

Crossing the road in Cairo is a dangerous business: I speak from experience. As someone who grew up with the Green Cross Code, zebra crossings and the rest, standing on a street corner in Cairo with no pavement, with traffic lights honoured more in the breach than the observance, and with traffic moving in all directions irrespective of the road markings, while a bigger and bigger crowd of pedestrians builds up behind you, was decidedly nerve-wracking. We eventually adopted what

Kevin Loane

What’s the French for chance?

27 July 2018|

In A Theory of Justice, the American philosopher John Rawls proposed a “veil of ignorance” to help assess the morality of policy choices. The reason? Individuals are biased by self-interest, so their favoured politics risk being unjust. If people had to devise a social contract under a veil of ignorance, without knowing anything about who they would be or what talents they would have, then their choices would be fairer. For example, slavery would find it more difficult to get

Andrew Brigden

Valuing free stuff in a world of loss aversion

20 July 2018|

In Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Lord Darlington declares that a cynic is “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” As far as some of my friends are concerned, this epithet might apply equally well to an economist. Clearly, these individuals have not met Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers and Avinash Gannamaneni. This trio of economists has spent a considerable amount of time — and money — trying to measure the value of something that has

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