The Wikipedia Effect

16 October 2020|

Stating that “the internet has a huge impact on our decisions and actions” is unlikely to be met with much pushback from the general population. Most of us are acutely aware of the extent to which we are influenced by the content that we are exposed to online. However, the results of a study  into the impact of Wikipedia pages on choices made by tourists are still surprising. The study found that adding information to the Wikipedia page for a

I’m a non-computable problem

9 October 2020|

This week, Roger Penrose (along with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez) received the Nobel Prize in Physics, for his work on black holes among other areas. But it’s his work on the philosophy of mind that appeals most to me, especially in his brilliant book The Emperor’s New Mind.[1] Economics has always shamelessly stolen techniques developed in other fields — and some of Penrose’s ground-breaking work has found its way into the field of economics too. The area I focus

The Social Dilemma: perfect viewing for a socially-distanced weekend

2 October 2020|

Don’t you hate that feeling when you’ve had an amazing two-week holiday in Italy, you get back to London, get given a bunch of new work, the weather is bad, COVID is on the rise and on Wednesday you find out that you are writing this week’s TFIF blog? You all know the feeling; and also the way that, when this happens, your mind flirts rebelliously with TFIF topics like ‘How to avoid writing a TFIF’, ‘The office politics of

It’s not just coughs and sneezes that spread diseases

25 September 2020|

Identified cases of COVID-19 are rising in Europe, including in countries that were among the hardest hit in the first wave of infections. Popular support for government handling of the outbreak is particularly low in France, Spain and the UK, perhaps unsurprisingly. These are all countries where the reproductive rate of the virus seemed to move decisively above one in late summer. Support has always been low in France and Spain, averaging 39% and 41% respectively in weekly YouGov polls.[1]

Liquid gold

18 September 2020|

If I asked you to think of some profitable and safe investments over the last few decades, gold, government bonds or real estate might come to mind (or, depending on your definition of safe, Bitcoin). What probably didn’t come to mind was whisky. Now hang on, this isn’t the opening line of a sales pitch where I attempt to sell you my semi-drinkable, homemade whisky through an elaborate pyramid scheme. The reason I mention it, is that last week a

Pals, Pradas, PJs and the UK’s reluctance to get back to work

11 September 2020|

We Brits often view the working habits and customs of our European compatriots with an interesting mix of admiration and confusion; late starts to the working day, mid-afternoon siestas, and congé annuel — the customary annual holiday that sees economic activity virtually grind to a halt in August. But in finding that balance between work and play, it seems Europeans are not only more productive within the office but also more willing to return to the office. According to various

Would you rather be the first person on Mars or starring on Love Island?

4 September 2020|

In old TFiFs, I found myself arguing that happiness is mostly a subjective state that is hard to achieve through the completion of tasks, setting rigid goals or the narcissistic pursuit of social status. Rather, it’s more easily attained through new experiences, chasing curiosity and meaningful social interactions with little regard to the possibility of regret or failure. In mainstream economics, the notions of utility, status and happiness are often used interchangeably and limited to the rather narrow axiom of

Eating out — helping or harming?

28 August 2020|

Summer’s drawing to a close, and there’s huge uncertainty about what is to come. Will a vaccine be approved this year? Will the coronavirus return with a devastating second wave? Will Lionel Messi really leave Barcelona on a free transfer? (Yes, no, maybe so are my unscientific opinions.) One of the stranger aspects of this summer has been the UK government’s approach to indoor dining. Many countries have banned it, out of concern that it’s a ripe breeding ground for

Swapping the train for productivity gains

21 August 2020|

Many of us are entering a new normal where working from home is the standard, and spending hours of our day mindlessly commuting is a thing of the past. This has increased the amount of time at home people have to drink beer and binge-watch their favourite Netflix show (Below Deck in my case). The enjoyment we derive from killing our brain cells with these reality TV shows might be sufficient justification for this new way of working, but what

Good fellowship in hard times

14 August 2020|

This is a job advert, as well as a blog. During the COVID crisis, Fathom (like many other organisations and individuals) has made a conscious effort to help in the ways that we can, by providing free, regular coverage of the pandemic and its impact on the global economy to clients and non-clients alike. It felt to us that this was a moment to stop worrying quite so much about the bottom line, and to focus on doing what we