The real problem with GDP

©Charlie Bibby

We do not expect a thermometer to tell us how comfortable we feel

A man counting pound sterling notes
©Charlie Bibby/FT

Scots can be sterling squatters

People make contracts in whatever currency and under whatever legal system they choose

Welfare cap replaces judgment with spin

The limit set on benefits is another example of legislation designed to have no practical effect

Blame the crowds, not the regulators

Naivety is as much of a problem as criminality, particularly when investors lack cynicism

jonathan mcHugh nest egg

A step towards abolishing income tax

Tax people on what they take out of society. The pension reforms are fair

Co-op detached responsibility from power

The mutual’s governance problems were interlinked with its financial ones

©Stefan Ruiz

Economic abstractions and human life

No mathematical model can describe ‘the world as it really is’

The human progress economists miss

The steady accumulation of knowledge is important but sudden advances matter most


Currency unknowns weigh on Scotland

Whatever is said about sterling, there has to be a plan B and that starts with a Scots pound

Scientists should reach for the sky

Anthropology helps us understand the world, such as the pathologies of financial crises

Big data lets us see a little further

Small changes can lead to bigger changes in outcomes. And then there is the human factor

No crime for traders to be in the know

Obtaining better information about companies is essential to the efficiency of markets and society

The rich stay rich while the poor struggle

Thanks to globalisation the centres of major cities now appear similar

Look to the Bard for immigration lore

The debate has not been changed by new facts so much as the complexion of the government

No such thing as an ‘economic approach’

Economics is not a method but a subject – one defined by the problems it tackles

Coastal living should be at your own risk

It is hard to see why those who cannot afford sea views should subsidise those who can

Pisa tests lean in the right direction

That academic comparisons are always imperfect does not mean they can never be made

Play safe or place bets that threaten loss

Society has a weakness for people whose foolish risks pay off and villains who tempt fate

London’s mayor is half right on greed

Envy is indeed both inseparable from economic progress and destructive of social cohesion

Scottish independence would change little

A critical and seldom discussed issue is how business will fare in a more left-leaning system


John Kay John Kay has been writing a column on economics and business since 1995. He is currently a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. He also had a career in the policy world which established the Institute for Fiscal Studies as one of the most respected think tanks, and a business career.

John has published many books, including Foundations of Corporate Success (1993), The Truth About Markets (2003) and The Long and the Short of It: Finance and investment for normally intelligent people who are not in the industry (2009). His latest book, Obliquity: Why our goals are best achieved indirectly, was published by Profile Books in March 2010.

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