Democracy eroded by ‘responsive’ politics

Proper decision-making is through representatives who will trouble to evaluate the relevant facts

James Ferguson illustration

Smoke, mirrors and helicopter money

Proponents aim to persuade people to endorse a plan they would reject if it were explained simply

Roots of political turmoil in the west

Leftwing parties have lost touch with their traditional supporters

A worshipped but little copied model

The shareholder weekend has the spirit of a cult based on informality

Big projects worthless if they don’t work

Britain’s plans have succumbed to the political imperative for soundbites and love of the grandiose

Tax transparency will not stop evasion

Scrutiny of politicians diverts attention from genuinely serious and widespread corruption

Complexity is the real danger in banking

Scale is not the problem; Lehman had fewer employees than Citigroup today has compliance staff

Enduring certainty of radical uncertainty

If you had described your iPhone in 1976, Friedman would not have understood you

Petty lobbying laws and the body politic

The quality of debate matters more than the misuse of small amounts of charitable funding

We must get over the investment barriers

There is a crying need for more airport capacity, new homes and greater electricity generation

We must change how UK economy is measured

Official statisticians have compiled data in the same way for 75 years

Restraint is the best policy

The British budgetary system is particularly vulnerable to the fidgety minister

A second special century is dawning

If we trust robots to undertake surgery, why should they not offer pedicures?

The facts in the run-up to Brexit vote

World commerce is not a contest. It is a mutually beneficial exploitation of competitive advantages

Don’t always believe a balance sheet

Derivative exposures sound alarming until you realise that they’re largely netted out

Advantages of living in a decent time zone

What matters for flight, unlike finance, is that hardly anyone lives south of the equator

Political groupthink bad for universities

The well-educated are generally more socially liberal than the traditional working class

What history taught Uber on innovation

Democracy gives latter-day Luddites chance to use legitimate political means to achieve their ends

Rennes death and pharma regulation

The sector has to understand it has responsibilities to a wider community than its own shareholders

It can take a short-seller to catch thief

History is littered with lossmaking companies kept alive for years by accounting chicanery


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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