Universal Basic Income: Debunking the Scaremongering

March 14th, 2017

Studies into the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) have recently gained visible traction in academia and much more prominence in the media, following the introduction of pilot schemes in Finland and California. Scotland is also set to see trials in two Labour-run areas, following the party’s establishment of a new working group to look into its viability. As well as these examples, Namibia has considered the introduction of UBI, the Netherlands will be holding an experiment on UBI this year, Brazil continues to hold trials (it has been on the cards since the 1980s), 10,000 people have signed up in support of basic income in Canada, and India’s 2016-2017 Economic Survey has identified that the Indian Government believe UBI is a better approach to reducing poverty than current state benefits. In light of this, this blog post explores why UBI is gaining support from policy strategists, governments and entrepreneurs alike, and whether it could be a viable solution to some of the big issues of our time.

Image: Denis Balibouse/ Reuters

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Interview with Professor Sir Charlie Bean

February 20th, 2017

Ashley Lait interviews Professor Sir Charlie Bean, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.

Charlie Bean is a professor of economics at the London School of Economics and former president of the Royal Economic Society (2013–15). He was deputy governor of the Bank of England from July 2008 to June 2014. Prior to that, he was executive director and chief Image result for charlie beaneconomist from October 2000. Charlie has also held positions at HM Treasury and Stanford University. In addition, he has published widely — in both professional journals and more popular media — on European unemployment, on European monetary union, and on macroeconomics generally.

AL Where did you first study economics?

CB I did economics as a subsidiary subject at school (my main subjects were mathematics, further mathematics and physics). I started out by doing mathematics at Cambridge University but switched to economics in my second year after I had discovered that quantum mechanics was very beautiful and elegant, but I didn’t have the foggiest notion what was going on!

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Undergraduate Video Competition: RES

January 31st, 2017

The Royal Economic Society and the Economics Network are starting an annual video competition, aimed at undergraduates, in order to improve the learning of how economics applies to the real world.Image result for royal economics society logo

Students have free rein to choose topics and videos should take the form of a three-minute mini-documentary, aimed at a non-specialist audience. The aim of the video is to show an understanding of the real world and to communicate economic insights in a clear and intelligible way. Humour is encouraged!

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Examining the Case for Selective Admissions

January 30th, 2017

By Charles Shaw

The Prime Minister recently announced her intention to reinstate grammar schools and bring back selective admissions. A key issue of contention is the claim that the shift from a selective to a comprehensive school system had a deleterious effect on social mobility in Great Britain.

It is possible that certain changes to the status quo are needed, perhaps even a centrally coordinated response. But one must proceed with a great deal of caution. Any informed response to such questions must draw on the knowledge, experience, and consensus of those in higher education, and on their understanding of what knowledge is fundamental for subsequent progress.

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Game Theory: Two Real World Examples

January 30th, 2017

By Konstantinos Dagklis

Game Theory uses mathematical tools to find solutions in situations where interdependent parties make strategic decisions. Many developments in this field are quite recent and there is a wealth of material for curious minds. In looking at game theoretical applications in the real world, two models from Schelling and Shubik will be discussed. The first one shows why racial segregation is difficult to combat, and the second illustrates why people can be compelled to make irrational decisions.

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Interview with Economist, Tim Harford.

November 28th, 2016

Tim Harford is the author of The Undercover Economist. tim-harford-photo He is a columnist for the Financial Times and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less. In this interview with Ashley Lait, he talks about the way he sees economics and reveals something about his approach to the subject.

AL Where did you first study economics?

TH Brasenose College, Oxford. I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics and later returned to do Oxford’s 2-year Master’s degree in economics, the MPhil.

AL What attracted you to the subject?

TH I was sceptical about the subject at first — philosophy seemed much more interesting — but I was drawn in by game theory. I suppose I loved the odd combination of strategic thinking, mathematics and psychology. At undergraduate level, game theory felt like half storytelling and half puzzle solving. I loved it. Read the rest of this entry »

Heathrow Expansion: What About the Local Economy?

November 14th, 2016

While the news of Heathrow airport’s expansion came to sore ears for green activists who have campaigned against it since as early as 2006, the aviation industry appears to finally have a victory. Indeed, globalisation and technological innovation are driving an increase in cross-border flows of goods, services and people ( and to stay on top of this, increased connectivity is needed. Those supporting the expansion argue that a third runway will enhance the UK’s economic growth by connecting the UK with growing world markets which will enable UK businesses to have better access to traders. While a boost for UK business, the third runway will also benefit passengers by offering more destinations and greater a choice of airlines. As a result, competition will be boosted which could perhaps lower air fares. Indeed, the Airports Commission has stated that “The position of the UK within the global aviation market is critical to its economy: it is central to ensuring increased productivity, growth and employment opportunities”. Nonetheless, while most analysis has been so heavily focused on the UK’s boost in terms of business openness and connectivity, many economists forget to mention the multiplier effect this will have on the local area and the UK as a whole.

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Interview with Professor Karen Mumford

October 5th, 2016

Karen Mumford is a professor of economics at the University of York. She received her doctorate in economics from the Australian National University (ANU) in 1991. She has taught at the ANU, the University of Warwick and the University of York. Karen is the chair of the Royal Economic Society Women’s Committee and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). In this interview with Caroline Elliott, she discusses her views on economics, her most admired economists and the changing profile of women in the discipline.

CE: Where did you first study economics?

I didn’t really know about economics as a subject when I was a secondary school student in Australia. As with many students without much clue, my school advised me to keep my options open by taking maths and science for my higher school certificate (equivalent to A levels). I really liked chemistry, didn’t mind maths, and found physics quite dull so I decided to try something different at Uni. I enrolled in an Arts degree at Monash University planning to major in Social Work. By the end of the first year I realised that whilst I was loving university, I wasn’t going to make much of a social worker. I transferred into the Economics faculty and have felt right-at-home ever since.

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More Bang for Your Buck: Apple iPhone 7’s Increased Value

September 21st, 2016

Image result for apple v samsung

When you go to buy a new phone, manufacture costs do not often cross your mind. Well, if you’re planning to buy the new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you might want to take these into account as, in comparison to its predecessor, the iPhone 6s, you’re gaining more value for your purchase. Why? It’s all about manufacturing costs.

The components that Apple uses for the iPhone 7 have resulted in an increase in manufacture price compared to the previous iPhone due to new features, including a bigger battery and larger storage capacity. It is also thought that the iPhone 7 Plus will be more expensive to produce as a result of its larger 5.5 inch LCD screen and the complex dual-camera system.

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Plastic Bank Notes: From Novelty to Counterfeit Solution

September 21st, 2016

Have you ever experienced the moment of panic when you start the washing machine, to realise that you have left a paper note in your pocket? Well, fear no more. While 1,801 notes were reported to have been washed last year, the Bank of England has begun circulating a polymer ‘plastic’ £5 note as of September 13th and plan to expand this to the £10 and £20 notes by 2020. Phew. Although as thrilling as I found this, given its solution to my washing machine anxiety, the real reason lay behind the effectiveness of polymer bank notes in their resilience to their counterfeited ‘evil cousins’.

Image result for new fiver

The move by the Bank of England follows the news that during the first half of 2016 around 152,000 Bank of England counterfeit banknotes were taken out of circulation with a face value of £3.3mn (Bank of England). Over time, new methods of faking bank notes have been created and the process can be undertaken quickly using skilled printers. Laser and inkjet image printing techniques have also allowed for digitally printed fakes to be produced and there is fear that those groups undertaking such methods are becoming increasingly more integrated thus creating increasingly more linked networks. The vast majority of counterfeited notes are discovered early on by the banking system when they are separated from genuine notes via a sorting process for re-circulation but of course, some do ‘slip through the net’. It is advised that if you believe you are being handed a counterfeited bank note, do not accept it as to distribute such material is a crime. However, the notional value of counterfeit bank notes has been steadily falling since 2012 and this new step by the Bank of England is believed to continue this fall.

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