The Rise of the ‘Gig Economy’: A Case Study of Uber

June 22nd, 2017

Image by IMS People, via Gig Economy Simplified

Gig workers are those who work small jobs, commonly referred to as ‘gigs’, instead of, or perhaps on top of, a full-time job and are paid for the amount of ‘gigs’ they undertake. Their employment status is somewhat confusing to many. Given the digital revolution, it is becoming hard to avoid articles discussing the so-called gig economy given the increasing amount of new companies operating under such a casual structure. Certain couriers, Deliveroo, Uber and AirBnB are just some examples of companies which fall under the gig economy category and there are increasing reports discussing the legal rights of those ‘employed’ by such companies. Indeed, Uber is a prime example: a recent ruling declared that its drivers cannot be classified as self-employed, as Uber wanted, and are thus entitled to the national living wage and holiday pay. Airbnb is also undergoing legal action in New York given a new law which enables the escalating of fines on homeowners who rent out their property for less than 30 days. As court cases and employment tribunals against such companies are on the rise, this blog discusses how regulatory rules are affecting these companies. It also takes account of the huge tax windfall that the UK government could gain as a result.

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Universal Basic Income: Debunking the Scaremongering

March 14th, 2017

Image by Mike Ramsey, via
Scott Santerns on Flickr, CC-BY-SA

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.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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

September 21st, 2016

Image by Maurizio Pesce
via Wikimedia Commons

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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Can Nigeria Escape Recession by Diversifying its Economy?

September 21st, 2016

It was announced that on August 31st, following two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most prominent economies and the continent’s most populous nation, had fallen into recession. Given that in April 2014 Nigeria was boasting that it was Africa’s biggest economy, thus overtaking South Africa, one must not ignore the potential impact this downturn will have on the country; in fact, IMF data projects a -1.8 percent change in real GDP for 2016. Whilst the effects might be relatively clear in the minds of those at the African Union, I want to discuss how Nigeria should recover by escaping the curse of the Dutch Disease and diversifying its oil-dependent economy.

Image result for nigerian recession

In looking at data from 2015, Nigeria’s total value of exports stood at $45,365 million. Within that figure, a whopping $41,818 million came from petroleum export (OPEC, Annual Statistical Bulletin 2016). Looking at that in terms of Nigeria’s total balance of payments, petroleum export revenue represents over 90 per cent of total export revenue. What can be deduced from this is just how vital the oil industry is to the Nigerian economy, and how volatile its economic position remains as a result of oil price fluctuations and continual oil price crises. It isn’t difficult to recognise that there is a lack of economic diversity, and if the government are to avoid further economic downturn in Nigeria, changes must be made; the country must now turn to other industries. Related issues have also been mirrored in similarly oil-dependent Saudi Arabia and both countries are having to now make fiscal adjustments following a series of oil price crises. Nigeria cannot continue spending its oil revenues without saving and cannot spend on consumption without building the future economy.

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