Category Archives: Politics

Understanding Tony Blair, as explained by Tony Blair

There is a fascinating article in the Spectator today: In defence of Blairism, by Tony Blair. As I started reading it, I was sceptical, but in the end I found it enlightening, and even in places inspiring.


Not that there wasn’t lots to object to, as well, but it’s a genuinely fascinating read. It’s interesting to understand why he thought that the things his government was doing were good things.

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Why I’m jealous of my eldest son

In his recent blog-post The pillars of tax wisdom, Tim Harford (author of The Undercover Economist) discusses “James Mirrlees — now a Nobel laureate — who tried to figure out what could be said about optimal income taxation. One of his conclusions, surprising to him as much as anyone else, was that an optimal income tax might impose flat or even falling marginal tax rates.”


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Osborne’s spending review

So what do we all think?

My, and my wife’s, submissions on the NHS Agenda

Another day, another attempt to slow our government’s dismantling of everything of value in this country. Yesterday it was freedom of information, the day before it was the BBC; today it’s the NHS.


Turns out the Government has proposed “a new mandate to NHS England for this Parliament“, and asked for comments … but very, very quietly, in case someone hears and actually submits some.

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My comments on the Government’s call for evidence on Freedom Of Information

The UK government is presently running a call for evidence on Freedom of Information. (It closes at midnight tonight, so if you want to contribute, get your skates on! Here’s a simple way to do it.)


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How to measure the strength of the economy, redux

Last month, I argued the point (admittedly at rather more length than necessary) that GDP does not measure what we’re interested in. I’m currently reading Tim Harford’s fascinating book The Undercover Economist [,] — which, by the way I highly recommend — and I was pleased to discover that he agrees with me.

UE reissue Bpb.indd

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Is the stock market zero-sum?

Suppose I buy a share in Microsoft from you at $400. Microsoft do well, and it increases in value to $500. At that point, I don’t want to push my luck any further, and sell my share for $500. It just so happens thatyou are the buyer.

In this scenario I have made $100 by “playing the markets”. But you have lost $100: you received $400 and paid $500, and ended up holding the same share that you started with. In effect, I have taken $100 from you. (Thanks!)

That was a zero-sum transaction, because your loss exactly cancelled out my win.

My question: is the whole stock-market zero-sum?