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Hired: a review

Chris Dillow / February 21, 2018 at 1:39 PM 10 views

For some time, I’ve asked that journalists leave the Westminster Bubble and look instead at ground truth. I’m delighted, therefore, that James Bloodworth has done just this. His latest book, Hired, describes his experiences of working on low wages –…

When the impartial spectator is missing

Chris Dillow / February 19, 2018 at 2:09 PM 61 views

Is good behaviour more fragile than generally supposed? For me, this is the question posed by the unpleasant controversy sparked by Mary Beard’s tweet: I do wonder how hard it must be to sustain “civilised” values in a disaster zone. …

Labour and the Customs Union

Chris Dillow / February 16, 2018 at 2:39 PM 100 views

Simon says Labour should stop faffing around and declare support for the UK staying in the Customs Union. I’d like to amplify and caveat this. First the amplification. Labour is missing a trick here. It should be linking its policy…

Oxfam, & organizational drift

Chris Dillow / February 14, 2018 at 2:25 PM 84 views

In the crisis at Oxfam, I fear some general points are being under-appreciated. One is that motives are sometimes over-rated. It is the case that some of Oxfam’s critics are animated by a hostility to its campaign against inequality and…

Neoliberalism as lack of self-restraint

Chris Dillow / February 13, 2018 at 1:27 PM 81 views

Which do people choose – more money or less? If you think the answer’s obvious, you’ve been too influenced by economism and not enough by science. Sigve Tjotta shows that, in a variety of experiments, a significant minority of people…

In defence of short-termism

Chris Dillow / February 12, 2018 at 1:31 PM 102 views

Rick says that UK companies are too short-termist, and that Carillion – which paid big dividends until soon before collapsing - is a manifestation of this. I’m not so sure. Of course, some firms, like Carillion, have short-termist bosses and…

Technology, power & ideology

Chris Dillow / February 9, 2018 at 1:16 PM 118 views

One of Marx’s many great insights was the theory of commodity fetishism – the idea that in capitalism relations between people assume “the fantastic form of a relation between things.” For example, the labour market – “a very Eden of…

Brexiters’ blind-spot

Chris Dillow / February 7, 2018 at 1:11 PM 117 views

Tony Yates and Andrew Neil were debating gravity models on Twitter this morning. Tony was right. The gravity model isn’t some hi-falutin theory without much factual backing. It is in fact (pdf) “one of the most empirically successful in economics”.…

Emergence in stock markets

Chris Dillow / February 6, 2018 at 1:56 PM 83 views

Stock markets are not people. I say this because yesterday’s big fall in European stocks makes many believe that markets look more like casino than textbook efficient markets. Jonathan Portes is right to point out that, technically, this is a…

Brexiter feminists

Chris Dillow / February 3, 2018 at 1:26 PM 98 views

There’s a nice but under-appreciated irony about the ending of grid girls and walk-on girls at the darts; those who support the move are thinking like Brexiters. They are following a longish tradition of posh people wanting to destroy others…

Economists in public

Chris Dillow / February 2, 2018 at 1:41 PM 111 views

There was a debate on Twitter this morning about how economists can better engage with the public. Our efforts to do so have not been wholly futile. Granted, economists’ influence on the debate about Brexit and austerity hasn’t been as…

Brexit: an unending dream

Chris Dillow / February 1, 2018 at 1:46 PM 116 views

Simon says Brexit is a fantasy: There is nothing about the case for Brexit that is based in reality. This is why everything Brexiters say is either nonsense or untrue. This poses the question: will they ever acknowledge reality? I’m…

Picking your own facts

Chris Dillow / January 30, 2018 at 1:40 PM 143 views

The government’s own research says that leaving the EU will make us poorer in every scenario modelled, except presumably the fairies and unicorns option favoured by the government. Rightists have responded to this by claiming that economists know nothing. For…

The Outsider

Chris Dillow / January 29, 2018 at 2:24 PM 149 views

It is fitting that the pre-publicity for Afua Hirsch’s book Brit(ish) should have coincided with the death of Mark E Smith. What they have in common are stories of exclusion and isolation. Ms Hirsch writes: This country of mine had…

Why economists should look at horses

Chris Dillow / January 27, 2018 at 12:15 PM 150 views

“If economists wished to study the horse, they wouldn’t go and look at horses. They’d sit in their studies and say to themselves, ‘What would I do if I were a horse?” Two things I’ve seen recently remind me of that…

When selection mechanisms fail

Chris Dillow / January 24, 2018 at 2:05 PM 194 views

Gideon Rachman writes: Mr Trump has a legitimate claim to three other kinds of “genius”: political genius, instinctive genius and evil genius.  If this is a plea not to under-estimate Trump, it’s good. It might however be read as an…

The Davos non-paradox

Chris Dillow / January 23, 2018 at 1:22 PM 211 views

Branko Milanovic is good on the apparent paradox of Davos – that plutocrats who preside over massive inequality “speak the language of equality, respect, participation, and transparency”: They are loath to pay a living wage, but they will fund a…

On capitalist hegemony

Chris Dillow / January 18, 2018 at 1:42 PM 201 views

How much can a Labour government achieve within the confines of a capitalist society? I ask because of a recent tweet by Paul Mason: taking power is not enough; behind the state, the elite have line after line of trenches…

On anti-meritocracy

Chris Dillow / January 7, 2018 at 1:42 PM 158 views

There’s a link between Toby Young’s appointment to the Office for Students and the revelation that his staff regard Donald Trump as a child. What we have in both cases are examples of anti-meritocracy. Both men have achieved office not…

Tories vs the 21st century

Chris Dillow / August 2, 2017 at 12:33 PM 393 views

It’s become a cliché that the Tories want to return to the 1950s, before the age of mass migration and our entanglement with the EU. These, however, are not the only examples of Tories discomfort with the modern world. Tom…