Ideas are nice really

Dear Economist, Governments like to promote innovation. But ever greater innovation means ever greater use of resources, disposability of goods, consumer spending and (one surmises) social envy. Is there a case for suppressing innovation? Marion Hancock, by e-mail...

What really counts

The Undercover Economist – FT Magazine, 28 January 2006An extended version of this article was published by Slate, 4 February.My second-favourite character from Sesame Street was always The Count. Avid viewers will recall that The Count loves to count,...

The economics of bad breath

Dear Economist, My dentist tells me that I should floss, but what do you think? William Henderson, Virginia Dear William, You may be misremembering John Maynard Keynes’ famous wish that economists should aspire to be thought of “as humble, competent people on a level...

The world’s rudest barman

The Undercover Economist – FT Magazine, 21 January 2006An extended version of this piece is available at Slate.I don’t want to complain, but my favourite lunchtime haunt has the rudest barman I’ve ever encountered – and I don’t think it’s an accident. The...

What’s in it for us then? – A book review

ECONOMIC ORIGINS OF DICTATORSHIP AND DEMOCRACY: Economic and Political Origins by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson Cambridge University Press £25, 540 pages The birth of British democracy was protracted, as the ruling classes slowly allowed the voting franchise to...

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