Undercover Economist

My weekly column in the Financial Times on Saturdays, explaining the economic ideas around us every day. This column was inspired by my book and began in 2005.

Your absurd hypothetical questions, answered

One of my favourite books of the year was Randall Munroe’s What If? 2, which like its predecessor offers serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. For example, “What would happen if the solar system was filled with soup out to Jupiter?” The short...

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Quitting is underrated

“I am a fighter and not a quitter,” said Liz Truss, the day before quitting. She was echoing the words of Peter Mandelson MP over two decades ago, although Mandelson had the good sense to speak after winning a political fight rather than while losing one. It’s a...

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Struck by the power of the simple invention

“I was really taken aback,” Dr Dilip Mahalanabis recalled of arriving at Bangaon’s city hospital in 1971. Bangaon is now on the border between India and Bangladesh. At that time, though, it was in the middle of a refugee crisis and a vicious cholera outbreak...

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How to tax (a guide for governments)

In 1789, an octogenarian Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter containing the famous opinion that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. Franklin was mistaken. Many taxes are easily and legally avoided by the simple expedient of not...

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