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.

What have we learnt from a year of Covid?

We are now about a year into the ohmygosh-this-is-for-real stage of the pandemic. A time, perhaps, for taking stock of the big decisions — and whether they were wise. To my mind, there were two big calls to be made. The first: was this virus a deadly enough threat to...

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The painful politics of vaccination

It isn’t often I receive an email that makes me smoulder with rage. This one did, which was strange since it was perfectly polite. My correspondent wanted to know why he wasn’t allowed to meet his friends indoors for coffee. They were in their early seventies and...

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Why investing in data is money well spent

In 1935, officials in the British Air Ministry were trying to figure out whether it was possible to shoot down enemy aircraft with a death ray. Reader, they did not succeed. Fortunately, the effort spawned something much more useful. Robert Watson-Watt and Arnold...

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The hard lessons of home schooling

This week’s meltdown involved a French test. The teacher was displaying questions on screen as a PDF document. As she scrolled down, my son started to panic: he hadn’t finished the early questions yet — and now they had disappeared from view. He raised his hand to...

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We’re living in a golden age of ignorance

Has there been a moment in modern history where so many people in free societies have believed such damaging lies? It’s easy to point to the US, where nearly 90 per cent of people who voted for Donald Trump believe Joe Biden’s election victory was not legitimate. No...

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