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.

How do we value a statistical life?

The coronavirus lockdown is saving lives but destroying livelihoods. Is it worth it? I’ve been accused of ignoring its costs. For an economist, this is fighting talk. Love us or hate us, thinking about uncomfortable trade-offs is what we economists do. Three points...

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Why moonshots matter

Tim Bradshaw, head of the Russell Group of leading UK universities, has a curious tale to tell about failure. A few years ago he visited the Cambridge office of an admired Japanese company to find them fretting about the success rate of their research and development....

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The statistics behind the spread of ideas

Everyone loves a good idea. It’s even better when the idea becomes a tangible innovation, a better mousetrap that anyone can use and every mouse should fear. The awkward truth, however, is that even in a polished form, good ideas can be slow to spread. Anaesthetic and...

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