Monday , November 18 2019
Home / Tag Archives: Other Writing

Tag Archives: Other Writing

What’s it like to have lunch with a Nobel laureate?

What’s it like to have lunch with a Nobel laureate? My recent “lunch with the FT” with Richard Thaler (Nobel laureate, author of Nudge and Misbehaving) was a lot of fun. I don’t do these formal sit-down interviews often but over the years I’ve racked up a few. At the end of the lunch I mentioned to Thaler the other economists I’d lunched with. “Good company”, he said. I think he’s right. So, just in case you missed the other interviews: Thomas Schelling (1921 – 2016, Nobel...

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“If you want people do to something, make it easy.” Richard Thaler has Lunch with the FT

“If you want people do to something, make it easy.” Richard Thaler has Lunch with the FT The Anthologist doesn’t serve cashew nuts, so I order a bowl of smoked almonds instead. When they arrive, caramelised and brown as barbecue sauce, I ask for them to be put right in front of Richard Thaler. He protests that the waiter isn’t in on the joke. The readers will be, I assure him. “The educated ones, perhaps,” he concedes. Those educated readers may know that Professor Thaler is a...

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How behavioural economics helped me kick my smartphone addiction

How behavioural economics helped me kick my smartphone addiction The year 2011 was a big one for me. My son was born. We moved to a new city. I published a book. But something else happened that was in some ways more significant: on February 9 2011, I bought my first smartphone. It didn’t feel like a milestone in my life at the time. I didn’t note it down in a diary or commit the date to memory. Only finding a copy of the receipt helped pin down the day. Yet I have come to...

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Why big companies squander brilliant ideas

Why big companies squander brilliant ideas J F C Fuller did not invent the tank. That distinction should probably fall to E L de Mole, an Australian who approached the British war office in 1912 with a design that was — in the words of historians Kenneth Macksey and John Batchelor — “so convincingly similar to those which finally went into service that one wonders why it was never adopted from the outset”. But when the British army eventually introduced the tank, it was J F C...

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Review of The Cost-Benefit Revolution by Cass Sunstein

Review of The Cost-Benefit Revolution by Cass Sunstein Given that The Cost-Benefit Revolution (UK) (US) has emerged from the pen of the co-author of Nudge (UK) (US) — the 2008 book that showed how to pull the levers of behavioural science to persuade us to eat less, save more and donate our kidneys — we should start with the obvious: this is a drier topic. Nevertheless, it is important — and, at times, Cass Sunstein manages to convince the reader that the word “revolution” is...

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Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy – UK Paperback

Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy – UK Paperback I’m delighted to report that “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy” is out in paperback in the UK this week. (The US edition – Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy – is out at the end of August. Sorry you have to wait…) I had such fun writing this book and people seem to be enjoying reading it, which is great. One of the joys of the book was the ability to leap across time and topic, pick up under-rated...

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“Basic income is about the freedom to say no” – Rutger Bregman goes bouldering

“Basic income is about the freedom to say no” – Rutger Bregman goes bouldering “You have the instinct for it,” says Rutger Bregman, as I haul myself up an indoor climbing wall, nestled under the arches at Vauxhall station in London. “Shit, this is some talent!” he bellows, as I reach the top. I am inwardly delighted, even though I realise the praise is absurd: I have climbed about four metres and it’s a beginner’s route. Bregman has suggested that we go bouldering together....

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Your handy postcard-sized guide to statistics

Your handy postcard-sized guide to statistics “The best financial advice for most people would fit on an index card.” That’s the gist of an offhand comment in 2013 by Harold Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago. Pollack’s bluff was duly called, and he quickly rushed off to find an index card and scribble some bullet points — with respectable results. When I heard about Pollack’s notion — he elaborated upon it in a 2016 book — I asked myself: would this work for...

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Review of The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Muller

Review of The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Muller Jerry Z Muller’s latest book is 220 pages long, not including the front matter. The average chapter is 10.18 pages long and contains 17.76 endnotes. There are four cover endorsements and the book weighs 421 grammes. These numbers tell us nothing, of course. If you want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of The Tyranny of Metrics (UK) (US) you will need to read it — or trust the opinion of someone who has. Professor...

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Budget 2017 shows a reactive government throwing cash at crises

Budget 2017 shows a reactive government throwing cash at crises Firefighting is a brave and essential profession, but for a politician it is not a good look. Successive British governments have found themselves locked in a vicious cycle: some part of the public sector is squeezed for money, manages decline for a while, then cracks under pressure. The crisis is extinguished by a sudden spray of last-minute cash — an expensive way to solve any problem — while money and attention...

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