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Category: Economy

Disruption on the line

Disruption on the line

Let me take you back to a different time, a time when we worried about how the transport system was going to cope with the weight of numbers placed on it. Just six years ago, the tube drivers were confident enough of their clout that they could strike to try to get their demands. The strike was not total, but the effect was nevertheless crippling for London. Yet, as an LSE study found, a funny thing happened. Improvise, adapt, overcome….

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Jumping at shadows

Jumping at shadows

April is the cruellest month. At least, that is what the authorities hope. The government has carefully signalled that it intends to begin a slow relaxation of the lockdown, if Britain continues to move out of its total eclipse by Covid-19 into a penumbral recuperation from the most ferocious aspects of its onslaught. The government has to wrestle with two conflicting risks when making its decision. If Britain comes out of lockdown too early, it might risk a resurgence of Covid-19. If it waits…

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Suddenly the possible economic catastrophe becomes centre stage

Suddenly the possible economic catastrophe becomes centre stage

The cost of fighting the coronavirus It has always been the case since the the scale of the crisis became clear that making saving lives the priority was going to come at a huge economic cost. The OBR report yesterday with all its projections starts to quantify the challenge ahead and in the meantime the new Chancellor has to find a way of balancing what appears to be the irreconcilable. Sunak starts with a lot of goodwill on his side…

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Trouble over bridged waters. Boris Johnson’s plan to link Scotland and Northern Ireland

Trouble over bridged waters. Boris Johnson’s plan to link Scotland and Northern Ireland

While love can build a bridge, it’s far from clear that Boris Johnson can.  He planned one across the Thames, but that was scrapped.  Then he mooted one across the English Channel, to be shot down quickly.  Now he is shelling out public money to investigate the possibility of a bridge across the North Channel between Larne (half an hour from Belfast) and Portpatrick (50 lightyears from anywhere).  Is it going to be third time a charm for Boris Johnson?…

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Ethics man. God, mammon and investing

Ethics man. God, mammon and investing

Those snowflakes are at it again.  Students of St John’s college, Oxford, have called upon their college to disinvest from companies that extract fossil fuels and thus contribute to global warming.  In response, the principal bursar has told them that could not be done at a drop of a hat, but he’d gladly turn off the gas in their halls of residence if that would make them feel better.  It seems that it would not. Contrary to the implication of…

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A tale of twelve cities. The perplexing underperformance of Britain’s second tier

A tale of twelve cities. The perplexing underperformance of Britain’s second tier

The red deer’s mating habits are an exemplar of Darwinian selection.  Every autumn virile stags, their veins coursing with testosterone, compete to claim the right to the herd’s females.  The battles can be fearsome, sometimes even deadly. The victor, the alpha male, then claims the right to father the next generation, thus perpetuating his genes. However, there is only one stag with only one pair of eyes, and many hinds.  As Benny Hill so wisely observed, a woman’s needs are…

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Covered market: the politics of towns

Covered market: the politics of towns

Since the election, talk of towns has been the talk of the political town.  Labour politicians and Conservative politicians alike have concluded that is the key to political success right now. This apparent unity conceals a string of latent ambiguities and confusions.  What are towns? The Conservatives were mocked when they recently launched their Town Of The Year competition in Wolverhampton, which has been a city for nearly 20 years.  The optics could certainly have been better. Lisa Nandy has…

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Infrastructure: the Conservatives’ necessary but misplaced priority

Infrastructure: the Conservatives’ necessary but misplaced priority

The Custard Factory is one of Birmingham’s more striking developments.   Its current incarnation is as Birmingham’s answer to Shoreditch (a question that probably did not need asking).  Its history, however, stands as a warning to the government, a warning that it almost certainly will not heed. The Custard Factory’s name is not, like so many new developments, the product of a random buzzword generator, but a simple statement of its origin.  Until 1964, Bird’s Custard was manufactured on that…

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