The big lie of banking

The news this morning that the banks are already 12 per cent behind in their lending to small and medium-sized businesses is one of the least surprising pieces of news I have heard for months.


What a difference five ways make

You wake up to the sound of your alarm clock. Not fully awake, you get up, get ready and make your way to work, perhaps thinking about all the things – big and small – that await you there. Perhaps you travel by bus or train, in which case you will share your commute with countless others, and for the most part you will probably avoid interacting with them. Or maybe you walk to work, in which case you will probably walk the same, familiar route as usual, in which there appears to be little new to see. More

Wrong-headed kinds of efficiency

David Cameron is absolutely right that NHS bureaucracy needs dramatic reduction. The trouble is that the reforms currently on offer do not address that problem. In fact, by increasing the intensity of the commissioner-provider split they risk increasing it.


Referendums and change

If, like me, you’ve been sunk into a state of political depression by the AV referendum, with a creeping feeling that the British public should never again be entrusted with such important decisions, and that they’re opinions are easily manipulated by lies and ridiculous scare tactics, e.g. “Vote no, or the baby won’t get treated”, then you might be lifted somewhat by the results of the referendum here in Ecuador, which took place 2 days later.


Breaking the silence of civil society

There's a conspiracy of silence out there in 'civil society'. Small community groups, middle-sized charities, big voluntary organisations – they're all buttoning their lips as they watch the chancellor hack great chunks out of public services.

The communities they are anchored in are increasingly hard-pressed. The social problems they care about are more acute than ever. The people they try to serve are getting poorer and more beleaguered. Yet their outrage (in public) is muted.

Bringing well-being evidence into local decision-making

Much of what I do in my work as a well-being researcher at nef is to advocate for a well-being-focused approach to policy-making. I make the case that we now know, and are discovering even more, about what drives people’s well-being. So we should ensure that policies, services and programmes are designed accordingly, to best promote good lives for all.


Why the next crash will be even worse

There is a fascinating comment in the MarketWatch website which suggest that the repeat of the 2008 banking crash is going to be coming along much sooner than we think – and this time it is going to be considerably worse.

They base this partly on a recent editorial in Business Week, which says:


Greece shows that EU stress tests aren’t working

Credible rumours in the German press over the last few days suggest Greece’s embattled government are drawing up contingency plans for an exit from the euro. With Greece creeping ever-closer to a default on its public debt, a swift departure from the single currency may start to seem rather appealing. Berlin and the ECB don’t want the euro’s status as a world currency threatened by delinquent debtors. More

Why selling off allotments is not localism

The proposal by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to abolish the rules that force councils to provide allotments looks like one of those political misjudgments that could finish a promising political career.

He seems to have misjudged the role that allotments are suddenly coming to play in our national life.  They are already staggeringly over-subscribed, with waiting lists stretching for decades in the future.


Nudge economics: Ecuadorian style

Back in the UK, Nudge is a big thing.  The government has invested a lot of energy  in the hope that it can ‘nudge’ people into adopting pro-social, pro-environmental and healthy behaviours without having to regulate them. More

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