Hard work and the Big Society

In the UK, we work longer hours on average than anywhere else in Europe. And yet we have two million people unemployed. Suppose we move to a much shorter working week?

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Are we going to get a new definition of progress?

At the end of November the Prime Minister announced that the Office for National Statistics would from this April be measuring 'not just...our standard of living but...our quality of life' and on Wednesday I joined a group convened by the ONS to discuss how to do this. As one of the academics present put it, people have been arguing about this for at least two and half thousand years, the nature of the good life being one of the central concerns of philosophy, and we certainly didn't resolve it in the two and half hours we spent on the subject. More

It’s a wonderful life (for the banks)

There was a dearth of Christmas films this year on television.  I suppose the schedulers assume that we own the ones we like already on DVD or video and hardly need reminding of them.  Consequently, I had to drag out an old video copy of It’s a Wonderful Life that I keep under the stairs, just to keep the Christmas spirit going.

I’m glad I did, because it reminded me why I write this blog.  It is of course a tale of how one man’s life frustrates the drift of unbridled and unprincipled business towards barbarism.

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Some festive Payment by Results

Ho Ho Ho. It’s Christmas time. A time of eating, drinking and spending time with those who are loosely genetically related to us.  But, for most of us, it isn’t all happy families. There are some family members who are generally hard work.

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Happy New Year (for the banks at least)

As they look back on a rollercoaster year, the heads of Britain’s big banks are probably feeling quietly pleased at how things have worked out.  Things are looking considerably rosier than they were following the Spring election.  For when  the Conservatives, who themselves had made some threatening noises about banking reform, appointed Vince Cable as Business Secretary as part of the Coalition deal, the intake of breath from the City was all too palpable.  Prince Vince was also on the independently appointed Commission on banking with a wide-ranging scope for ra More

Why do we let food speculators give us the Chocfinger?

In the UK, we are continually presented with the idea that foreign nations stand in the way of global financial stability. For example, we allegedly can’t properly regulative hedge funds, lest they flee overseas.  But before we rush to condemn others, perhaps it is time to consider what role the UK plays in dragging down global standards?

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“We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

Yesterday, the European Commission’s call for evidence on country-by-country financial reporting drew to a close. The Commission is investigating whether the EU should require multinational companies to disclose, on a country-by-country basis, sales, costs, profits, assets, number of employees, total employee remuneration, and taxes paid. If these new standards are adopted, this would be an important step towards combating international accounting fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

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A world beyond economic growth

Featuring interviews with Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Adair Turner, chair of the Financial Services Authority; Professor Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level; Larry Elliott, Economics Editor at the Guardian. (If you can't see a Windows Media Player box below, click here to download the mp3)

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Whatever happened to microfinance?

It is nearly twenty years now since the former nef director Ed Mayo sat me down and asked me to write a short pamphlet called What is New Economics? It sold out in a week or so (it only cost £1.50).  But what I remember most from it was the list of new economics heroes, ideas in practice, at the end of each section.

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Dismantling Fortress Britain

The UK Government’s recent decision to cap both the number of non-EEA Tier 1 and 2 immigrants, and to limit student entry, has attracted a great deal of adverse comment. Such critiques have rightly pointed out that the Home Office claim that these policies will reduce net immigration to ‘tens of thousands’ is intrinsically incoherent. More

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