Why can’t Europe learn from Latin America?

My friend Jim Stodder discovered a good decade ago that the parallel economy of corporate barter – using a parallel currency called trade dollars or trade pounds – was counter-cyclical.

Unusually among economic phenomena, barter goes up when the mainstream economy goes down.


Well-being has become serious business

This week Forbes asked Chris Anderson, the curator of TED, a non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, what his pick for the year would be. Chris chose the work of Nic Marks and the Centre for Well-being here at nef on National Accounts of Well-being, an idea he thinks can make “powerful, positive and measurable differences in how we create the future”.


Why Europe may not survive the euro

I have a whole range of emotions about the euro crisis, as everyone does, including rage and fear but also a considerable amount of frustration.

Just over nine years ago, I gave nef’s Alternative Mansion House Speech at the Old Bank of England pub in Fleet Street, warning that the euro was like the disastrous 1925 return to the Gold Standard – an illusion that currencies were based on real, objective values. 


The amazing truth about organic food

Organic food has taken a battering in recent years. The recession has undermined their extraordinary growth. The big food producers have organised a huge lobbying campaign against the benefits of organics. There is a continuing and quite wrong assumption that agricultural systems need to be big to feed a growing world population.

But as it turns out, this is not the case.

The biggest study ever carried out comparing organic food to conventional food has just been finished by the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, and the results are pretty explosive.


The repair economy begins to emerge

Back in 1994, now 17 years ago, nef published a ground-breaking report by Tim Cooper called Beyond Recycling: The longer life option. It looked forward to a new sector of the economy emerging that would make a great deal of recycling unnecessary.

Ironically, this new repair sector had been a prominent feature of our high streets until two generations ago, when tailors and cobblers, used to rub shoulders with grocers and butchers.


Capacity, but what else? The Transport Select Committee’s Report on High Speed Rail

The Transport Select Committee’s (TSC) report on High Speed Rail (HS2), published this morning, offers their views on the proposed £32 billion pound rail scheme. The conclusion states that “we believe there is a good case for proceeding with a high-speed rail network”. More

John Humphrys is wrong about Greece

A fresh arrival in austerity-stricken Athens over the weekend, as John Humphrys joins the ranks of IMF inspectors and faceless ECB technocrats currently descending on Greece. He’s in town to present Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, where the “glorious weather” stands in stark contrast to grey November London. Lucky Mr Humphrys.

Unlucky Greece. In a series of interviews, Greeks are told they were “foolish”. Their pensions are “staggeringly generous”. Greece “spent too much for too long”.


Top pay isn’t going away…

Latest research on Top Pay in the UK was discussed at a seminar at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance last week. Some of the findings which reinforce previous work in this area include that it is employees, not entrepreneurs, who have benefited most from increases in the concentration of income at the top; that the grab by bankers is way in excess of top CEOs; and that you won’t get rich by working in the public sector.


How the campaign against defunct economics is growing

“Plain men,” said Keynes, who think themselves devoid of influence – sensible, common sense types, in other words – “are often the slaves of some defunct economist.”

This is a useful quotation which I for one use a great deal to explain our stance regarding conventional economics. We are not against the honourable progression of imaginative and intuitive economics. We are emphatically against the defunct version, which has taken root so deeply among those who govern us that they are now powerless to tackle the looming economic disaster.


The Practical Politics of Well-being

This Wednesday, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics (for which nef acts as secretariat) hosted Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, to talk about how Whitehall will use well-being statistics. You can listen to his speech here.


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