Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Britain and the EU: going nowhere fast

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the consequences of David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, where he set out his plans for a referendum on British membership of the EU. I was rather dubious about such a vote even happening, and even more so about the quality of the debate that would ensue. As much as I was wrong about the former, the latter has been more than borne out by events so far.

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wrong

The wrong stuff: Why we don’t trust economic policy

In the 1983 movie The Right Stuff, during a test of wills between the Mercury Seven astronauts and the German scientists who designed the spacecraft, the actor playing astronaut Gordon Cooper asks: “Do you boys know what makes this bird fly?” Before the hapless engineer can reply with a long-winded scientific explanation, Cooper answers: “Funding!” If an economist were asked, “Do you know what makes this economy fly?” the answer, in one word, would be “trust.”

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REEP journal

Does climate change spell the end of fine wine?

Fine wine is an agricultural product with characteristics that make it especially sensitive to a changing climate. The quality and quantity of wine, and thus prices and revenues, are extremely sensitive to the weather where the grapes were grown. Depending on weather conditions, the prices for wines produced by the same winemaker from fruit grown on the same plot of land can vary by a factor of 20 or more from year to year.

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Could a tax on animal-based foods improve diet sustainability?

The global food system is estimated to contribute 30% of total Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this context, the EU has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 40% relative to 1990 levels by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. Apart from the necessary policies of citizen information and production regulation, could a consumer tax on the most Greenhouse gas-emitting foods be a relevant tool to improve diet sustainability? Could it combine greener and healthier diets with a limited social cost?

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9780198747543

Who was Bill Philips?

Austerity, uncertainty, instability … all problems we associate with Europe today as it cycles from pre-GFC exuberance to today’s austerity. But to put things in perspective, these are minor problems compared what our grandparents endured after World War Two. In Britain many people did not have enough to eat, the government had secret plans for national catastrophe, the Cold War was raging, the colonies erupting, and Sterling was in crisis. In those days there were few policy economists, and macroeconomics was caught in a battle between non-interventionist classical economics and the Keynesian revolution of demand management.

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OEP

Prostitution: The world’s oldest public policy issue

Ever since the first arrangements were made for the exchange of some form of money for some form of sex, buying (or selling) sex has raised thorny issues for society’s rulers and governments. The Israelites condemned it, believing it would encourage men to seek sex outside marriage (Proverbs 23:27–28). Throughout much of European history, the profession was legal and often a source of tax revenue.

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9780199681327

Food economics: a reading list

Agriculture is a means of living for a large percentage of the world’s population. Agricultural economics looks at the utilization and distribution of farming resources and aims to apply the principles of economic theory to farming and the production and allocation of food in order to optimize such processes. This month the annual conference of the Agricultural Economics Society is taking place.

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socio economic

The IMF and global exchange rates: dissensus in Washington

In many scholarly and activist circles, the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or ‘the Fund’) has a reputation as a global bully. The phrase ‘Washington consensus’ has come to invoke a rigid orthodoxy of austerity and liberalization which the Fund, along with its cousins the World Bank and the US Treasury, imposes on developing countries. As an organization, the IMF is seemingly monolithic, drawing comparison to the Vatican even amongst its own staff.

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Climate and the inequality of nations

Countries grow richer as one moves away from the equator, and the same is generally true if one looks at differences among regions within countries. However, this was not always the case: research has shown that in 1500 C.E., for example, there was no such positive link between latitude and prosperity. Can these irregularities be explained? It seems likely an answer can be found in factors strongly associated with latitude.

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jpo

Why e-cigarettes have an image problem

E-cigarettes have an image problem. I mean this in two different ways. They are still seen as controversial products, often featuring in dramatic stories about battery explosions or toxic substances. Most of these stories play on public fears, exaggerate their claims, and are unhelpful for fostering a constructive public debate. But more generally, e-cigarettes have an image problem in that no one agrees on what they represent.

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9780198735458

“The economics of happiness” – an extract from Happiness Explained

What is happiness and how can we promote it? These questions are central to human existence and human flourishing now plays a central role in the assessment of national and global progress. Paul Anand shows why the traditional national income approach is limited as a measure of human wellbeing and demonstrates how the contributors to happiness, wellbeing, and quality of life can be measured and understood across the human life course. The following extract looks at the connection between income and wellbeing.

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Special category states of India

There are eleven diverse hill states in India which comprise the group of “Special Category States.” They all suffer from the disadvantages that result from remoteness and geographical isolation, as well as historical and demographic circumstances. In addition to pathetic infrastructures, scant resources, unrealized human potential, and stymied economic growth, these states also represented various groups of marginalized minorities.

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monga-ohb africa and economics vol 1

African studies: a reading list

frican Studies focuses on the rich culture, history and society of the continent, however the growing economies of African countries have become an increasingly significant topic in Economic literature. This month, The Centre for the Study of African Economies annual conference is taking place in Oxford. To raise further awareness of the growing importance of the study of African economics, we have created this reading list of books, journals and online resources that explore the varied areas of Africa and its economy.

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JAE

Long term effects of slave exporting in West Africa

History matters. Historical events can sometimes have consequences that last long after the events have finished. An important part of Africa’s past is its history of slave exporting. Although Africa is not unique to the trading of slaves, the magnitude of slave exporting rose to levels not previously experienced anywhere else in the world.

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wrong

Location, location, location: Why the HSBC headquarters stayed in London

Last month HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, decided not to move its headquarters from London to Hong Kong.The revelation that a company is staying put is usually not earth-shattering news. Nonetheless, HSBC’s decision made headlines in Asia, Europe, and the US for three reasons. First, HSBC is the world’s fifth largest commercial bank: it holds more than $2.5 trillion in assets and is exceeded in size only by four state-owned Chinese banks.

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