At first glance, it may seem a dizzyingly impenetrable subject matter, but Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström’s contributions to ‘contract theory’ have revolutionized the study of economics. They have recently been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, with the presentation committee noting how their pioneering analysis laid the “intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.”
‘Public Servant’ — in the sense of ‘government employee’ — is a term that originated in the earliest days of the European settlement of Australia. This coinage is surely emblematic of how large bureaucracy looms in Australia. Bureaucracy, it has been well said, is Australia’s great ‘talent,’ and “the gift is exercised on a massive scale” (Australian Democracy, A.F. Davies 1958). This may surprise you. It surprises visitors, and excruciates them.
The writing is on the wall: China is the world second largest economy and the growth rate has slowed sharply. The wages are rising, so that the fabled army of Chinese cheap labor is now among the most costly in Asian emerging economies. China, in the last thirty years has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but this miracle would stall unless China can undertake another transformation of becoming an innovation nation.
The UK’s vote to leave the EU has resulted in a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Yet, predicting what type of new relationship the UK will have with the EU and its 27 other Member States post-‘Brexit’ is very difficult, mainly because it is the first time an EU member state prepares to leave. We can expect either one, or a mixture, of the following options.
Millions of people across the world work for voluntary organisations and invest their abundant energies into helping their communities. Historically, establishments of voluntary organisations date back to at least the nineteenth century, when some of the world’s largest voluntary organisations, such as the Red Cross, were established to help people in need for free. To date, volunteer work remains a popular activity among the public worldwide.
Virtually no government policy gets enacted without some organized societal interests trying to shape the outcome. In fact, interest groups – a term that encompasses such diverse actors as business associations, labour unions, professional associations, and citizen groups that defend broad interests such as environmental protection or development aid – are active at each stage of the policy cycle.
Whatever its scale or ambition, a grant proposal aims to do two things: to show that a particular project needs to be supported by a funder and to show why some individual, group or organization is the right one—the best one—to carry out the project. Showing the “need” is largely an exercise in argumentative writing. It’s argumentative not in the hostile, red-faced, fist-shaking sense but in the classical sense of establishing a claim
David Cameron famously got precious little from his pre-referendum attempts to negotiate a special position for the UK in relation to existing EU treaty obligations. This was despite almost certainly having held many more cards back then than UK negotiators will do when Article 50 is eventually invoked. In particular, he was still able to threaten that he would lead the Out campaign if he did not get what he wanted, whereas now that the vote to leave has happened that argument has been entirely neutralised.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail inviting me to sign a statement drafted by a group calling itself “Economists Concerned by Hillary Clinton’s Economic Agenda.” The statement, a vaguely worded five paragraph denunciation of Democratic policies (and proposed policies) is unremarkable — as are the authors, a collection of reliably conservative policy makers and commentators whose support for Donald Trump appear with some regularity in the media.
New York City is the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Over the last decade, average rents have climbed 15% while the income of renters has increased only 2%. The city’s renaissance since the 1990’s has drawn thousands of new residents; today, the population of 8.5 million people is the highest it has ever been. But New Yorkers are finding that the benefits of city living are not without its costs. The demand for housing has outstripped the real estate community’s ability to supply it; as a result, prices have been rising.
In the end, the decision for the UK to formally withdraw its membership of the European Union passed with a reasonably comfortable majority in excess of 1¼ million votes. Every one of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave would have had their own reason for wanting to break with the status quo. However, not one of them had any idea as to what they were voting for next. It is one of the idiosyncrasies of an all-or-nothing referendum.
For centuries, happiness was exclusively a concern of the humanities; a matter for philosophers, novelists and artists. In the past five decades, however, it has moved into the domain of science and given us a substantial body of research. This wellspring of knowledge now offers us an enticing opportunity: to consider happiness as the leading measure of well-being, supplanting the current favourite, real gross domestic product per capita, or GDP.
Amartya Sen’s famous study of famines found that people died not because of a lack of food availability in a country, but because some people lacked entitlements to food. Can the same now be applied to the causes of global poverty?
Hillary Clinton says she wants to get big money out of elections, and one of the ways she wants to do it is to curb the influence of big donors by mobilizing lots of small ones. This reform idea has become very popular recently, thanks to the concern about super PACs and billionaires that has been growing since Citizens United. But the idea is an old one. The first serious small-donor programs began more than 100 years ago, and they have been working more or less continually ever since.
Inspired by the 11 Tony awards won by the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, last month I wrote about Alexander Hamilton as the father of the US national debt and discussed the huge benefit the United States derives from having paid its debts promptly for more than two hundred years. Despite that post, no complementary tickets to Hamilton have arrived in my mailbox. And so this month, I will discuss Hamilton’s role as the founding father of American central banking.
For many years executive remuneration has been one of the ‘hot topics’ in corporate governance. Each year there is a furore around executive remuneration with the remuneration of CEOs often being a particular area of contention. This year we have seen the spotlight focussed on the remuneration of CEOs at high profile companies such as BP and WPP resulting in much shareholder comment and media attention.