Author Archive

Free exchange: Aid to the rescue

  FIFTY years ago the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development launched a debate about how much money rich countries should give to poor ones to reduce poverty and bolster growth. In the end, the

Peak mileage and the diminishing returns of technology

This graph, from “economonitor,” is very interesting because it contains so much relevant information. (However, note one detail: the title of the graph, “Miles Driven” is somewhat misleading; it should be “mileage”, as the text of the

South African banks: Payday mayday

PERHAPS because they had no access to banking during apartheid, poor South Africans have been gorging themselves on credit ever since. A glut of consumers impatient to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle has made the fortunes of payday

Banco Espírito Santo: Sharing the pain

  THE Espírito Santos are a banking dynasty whose name is as resonant in Portugal as the Rockefellers in America. But their reign ended abruptly on August 3rd as Banco Espírito Santo (BES), a big Portuguese bank

European banking tests: Exam nerves

THE collapse of Banco Espírito Santo is a salutary reminder that Europe’s banking woes have not gone away. This year’s supervisory campaign to end the lingering European banking crisis looks even more essential than before. The initiative

Free exchange: Tilted marine

THERE is no better symbol of the benefits of globalisation than the container ship. More than 9 billion tonnes of goods and materials were transported by sea in 2012, with trade helping to lift global growth rates.

Fund managers: Assets or liabilities?

  FINANCIAL crises may seem a familiar part of the economic cycle, but they rarely repeat themselves exactly. In the 1980s the locus was Latin America; in the late 1990s, Russia and South-East Asia; in 2007-08, American

Why Startup Urbanism Will Fail Us

Image: A rendering of the Downtown Project’s Container Park, now in operation. Is this serious or adolescent urbanism? In 1958, three years before her masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs wrote an

Bubble time: Friends and relatives act as if we’ve returned to business-as-usual

It is a testament to the psychological power of financial bubbles that people who know and trust me and generally accept the analysis I’ve put forth in my writings over the last decade are jumping into the

Free exchange: The Exceptional Central Bank

  ALONE among its peers, the European Central Bank (ECB) has resisted quantitative easing (QE). That policy—creating money to buy financial assets—has been used at varying times by the central banks of America, Britain and Japan to