Tag: economics

Do you know the GFC?

Think No Comments

In some parts of the world everyone talks about GFC.

Do you know the abbreviation?

You may not, but you certainly know it by another name.


Making ends meet…2 routes

Personal productivity No Comments


At this time of global, national and household budget angst, here are a few bits of inspiration from music, literature and significant lives…

The Rolling Stones in their song “You can’t always get what you want” note that you might be able to get what you need though.  However, even if we are clear what we need (and how that might be less than we want), what about the supply of resources?

Charles Dickens summed in David Copperfield over 160 years ago: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six, result misery.”

 But what about another way of looking at it? 

In his biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins makes the point that Winston realised from his late teens that despite his enormously privileged family income he could spend far more than he earnt.  So (as author from the Calvary Barracks in India and as a speaker around the US) he devoted much energy in his life from his early 20s onwards to earning more, rather than worrying about where to spend less!

And John Welsey, the 18th Century preacher, during the hard economic times of the early industrial revolution, exhorted this less hedonistic but similar stance to Churchill: “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”

 So the choices

1)      Focus on needs and not wants to help cut spending to below income

2)      Focus on earning more so you can have what you want…

 In both a balanced budget, or even one in the black, is the aim…

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Healthcare – a totem for others worries?

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Over the last couple of years we have had some particularly prominent news cycles:

–          the personal (Jade, Jordan and The Wedding)

–          the political (banks/bonuses, student loans, the truth on climate)

In some ways, these are possibly inflated in prominence by surrounding fears – of recession, personal futures, etc.lansley bill poster

Now there is a story that is both personal and political: the NHS and Andrew Lansley have become top news.

This rap has gone viral.

This leaflet was being circulated at a school fundraiser last week.

And now ‘The Pause’ in the health reforms.

Are the NHS changes emblematic of other concerns – a Totem to project wider worries onto?

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The economics of happiness

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What role does happiness play in your decision-making?

Not that much according to most economic theory. Humans are treated as completely rationale beings – Homo Economicus. We’re supposed to decide systematically on what is best for us (to maximise utility) based on trading off costs and benefits that can all be quantified.

But we know this isn’t the case in practice. From De Bono’s work on learning 25 years ago to the latest neuroscience research on how the brain functions, the role of our emotional responses is being shown to be more and more central in shaping how we act.

And happiness? 

It’s not a straighforward concept to define. Aristotle thought it was about looking back at the whole of your life having tried to exhibit the ‘virutes’. Betham considered the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Modern surveys of happiness – such as the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire – use a rich blend of measures, also including judgements about laughter, joy and elation.

Nonetheless, the Cambridge economist Jonathan Aldred in his new book ‘The Skeptical Economist’ thinks that to understand the big value judgements of our age – on things such as global finance, climate change and development aid – we need to work with the idea of happiness as a factor in human endeavour.

Clients of ours in government reached the same conclusion when working on some scenarios of possible future changes in society. Happiness is a function of us all being social creatures. A British Medical Journal study from 2008 (based on 20 years of data) showed how happiness spreads between individuals within a network of friends and contacts. This has implications for the workplace as well as for us personally.

All those you deal with – customers, colleagues and the like – are making judgements influenced by their happiness. That might be worth thinking about.

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