Monthly Archives: August 2011

GE models and Grand Theft Auto

Making good economic policy is never a simple matter and is never merely a function of economic understanding. But the art has been badly served, recently, by it technicians. John Kay blames the self-limiting obsessions of technical macro-economics and financial analysis. For many people, deductive reasoning is the mark of science: induction—in which the argument […]

Larkin ascending

Nearly missed it; an intelligent, allusive, gossipy memorial of Philip Larkin by Martin Amis in the FT. A teaser for Amis’s forthcoming collection of Larkin poems. Amis aptly quotes lots of them in his article; which is, in part, what makes it such fun to read. This is the key to Larkin: his frictionless memorability. […]

The triviality of “patented” design

Apple Inc has temporarily prevented Samsung from selling a competitive tablet computer in Australia and Europe on the basis of a claimed “patented” design. Samsung says that there is no innovation that deserves protection in the shape and form of the Apple tablet. They point out that there are many precedents, including in a scene […]

The Vignelli Canon

A wonderful, short book of the rules (κανών: kanón, meaning a rule) of design chosen and illustrated by Massimo Vignelli and his wife Lella. Download it here. I have always said that there are three aspects in Design that are important to me: Semantic, Syntactic and Pragmatic. That is: the meaning of the design, the […]

Recognising phoney on-line reviews

Surprise, surprise! The marketing value of positive on-line user-reviews has created an industry of liars-for-hire, ready to pimp any product with phoney “user” endorsements. Hotels, cafs, publishers, music labels and (horror!) even bloggers can readily find cut-price on-line testimonialists to pimp their product on sites like Unfortunately, there’s a good chance we’ll fail to […]

Collaborate or control

The task of economic science, since Adam Smith, has been to explain the origins of wealth. John Kay observes that the theory most favoured, even by Smith—that productivity is ‘almost’ all that matters—is not by any means the only explanation for personal wealth. Nor is it, historically, the most successful explanation (because the arbiters of […]

Zoellick on China’s choices

A discursive account by Greg Sheridan in The Australian of a conversation with World Bank President Robert Zoellick on, among other things, China’s development conundrum and the growth of emerging economies as an antidote to pessimism. Zoellick has a team of World Bank economists working closely with the Chinese leadership to help them move on […]