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 fiverr.com. 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 […]