Wall-e in the workplace – the pessimism of doomsayers or a legitimate concern?

In recent years, there has been a reemergence of the debate surrounding the susceptibility of a range of tasks currently performed by humans to advances in robotics, software and other technologies. The proliferation of the conversation surrounding this topic is highlighted by a joint study between Oxford University and Deloitte and coverage of it by the BBC. The study found that around 35% of UK jobs are currently at high risk of computerisation over the next 20 years, based on key skills required to perform these roles. That would, based on the current UK workforce, render around 11.1 million Britons unemployed, and without an income, as new jobs become increasingly difficult to find due to technological advancements. But how realistic is such a situation? And if we do find ourselves living in this dystopian future, how can the government go about ensuring the ever-increasing proportion of the population that is unemployed has sufficient income to achieve an acceptable standard of living?

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Natural disasters and countries of different development levels – the issue of perception

Natural hazards affect a variety of countries, both developed and developing, but the effects of the events when they do occur are noticeably different according to development. It would appear that in scenarios where hazard levels may be similar risk is often higher in the poorer developing country. Developed countries such as Japan or the USA would typically be primarily concerned with the financial cost of an earthquake or volcanic event, whilst poorer countries such as Haiti are often left to count the cost in terms of lives.

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Fairness in Economics: Who deserves a surplus?

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been fined £84.2 million after the Competition and Markets Authority declared that the price-hike of an anti-epilepsy drug in 2012 was “excessive and unfair”. When the drug lost its patent protection, Pfizer sold the drug to Flynn Pharma, who were fined £5.2 million, where it was debranded so it was no longer subject to price regulation. The CMA accused both companies of costing the NHS and therefore the taxpayer millions of pounds. The public will be glad to see this headline but it raises the question: What is fair when it comes to economic transactions?

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Quantitative easing, inequality and Brexit

The Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, recently appeared in Liverpool to deliver a speech about the growing inequality in the United Kingdom – a problem brought into prominence by recent political events. In this speech, he blamed the Brexit vote in June on people’s isolation and frustration with international trade and global technological advance, saying that they felt “left behind” and alienated by economic progress and the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

“Despite such immense progress many citizens in advanced economies are facing heightened uncertainty, lamenting a loss of control and losing trust in the system. To them, measures of aggregate progress bear little relation to their own experience. Rather than a new golden era, globalisation is associated with low wages, insecure employment, stateless corporations and striking inequalities”

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Populism – “a growing sense of hostility”?

The economist Joseph Schumpeter writes in his critique of capitalism that the profit motive prompts self-interest and egotistical behaviour. The economics student assumes this to be what constitutes rationality – the assumption upon which nearly the entire discipline is based. It therefore follows that each individual in the population strives towards the greatest monetary payoff they can find, and from this derives utility, or satisfaction. In this way, individuals, organisations and firms are all destined to act in their own interests – perhaps explaining the intrinsic capitalist desire for acquisition.

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What Constitutes a Legally Binding Contract?

A contract is defined as a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. Contracts do not have to be extensive documents addressing all possible circumstances, although such contracts are much more easily enforced, rather any agreement can be a legally binding contract provided it contains four elements: Offer, Acceptance, Intention, and Consideration.

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Impact of migration on the UK economy

Migration plays a very significant role in the UK’s population structure, with net migration of 336,000 in 2015, including the highest number of asylum seekers for 12 years. This became an issue of political significance, which was exploited by Nigel Farage and his party to play a role in the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June. The 2004 expansion of the EU to incorporate several Eastern European states proved a catalyst for immigration, with 1.5million Eastern European immigrants coming into the UK between 2004 and 2009. There is no doubt that high levels of immigration can have negative impacts in the UK, but there are a number of positive impacts too. Balancing out these positives and negatives is often heavily down to the perception of the person assessing them.

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A very brief (and probably wrong) criticism of Marxism

As the antithesis to free-market economic and political theorists, there has always existed the socialist. Sometimes depicted crudely as the ‘coffee shop conspirator’, the socialist often comes under fire for expressing views that contradict the prevailing capitalist market structure. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, a well-known advocate of traditional left-wing politics, are lambasted for believing in what many perceive to be a dying cause. This article will ask the question: is socialism (a classless society in which means of production are state-owned) attainable in our current climate?

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DaDa! REvoLutiON!

Art and literature, in the Marxist’s eye, are reflections of the social institutions from which they originate. They offer a mediated understanding of the world in which they were written, and using them we can learn about how social forces interact to construct artistic and literary movements. At the same time, these forces shape the structure of the market and state – that is, the economic and political world surrounding each piece of literature.

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Should improperly obtained evidence be admissible in court?

Historically the court has refused to exclude any evidence on the basis of how it was obtained. Principally, this is because the evidence exists and ignoring it would hinder the pursuit of truth. It is, however, argued by many that the use of improperly obtained evidence undermines the integrity of the trial. A contemplation of both perspectives reveals that the best resolution is an exclusion policy based upon the reliability of evidence, regardless of the method by which it was obtained.

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Artificial intelligence – an economic dilemma?

The so-called “machinery question” continues to dominate the headlines, founded on fears that artificial intelligence – a technological development which enables human tasks to be automated – is advancing too rapidly. Newspaper articles, online blogs and academic studies foretell a future where “droids are sitting at our desks” while human labour falls into obsolescence. In this article I seek to respond to these concerns, but also to some of the questions that are yet to be answered – if artificial intelligence advances to a level of near-human rationality, what are the implications for the global political economy? And if it does, what happens when we cannot reliably distinguish between man and machine?

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What are the tax and liability consequences of adopting common small business structures?

There are many structures a business can take, each changing the extent of liability held by members and how its income is taxed. Small businesses are likely to take one of four common structures: Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Private Limited Company (Ltd), or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).

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‘To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.’ – Albert Einstein

There can be no doubt that Einstein’s breakthrough Theory of Relativity, one of the most significant scientific advances of our time, was conceived through his own creative processes. Indeed, Einstein himself held creativity and imagination in the highest regard, seeing them as essential attributes in the advancement of ideas. As one of the world’s most eminent physicists, his views on the vital importance of creativity have been quoted liberally by scientists, philosophers and academics alike, stressing the “importance of seeing facts in a new light” and that “imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Other scientists across the centuries have been similarly inspired by creative imaginations of their own. Professor Stephen Hawking, famed for his work on gravity and black holes, is known for urging us to “remember to look up at the stars, and not down at our feet”. But these quotations, while they pertain to the natural sciences, can just as easily be applied to the social science of economics – which is the science that I have chosen to discuss in this article. Without constantly “raising new questions, new possibilities, and regarding old problems from a new angle”, the study of economics, and indeed the world’s economies, would not be where they are today.

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The impacts of involuntary migration on refugees and their host countries

In 2015 the UK received 38,878 asylum applications, with an estimated 126,000 refugees already living in the UK. The recent migrant crisis mostly caused by violence in Syria has brought the issue of immigration to the forefront of political discussion, with the rise of UKIP suggesting many citizens of the UK fear too much immigration putting strain on services and potentially pressure on jobs in a country where unemployment is currently 1.67 million. There is no doubt that immigration provides both positives and negatives and these will vary between countries with different needs and different current rates of immigration. Whilst economic factors have traditionally been more important the cultural aspect of immigration is now also a significant issue, with events such as the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne prompting debate over whether cultural values of many refugees fit in with the western world’s.

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How significant were British tactics in securing victory in the air in the Battle of Britain?

Britain has always been a country that has relied heavily upon her navy; years of total dominance at sea had taught her that it would be safe from the possible threat of invasion no matter who the opponent was and how carefully crafted their plan. It was therefore unknown territory that Britain had now found itself in after the fall of France on the 25th of June 1940. The invasion of her own shores that must now follow may still have to come by sea; but Britain had no means of repelling it if it did not have total superiority in the air. The Royal Air Force had been formed at the end of the First World War by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Though at the time of the end of World War One it was the largest independent air force in the world, the inter-war years were relatively quiet for the RAF. It was only in the summer of 1940 that it would fight its most important and famous campaign – to defend Britain in the skies… or Britain would face defeat on the ground.

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