Einstein on Creative Immagination.

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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Migration against Will.

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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Britain, the Aerial Tactician.

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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Geography for Economists.

Economic growth is affected by a number of factors given the wildly different levels of wealth between countries – the 80:20 principle states that 20% of the world’s population controls 80% of the world’s wealth is a powerful example of this. Whilst there is plenty that can be done to stimulate the development of a country, such as China’s booming manufacturing base, it is worth exploring the idea that some countries may have a cap put on their development by factors they cannot control. This may be the problem of being located on a major fault line, in an area prone to drought and desertification, or even being landlocked and therefore being limited on trade. Whilst there are a number of ways for measuring development, for the purposes of this piece of writing, it will be measured in GDP per capita.

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Junior Doctors. Brinkmanship. Virtual Strikes.

Here we go again. As August tipped into September, the British Medical Association announced the seventh walkout by junior doctors this year over new contracts. Taking place from the 12th to the 16th of this month, all departments will be closed from 08:00 to 17:00, including Accident and Emergency. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has already warned that up to 100,000 operations and 1 million appointments would be cancelled. It can also get a lot worse as the BMA has planned monthly week-long walkouts until the end of the year if no agreement is reached. With no end in sight, is there at least a way of making the process as painless as possible for patients?

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Schumpeter’s Economic Troubles.

We learn about supply, demand and the price mechanism. We learn about the “invisible hand”, and how a market should work within the parameters of “perfect competition” – an unattainable ideal upon which most mainstream economic theories are based. But, unbeknownst to many in the classroom, there are other ways of thinking aside from the somewhat conventional “Neoclassical” school of thought. This article aims to be a very brief insight into the writings of Joseph Schumpeter, who approached economics from an entirely new perspective. Although his propositions have their flaws, it is his originality that makes him one of the greatest but most underappreciated economists of the 20th century.

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Parliamentary Sovereignty and Europe’s Limitation on It

Parliamentary supremacy is the idea that parliament is the supreme law making body in the UK. The authority for this power stems from Article IX of the 1689 Bill of Rights which states that the freedom of speech, debates and proceedings in parliament are not to be impeached or questioned in any court or outside of parliament. The principle of parliamentary sovereignty was further defined by Dicey in 1885 who explained that the law making powers of parliament are unlimited, the validity of parliament and its laws cannot be questioned and that it is impossible to entrench an Act of Parliament limiting the law making power of future parliaments.

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Oil, tax and theft: the dubious economics behind ISIS

Islamic State as an economy

Already labelled “the best funded terrorist organisation of all time”, ISIS has prospered so much financially that it can almost be thought of as an economy in its own right. Since its creation in 1999, the enrolment of 20,000 jihadists from Asia, Africa and Europe has been paramount in keeping the organisation alive, along with stockpiles of oil in Iraq, and various other dubious activities which have bolstered its financial success. Yet will ISIS be able to maintain this level of income in years to come?

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The Next Financial Crisis

In late 2007 the US housing bubble burst, reducing confidence in the financial system, and then in the real economy. Four key stages are identifiable; an asset price bubble, a shock strong enough to burst the bubble, pessimism among investors, and then a recession. Escaping one of these stages, requires brave and active policy making – or extraordinary circumstances.

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2015/16 Floods: What does this mean for the future of the UK?

On the 12th November 2015 the UK was hit by the first of a series of storms. Storm Abigail hit with maximum wind gusts of 84mph and brought with it heavy rain. The immediate result was power cuts to nearly 20,000 homes in Scotland. In the following three months the UK was hit with a further eight storms. The costs of these consecutive storm events project an uncertain future for the UK.

Recently released data from the Met Office makes December 2015 the wettest calendar month on record (in a series from 1910). In December the storms that hit were Desmond, Eva and Frank. Record breaking rainfall of 341.4mm of rain in 24 hours (Honister Pass, Cumbria) was brought by Storm Desmond. The resulting floods flooded 5200 homes across Lancashire and Cumbria. 43,000 homes across north-east England were without power and on 5th December 61,000 homes in Lancaster lost power when an electrical substation was flooded. Since then there has been more homes flooded, with estimates reaching 16,000. The flooding of farmland and homes has cost the government, and thus the taxpayer, massive amounts of money.

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Happiness from First Principles

Putting any theological or heterodox philosophical opposition aside, I am confident in saying; the only process that ‘designed’ the most fundamental biology and physiology of humans, was evolution. That is, all of our hardwired features exist–as if they had been designed by a god–to ensure survival in the environment in which our species developed. However, excluding some run-down areas in the north of England, the environment we inhabit today hardly resembles the prehistoric one our species developed in. We are hardwired to enjoy sugar because our ancestors would have needed its energy, we enjoy sex (even with contraceptives!) because our ancestors needed several kids in the hope that any would survive, and males find large breasts attractive because they are a reliable indicator of fertility–not because they are shallow. Continue reading

Hiroshima: Was It ‘Necessary’?

J. Samuel Walker wrote, on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, that ‘The fundamental issue that has divided scholars . . . is whether the use of the bomb was necessary to achieve victory in the war in the Pacific on terms satisfactory to the United States.’1 This piece tries to solve the ‘fundamental issue’—was the bomb necessary from Washington’s perspective? Continue reading