Mark Buchanan

Physicist and author, former editor with Nature and New Scientist. Columnist for Bloomberg Views and Nature Physics. New book is Forecast (Bloomsbury Press)


Violent warfare is on the wane, right?


Many optimists think so. But a close look at the statistics suggests that the idea just doesn’t add up


Violent warfare is on the wane, right?


Many optimists think so. But a close look at the statistics suggests that the idea just doesn’t add up


Greg Mankiw and the economic ideology of free trade

International trade isn’t always beneficial, as economists well know. So how can the Chairman of the Harvard economics department imply otherwise? And not be professionally humiliated?

Irritated by this recent and I think highly dishonest Op-Ed in the New York Times by Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, I had written a…


The end of fossil fuels? Nearer than you think.

Expect more panic and desperation soon from those heavily invested in their continued use.

Social change, when it happens, tends to happen faster than we expect. When opinions, practices or social norms shift from some position A to another B — from slavery is OK to slavery is an abomination, or from almost no one using…


Climate change? Nothing to worry about.

At least, if you’re happy to ignore what we know about physics

Two weeks ago I wrote a short column in Bloomberg referring to a recent draft paper on climate change circulated by Cliff Asness and Aaron Brown, both of the hedge fund AQR. Fortune magazine ran an article about the Asness-Brown paper under the title “Top hedge fund…


Can market crashes be predicted?

Maybe — if you’re clever enough to find the right measures that capture growing imbalances between those who want to buy and sell.


Recessions sometimes cause themselves

Economists generally put economic trouble down to unfortunate shocks, which can knock an economy temporarily out of equilibrium. A more plausible view is that economies often get into trouble all on their own.

Place a lit cigarette in an ashtray in a closed room where the air is perfectly still. As everyone knows, the smoke will rise…


How to predict economic growth

Forget fancy regressions on past growth numbers. They don’t work. You need to look at the real factors that let countries create new wealth

What makes one nation grow rapidly and another sink into economic stagnation? Ask any economist and they’ll probably rattle off a list of factors. Does a country have effective governance and property…


A transactions tax to reign in HFT— good idea or bad?

Truth is, existing research offers a mixed bag of results

I wrote a week ago about an idea for cutting off the arms race to ever faster trading speeds by changing the structure of markets, and moving away from continuous trading. Research suggests that if markets were run as batch auctions over an interval of, say…


Why we need a speed limit for financial markets

New research suggests that electronic markets are already running far too fast for their own good

As almost everyone now knows, computer algorithms account for most of all trading in today’s financial markets. The trading is now so fast, and the competition so tight, that shortening a wire linking a trader to an exchange…


Economic hot air

The unfortunate distractions of left versus right economics

A few weeks ago, Noah Smith expressed worry (maybe not too seriously) over the increasingly vicious public argument between Paul Krugman and John Cochrane. It’s been going on for years, mostly in classic left versus right terms, a liberal economist against a conservative one, each claiming that…