There are three types of Brexit, and each has its pros and cons. Which do you prefer?

Option one is a Soft Brexit. This means everything from staying in the single market, like Norway, to a second referendum and no Brexit.

The benefits of soft Brexit / no Brexit are:

  1. The UK gets to sell goods to the Europeans tariff-free (important for manufacturing)
  2. The UK gets to sell services to the Europeans tariff-free (important because the UK economy is all about services)
  3. No hard border in Northern Ireland

The drawbacks of Soft Brexit are:

  1. No international trade deals
  2. No control…

Investing is a half-discovered science. Its a bit like navigating across the ocean in the year 1700.

There are some things about investing we’re quite sure are true:

Return on equity eventually is reflected in stock prices;

Stable predictable earnings are rewarded with a higher valuation;

Stock prices exhibit momentum;

Cheap stocks return more than expensive ones.

Other things seem like they’re true, but we can’t be sure:

Hedge fund managers don’t justify their fees;

Small stocks return more than big ones;

Falling interest rates are good for stocks.

And a lot of things we just don’t really know about:

What if the recession wasn’t real? What if the UK economy could return to its former growth path quickly and almost without any cost? And what if all that was needed to start this process was a short statement from Bank of England governor Mervyn King?

A growing number of economists believe just that. They are called ‘market monetarists’. And, led by Bentley University’s Scott Sumner (read his great blog, TheMoneyIllusion), their ideas are suddenly being endorsed by some of the biggest names in economics and banking.

What they imagine is a world without central bankers. A world where monetary…

The 1920–21 depression in the United States was as sharp as it was short. In just three years, production shrunk by a third before rebounding smartly. The drop was almost as savage as that of the Great Depression. Yet the policy response was totally different.

The government of Woodrow Wilson, followed by Warren Harding, cut spending and then cut it some more. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates right up to 1920. This is precisely the opposite of the policy prescriptions recommended today by most economists — which is to spend more and cut rates.

So were Wilson and Harding…

For the ordinary person, life didn’t change a jot from pre-history to around 1800.

It didn’t matter whether you were born in bucolic 17th century England or a Stone Age cave. Your lot in life would be hardscrabble toil, a cramped dirt-floor home and a swift death at the age of around 30. It would be the same life as your grandparents and your grandchildren.

Why didn’t 10,000 years of civilisation improve people’s living conditions? Because wealth comes from work per person, and work per person comes from innovation. And the process of innovation back then was agonisingly slow. …

Alex Salmond wants out of the UK. He wants a sovereign Scotland, independent of London for the first time since 1707 — and he might have the votes to make it happen. His new Edinburgh parliament would be free to tax, spend and legislate as it pleased. But Salmond and the SNP are happy for London to retain control over one important part of Scottish life — their money.

Under the SNP’s plans the new Scotland would retain the British pound. Scotland would continue to import monetary policy from the Bank of England at Threadneedle Street. Why does a strident…

Cities have taken over. They are “humanity’s greatest invention”, according to Harvard University economics professor Ed Glaeser. In his best-selling The Triumph of the City he argues that they make us richer, greener and happier.

Cities grew up out of the countryside because people need to be close together to accomplish complicated tasks. In essence, they’re big sorting machines for human capital, placing the right people close to one another so that they can help each other to work more efficiently.

Cities grow in a peculiarly predictable way. When you rank a country’s cities from largest to smallest by population…

In 1720, John Law was lucky to escape Paris with his life. His investment scheme had made him one of the richest men in France. But it collapsed — and when it did, it ruined the entire nation. With a mob behind him baying for blood, he stole away to Brussels with one exquisite diamond — the last remnant of his enormous fortune.

It wasn’t the first time that Law had been forced to run for his life. In 1697, aged 26, he had fled London. At the gaming tables of society London, he had flirted with the future Countess…

Some of the greatest cities in history have also served as the great global financial capitals: Florence, Amsterdam, London, New York.

But how does a single city — or a handful of them — get to be at the heart of the financial system? And how do they lose this grip?

The simple answer is that financial capitals evolve in a similar way, and to meet similar needs, as money itself does.

In the same way that it makes sense for two people to swap different goods with one another via a common form of exchange (money), it makes sense…

Free banking offers a radical take on banking: banks should be treated like any other business. Free banks would be free to print their own money and lend it as they pleased. There’d be no central banks (so no Bank of England), no deposit insurance (so no £85,000 savings protection), and no banking regulations (not that the ones we have today worked especially well).

The central idea of free banking is that private banks would be free to issue as much currency as they liked. Your cash would carry the insignia of HSBC, say, rather than Charles Darwin or the…

Seán Keyes

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