Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Starbucks in Hot Water Over British Tax

┬áby Kenneth Thomas Starbucks in Hot Water Over British Tax Reuters (via Tax Research UK) reported on October 15 the results of an extensive investigation into the British unit of coffee giant Starbucks, the second largest restaurant firm in the world after McDonald’s. It turns out that the company has reported losing money in every […]

If They’re All Young Hooligans, Why Are Four of Eleven Over 35?

With a hat tip to Tim Harford, The General Manchester Police are reporting their already-public-record convictions via Twitter (@gmpolice). On a quick check, four of the eleven so far convicted (including the one woman), are over 35. So far: It appears that legendary “moral decay” began under Margaret Thatcher. Whodathunkit? Well, maybe David Cameron in […]

The UK faces a serious inflation issue if oil pops!

Bond markets are pricing in rate hikes this year by the ECB and the BoE. Both are inflation targeters, so which one should react first to a possible spike in oil prices? What’s your answer? (1) Neither. As FX appreciation and fiscal austerity pass through to domestic prices, the core will drag down the headline. […]

Capital, Labor, and Modernization

Many years ago, I had a Cultural Anthropology professor who discussed the glories of the mechanical cherry-picker. The only catch was that (1) it had upfront and maintenance costs and (2) it performs less well than experienced cherry-pickers. In short, it would be useful if you have a shortage of labor and an excess of […]

Household leverage: what does the US have that the UK does not?

Earlier this week I compared household saving rates across the US, UK, Canada, and Germany. My conclusion was pretty simple: So generally, this simple analysis would suggest that Menzie Chinn’s skepticism of a “status quo” of US consumer imports is worthy. But with the status quo firmly in place in Germany, the household saving data […]

Household leverage: US vs. UK

Households in the US and the UK are members of the “most levered club”. But put their balance sheets side-by-side, and the outlook for the US economy looks a little brighter than that for the UK. Why? Both are dropping debt burden, but a qualitative analysis suggests that the UK household leverage (probably) should be […]