Read on the street 19 October 2019

“I sing my sorrow. I paint my joy.”

Our third edition of Read on the Street this weekend offers you a broad mix of stories that caught our eye. There is much work to be done and joy (still) to be had.

Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences awarded for research into alleviating poverty

Wife and husband team Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee along with Michael Kremer have jointly won the 51st Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Announced on Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm they pipped the authors of the Sustainable Growth Commission report to the post. Dammit. With a joint prize of just under $1m, a gold medal and (crucially) a certificate, the prestigious award puts these academics and (much more importantly) their work, on the world map. Duflo is only the second woman and, at 46, the youngest ever winner. Congratulations to them all.


The war on drugs is B.S.: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

The policy debate around drugs took another step forward in Scotland with the conference of the governing Scottish National Party adopting a policy of decriminalisation. This matters, as Scotland’s drug’s death record is completely dismal. Lessons can be learned from EU partner Portugal as the outstanding Ted Talk from Johan Hari and similarly excellent piece from Dani Garivelli in Scotland on Sunday demonstrate in spades. Time for change in deeds not words.

WATCH here

READ here

How Hong Kong’s taxes spawned billionaires and bred inequality

As the tumult in Hong Kong continues to dominate the headlines, two standout pieces from this week and last month caught our eye. The first is a report from Bloomberg on how low taxes have created both unbelievable wealth and piercing inequality. The second, reproduced from the Straits Times by small economy specialist David Skilling, on comparisons between Singapore and Hong Kong. Skilling was a key consultant to the Sustainable Growth Commission which I chaired and is a recognised world expert on small country policy and reform.

READ here & here

Salesforce founder Marc Benioff: What business school never taught me

“But enough about me… now, you. You, what do you think about me?”. Okay, we know that some interviews on the success stories of business moguls can be nauseating to the more buttoned up of Scottish/British sensibilities. But they are almost always worth persevering with, as truth and insight usually out in small and large doses depending. And this interview with Benioff is just that. If you read him say, “these four core (corporate) values, and even sustainability, are all dancing together at Salesforce”, you may indeed roll your eyes, throw back your head and cough cynically. We want you to know that this is okay. Then we want you to read on. There is much to be taken from this piece about one of the world’s great success stories. And – BREAKING NEWS – a way to bridge the gender pay gap by (wait for it): paying women more…

READ here

IMF World Economic Outlook: Global economic policymakers are playing with fire

This week in that quite gorgeous, steamy and inspiring US city, Washington DC, was the joint annual gathering of the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The twin pillars of global capitalism have the same existential crisis to face as every other institution of the moment. The IMF has some of the finest minds in professional economics analysing the world economy. Their biannual report on the outlook should be required reading for policy makers, business leaders and anyone interested in the world and its fortunes. Well the summaries anyway.

READ here.

READ the full IMF report here

No golden ticket awaits parents of special needs pupils

Jessie Hewitson is the author of Autism: How to Raise a Happy Autistic Child. In this week’s Times, she took to task a Sheffield headteacher who aired his concerns that parents seeking extra support for children with special educational needs view a successful outcome as a “golden ticket”. As the parent of a child with an ASD diagnosis I know precisely what Jessie is arguing. I have it relatively easy compared to many, but it is still tough and completely relentless. Being aware of, understanding and accepting children and adults with autism and other “neurodiverse” conditions and characteristics is, for me, the last frontier of our civilisation. Read Jessie please…

READ here

Charles Jencks obituary

The passing of Charles Jencks will have affected many people’s reflections this week. His work has touched so many different aspects of our lives in Scotland and of course the UK at large. In particular his pioneering work in the Maggie's Centres (named for his late wife Maggie Keswick Jencks) transformed care provision for people with cancer and their families. His reconsideration of postmodern architecture and his huge sculpture parks on cosmological forms in Dumfries and Galloway, at the National Gallery of Modern Art here in Edinburgh, at Jupiter Artland are completely remarkable. A life of great note remembered in The Times.

READ here

How Nottingham cut air pollution with UK’s only workplace parking levy

From following the debate in Scotland around the Workplace Parking Levy and its controversial passage into law, you would think it was a policy far off the political compass of most. Andy Bounds’ report for the FT challenges that view. He highlights the success of the initiative in what is currently the only UK town to adopt it, Nottingham, after similar initial opposition to its introduction. The improvements in local transport the levy has funded are claimed to have played a key role in the city’s improved economic performance, as well as set it on the path to becoming the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028. The caveat offered is that it is a city with a publicly owned bus company and urban tram system, perhaps suggesting the levy is more appropriate for areas like Edinburgh than the wide expanses of the Highlands. Now that we have lit that particular bit of blue touch paper, we shall retreat ……

READ here

Louvre’s hotly anticipated Leonardo da Vinci retrospective opens as Italian court rules that “Vitruvian Man” can travel to the museum after all

Last month, in an act of over-exuberance, I promised my 9-year-old daughter a trip with me to Paris on our own. She is the apple of my eye and can do no wrong. She had been complaining that her brothers always get the good (window) seats on flights. I folded, but in a good way. Number one on our hit list will be the Da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre which commemorates 500 years since the great man’s death. This legal tussle around the loan of Vitruvian Man caught our eye a couple of weeks ago and has now been resolved. And the global free PR hit for the exhibition will be worth its weight in visitors. We at Charlotte Street Partners could not have created a better stooshie to get the ball rolling….

READ here

READ the exhibition page here

The progressive case against protectionism

The United States declared its independence in the same year (1776) that Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations. Smith railed against barriers to trade, protectionism and the collusion of merchants against the public and consumer interest. All these years later, the US and the world need to keep relearning the same lessons. In an era when after-tax real incomes were falling in middle America, one of the few things keeping living standards afloat was lower price consumer goods because of trade, not least from Trump Trade Enemy number 1, China. This article is an important reminder for everyone to keep in mind that, while the challenges of trade competition are real and require a policy strategy, the answer is never, ever, erecting barriers.

READ here

AND FINALLY: “I sing my sorrow I paint my joy”: Amanda Petrusich in The New Yorker: Joni Mitchell discusses her new book of early songs and drawings.

Joni Mitchell is an artist. A creative of global importance. Her album Blue is one of the best of its (or any) generation in music and – frighteningly – is just a few months younger than me. Now 75 she has lived a profoundly human life of both creative genius, and deep flaw, ‘triumph and disaster’. Her new book highlights her love of art; “I sing my sorrow I paint my joy”. Just typing those words makes my eyes water as she does every time I listen to her songs. In my limited personal experience of people of profound creativity with art, music and words you do find that the medium is just that. The thought, heart and reflection come from a much deeper place and the work it takes to express it is truly a wonder.

Petrusich: “Morning Glory on the Vine” is warm and tactile in a way that feels consonant with Mitchell’s song writing. Many of her best tracks include precise, tantalizing details about home, both in the theoretical sense—home as a sort of broad, needling idea of comfort—and as a literal place, where a person stores her books and teacups and hiking boots’.

But that is enough of an intro. Just read, listen and buy the book:

READ here



Out October 22nd. In Edinburgh, St Andrews, Bath or Ely?: or any good place you know.


Written by Andrew Wilson, Founding Partner