Read on the street 5 October

Good morning,

Welcome to a new initiative we are testing to offer you a short digest of the more interesting highlights from our reading, listening and viewing this week. 

Boris Johnson’s snarling Conservatism targets a different nation - Brexit offers a way for Tories to reconnect with the small-town, patriotic and northern voters.

Robert Shrimsley’s interesting piece in Monday’s Financial Times on how the Conservatives, in England at least, sense an opportunity to use Brexit to connect with the “small-town, blue-collar, patriotic, northern voters lost by the breezy globalists and economic liberals”. If successful, it would be another generational pivot that the party has managed to execute, going all the way back to the Corn Laws in the mid-19th century. Shrimsley is pretty sceptical that they can manage this and he is less than impressed with the aggressive way they are doing it. And so say most of us...

READ here

The legacy of 1989 was western complacency - As it shed its communist past, the east was told to embrace a flawed model 

Another great FT piece, this time on Tuesday from Tony Barber, about how the real lesson of 1989 was that the west took its ‘victory’ massively for granted. Just as capitalism’s riposte to the post war consensus was over-reaching its benefits so it asked the former communist bloc to follow all the same mistakes. And look where we all are now. 

READ here

The appointment of a new managing director for the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva 

The second female to lead the IMF knows she faces a number of challenges, some of which she talked about in an interview with the IMF Channel, most importantly a debt crisis in Argentina and Turkey, a trade war that could lead to a global economic slowdown and multiple attacks on multilateralism. But she is thought to be skilled enough to handle it: unlike the average technocrat, Georgieva is known for her sharp communication and relationship-building skills. To read more about her background, check out this piece from James Politi and Kerin Hope in the Financial Times.

WATCH here and READ here

The geography of poverty hotspots: from the Brookings Institute

In a new book chapter, researchers find that a majority of developing countries will still have at least one region where extreme poverty is likely to persist in 2030. All part of the same themes outlined above. 

READ here

From mission letter to mission impossible: Can a top-down approach to ‘Cohesion and Reforms’ really deliver?

And so to the policy response. In this article posted by a Scottish economist in Brussels, Alison Hunter for the European Policy Centre argues that the next Commission should move from the top-down approach to Cohesion Policy and instead pursue a strategy based on a much-needed, place-based investment drive.

READ here

Brexit: Irish border backstop is about ‘identity’ - BBC Newsnight Wednesday

Tony Blair’s onetime chief aide Jonathan Powell has been the consistent voice of cold reality on Ireland and Brexit. In a week of tough and pointless watches, reads and listens, this is a definitive and important watch. 

WATCH here

Royal Shakespeare Company ends BP partnership after student protest

For 8 years BP has subsidised the Stratford-upon-Avon-based theatre company’s £5 ticket scheme for (80,000) 16 to 25-year-olds. Following student protests and the resignation of Oscar winning associate artist Sir Mark Rylance in June the RSC pulled the plug to BP’s dismay. This is a further sign of the polarisation of a public debate that leaves little space for companies to transition and reform. The arts, culture and sport need to be paid for and company contributions matter. Are energy companies really the same as big tobacco? One to reflect on as we travel to work on Monday.

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UK’s bank challengers are fading in fight with big four

This piece from the FT’s retail banking correspondent Nicholas Megaw examines the ‘ailing’ nature of UK challenger banks, following on from CYBG’s profit warning last month. Some challenger banks are complaining that, whilst they are being encouraged to move forward by the Bank of England, the regulations put in place by the same entity make it difficult for them to grow. 

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Scotland to be first UK country to ban smacking - BBC

Can there be no such thing as a loving smack? If we assaulted anyone on the street we would be arrested. So why is it ok to do it behind closed doors and furthermore to expect children to accept violence as a justified form of discipline? As a single parent of three kids I know the dilemma. The best advice I ever got was – “after a smack how do you escalate”. None of us are perfect but the tone is now set.

READ here

The new 19/20 RSNO Season begins

I had a great evening on Wednesday at the Institut Français in Edinburgh listening to a preview of the 2019/20 season of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. A superb panel including music director Thomas Søndergård took a captivated audience on a tour through the golden age of Vienna with all the links between the greats like Strauss and Mahler and the Secessionist artists who even invited Scotland’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh to a visit he called the highlight of his life. A great way to open a season of music which, along with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s offering ensures Scotland is a haven for classical music even when the Edinburgh International Festival is over. Dane Søndergård enamoured me because he started as a timpanist - not the most fashionable of orchestral roles as I know to my teenage cost. But what counting through the bars did for me is set me up for my calling as an economist. Anyway watch this introductory film and then get to Edinburgh and buy your tickets for an epic RSNO and SCO season. And don’t forget - kids go free!


The Creative Economy: Andy Haldane at Glasgow School of Art

A longer read published in February, a speech given in November last year at the Glasgow School of Art by Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane. I have sent this to everyone I know that cares about economics and culture since I read it. A quite brilliant cook’s tour of economic history and human development together with a stimulating challenge about how we elevate the importance of creativity, leaps of imagination, arts and culture. An absolute diamond of a speech.

READ here


Written by Andrew Wilson, Founding Partner