Archive for the 'Environment' Category

What Cavemen Can Teach Us About Property Rights

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by richard

Economic history is a bit of an unloved child within economics. Once at the centre of the subject it has fallen by the wayside in the rush to be scientific of recent years. Indeed most undergraduate courses no longer teach any economic history as a core subject and many don’t offer any option whatsoever. So why am I going on about economic history? Well, it turns out it’s very interesting indeed…

A Scientist for Every Issue

What sparked my interest in economic history was actually a book which had very little to do with the past. (more…)


Sunday, January 30th, 2011 by Anh

This post is essentially an extension to my continuing flirtation with game theory and its real-life application.

As our society advances, we have to deal with the consequences of our previous actions. Environmental problems that resulted from unsustainable usage of limited resources on Earth is a prime example of this. Governments and international bodies now put a lot of effort into addressing this issue. The focus has been placed on raising awareness, and it has certainly become somewhat of a social trend (think about the movie Avatar). The question is whether giving people information alone will be enough. Will the knowledge motivate us to act?

The way we buy water…

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 by Anh

There is a very interesting article on BBC News that my colleague Inna has referred me to. It talks about how the small bottled water industry has managed to grow in the last 40 years. This looks nothing special unless you think about the fact that water is essentially free. You can quite easily drink tap water and will not feel any difference from the bottled water. However, people still spend billions of pounds each year on this natural beverage. So here is the irony, we are paying for things we can get for free. Is economic theory about rationality failing here? It is not according to the article.

So, where does the trick lie? Apparently, it is all about branding and marketing (although some bottles water executives disagree). Apart from the convenient packaging, people are supposedly buying trendy brands. I guess in the end we do derive different types of utility from the same resource. Marketing in this case plays a huge role in the market growth.

This paradox does not completely ruin our perception of Economics, but it does make us realise that there are still many things we do not understand.

It is all about sustainability…

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by Anh

Nowadays, environment and sustainability is on everyone’s mind. The idea of not having clean water to drink or clean air to breathe is terrifying, yet we are not doing enough to make significant changes. Governments of the world are still fighting with each other instead of working together on the issue. Perhaps it is time we took the matter in our hands and started acting. Luckily, there is an organisation dedicated to this cause.

Oikos is an international student organisation for sustainable economics and management. They have local chapters located at universities in Europe and beyond, counting more than 50’000 students of Economics and Management. In addition Oikos is working with PhD Students and Faculty from across the globe and welcomes a growing Alumni community.

Visit their website to find out how you can get involved.

The True Cost of Climate Change

Monday, July 21st, 2008 by miriam

In 2005, HM Treasury appointed Sir Nicholas Stern, an economist, to report on climate change. Stern calls climate change ‘the worst market failure the world has ever seen’ and states three main goals to overcome it; (i) the pricing of carbon through tax, trading and regulation (ii) a policy which supports and encourages low carbon technology and (iii) the removal of barriers which lead to energy efficiency along with informing, persuading and educating individuals with regard to climate change.

A relationship between the environment and economics is inevitable as economics is the study of scarce resources, resources that we source from the environment around us. The Stern report, which was published in October 2006, was not the first study to discuss this relationship, however, Stern emphasised the cost of environmental degradation to us in terms of global gross domestic product (GDP, something economists could easily relate to) with shocking results. (more…)

The Big Box vs the Black Box

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Alan

Despite misgivings about the growth of giant retailers, as reviewed in a previous post, the Competition Commission’s new enquiry is unlikely to shake up UK supermarkets any more radically than its earlier probes in 2000 and 2003. Even though it has detected some anti-competitive practices – such as big chains pressuring suppliers to sign exclusive deals, and buying land to stop rivals building stores on it,  the Commission can allow these if consumers are judged to benefit. The ‘Big Four’ can claim they do, through persistently low prices and now from the environmental and nutritional improvements they promise to wring from already lean supply chains.

So why do we still feel uncomfortable stepping through Tesco’s (or Sainsbury’s, Asda’s and Morrisons) ever more prevalent sliding doors, when they can claim to be cutting our bills without crucifying our consciences?