UK: Deloitte Monday Briefing: Summer Reading List

Last Updated: 30 July 2012
Article by Ian Stewart

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

With the Olympic Games and the holiday season upon us we are releasing our summer reading list. These eight articles offer an eclectic alternative to the latest popular economics book. We think you will get a lot more ideas in less time from this list than from reading one finance best-seller. All of these articles are available free and online. To ensure the whole piece is printed select the print icon on each article:

New software is providing companies with more information on the habits and incomes of online shoppers. This enables businesses, especially in areas where pricing is complex, such as air travel and hospitality, to charge different prices to different consumers. This article has useful advice on how to get the best deal – including the recommendation that on-line shoppers use a PC to avoid the higher prices levied on generally more affluent Apple users by some websites (2 pages):

http://www.economist.com/node/21557755/print

London is hosting the Olympic Games for the third time, having previously done so in 1908 and 1948. In 1908, the capital had only two years to prepare, after Rome was unable to host following the eruption of Vesuvius in 1906. This fascinating account from History Today shows how those Games went on to set a number of precedents for future Games (3 pages):

http://www.historytoday.com/print/4135

Experiments by bestselling author and Duke University professor Dan Ariely have revealed that almost everyone is willing to cheat a little. In this TIME Magazine article he explains why we exhibit such dishonesty and studies the impulses that make us steal a pen from work but not petty cash (2 pages):

http://business.time.com/2012/06/18/why-almost-all-of-us-cheat-and-steal/

Yale University's Robert Shiller is perhaps best known for his New York Times bestseller "Irrational Exuberance" which warned of the dot-com and housing bubbles. In this article, he explains why speculative bubbles are social epidemics, such as those involving belief in alchemists and astrologers, rather than market-created events (2 pages):

http://www.project-syndicate.org/print/bubbles-without-markets

Why do many large and expensive aid programmes often fail to achieve their goals? This Economist article outlines the ideas of Esther Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who argues that relatively small interventions may be the key to improving the lives of the very poor (2 pages):

http://www.economist.com/node/21554506/print

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many academics lent their support to eugenics – a social movement aimed at 'improving' the genetic composition of the population by breeding out 'unfit' races. This article from Yale's alumni magazine sheds light on the contribution of Irving Fisher, one of America's most well-known academic economists, to this movement (7 pages):

http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2012_05/feature_eugenics.html

The global financial crisis has fundamentally changed the world economy. In this article on Project Syndicate, Harvard's Dani Rodrik outlines the three key characteristics that will define success in this new global economy (2 pages):

http://www.project-syndicate.org/print/the-new-global-economy-s--relative--winners

Somalia has topped Foreign Policy magazine's annual index of failed states for the last five years. This article from Foreign Policy looks at ten reasons why countries fall apart, from elites blocking new technologies to a lack of property rights (7 pages):

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/18/10_reasons_countries_fall_apart?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full

MARKETS & NEWS

The FTSE ended the week 0.4% down following weak GDP data.

Here are some recent news stories that caught our eye as reflecting key economic themes:

KEY THEMES

  • Germany and Italy say they will do everything possible to protect the euro – euro crisis
  • Preliminary figures show that the UK economy contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.7% in Q2 2012, the third consecutive quarter of negative growth – slowdown
  • Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), claimed the bank is prepared to do "whatever it takes" to support the euro – eurozone crisis
  • Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the Greek economy is in a "great depression", similar to the one the Americans faced in the 1930s – Greece
  • Eurozone business activity contracted for the sixth consecutive month in July, according to survey data from Markit Economics – slowdown
  • Ratings agency Moody's placed Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on "negative" outlook, citing their exposure to the Greek, Spanish and Italian economies – sovereign risk
  • Spanish 10-year borrowing costs hit a euro-era record of 7.59% over concerns that Spain will need to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland in requiring a formal international bailout – Spain
  • US 10-year Treasury Bonds reached a low of 1.4%, their lowest yield since the 19th century according to Reuter's data – flight to safety
  • Sales at UK charity shops rose 3% in Q1 2012 according to the Charity Retail Association – recessionary spending
  • UK sales at Domino's Pizza rose 11% year-on-year in the first half of 2012, boosted by rainy weather and extra public holidays – discretionary spending
  • Analysts warned that US livestock prices could rise by more than 10% per year due to rising prices of corn and soya bean, which are widely used as animal feed – commodity prices
  • Online peer-to-peer lending increased 300-fold to yuan 6bn in China between 2007 and the first half of 2011, according to data from China National Radio – shadow banking
  • Rolls-Royce reported a 7% year-on-year rise in underlying profit in the first half of 2012, driven by demand from airlines for fuel-efficient engines – Rolls-Royce
  • Jaguar Land Rover announced that it is to create 1,100 new jobs at its Castle Bromwich plant in the West Midlands – UK auto sector
  • Publisher Penguin saw a 33% year-on-year rise in revenues from ebooks in the first half of 2012, with ebooks now comprising 19% of all revenues – digital revolution
  • German car-maker Volkswagen reported record vehicle sales of 4.6m for the first half of 2012, driven by strong growth in China and Latin America – emerging markets
  • Chinese oil producer China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) agreed to buy Canadian oil firm Nexen for $15.1bn, potentially China's largest foreign takeover, further to approval by the Canadian government – M&A
  • Sales of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles have increased by 300% since May according to internet retailer Amazon, after being featured in best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey – complementary good
  • A certificate of debt discovered by a town historian shows the German hamlet of Mittenwalde lent Berlin 400 gilders in 1562, a figure theoretically worth trillions of euro's now after accounting for compound interest and inflation – bad debt

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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