Money Observer: Where automation only half-replaces humans

Much has been written about how automation will replace humans in the workplace. But what about those who have only been half replaced? I met some of them recently. I was walking through the electronic passport control gates at Frankfurt airport. I pressed my passport onto the glass screen and the gates swung open to reveal two people sitting behind a high counter. I showed … Continue reading Money Observer: Where automation only half-replaces humans

Money Observer: Why money buys happiness sometimes

Literary critics are not usually known for their views on money. But the German critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki supposedly said that ‘money doesn’t buy you happiness, but if you’re sad, it’s better to cry in a cab than on a tram.’ This seems logical, and yet it may depend on whether or not you’re an introvert. The relationship between money and happiness has spawned many theories. … Continue reading Money Observer: Why money buys happiness sometimes

Money Observer: The easiest way to travel to Germany is by train

I have lived in London for many years, and I still can’t tell King’s Cross from St Pancras station. But I know where platform 9¾ to Hogwarts is, and I also know that the easiest way to travel to Germany is by train. Whenever I fly, I have to leave the house at the crack of dawn, rely on my train to be on time, … Continue reading Money Observer: The easiest way to travel to Germany is by train

Money Observer: What Piketty has in common with reality TV

‘Who says a reality television show can’t convey an important message?’ asked my friend Elly Steinberg, who is a documentary film-maker. She was referring to The Great British Benefits Handout on Channel 5, where three unemployed families who live on benefits were each given £26,000. Some of them managed to get a business off the ground, invest in education and become self-sufficient. The important message … Continue reading Money Observer: What Piketty has in common with reality TV

Money Observer: How about making trainers more sustainable

I have never heard a laugh as loud as the one let out by my local cobbler when I brought him my old trainers. ‘We don’t re-heel trainers, nobody does,’ he said when he stopped laughing. Given how mundane and popular trainers and sneakers are, it seems surprising there is no easy way to repair them. Clever start-ups have come up with a taxi service … Continue reading Money Observer: How about making trainers more sustainable

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Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology

On a recent visit to the Royal Academy, I noticed a tall, elegantly dressed man who spent quite some time admiring a square object attached to the wall. I wondered whether to tell him that far from being Russian avant-garde art, which was the theme of the exhibition, it was in fact the temperature and humidity control box. Many visitors to Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology

Money Observer: Here’s what Brexit is doing to our diet

As we know, inflation is upon us, and it’s on an upward trend. Once a month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) determines the price of a basket – think of a shopping basket – of goods and services typically bought by UK households. This is used to calculate the consumer prices index measure of inflation. I wanted to peek inside that basket of goods … Continue reading Money Observer: Here’s what Brexit is doing to our diet

Money Observer: What the travel industry tells us about the state of globalisation

Many UK-listed companies reported profits this year, but certain businesses did not: notably travel and leisure sector firms such as Easyjet. After six consecutive years, Easyjet’s growth success story has stalled, because it has been unable to reduce its costs in the face of lower revenues. Brexit is part of the story of course. With the pound weakening, more Brits are opting for ‘staycations’. The … Continue reading Money Observer: What the travel industry tells us about the state of globalisation

Money Observer: Why our politicians should be able to price a potato

It’s often said that politicians are so detached they don’t even know the price of a pint of milk or a loaf of bread. In 1992, then-president of the United States George H W Bush was forced to admit he did not know how much a gallon of milk cost during a debate with Bill Clinton, whose rural background earned him the admiration of the … Continue reading Money Observer: Why our politicians should be able to price a potato

Standpoint Magazine: Golden Gogol

A new production of The Nose, Shostakovich’s opera based on Gogol’s mesmerisingly surreal short story, was part of this season at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. A Tarkovsky retrospective was held in Shoreditch. Any moment now, I expect to get invited to a poetry slam riffing on Mayakovsky. The Nose, one of Gogol’s Petersburg Tales, tells the story of Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov, who … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Golden Gogol