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June 4, 2013

Over the years, social experiments have shown our willingness to help people in trouble diminishes dramatically when we are standing in a crowd.

Over the years, social experiments have shown our willingness to help people in trouble diminishes dramatically when we are standing in a crowd.

According to research, we help an injured person on nearly every occasion, when we are alone. But the arrival of four bystanders cuts our interventions to 30% of the time. As crowds get larger, response times diminish further.

May 30, 2013

Poison pills are back in the news. But are they as sinister as the term suggests? Not necessarily if you are a family business.

Poison pills are back in the news. But are they as sinister as the term suggests? Not necessarily if you are a family business.

What exactly are poison pills? Put simply, they are shareholder structures that make it harder for hostile takeovers of businesses. They normally work by using discount share purchase agreements, whereby the existing shareholders are able to buy shares at a cheaper price than outsiders.

Poison pills gained notoriety during the 1980s when they were typically used to defend against the leverage buyout craze of the times.

May 13, 2013

The world has learned to love its central bankers, now their “Invisible Touch” is giving an unprecedented boost to market sentiment.

“She’s got something you just can’t trust
It’s something mysterious
And now it seems I’m falling, falling for her.”

- Genesis

The world has learned to love its central bankers, now their “Invisible Touch” is giving an unprecedented boost to market sentiment.

In a recent note, Tom Becket, chief investment officer at Psigma Investment Management said second-guessing their intentions had become key to asset allocation.

May 3, 2013

Here’s a thought for you on a sunny afternoon:
∃x[PKoF(x) & ∀y[PKoF(y) → y=x] & B(x)] The king of France is bald, or is he? Do simplified measurements of economic logic have any more truth to them than the predicate logic of Bertrand Russell? 

Here’s a thought for you on a sunny afternoon:
∃x[PKoF(x) & ∀y[PKoF(y) → y=x] & B(x)] 

That is the generally accepted way of rendering into predicate logic the sentence: “The present king of France is bald”. Who would want to do this? Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, and the godfather of modern logic, that’s who. This is the first (and in many cases the only) bit of formal logic that many philosophy undergraduates learn. 

April 22, 2013

Big corporations are often unwilling to acknowledge the problems staring them in the face, to the cost of employees, consumers and eventually profit.

Last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas, killing fourteen, is typical of the accidents that can bedevil the corporate sector.

Way too much ammonium nitrate was stored on site. Health and safety rules were breached. Inspections were infrequent. Houses and a school were too close to the plant.

Plant owner Donald Adair has conceded: “This tragedy will hurt deeply for generations to come.”

April 9, 2013

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 Britain was a paralysed country. She did a lot that was necessary, but is she responsible for the quick-fix culture that has become the new British disease?

April 4, 2013

Thomas Minder runs a third-generation Swiss family business making herbal toothpaste – his commitment to the family business is admirable, but he is more likely to be remembered for starting a revolt against excessive executive pay. 

Thomas Minder runs a third-generation Swiss family business that makes herbal toothpaste. Although Minder’s achievements in nurturing the family business are admirable, to the wider public he’s likely to be known for something a bit more important.

Minder has started a revolt against the excesses of executive pay in Switzerland that might be one of the biggest revolutions to happen in the area in the past few decades.

March 21, 2013

On the face of it, Aston Martin cars and Pot Noodle don’t have a lot in common. The motor driven by James Bond in his suaver moments can rarely have been mentioned in the same sentence as the famously nasty noodle snack slurped by students and builders.

On the face of it, Aston Martin cars and Pot Noodle don’t have a lot in common. The motor driven by James Bond in his suaver moments can rarely have been mentioned in the same sentence as the famously nasty noodle snack slurped by students and builders.

March 18, 2013

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the market, a shark has been found swimming off the Cyprus coast.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the market, a shark has been found swimming off the Cyprus coast.

To be more precise, the decision of the Cypriot government to levy a tax on local bank deposits has reminded investors of the delicate state of Europe’s finances.

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