Don Johnston, former Secretary-General of the OECD, speaks at WES 2020

Below is a transcript of the full text from the video message given by Don Johnston – Canadian lawyer and former Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from 1996 to 2006. Johnston spoke at Day 3 of the 19th Warwick Economics Summit (2020), at the University of Warwick.

January 2020

Two years ago, I wrote a book entitled “Missing the Tide: Global Governments in Retreat”. David Ignatius, a well-known journalist with The Washington Post, wrote a blurb for the cover, which began: “Read it and weep.” Why did he write that? I will tell you.

Continue reading “Don Johnston, former Secretary-General of the OECD, speaks at WES 2020”

Some trades are fairer than others

A cup of coffee… nothing special. Upon first glance, it seems just like a regular beverage. Yet it is so much more than that. Some call it the elixir of life, others liquid gold or an essential part of every morning. However, there are people for whom it has far greater value, as it is their sole source of income.

Coffee is a commodity, which means that its price can change rapidly depending on its availability and the demand for it. However, despite the increasing demand for the good, its value has experienced a general trend downwards over the last decade. 2019 marked a low in prices not seen in the last 13,5 years with 93 cents per pound of coffee. Continue reading “Some trades are fairer than others”

Get hitched, get rich: The economic case for marriage

With Valentine’s Day less than a month away, many couples may be thinking of tying the knot to mark this romantic occasion. Whilst times are changing rapidly, countless people around the world regard marriage as the definitive symbol of happiness.  

Throughout the years, the institution of marriage has changed vastly in the Western world: from the 1950s, when marriage was founded on traditional gender roles to form a union based on practicality, to now, when it is largely seen as an equal partnership with love and respect. 

In 2019 the Office of National Statistics announced there has been a gradual long-term decline in the number of marriages of opposite-sex couples since 1972. In 2016 (the latest data set available), there were 249,793 marriages in England and Wales, which is 1.7% more than in 2015, but 1.0% fewer than in 2014.  Continue reading “Get hitched, get rich: The economic case for marriage”

Cities blighted by crowds of sightseers are now turning to the tourist tax


‘Travel makes one modest, you can see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.’ These words from Gustave Flaubert, the renowned French novelist, encapsulate the wonder and awe of travel. Though, during his lifetime, the opportunity to explore distant lands was reserved for a small, wealthy elite. Twenty years after his death, the turn of the 20th century ushered in advances in aviation, which increased the convenience of travelling to exotic places. Fast forward to this century, and tourist numbers have skyrocketed. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), there were 70 million international tourist arrivals in 1960. In 2018, this figure rose to 1.4 billion.

Continue reading “Cities blighted by crowds of sightseers are now turning to the tourist tax”

Women vs. Society

Woman. It is one simple word. A word that everyone knows. A word that describes roughly 50% of the world population. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a woman as:

The female human being; the female part of the human race, the female sex.

What one should note about the above definition is that none of it suggests that a woman is somehow lacking in certain qualities. It does not state that a woman is unfit to make political decisions. It does not say that being a woman means a person is not cut out to succeed in the corporate world. It does not state that the government is more suited to decide about a woman’s body than she is. Yet society seems to have trouble understanding that.

Although there is undeniable evidence of the immense amount of progress that has been made towards the emancipation of women, as 2015 marked the year when the last country that denied women the right to vote* – Saudi Arabia, finally passed a law that gives its entire adult population a voice in the election process, it is not all roses. Continue reading “Women vs. Society”

War and Peace – and Oil

2020 has started with a bang. Oil prices have had a turbulent week since the US launched an airstrike in Baghdad, killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. With escalating geopolitical tensions between the US and Iran, and factoring in the importance of the Middle East to global oil supply, it’s unsurprising that the price of the commodity jumped to as much as $70 a barrel on Monday 6 January for the first time in 4 months. Investors feared the airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander might trigger retaliation and disrupt global energy supplies, inciting a crude oil stockpile.  Continue reading “War and Peace – and Oil”

Climate change is not a game… or is it?

“We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?”. The words of the 16 year old climate change activist and The Times’ person of the year 2019, Greta Thunberg, ring true all the way into the new decade. And the answer seems straightforward: no, it is not too much to ask.

In the 1990’s scientists determined a definite link between humanity’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions and the disproportionate heating of the planet. Thus, this year marks three decades of awareness of the world-wide issue. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rather than getting better, the problem is only getting worse. Continue reading “Climate change is not a game… or is it?”

The King is (Nearly) Dead: How can the Founding Fathers help us understand Impeachment?


On Wednesday, December 18th, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump– making him only the third president in history to be formally charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanours and to face removal by the US Senate.

Mr Trump was sentenced to two articles of impeachment in total for violating his “constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States”. 

The first, abuse of power, centred on accusations that Mr Trump had overstepped executive authority by illegally soliciting electoral assistance from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr Trump had asked the foreign leader to launch investigations into Democratic Presidential front-runner Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who had previously served on the board of private Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma. Mr Trump had pressured the Ukrainian government to complete this investigation by withholding valuable U.S. government actions including $391 million of military aid already approved by Congress.  The second article, Obstruction of Congress, surrounded Mr Trump directing his White House to defy lawful subpoenas throughout the Impeachment enquiry.

Continue reading “The King is (Nearly) Dead: How can the Founding Fathers help us understand Impeachment?”

Is Democracy Dying in the West?

Is Democracy Dying in the West?

These were no doubt the thoughts echoed by many on viewing the results of the House of Representatives vote on Impeachment against President Trump. Faced with repeated constitutional violations, the Republican party was largely silent. Although both bills were able to pass the House, (230 vs 197 and 229 to 198 respectively),  support was distinctly split down party lines- not a single member of the Republican party voted in favour of impeachment.

Continue reading “Is Democracy Dying in the West?”

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