The St Andrews Economist Weekly Edition

After years of tortuous negotiations and political stalling Brexit has finally come to pass, and with it Britain can (supposedly) reap the benefits. Yet Ireland may be the one to benefit more from it, as Matthew St. Lawrence discusses, such as by forcing it to diversify its exports more towards the rest of the EU, and giving it an opportunity to pinch some of Britain’s financial industry. 

Outside of the EU, Britain will continue to aim to strive ahead. Progress, however, is often difficult as our next two articles explain. Aoife Doyle shows how a higher minimum wage has benefited the lowest-paid in Britain, but also why it is insufficient on its own to prevent the cycle of poverty. Orla Emberson celebrates the British government’s success in housing thousands of homeless people at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, that success was only temporary, with a large proportion not later receiving long-term accommodation, and she explains what more needs to be done to end homelessness in the UK.

Inside of the EU some businesses are thriving. Based in the sleepy town of Billund in Denmark, Lego has been quietly having a boom. Lucy Wright showcases the secrets to their enduring popularity. But many EU firms are also struggling. Sam Bowers explains why Europe’s tech industry is lagging behind that of the US and China, and what the EU is planning to do to turn things around. Robert Dye discusses the business of football, and examines how European clubs are falling behind their British counterparts.

Football is also the focus of Patrick Livings. He looks at the examples of the former Arsenal player Mezut Ozil (pushed out of the team after criticising China’s treatment of its Uighur minority), as well as the current Manchester United player Marcus Rashford (successfully campaigned for the UK government to reverse its policy on free school meals), to analyse the abilities and limits of athletes to speak out about political issues.

On the topic of athletes, Ethan Walker and Cassi Ainsworth-Grace examine the motivations behind doping in sports, and how economics can explain why it is so widespread. Cassi Ainsworth-Grace also explores the new field of narrative economics. She shows how it can help us understand human behaviour and enrich existing economic models.

Last week GameStop—a struggling US videogame retailer—stunned investors as its shares soared in price to over $300 before crashing down again. Charlotte Service looks back on the history of stock market crashes and swings to understand how human nature drives the stock market, and in particular, GameStop’s tumultuous price.

The social media platform Reddit was initially responsible for driving the excitement around GameStop. But amidst the hype and excitement that social media can generate, it is easy to miss just how dividing these platforms also are. This is Hannah Comiskey’s focus, as she discusses the danger of social media’s ability to spread misinformation and radicalise users to political extremes. Tom Woods tackles another issue of social media: that being the tech companies’ unrestrained “power to regulate public discourse”. The negative consequences of this, he notes, have ranged from Instagram’s censorship of a black model for posting artistic nude photos (that were allowed by the platform’s terms of service), to Facebook’s decision not to prevent harassment and threats towards the political opponents of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.

Over in North America Casey Kermes examines how the US’s state system has so far hindered its vaccine rollout and talks about the new administration’s strategy to speed it up. Further south, and further back in time, Jack Englehardt traces the history of indigenous socialism in Latin America in the 20th century and the unique influence that Raúl Haya de la Torre had on the movement.


United Kingdom

Europe

North America

Latin America:

Business

Theory

Science and Technology

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