Luke's Columns

One of the defining decisions of our careers is whether to specialise or be a generalist. In the early 18th century, it was possible for a diligent and clever individual to have a good grasp of almost all learning: the humanities, science, technology, commerce and so forth. In the…

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Only two industries really did well last year: healthcare and e-commerce. Many others — travel, hospitality, aviation, entertainment, general retail, commercial property, automotive, transport, oil and gas — suffered very badly. One other big sector did hold up: food and drink production and retail. Locked down in a pandemic,…

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Civilisation is built from institutions that provide order, innovation and structure. These are the companies, charities, universities, foundations, hospitals, associations and other hubs of human activity that provide jobs, technology, funding, education and the public and private goods on which society depends. These institutions do not spring from nowhere….

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I have one piece of advice for ambitious twentysomethings wanting to advance their careers in 2021: Be in the room. Unfortunately, for many so-called digital natives, conducting their entire life online feels natural. So working from home may appear to be a favourable development. But Zoom, Teams, FaceTime and…

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Expectation management is an important skill for every entrepreneur. Customers need to know when their goods are arriving; staff need to know whether or not they will receive a bonus; and shareholders need to know that budgets are going to be met. Some would argue that setting expectations well…

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Reactions by governments and scientific advisers to Covid-19 fall largely into two categories. The first set of interventions — lockdowns and physical distancing — are medieval, and almost certainly lead to a greater toll of net harm caused than benefits gained. The second — developing new vaccines at breakneck…

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During these desolate days of lockdown, it has been difficult to find interesting places open to the public. Somewhere you can usually access freely is a cemetery. It feels somehow apposite, when the whole nation is obsessed by disease and death, to spend a little time wandering among the…

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A government quango called the Office of Tax Simplification recently published a report compiled for the chancellor about reforming capital gains tax. There are, apparently, concerns that the current system for individuals may distort behaviour. The Treasury is interested in tax yield and compliance costs; we should all be…

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This has been a difficult year for most of us. Worries about the future, loneliness, and a growing sense of despair have gripped millions who have been separated from family and friends, evicted, lost their jobs, fallen ill, seen their businesses go broke or all their dreams destroyed. One…

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All of us suffer from cognitive biases. These are systemic distortions to rational thought that very often deliver bad outcomes. They are the basis for much of the field of behavioural economics, and can help to explain why individuals, organisations, institutions and even whole nations sometimes make such terrible…

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