Is Iran entering hyperinflation? Some academics certainly think so. And the FT gave a heads-up on this a few weeks ago. Since then, things haven’t exactly improved. The government is trying to stop the rial from slipping into the abyss, amid increasing signs that the oil embargo is beginning to hurt.
There have been 56 previous episodes of hyperinflation*, according to an instant-classic paper published in August by Steve Hanke and Nicholas Krus. Our colleagues over on the Money Supply blog looked at the paper in more detail when it was first published.
Martin Wolf’s column today looks at some interesting historical analysis by the IMF. Tucked away in its latest World Economic Outlook is an take on high-debt-to-GDP incidents. It’s a treat for fans of economic history. The IMF dug out data on every incident since 1875 where a country’s debt topped 100 per cent of its GDP – and then tracked what happened to that ratio over the following 15 years.
The results fall into four broad periods: the last quarter of the 19th century (what the IMF calls ‘nation-building and the railroad boom’), the periods after the two world wars, and the last quarter of the 20th century (the genesis of which lay in the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s, the IMF says).
As Ben Fenton reported earlier today, Conservative party star Boris Johnson has lauded Britain’s businesses, adapting a quote from Napoleon to call Britain ‘a nation of small and medium enterprises’.
And the mayor of London is right – businesses with up to four employees make up the majority of companies in the country*, data released by the ONS last week shows. SMEs – defined in EU law as having fewer than 250 employees – comprise 99.5 per cent of businesses. And three-quarters of all firms are the smallest of small traders, with up to four employees.
The UK Department for Transport is under fire over the cancellation of a deal to award a rail franchise, because of “technical flaws” in the bidding process.
The incident brings the British railway system back into the headlines, where it has often been because of contested fare rises. Complaints about the railways may be something of a national sport, but according to a survey published last month by Eurobarometer, the European Commission body that analyses public opinion, people in the UK are more satisfied with their national and regional rail system than most of their European counterparts.
If you’re going to have a bet this party conference season, take on an MP – that’s the obvious conclusion from an Ipsos Mori poll for the Royal Statistical Society, which suggests that our elected representatives are simply asking to be fleeced.
As part of its Parliamentary lobbying work, the RSS set a basic probability question for nearly 100 MPs. ‘If you spin a coin twice, what is the probability of getting two heads?’*
More than half of them got the answer wrong.