Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

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The economic mechanism of Europe is jammed

“The economic mechanism of Europe is jammed.”  - J M Keynes [1]  The Dutch finance minister Wopka Hoekstra is somewhat brazen. Like his German counterpart, he caused consternation across the Union by rejecting a ‘Coronabond’ – a scheme for raising finance for EU countries tackling the coronavirus crisis; a scheme that would have lowered the cost of debt for many countries. A conservative German economist, who had earlier rejected the concept of shared liability, predicted... Read More >

Recent Articles:

Oliver Cromwell’s speeches as Lord Protector
Extensive records survive of Cromwell’s speeches during his years as Lord Protector (1653-58), and they tell us much about both the man and the age in which he lived.  They reflect his intense religious faith and his grappling with Read More >
Boar’s Head Theatre Excavation
On an urban street corner, where Middlesex Street meets Whitechapel High Street in East London, lie the remains of a lost Shakespearean-era playhouse, the Boar’s Head. Its existence was already known due to references in historic records, such Read More >
Railways and Agglomeration: Evidence from the Past
“It promises to join up various portions of the metropolis with what has been described as an ‘inner ring’ represented by the Metropolitan District Railway. New lines will bring passengers from east, west, north and south to the District Read More >
I have long maintained that films are powerful indications of the social mood and values of a society. Within that context, the comparison between two recent war films is highly informative as to the disparate perspectives on the importance of a Read More >
How Economist readers helped build India’s railways
The history of infrastructure finance has much to teach us. Let’s look at Indian railway securities during the time of the British Empire and the role played by the Economist The period 1880-1913, characterised as the first era of Read More >
Digging up a right royal history
Archaeologists have been thrilled at some unique finds in a sixth-century princely burial site near Southend-on-Sea In 2003 archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology excavated a small plot of land in Prittlewell, Essex, for Read More >
How to lose an unlosable election
In 1945 and again in 1974, the Tories lost an election they had been certain to win. Why? And is it about to happen again? If Boris Johnson loses the election on 12 December, it will be in the long tradition of Conservative governments that Read More >
Media and the British Railway Mania of the 1840s
A Prediction Not yet the railway mania flags, All are agog for speculation;But such a multitude of stagsMay terminate in a stag-nation.  The Times (London, England), Tuesday September 2, 1845 The railway mania was a time of Read More >
Did government covertly restrict mortgage availability?
Post war British economic policy and house-building Macroeconomic policy frameworks followed by governments have definite impacts on all sectors of the economy including the housing sector. Post Second World War the British government was Read More >
Did high wages actually kickstart the Industrial Revolution?
Academics are at war over new evidence suggesting high pay didn’t spark the rush for labour-saving devices It has been more than 200 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. For a century historians and economists have Read More >
How railways helped change the economy of Britain and the consumption habits of its people The development of rail links meant greater uniformity throughout the country
The railways made a rapid impact on Britain. It was only in 1830 that inter-city rail travel started with the link between Liverpool and Manchester, but by 1840, they, and the other four largest English cities (Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Read More >
Urban Planning in the UK: A Brief History The history of town planning in the UK and how it evolved to the form it exists today. 
Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. "There is the blueprint," they say. - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Urban planning is best defined by scholars as a form of state intervention in a Read More >
Chalk and cheese: Samuel Pepys at Ten Trinity Square MOLA archaeologists excavated Ten Trinity Square as part of the development of a luxury hotel and residential development
Our archaeologists excavated Ten Trinity Square beside the Tower of London, as part of the development of a luxury hotel and residential development by Reignwood Group. Occupied since the early Roman period, the site has a rich history Read More >
Joseph Chamberlain and Retailing Chamberlain combined social concerns to alleviate the sufferings of the poor with the need for urban development
Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) the radical nineteenth-century businessman and politician who terrified Queen Victoria and many others, is back in the news again. The man who broke not one but two political parties has been twice cited by Prime Read More >
History of Impact of Railways on communities in the World
Over the last 200 years railways have had a profound effect on the areas they serve – opening them up to trade and passenger transport. The busiest passenger station in the world is said to be Shinjuku in Tokyo where 1.26 bn passengers Read More >
A History of Land Registry and its Importance Today The HM Land Registry has moved in leaps and bounds from its origins in late nineteenth century
Recent data from the Office of National Statistics and HM Land registry show that house prices rose 3% in the year to May 2018, relative to a growth of 3.5 percent in the same period last year. This is the lowest annual rate of growth since 2013, Read More >
The Collapse of Carillion: What Can History Teach Us? Could we have learnt anything from the past with regard to perhaps averting the collapse of Carillion?
Recently, the giant British multinational facilities management and construction company Carillion recently faced compulsory liquidation- a court-based procedure through which company assets are realised for the benefit of creditors. A recent Read More >
Queensberry Rules of boxing: OK or KO? How the Queensberry Rules transformed bareknuckle fighting
John Shotto Douglas, the ninth Marquess of Queensberry, has two major claims to fame. First he was the nemesis of gay author Oscar Wilde who sued him for libel after he had publicly objected to the liaison that Wilde had with his son Lord Alfred Read More >
How roads transformed America The increase of interstate highways allowed for large department stores to flourish
In the latest in a series of extracts from America Inc: The 400-year history of American capitalism Bhu Srinivasan recounts how the transformation of American roads led to the development of department stores and the decay of cities. In the Read More >
Close up of carved stonework on a doorway From the Baring crisis to the global financial crisis: what can we learn? What the Panic of 1890 can teach us
Much like the world today, the period from 1870-1913 (known as the first era of globalisation) was marked by increased trade, significant cross-border financial flows, unrestricted migration and sophisticated financial markets. London was the Read More >
Close-up of golf ball with club during sunset Walter Hagen, golf and Florida real estate How the world's most popular golfer was implicated in the Florida land boom
Real estate, golf courses and Florida sunshine have long gone together, but not always happily. It is to a golf complex in Florida (the wonderfully-named Valhalla Village) that novelist John Updike, with his keen eye for the underlying dynamics Read More >
The first page of the first set of printed accounts for University College, Oxford, from 1883 Oxford colleges and their estates over seven centuries: part 3 How the colleges of Oxford adapted to changes in the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries
Above: The first page of the first set of printed accounts for University College, Oxford, from 1883 © The Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford Read part 1 of this series Read part 2 of this series In 1850 the quiet Read More >
Extract for the 1680s from a register recording the payments of entry fines to University College, Oxford Oxford colleges and their estates over seven centuries: part 2 How colleges stabilised their income between 1500 and 1850
Above: Extract for the 1680s from a register recording the payments of entry fines to University College, Oxford © The Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford Read part 1 of this series In the early sixteenth century Read More >
The opening of the account roll of University College, Oxford, for 1383/4 Oxford colleges and their estates over seven centuries: part 1 How the colleges of Oxford managed their finances pre-1500
Above: The opening of the account roll of University College, Oxford, for 1383-4 © The Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford Few organisations, apart from cathedrals, can rival Oxford and Cambridge colleges for the length and Read More >
Cranes and buildings in construction silhouetted against sunset Historical patterns of housing tenure The context for the recent government housebuilding announcement
In a conscious echo of Harold Macmillan who oversaw the construction of more than 300,000 mostly local authority houses in 1953, the Prime Minister recently announced that her government is ‘getting back into the business of building houses’ Read More >
South east UK displayed on map Geographies of housing development The case of the interwar housing market
The interwar period witnessed an outstanding period of housing development - about 1.4 million houses were completed of which 865,000 or 62% were new dwellings in rural England and Wales. Amongst a wide range of factors supporting this boom, Read More >
Monopoly houses balanced on one pound coins Building the way out of the Great Depression How the rise of building societies in the UK contributed to economic recovery
The interwar period in Britain oversaw the boom in the housing sector which resulted in the construction of a significant three million houses. In my previous article I explained how it is this boom which, amongst other factors, has been Read More >
Vintage photograph of a stately home in the countryside The UK housing market in the interwar years: what can we learn? An historical look at how a housing boom rejuvenated the economy
Housing, an essential human need, forms a key sector of the economy. It forms a crucial component of investment and in many countries, makes up a large component of overall wealth. Taking the case of the United States, Zhu (2014) noted that real Read More >


Investor's Notebook

Smart people from around the world share their thoughts

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The Macro View

Recent financial news and how it connects across all asset classes

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Fintech, proptech and what it all means

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A sideways look at the world of wine

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The Architect

Some of the profession's best minds

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The Auctioneer

What's going on in the auction world

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Residential Investor

Making money from residential property investment

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The Professor

Analysis and opinion from the academic sphere

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Face to Face

In-depth interviews with leading figures in the real estate/investment world.

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The Headhunter

Recruitment and career moves

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The Analyst

Investment themes and trends

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The Historian

A look back at previous cycles, events, characters

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The Economist

Money, rates and prices

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Political Insider

The inside scoop on Washington, Westminster and Whitehall

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The Agent

Reflections on estate agency, today and in past times

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Alternative assets

Investing in tangible assets

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