The Challenge Network

 go back 

Recent discussion papers

Recent discussion papers

We post a series of discussion papers, which are quite distinct from the extensive thematic analysis which is offered elsewhere. Readers who wish to comment or to post relevant papers of their own should contact us. (See "About" for our acceptance critieria.)

Labour in the global context

Automation is a necessary and desirable response to an expanding global work force. But, it brings political problems.

Is there an unexpected, dark side to automation?

Going beyond the current concern about the effect of automation on jobs, we ask if automation implies far deeper changes.

Jeremy Grantham on Brexit

Jeremy Grantham co-founded GMO LLC, a global investment management firm, in 1977.

Britain's options after Brexit
An exchange of views post-Brexit
Britain and the European Union: should I stay or should I go?

Scenarios for a Brexit

The New Economics of Oil

The Chief Economist of BP Spencer Dale contributes a stimulating paper.

The Facts of Economic Growth

Why are people in the richest countries of the world so much richer today than 100 years ago? And why are some countries somuch richer than others? Questions such as these define the field of economic growth. This paper documents the facts that underlie these questions. How much richer are we than 100 years ago, and how large are the income gaps between countries? The purpose of the paper is to provide an encyclopedia of the fundamental facts of economic growth upon which our theories are built, gathering them together in one place and updating the facts with the latest available data.

What is to become of the low skilled in the wealthy world?

This PDF was published in conjunction with the Strategic Planning Society, to mark Dr Sparrow's election as an Hon. Fellow of the Society.

Politics in the wealthy nations are fragmenting. A significant element that drives this is the weakening stake that the low and middle skilled hold in the current socioeconomic order. Low skill wages have been in real decline since the 1970s, for example. Participation in the social "journey" has lessened, with the taxes of the bottom 50% of the UK population contributing only around 10% of state income. In a similar way, half or more of the population are essentially excluded from intellectually-intense activities, which make up much of the non-commodity economy. Half of all hours are now worked by graduates. The limits to the free services and transfers which are provided to this semi-dependent population are rapidly becoming acute. Changing demographics will worsen this.

The text considers the social and political adjustments that will be needed as a further significant proportion of the population are "designed out" of the main thrust of society. This will occur through the intensification of automation, process redesign and competition from the low wage economies. It predicts major political difficulties.

Thinking about Europe (November 2014)
Conversation within commerce about 2013 IPCC report
The rupturing "narrative", collective identity under threat
A thirty year look at the financial crisis
Scenarios for the future of Nepal
Renewal: keeping the rich world wealthy
Work, trade and welfare
Financial institutions for the long run
Science, determinism and free will
The economic outlook (March 08)
No ordinary recession: the debt burden
Paul Volker on banking regulation (Feb 08)
Saving capitalist banking from itself.
Three kinds of management team
The Fox and the Hedgehog: cognitive styles in decision-taking.
Flat taxation, transparent subsidy.
Attitudes to the future in 2030
Industrial change: three cores to each company
PC: Awkward questions and the embarrassment culture
Remuneration: instability in financial services (2002)
Volatility Is Good For You.
Strategy in software: insight from the Linux wars. (PDF format)
Evolution and the Intelligent Design thesis.
Facts and feelings?
Competitive Cities: five keys to success.
Power and weakness: US and EU influence.
Interview: Security and power in 2020
On planning for future defence needs.
 to the top