Calling In The Troops

A headline on the UK news talked about complaints that the government is using an additional 3500 soldiers to help with security at the Olympics.  Why complain?  The security seems crucial; and given that the soldiers are being paid anyway, and were not going to be deployed elsewhere, the opportunity cost of their time does not seem very high.  (I’m assuming that the British Army is not maintained permanently larger for use in security in such events.)  This seems much more efficient than hiring some temporaries for security, who might not be as well-trained and who would require pay.

London Calling

Just announced: Levitt and Dubner's sold-out lecture at London's Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) will be webcast live on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 13:00 GMT (that's 8 a.m. Eastern -- or use this handy calculator to find the time where you live). One day earlier, they are also speaking at the London School of Economics; negotiations are still underway to temporarily rename it LSF.

Cordon Blues?

Envy the lucky travelers of London. As you may know, in 2003 the city imposed a congestion toll of £5 (later raised to £8) on all vehicles entering the central district. In 2007, Transport for London, a government agency, did a cost-benefit analysis of the impacts (find the full report here).

It found the following about costs per year to travelers in the central district:

* Individuals and business travelers pay about £236 million in tolls.
* Some trips to the area are canceled, costing would-have-been drivers the equivalent of about £31 million.
* It costs motorists and firms £19 million to comply with the system.
* Total burden on travelers: £286 million.

You Have Three Sentences

During a visit last year to the London School of Economics, the Queen of England asked why economists failed to predict the credit crunch.

British Food, Good and Bad

I just spent a great week in London with the family (see here, and here) and yes, I did run across a few pasties, including these, in the breathtaking food halls at Harrods: I find it hard to believe that the food halls can be profitable; part of the spectacle is the volume and variety […]

Is New York Still the Financial Capital of the World?

These days, many Americans — including Mike Bloomberg and Chuck Schumer — fear the answer to that question will soon be “no,” if it isn’t already; London is poised to take over. An article [gated] in today’s Wall Street Journal about the credit crunch’s effect on the U.K. economy offers this sobering fact: The financial […]