About clarityeconomics

Phil Thornton is lead consultant at Clarity Economics, a consultancy and freelance writing service he set up after a 15-year career as a newspaper journalist. Clarity Economics (www.clarityeconomics.com) looks at all areas of business and economics including macroeconomics, world trade, financial markets fiscal policy, and tax and regulation. He has written for a range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Director, Emerging Markets, City AM and PM-Select. He writes a regular economics column for Procurement Leaders. Recent projects include a series of report looking at the position of ethnic minority groups within the UK workforce for Business in the Community; drawing up proposals for reform of the EU Budget for Business for a New Europe; and an examination of lessons learned 20 years after Big Bang for The Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation. In 2010 he won the Feature Journalist of the Year award in the WorkWorld Media Awards. In 2007 he won the title of Print Journalist of the Year in the same awards. Until 2007 he was Economics Correspondent at The Independent newspaper of London, a post he held for eight years.

Writing and editing at the IMF/ World Bank annual meetings

Phil helped organise the coverage by the magazine GlobalMarkets of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank that were held in October 2019 in Washington D.C.. GlobalMarkets is the new name for the magazine Emerging Markets that has covered the meetings of all the multilateral banks for a quarter of a century.

He wrote a number of features analysing key issues that came up at the meetings of the finance ministers and central bankers of the 187 member countries. The features looking at the outlook for the two institutions: the first examined the strategy of new World Bank President David Malpass and the impact he has made so far (here); the second looked at the other new leader – IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva – and what her tasks here.

He also wrote a number of news stories including: a pledge by new World Bank COO Axel van Trotsenburg to deliver results on the ground (here); a warning by World Bank chief economist Penny Goldberg on the threat deglobalisation poses to its poverty targets (here); and a story on the final stages of the negotiations to secure $80bn for the World Bank’s arm that operates in the poorest countries (here)

He was also heavily engaged in news planning, copy sub-editing and headline writing.

Profile of World Bank economist and news on sukuk finance

Phil had two articles published in the latest edition of EMEA Finance, the magazine and website covering financial issues across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

One was a profile of the chief economist at the World Bank, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, who has stepped down temporarily from her chair at Yale University to head up the analysis at the world’s largest multilateral lender. She is very focused on inequality and how a shift towards deglobalisation could actually make conditions worse in emerging markets that depend on trade for wealth and wellbeing. The profile is here.

The same issue carried a news story on the announcement by the UK government that it will print a second sovereign Islamic bond in the new years following the success of its £400m issue a few years. John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, insists: “Islamic finance is here to stay. It is not a passing flash in the pan but a resilient and buoyant sector of its own.” The story is here.

100 miles bike ride to raise money for Anthony Nolan

I’m attempting my first 100 mile bike ride on the 2019 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday 4 August.

I’m riding for Anthony Nolan, a charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders. It makes lifesaving connections between people with blood cancer and incredible strangers ready to donate their stem cells.

It would love any donations. My only connection that is my office at home backs onto their main offices and I have always wondered about the work they do. If you would like to donate please click here

Distinction from World Bank Open Learning Campus

Phil took part in an online course offered by the World Bank Group, called Unlocking Investment and Finance in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs). The four-week course involved reading a large numbers of articles and book chapters as well as watching a series of videos.

The course looked at: an overview of Investment and Finance in EMDEs; public finance strategies to unlock finance and investment; unlocking private finance and investment; and building robust financial markets and institutions. It included two multiple choice tests, a brief assignment, and  amore detailed project. Phil received an overall score of 88% which led to a distinction cerficate.

The certificate is here

How central banks are learning new tricks

The Think.ING website has looked at how central baks have changed how they communicate with the public, drawing from behavioural science to simplify their message and reach more people. Phil looked at how central banks must also ensure their messages are heard in an increasingly noisy media environment where there are many new suppliers of news thanks to the growth of the internet and use of mobile apps.

The article looks at research into how central banks have fine-tuned their messaging and used different channels with different versions of the same message to appeal to a wider range of people.

The premier example was Jamaica where the central bank has issued a series of videos on Twitter and other social media in recent months featuring reggae singers and musicians telling viewers that if inflation is too high “the people have a cry” and “if it’s too low the country nah grow”.

The lesson is that as populism threatens the established order and digital and social media expand their reach, it is only a matter of time before other central banks recognise the need for plain talking. The blog post is here.

Focus on digital skills

The need for people to have digital skills to do their job is becoming more urgent as the fourth industrial revolution sweeps through industries such as financial services. The Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment is looking at the threat of digital skills shortages, how ity will affect firms and what they and other organisations are doing about.

The first stage was a review of the landscape that Phil carried out, drawing on the large volume of research out there and filtering it to draw out the key messages. The article is here. It includes a poll that will provide material for future articles. The CISI will publish a longer article later in the year that Phil is currently researching.

EBRD governance, Bahrain fintech and Ghana for EMEA Finance magazine

Phil had three articles published in the latest edition of EMEA Finance magazine in May 2019. They looked at three diverse issues – the rules governing investments by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the success of fintech in Bahrain and the strategy of Ghana’s finance minister

The article on the reform of the governance rules that apply to loans made by the EBRD was based on a conversation with Alistair Clark, Managing Director for Environment and Sustainability. It looked at the bank’s ambition for the reform and how the various consultations with stakeholders had gone. It also highlighted concerns raised by NGOs who believe that the EBRD is failing to be as transparent as other IFIs. The article is here.

A longer feature looked at how Bahrain had moved swiftly to establish itself as one of the world’s centres for financial technology (fintech). It looked at how the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) launched the first in a series of initiatives that aimed to make the kingdom the Middle East’s centre for international innovation and finance. Phil spoke with a number of major players in the kingdom. The article is here.

A profile of Ghana’s minister of finance Ken Ofori-Atta looked at how the former Wall Street investment banker has taken firm action to steady the economy by resolving seven troubled banks and overseeing Ghana’s successful exit from a $185m four-year loan from the International Monetary Fund. The article is here.