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.

Heralding 10 years of Liverpool development

We were asked by Grosvenor, the international property company, to help mark the 10th anniversary of their groundbreaking re-development of the centre of Liverpool that the city is marking this year. We worked with senior executives at Grosvenor and visited the city to help craft an account of its redevelopment that would show what a significant achievement it was

Grosvenor were determined that Liverpool ONE would show that idea of place can be a driver for large scale, city centre urban regeneration. They worked to develop the project in such a way that it seamlessly linked the development to the city’s existing grain and street pattern  rather than build a single, monolithic block that followed the design of one master planner.

The result is a 250,000 m² development that Grosvenor Europe now manages, includes more than 200 shops, some 700 apartments, two hotels, 25 restaurants, a 14-screen Odeon cinema, four office buildings, a unique five-acre public park, 2,000 car parking spaces and a public transport interchange.

The report appears as a blog on the front page of the Grosvenor website that carries a great deal of other material about ONE.

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Experience covering academic and policy conferences

We have developed a specialism in covering mjor conferences of academic and policy experts, covering the main issues and producing plan English reports.

Phil was hired by the organisers of the The 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences in Germany that featured presentations and debates involving several recipients of the Nobel prize in economics. He wrote a number of pieces a day that captured the essence of some of the presentatioons and debates. One looked at how economists would design a good pension syste, based on what Peter Diamond called ‘a paternalistic need’ to use policy measures to encourage people to save more during their working lives. Another focused on what that path looks loike topwards a Nobel prize, based on the recollections of Oliver Hart, Bengt Holmstöm, and Jean Tirole. His final blog was looking ahead to the state of economics in 2020, the next meeting, featuring the thoughts of Peter Altmaier, Chris Pissarides and Deleza Hays.

Phil helped produce a highly commended article based on on innovative conference looking at consumer finance and behavioural ecojnomics. The first summit by the Think Forward Initiative held in Brussels looked at how Mainstream models in economics and finance restrict the factors relevant for financial decisions to emotionless logic, perfect information, and impeccable mathematics. The article covered debates over the ability of consumers to process information correctly, the potential gains for the aplication of behavioural economics, and the state of financial literacy. The article was published on the VoxEU portal.

Phil has played a key role in the coverage of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for Global Markets newspaper. At the last meetings he held interviews with the President, Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank and helped produce daily newspaper editions. He also wrote features on the outlook for the World Bank and IMF.

Three years of writing for Disclaimer

We have contributed columns to the innovative opinion-only website Disclaimer for the past three years. The website, which is free to read and contains articles by experts contributing pro bono, focuses on economics, politics and the arts as well as wider issues relating to London. It is non-partisan but tends to favour liberal views on these topics.

Our latest column looks at the planned exit from their prestigious London headquarters by companies such as BT and Rolls-Royce and asks whether these moves are the “canary in thecoal mine” about the deleterious impact that high property prices arehaving on the capital’s economy. YoYouan read that article here.

Adding colour with case studies for MCA awards

We contributed two casewstudies articles for The Times supplement to mark the MCA awards given the leading management consultants over the previous year. The awards were for projects that had given critical support to NHS hospitals, rebooted legacy blue-chip businesses and inspired public confidence in local police forces.

We told the story of two of those successes. PwC won the Digital Technology Award for the work it did helping Direct Line for Business attract customers from the small firms with 10 employees or fewer – plumbers, electricians and hairdressers who are are said to be the new nation of shopkeeprs. PwC partner Steven Gough told how he and his team worked with small firms to find out how to tailor a product to meet the specific challenges of this very complex market.

IBM won the Consumer Engagement award for helping Barclays reduce the attrition rate at the virtual branches that were being set up to replace a traditional call centres and which could dolve consumers’ problems from end to end. Ron Collins, IBM’s service line leader for data and analytics, used a study of 2,000 bank staff to see how long they stayed in a post, the reasons they left and what motivated them to stay.

The core finding was that long-stayers liked a structured lifestyle, were organised, had command of detail and were comfortable with regulations. As a result, Barclays changed
its recruitment procedures, and attrition rates came down.
The supplement is here (PDF).

Articles on MENA jobless rate, Islamic finance, and Estonia

Phil researched and wrote three articles for the latest edition of EMEA Finance magazine looking at issues in the Middle East and eastern Europe.

In a long feature based on a major conference held in Morocco and follow-up interviews, Phil looked at the challenges posed to the North African region from high rates of unemployment, especially among the youth, and what countries and agencies can do to tackle that. It found optimism that bodies such as the EBRD and IMF believe the region can reap the benefits of economic reform. The article is here.

Focusing on the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Phil looked how Islamic banks in the GCC have been enjoying ratings upgrades, reducing real estate exposures, and upping their lending to individuals and firms. In an interview with EMEA Finance, Nitish Bhojnagarwala, Vice President and Senior Analyst at Moody’s, said although Islamic banks’ financial fundamentals were weaker, they had improved and are converging towards the conventional banks. The article is here.

In a profile piece, Phil looked at how Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia, has become the unlikely activist for a new digital age. She was in London in April on a European tour to be a missionary for her small country’s achievement at becoming the world’s first digital state, giving citizens a digital identity enabling them to complete pretty much every municipal or state service online in minutes, as well as offering e-residency that lets anyone start a business from abroad. The article is here.

 

 

Focus on MiFID II and fund managers

The EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) will radically change the way that its securities and derivatives markets are regulated. While the impact of the 148-page document will affect every nook and cranny of financial markets, one of the most significant impacts will be on investment managers.

Phil Thornton looked at the challenges that fund managers and their advisers faced in two article for the magazine and website of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment.

The first looked at one of the most important issues – the need for sell-side companies to separate charges for execution from charges for access to research. Phil spoke with a number of fund managers and advisers to get an idea of how prepared they would be for MiFID II. The good news was that it showed that more than 60% have already set, or begun to set, their research budgets, and are making decisions on which payment methods to use. The article is here.

The second identified the sizkey themes that financial participants need to bear in mind: governance; advice; trading and execution; fees and inducements; corporate governance; and trsnaparency. The article is here.

City case studies for Grosvenor report on ageing

Grosvenor, the property company, has produced an incisive report into the impact demographic shift towards older populations will have a profound on society and the social fabric of cities. The report, Silver Cities, looks at how cities will need to adapt and develop a number of short and longer-term strategies to ensure they respond adequately to both the challenges and opportunities that an ageing population present.

We assisted with the writing of coure case studies in cities around the world that showed how different cultutres and policy practices might influence how the relevant authorities could mitifate and adpt to those changes. The four cities were: London; Vancouver; Hong Kong; and Madrid. The case studies and full report are here