Article 50 Insurance

2 08 2016

A few days ago, I posted some thoughts about whether Brexit insurance should be provided by the state or the private sector. I argued that the state should provide it so as to incentivize policymakers to adopt an approach to the Brexit negotiations that would minimize the economic costs. Today, the FT reports that ActiveQuote, the  Cardiff-based company that runs the income protection insurance segments of such UK price comparison websites as Go Compare has reported that Brexit produced a huge surge in the numbers of people looking to purchase insurance against unemployment.They also reported that many of the people seeking cover work in finance and earn £150,000.

It sounds like people in the City have concluded that the government won’t be compensating those who lose their jobs due to the government’s intention to trigger Article 50.

Invitation to Tender: City Lives

2 08 2016



Are you an oral historian who wishes to do research on the UK financial sector? If so, this tender may interest you.

National Life Stories, the oral history fieldwork charity based within the British Library, is seeking to employ a freelance consultant for 20 days (daily rate will be £200.00) in order to complete a Scoping Study for the project City Lives Revisited—to inform its rationale, structure, timeframe and identify potential funders. The successful applicant will require a detailed knowledge of the UK’s financial sector and its history, and preferably will have an understanding of oral history as a discipline and methodological approach.

This is a freelance consultancy service for National Life Stories beginning in October 2016. All applications must be received by 5.00pm on Monday 26 September 2016.

Between 1987 and 1997 National Life Stories (NLS) explored the inner world of Britain’s financial capital and gathered 150 in-depth biographical recordings with men and women from the Stock Exchange, the merchant and clearing banks, the commodities and futures markets, law and accounting firms, financial regulators, insurance companies and Lloyd’s of London. The City Lives project is a unique record of the complex interrelationships and dramatic changes which defined the Square Mile in the late twentieth century.
The first City Lives interviews (BL catalogue no. C409) were made in time to capture a substantial body of memories of the days when London’s financial sector was concentrated in the Square Mile and British family banking dynasties conducted business in a manner handed down from the previous century. By the time the project ended, the effects of Big Bang, including the influx of powerful overseas securities firms, and the geographical pull of Canary Wharf had changed the landscape completely. Many of the well-known names had vanished – Barings Bank being only one of them – and the shift to screen-based electronic trading had swept away traditional working methods and relationships. City Lives documents personal accounts and pivotal moments, among them the British Aluminium battle, the arrival of women traders at the Stock Exchange, the privatisation of British Telecom, the Big Bang in 1986, the 1987 Crash, the creation of LIFFE and the rise in power of the American banks in London. Inadvertently, the project caught the zeitgeist of the City before 9/11, an atmosphere that seems unlikely to return.

City Lives: The Changing Voices of British Finance by Cathy Courtney and Paul Thompson (Methuen, 1996) was edited from the interviews, and 76 interviews are now available online worldwide in their entirety as part of a new ‘Banking and Finance’ package at for use by scholars and researchers and anyone interested in the City. The BL’s oral history collections also include other interviews related to banking and finance notably The Jobbing System of the London Stock Exchange: An Oral History (C463), An Oral History of Barings (C1367), the Kynaston London International Financial Futures & Options Exchange (LIFFE) Interviews (C1053) and the Kynaston Phillips & Drew Interviews (C1054).

Much has happened in the City and in the UK’s financial sector since 1997 and NLS is now planning to initiate a new oral history programme – City Lives Revisited – to document the key recent changes that have occurred. We now want to commission a Scoping Study to assess existing oral history collections relating to the UK’s finance sector, both at the British Library and more widely, and make recommendations about the scope and scale for a new programme of interviews.

Oral history is a uniquely useful tool for collecting personal testimony, insight and reflection. Beginning with older, senior figures – but ranging right across the sector from top to bottom – we are envisaging that City Lives Revisited will document the key period between 1995 and 2008, spanning 9-11, when the City was convulsed by the Asian (1997) and Russian (1998) debt crises; by the rise of new media and technologies, and the internet bubble; and by the Y2K panic. Leading up to the crash of 2008 the City also witnessed the rise of the large global banks, hedge funds and private equity funds. Post-2008 and leading up to Brexit the project will seek to document the casualties of the crash, the impact on the City and chart how regulatory frameworks have shifted.

As with the existing interviews in City Lives, the new project will record one-to-one audio interviews averaging ten to fifteen hours in length made over several sessions, the content of which will range broadly over each individual’s career history, education, background and family. This biographical, or life story, approach has proved rewarding for previous projects and enormously valuable for researchers seeking a more rounded view of an individual and their contribution to their profession. The interviews will be archived and – subject to interviewee consent – made available at the British Library onsite and online, for consultation by researchers, historians and biographers.

The brief

National Life Stories is seeking to employ a freelance consultant for 20 days in order to complete a Scoping Study for the project, to inform its rationale, structure, timeframe and identify potential funders. The successful applicant will require a detailed knowledge of the UK’s financial sector and its history, and preferably will have an understanding of oral history as a discipline and methodological approach. Reporting to the NLS Director, the successful candidate will provide the following services:

To act as consultant researcher for City Lives Revisited: to prepare and deliver a Scoping Study preparatory to a major oral history project on the recent history of the financial sector in the United Kingdom with particular reference to the City of London.

This Scoping Study will encompass:

o A desk-based summary mapping survey of the key existing oral history and life story collections relating to the UK financial sector which can be found in publicly-accessible archives and libraries in the UK, by way of a gap analysis, highlighting priority topics, individuals, themes and areas for fruitful oral history research.

o An assessment of the key developments in the sector since the initial City Lives project. This is intended to provide a working historical rationale and framework for the project.

o A position paper evaluating the potential scope of a life story project within the sector. This should recommend options for the likely themes of enquiry, possible interviewees and potential funding avenues.

Findings will be reported to the NLS project team comprising:
Dr Robert Perks, NLS Director/Oral History Lead Curator, BL
Sir Nicholas Goodison, NLS Advisor
Cathy Courtney, NLS Project Director
Cai Parry-Jones, Oral History Curator, BL

The proposed schedule of work will be:
o October 2016: start date
o Mid-November 2016: draft summary of preliminary key findings
o End November 2016: project team meeting at BL
o Early December 2016: submission of final Scoping Study to project team

Copyright in the research findings and Scoping Study will be held by National Life Stories at the British Library

Terms and Conditions

This is a freelance consultancy service for National Life Stories for 20 days’ work (7.5 hours per day) beginning in October 2016. The daily rate will be £200.00.

This contract is for work on a self-employed basis, where the successful candidate will take responsibility for their own tax and National Insurance contributions, and will invoice National Life Stories upon delivery of the report.


To apply you should send a CV and a covering statement (no more than four A4 pages in total) explaining how your experience and skills meet the requirements specified in the project brief to:

Dr Rob Perks, City Lives Revisited Scoping Study, National Life Stories, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Please indicate where you found this position advertised.

All applications must be received by 5.00pm on Monday 26 September 2016.

Interviews will take place at the British Library on Wednesday 5 October 2016.

Should Brexit Income-Loss Insurance be Provided by the Government or the Private Sector?

29 07 2016

A few days ago, a curious advert appeared in my Facebook feed: it was for Brexit-related income protection insurance. In effect, an insurance company was offered me the chance to insure against the possibility that Brexit might cost me my job. The product has been rushed to market in the month since the referendum result by a firm hoping to capitalize on the widespread sense of uncertainty that now pervades many sectors of the British economy. Many people genuinely fear that Brexit could cost them their jobs.

I’m not convinced that this product offers value for money, as I suspect the clever lawyers for the insurance company could concoct plausible arguments to allow the firm to get out of paying out to people who have lost job. One would need to read the insurance contract, and the relevant UK case law, to see what sort of evidence the policyholder would need to produce to prove a casual linkage between Brexit and loss of income. (The company could always argue that the policyholder’s employer went out of business for reasons unrelated to Brexit).


The being said, the fact this policy is being offered at all says something about the political economy of Brexit negotiations. This insurance product is being offered because many people assume that they will not be able to claim back lost income from the government in the event of Brexit-induced job losses.  Effectively, the politicians responsible for Brexit have externalized many of the costs associated with Brexit. Ironically, some of the members of the current cabinet are strong believers in the “polluters should pay principle”. I agree that this is a good principle, because it forces firms to internalize the costs of dumping waste in the river. Maybe the same principle should be applied to Brexit job losses.  If the current government is indeed confident that Brexit would be a clear net benefit to the UK economy and job gains would outweigh any job losses, they should put their money where their mouth is and place a bet on this belief by offering cover the costs that any individual or company suffers as a result of Brexit.

Let’s apply a public-choice lens here: the politicians who are tasked with negotiating some sort of compromise with the EU are wealthy individuals who are going to remain wealthy regardless of whether they take a hardline stance that worsens the impact of Brexit on UK wage earners. Indeed, the politics of the Conservative party may actually incentivize these politicians to adopt positions that end up costing lots of little people their jobs. The UK Treasury would, of course, lose a great deal of money in the event of a job-destroying outcome to the Brexit negotiations (e.g., less tax revenue, more benefits claimed), but many of the costs associated with Brexit would be borne by private individuals, not central government. The externalization of these costs thus enables the policymakers to indulge in the luxury of grandstanding in negotiations with Brussels.

Since 1962, US trade liberalization agreement have been accompanied by the provision of structural adjustment funds to compensate the losers from such agreements. For instance, steel workers how can show that they lost jobs due to a trade deal that reduced tariffs on steel can claim back money from the government under the TAA scheme. Since trade liberalization is, on the whole, good for the economy, this arrangement is win-win.  The wisdom of such structural adjustment programmes can be debated, but there is a clear precedent we can follow here. Given that Brexit is a massive trade deliberalization move, it makes sense for the UK government to be forced to cover all of the costs of Brexiting. Ideally, the compensation paid to the minister responsible for Brexit policy should be connected to the size of the Brexit compensation payouts so that they are personally incentivized to negotiate an arrangement that results in as few job losses as possible. However, I suspect that it is too much to hope for.

Call for expressions of interest for Assistant Professor Position in International Business/Strategy -University of Liverpool Management School

26 07 2016

Interested in being my colleague? If so read below:

Call for expressions of interest for Assistant Professor Position in International Business/Strategy -University of Liverpool Management School

The University of Liverpool Management School (ULMS) invites expressions of interest for a position as Lecturer (equivalent to a tenure-track Assistant Professor) in International Business and/or Strategy beginning in January 2017. Interested applicants can find detailed information here: Position in IB or Strategy at ULMS. The position will be advertised formally in the autumn of 2016.

If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, members of our Group will meet with promising candidates at various conferences over the summer, including the AOM meeting in Anaheim. Please contact my colleague Dr. Giulia Solinas ( with a current CV, so that she can schedule a meeting in Anaheim or elsewhere.



Call for Co-Panelists: Historical Perspectives on De-Globalisation and MNE Strategy

25 07 2016

The 44th Academy of International Business (UK&Ireland Chapter) conference will be held 6-8 April 2017 at Henley Business School, University of Reading. The conference should attract a range of top-notch scholars of International Business. The central theme of this year’s conference is deglobalization. I’m interested in putting together a panel of business historians that would grapple with the issue of deglobalization and its impact on firm strategy. I believe that looking at previous episodes of deglobalization can help firms to think about their strategies in light of the accumulating evidence (see here, here, here, and here) that we may be entering a deglobalization phase in world economic history.  I’m not entirely convinced by the now fashionable deglobalization narrative, but I will certainly admit that there are many data points to support it.

Anyone who would be interested in being on such a panel should contact me. We would need to submit our panel proposal and paper by 9 December at the very latest.

The theme for the conference is Contemporary Issues in International Business: Are we seeing the tail-end of globalization?
As we enter 2017, we are faced with growing uncertainty and sociology-economic challenges that suggest we may be seeing the tail-end of globalization: Zero growth, the panama papers, an immigration push-back, Brexit, Donald Trump, a new debt crisis, social unrest, even a possible recession. We contend that globalization is not an unstoppable force, and there are costs of maintaining globalization’s momentum. Society is inertial in accepting the new realities that come with globalization: less control over the ‘domestic’ economy, widespread use of international transfer pricing, the free movement of people, growing inequality. Our debate panelists will discuss what this means for international business from various perspectives.


The full CFP is here.

If you are interested in being on this panel, please contact me.


The Rise of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia: What About Business?

20 07 2016


My friend and sometimes co-author Jatinder Mann has just published his fantastic new book comparing the development of multiculturalism in Canada and Australia in the twentieth centuries. (Actually he starts his narrative in the 1890s). The Search for a New National Identity: the Rise of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia  (Interdisciplinary Studies in Diasporas) was released on 15 July by Peter Lang publishers.

Here is the book blurb:

This book explores the profound social, cultural, and political changes that affected the way in which Canadians and Australians defined themselves as a “people” from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. Taking as its central theme the way each country responded to the introduction of new migrants, the book asks a key historical question: why and how did multiculturalism replace Britishness as the defining idea of community for English-speaking Canada and Australia, and what does this say about their respective experiences of nationalism in the twentieth century? The book begins from a simple premise – namely, that the path towards the adoption of multiculturalism as the orthodox way of defining national community in English-speaking Canada and Australia in the latter half of the twentieth century was both uncertain and unsteady. It followed a period in which both nations had looked first and foremost to Britain to define their national self-image. In both nations, however, following the breakdown of their more formal and institutional ties to the ‘mother-country’ in the post-war period there was a crisis of national meaning, and policy makers and politicians moved quickly to fill the void with a new idea of the nation, one that was the very antithesis to the White, monolithic idea of Britishness. This book will be useful for both history and politics courses in Australia and Canada, as well as internationally.

This book is an important piece of scholarship and one that will doubtless be read not just in Canada and Australia but also in those industrialised countries that have some different experiences in managing diversity. Canadian multiculturalism is indeed a role model for many other countries, as it is nation that has developed its economy through the successful integration of waves of immigration. The Canadian and Australian experiments with multiculturalism have been brilliant successes in economic terms and are discussed around the world.



Monument to Multiculturalism in Toronto’s Financial District

I do not mean to critique Jatinder’s great book in any way, but it seems to me that one element in missing, or at least, under-developed in it: the role of business in promoting the emergence in these societies of  multiculturalism. There are passing references to business here and there in the book, but no sustained treatment of the issue. It seems to me that one could write a narrative history of multiculturalism in both Canada and Australia that foregrounds the role of business in lobbying for a more open immigration policy and in the practical integration of arrivals. If I were writing this history, I might open it with a discussion of Brian Mulroney’s speech on the economic benefits of multiculturalism, which delivered at a 1986 conference called “Multiculturalism Means Business.”I would also note that this slogan “Multiculturalism Means Business” was shamelessly plagiarised by the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission of  the State of Western Australia, which organized a suspiciously similar conference in August 1988.

It seems to me that a business historian could use the histories of these two countries to produce some research with real global impact.








Nostalgia and Brexit

19 07 2016



Three professors of strategy at EDHEC in France (Ludovic Cailluet, Emmanuel Métais and Philippe Véry), have published an interesting paper on one of the motives for Brexit, namely nostalgia for the economic golden age that allegedly existed before the UK joined the Common Market in 1973. There is something to be said for this argument, as I do think that there is a tendency among some older people to romanticize their youth.

Management academics are increasingly interested in the usage of the past and social memory and their research speaks to this theme.

You can download the document that contains their report here.



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