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Session 19A-19B 15:30-17:00 // day two

19A - Money and PowerUniversity of Warwick, Baruch College, and University of Sussex

Speculative bubbles, or economic bubbles, have featured recurrently in our history in various mutated forms since the early-seventeenth century. However, their labyrinthine personalities leave them misunderstood. They are capable of bewitching entire societies and their destructive capacity can be immense, it is remarkable that our ability to understand, react to or even predict bubbles is so rudimentary. The South Sea Bubble was the first speculative episode in British history, causing a major stock market crash. The argument of this paper can be situated uniquely within the historiography, diverging from a ‘gambling mania’ interpretation upheld by P. G. M. Dickson and the traditionalist school.

Through developing the Revisionist kickback, driven by H. Paul, this paper bridges a current void within the existing historiography, which fails to comprehend the actions of all investors rationally. Through forwarding an argument of bounded rationality, it removes the investor as the protagonist and instead posits the wider context as the fundamental factor causing the bubble. Speculative bubbles are context specific and can only be understood through unpacking the contemporary culture. This paper draws on a range of primary sources, psychological and economic theory to unpack the contemporary context and investor behaviour.

Through embracing an interdisciplinary style, together with the application of the Cambridge School’s contextualist methodology, this paper defends the rationality of investors. The analytical framework presented can be usefully applied to other speculative episodes, unveiling new insights into their emergence. Moreover, the underlying argument that investors behave rationally in speculative episodes has wider implications for the understanding and prediction of future bubbles.

Through comparing the United States Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the UK’s Corporate Governance code, I questioned whether the US’s implementation of hard accounting law should remain in place in order to protect investors that are impacted by accounting fraud. With the many accounting fraud cases that occurred in the early 2000s such as WorldCom and Enron, the United States found it necessary to put SOX in place, which put much stricter requirements on publicly traded companies in terms of internal control and external auditing measures. Since then, there has been much criticism due to the large costs that come with complying with SOX Section 404. However, accounting fraud cases have been shown to be on a significant decline since the enactment of the Act. With the security of investors in mind, I found it necessary to research more about the UK’s Governance Code, which shows to be much more lenient than SOX. What I discovered was that the UK code adopted a principles-based approach, where the code is simply recommended and not specifically tied to litigation. With this being the case, I found it difficult to give favour to a more lenient accounting regulatory system when my main argument is to make sure investors can feel secure in trusting the financial statements for the companies in which they are investing. With the changes occurring within the United States’ governmental system currently, I believe this topic to be interesting and relevant.

Convenience stores are a ubiquitous presence in Japan. Introduced to Japan in the 1970s, they rose to become one of Japan’s top retail business types. To maintain their strong position, convenience store chains have developed ultra-efficient methods of distribution and product development.

Compared to an equivalent in the United States, a convenience store in Japan offers a wider variety of goods and services to make itself more than just a retailer. It has done this by not only re-inventing modes of retail business methods but also affecting consumer behaviours and their lifestyle. Such services include courier services and bill payments. Expanding beyond business, some convenience stores in Japan contribute to their community such as aiding in earthquake relief efforts. They have positioned themselves to be a focal point in the community. Our research analyses a range of sources such newspaper articles, scholarly articles, books, essays and documentaries in an attempt to answer the question ‘why are convenience stores in Japan so successful?’ We have discovered that while convenience stores in Japan are the epitome of convenience, they also contribute to social problems such as hyper-consumerist mindsets, growing amounts of ‘food waste’, and reliance on this service industry. The research presented aims to highlight how a business affects a community socially and culturally, and to further understanding on the context of how the Japanese convenience store arose.

The Costa del Sol, on the south coast of Spain, holds the largest number of British immigrants in the EU. While demographic research has frequently been carried out on this group of people, and much research has been done on British residents in the EU, there has not yet been a focused study of British migrants and their response to Brexit in the region they are most populous in Europe: the Costa del Sol. The study aims to highlight the responses and concerns of British immigrants towards Brexit as their position in the Brexit negotiations is largely neglected. To contextualise the political position of British immigrants in Spain within the ongoing negotiations, a literature review was used to obtain a broad socio-historical context, and an online survey and interviews of British immigrants were used to obtain raw data on historical and demographic trends and responses to Brexit. The study concludes that British immigrants in the EU, and notably in Spain, interact with the UK and Spain’s commercial, migratory and political interests in a complex fashion given the deep intertwining of these nations in these areas through the EU. As such, a soft Brexit would be, on balance, more beneficial for both parties politically and practically. The survey reveals several results, most importantly that free-movement is the largest concern for the British on the Costa del Sol and that they feel their position should have a higher profile during the ongoing negotiations.

19B - Gold, Crime and Money University of Warwick, Monash University South Africa, and University of Leeds

This research paper examines the degree of competition in the South African banking sector by making use of the Structure-Conduct-Performance (S-C-P) Paradigm and the Panzar and Rosse statistic and investigates the implications of bank behaviour. The S-C-P paradigm links the industries structure, which is normally characterised by the levels of concentration of the banking system, to conduct and to their performance as the level of competition is implied by the industries structural features. The H-statistic of the Panzar and Rosse model, which is a measure of the degree of competition in the banking sector, suggests that the South African banking system is under monopolistic competition. According to the S-C-P paradigm, it has been proven that the high concentration in the South African banking sector encourages greater market power exercised by the banks and facilitated collusion among them. With this backdrop, this study analyses the negative effects of collusive behaviour by the banks on South Africa’s economy. It is therefore necessary for the government to take vigorous steps in dealing with this problem and to prevent such reality form happening.

Key Words: Competition, collusion, South Africa, banking sector, monopolistic competition, Structure-Conduct-Performance Paradigm, Panzar and Rosse index

Biofilm formation, bacterial colonisation and urethral trauma during urinary catheterisation lead to infection, pain and discomfort for the patient and thereby failure of the device. Polymer brush grafted surfaces are an attractive technology for this application due to their ability to make a surface easily wetted by water and tailor a surface for antimicrobial efficiency. This hydrophilic property will evidently show the decrease in biofilm formation and also reduction in friction effectively. There is also reduced surface roughness and reduced adhesion, which constitutes a vivid enhancement in the surface properties, compared to their hydrogel counter parts. The aim of this project was to investigate, characterise and optimise the grafting procedure of polymer brushes onto silicone elastomer surfaces. Surfaces were characterised by water contact angle measurement (WCA), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and friction assessment of grafted surfaces. Initial results demonstrate remarkable reduction in water contact angle, which indicates that the grafted surface has a stronger affinity for water. The future work is to optimise the surface based on friction, lifespan, anti-fouling properties and profoundly reducing the cost of the coated catheters and also the reusability of the biomedical device.

Natural gold is often alloyed with other metals and contains small fragments of minerals. Previously, the alloyed metals and inclusions in gold have been analysed to determine the chemistry of a mineralising fluid and the conditions in which gold is emplaced. Using a new technique, trace elements and nano-scale structures within gold can be analysed to try and uncover a fundamental process of mineralisation. Knowing more about the processes that form gold and other metals can help to target exploration more accurately, allowing us to continue using the gold that is used in everywhere from your jewellery to biocompatible implants and space shuttles.

Previous work has used a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Electron Probe Micro-Analysis (EPMA) to distinguish the elements that comprise gold with a parts per million resolution. Using Laser-Ablation Inductively-Coupled-Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (LA-ICP-MS), individual gold grains from specific localities in the UK and worldwide can be analysed for up to 40 different elements in a parts per billion concentration. This new technique will look deeper into the composition of natural gold and greatly improve our understanding.

As well as general characterisation of the gold, a global mineralisation review of the ancient Caledonian mountain range using gold from the UK and North America has been conducted. The research will endeavour to characterise gold on the smallest possible scale and provide knowledge for the research and industry communities worldwide.

Health economics is the study of decisions made between various options for the allocation of scarce resources where at least one has an impact on human health. Often the allocation is made based on economic analyses e.g. a cost-benefit analysis. Analyses like these require us to place a value on human life. Since we desire an optimal allocation – one which correctly balances the value of human life against other competing values – we must assign the correct value to human life at the outset.

Two metrics used to measure the value of human life are the pound value of a quality adjusted life year (£QALY) and the value of a statistical life (VSL). Given a life is exhaustively composed of the years in it, it would be surprising if summing the values for each of the years in a life produced a lower value than simply measuring the value of the life itself. Yet that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in.

While our best estimates for VSL are around £5 million, giving the value of a year of life at £62,500, the NHS appears willing to spend only £25,000 per QALY.

I attempt to resolve this discrepancy by considering alternative explanations for it, and show that each of these has unpalatable consequences. I argue the most palatable solution, despite its consequences for economics more generally, is to amend the method by which we arrive at the VSL.