Expert Blog

A post for each month of 2015

2015 has been the first full year of this blog, so we thought we’d have a little moment to take stock. Here’s a selection of 12 posts from the year, one for each month.

In January, Jon Lawes celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Ford Transit:

‘There have been several further versions of the van since that original Mark I, as well as numerous other refinements along the way. But one thing has remained consistent through the years: its versatility. The Transit has been a minibus, an ice-cream truck, a film star – and more. Ford’s own website has listed some of its most peculiar roles, in advance of this year’s anniversary. Did you know? Wills and Kate were thought to have used one to travel unnoticed through Anglesey.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In February, Ian Birrell reported on the British motor industry and its recent resurrection:

‘The resurgence of the British motor industry is among the most remarkable economic stories of recent times. It boomed after the birth of mass motoring, then crashed in spectacular style thanks to industrial strife in the 70s, before being salvaged by foreign owners. Today, three new cars roll off production lines each minute in places such as Solihull and Sunderland – and we should take stock of this sector’s astonishing success.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In March, Matt Schembri investigated the benefits of the congestion charge:

‘We already know several things about London’s congestion charge: that it has reduced traffic, done likewise for pollution, and delivered lots of money into the city’s coffers. … But now we hear of another benefit of the charge: fewer road accidents. According to new research presented to the Royal Economic Society, and reported recently by the Guardian, the number of accidents in central London has declined by 30 a month since the charge was introduced – or by a resounding 40 per cent.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In April, Nigel Pauley predicted big things for Jeremy Clarkson:

‘So, where and what next for Clarkson? He’s a workaholic adrenaline junkie, so don’t expect him to sit around lounging on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle. … Politically-correct British television chiefs might have shut the door on him, but America loves him. Australia loves him. South Africa loves him. India loves him. Scandinavia loves him. … I reckon Top Gear’s team will re-group, continue to play huge venues with their live show and begin making a new version of the show loved by millions, to market via Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu. It will coin it in.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In May, Matt Schembri scaled Britain’s massive pile of debt:

‘The household debt numbers are some of the most important, yet insufficiently discussed, in our economy. This is the money that we, as individuals, owe via mortgages and credits cards and loans and overdrafts. And it just so happens to be at its highest level in history. Last year, household debt hit about £1.7 trillion. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that it will reach £2.5 trillion in four years’ time.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In June, Matt Schembri explained why George Osborne might be so bold as to increase fuel duty:

‘Basically, the Chancellor has foregone £billions over the past few years to contain fuel duty – and what for? The cost of a litre of unleaded still rose from about 118p in June 2010 to a peak of about 142p in April 2012, even if it has come back down again now. What matters are fluctuations in global oil prices, more than anything that the Chancellor can write into his Budget.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In July, Matt Schembri wrote again about the Chancellor; specifically, about his problems with productivity:

‘What’s more difficult to explain is why the workforce has become less productive. Even the smartest economists differ with each other on this point, and most of their theories are just that – theories. Some suggest that employers held on to workers during the bad times, with the intention of giving them more work when the good times returned. Others reckon that it’s because employers have found room for people with lower-than-average productivity, such as young people and the long-term unemployed. Others warn that we’ve just become lazier.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In August, Claudia Massie travelled across the design landscape of David Mellor:

‘Mellor, who died in 2009, and is also famous for his superior cutlery designs, had a fruitful partnership with Abacus, resulting in the production of the bestselling ‘152 series’ of bus shelters, as well as lampposts, bins, benches and bollards. ... Scarcely an area of our streets was left untouched by the Mellor vision, including our pedestrian crossings. That signal box below the lights, the ‘PEDESTRIANS Push button and wait for signal opposite’ one, was designed by Mellor for the Department of the Environment, along with the lights themselves.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In September, Mark Simpson got involved in the war between mums and dads:

‘In news that will be music to dads’ ears, a clear majority of boys and girls across Europe identified dad as the best driver. Though, since most kids don’t have licences, this finding probably shouldn’t be treated as entirely decisive. More likely it will just cause another annoying row between mum and dad during the next family car journey, where mum will angrily cite a study by Privilege car insurers from earlier this year which claimed to show that women were in fact the best drivers.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In October, Jonathan Jones crunched the numbers of Lewis Hamilton’s latest world title:

‘Hamilton secured his place in F1 history with three races to spare – in stark contrast to his first two titles. In 2008, it was only in the in the final few corners of the final lap of the final Grand Prix of the season that he claimed the fifth place he needed to win his first championship by a single point from Felipe Massa. Last year, he secured his second title only after a close season-long battle with teammate Nico Rosberg that went all the way to round 19 of 19.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In November, Matt Schembri saw a different George Osborne in the Autumn Statement:

‘Did you feel it? That moment when George Osborne stopped being the Austerity Chancellor? It happened not soon after he rose to the despatch box to deliver his latest Autumn Statement at 12:30 on Wednesday 25th November. He stood up with a reputation for severity; he sat down a softie. ... Okay, perhaps that overstates it. Osborne is still cutting spending over this Parliament – by quite significant amounts – and is reducing the deficit as he does so. But the depth of the cuts has been lessened. Some of them have been abandoned altogether.’

To read the post in full, click here.

In December, Matt Schembri reckoned that one of 2015’s biggest stories will also become one of 2016’s:

‘Brent Crude is currently trading at around $44. Some analysts say that $20 is a possibility. … Which means that 2016 could start as 2015 did: with general amazement at the oil price, and what it means for our wallets. Some petrol stations are already anticipating the situation by offering unleaded at under £1 a litre.’

To read the post in full, click here.

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