Economics is hard

How are economic statistics collected? Do economic models correspond to observable reality?

In a world where markets and politicians respond strongly to things like gross domestic product (GDP) figures and economic forecasts, these are important questions. Unfortunately, discussion often jumps directly to the interpretation of new data or the output of models. Students are rarely challenged to question what the data and the models represent.

I recently came across two great articles that dig into these issues. Continue reading “Economics is hard”

Meer weten over beleggen en andere financiële onderwerpen?

De meeste Vlaamse bezoekers van deze blog komen voor mijn posts over Tax-on-Web en  pensioensparen.

Als je geïnteresseerd bent in beleggingsfondsen, dan raad ik aan. is een onafhankelijke website die zich richt op particulieren. Naast nuttige vergelijkingen van spaar- en beleggingsproducten, vind je er bijvoorbeeld ook info over fiscaliteit.

In zijn opiniestuk Niet voor onbevoegden legt Marc Person uit dat de banken en de overheid niet willen dat je “te slim” zou worden als het om geldzaken gaat. Net daarom zijn sites zoals broodnodig.


I used to commute to Brussels by train. The usual experience: full compartments, sometimes people had to stand if they didn’t want to wait for the next train.

When I went to a conference about the financial crisis (slides) last month, the train was almost empty.

As recently as five years ago, few companies allowed telecommuting. If your supervisor was OK with it, you were lucky to work from home once a week.

Nowadays, almost everybody realizes that a lot of jobs don’t need the physical presence of workers in some central office. With just a laptop, a VPN, and a headset you’re ready to collaborate with your colleagues from the kitchen table.

Credit where credit is due: banks were among the first to institutionalize telework.

Show me the money, nerd!

Finance attracts lots of smart people. But that doesn’t mean you’ll make money from their ideas.

Here are some examples of why listening to supposedly smart analysts can be bad for your financial health:

  • Peter Cauwels and Didier Sornette, researchers at ETH Zurich, declared in 2011 that Facebook was worth 15 billion dollars.

Continue reading “Show me the money, nerd!”

‘Hoe bankiers geld scheppen’ in de bieb

Verschillende bibliotheken hebben een exemplaar van Hoe bankiers geld scheppen opgenomen in hun catalogus 🙂

Voor Vlaamse lezers: je kan gemakkelijk checken welke boeken in jouw plaatselijke bibliotheek zitten door te surfen naar

<naam stad of gemeente>

Bijvoorbeeld: of

Bovenaan de pagina staat een zoekbalk waarin je de naam van de auteur of van het boek kan invullen.

Zo kan je bijvoorbeeld zien dat mijn boek momenteel uitgeleend is in Ieper.

Wist je trouwens dat je aan de bibliothecaris/bibliothecaresse kan vragen om een boek te bestellen?

A decade after Lehman fell: the best articles

A selection of the best articles I’ve read on the 10th anniversary of September 15, 2008.

Can we survive the next financial crisis?

Why claims that the 2008 bailout was a “success” should make you angry

Crisis firefighters still uninterested in fire prevention

The broken conversation about financial regulation

10 jaar bankencrisis (in Dutch)

Zo word je een topbankier

Vandaag begint het nieuwe academiejaar aan de Vlaamse universiteiten.

Wie apotheker wil worden, volgt farmaceutische wetenschappen. Advocaten in spe studeren rechten.

Wie droomt van een carrière bij een financiële instelling kan terecht in de richting financie- en verzekeringswezen aan de hogeschool. Aan de universiteit is er echter geen ‘vakopleiding’ voor bankiers.

Hoe kan je dan toch een topbankier worden? Continue reading “Zo word je een topbankier”

So you want to be a banker

Want to be a lawyer? Go to law school.

Want to be a doctor? Go to med school.

Want to be a banker? Go to… bank school?

You don’t have to study economics to get into banking. Many bankers have degrees in philosophy, geography, mathematics, civil engineering, law, or history.

Bank managers don’t care that their employees have studied Old French poetry or Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft. To employers, a university degree indicates perseverance and an ability to learn new things.

However, there are some specific things you can learn to get ahead. The following four skills will boost your career in finance. Continue reading “So you want to be a banker”

Ten years after Lehman Brothers

The ten year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy is fast approaching. Some quick thoughts on what has changed and what we’ve learned over the past decade, with a focus on Europe.

  1. Banks are much safer now than they were in the summer of 2008.
  2. There’s a remarkable lack of entrepreneurship in banking. A few fintechs offer payment services, but payments are only a small part of banking. Where are the new banks?
  3. Related to point 2, and something I’ve changed my mind about over the years: bailing out the banks was the right thing to do. I highly doubt that we would have experienced much creative destruction by letting the financial system collapse. That being said, the way the bailouts were done was horrible.
  4. The way the European establishment handled the euro crisis was an abomination. Fiscal and monetary coordination across Europe would have resulted in lower unemployment, lower debt, lower taxes.
  5. Notwithstanding the importance of money in people’s daily lives, financial literacy is still limited.