John Kay (economist)

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Kay in 2012

John Anderson Kay CBE FRSE FBA (born 1948) is a British economist. He is a visiting Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and has been a fellow of St John's College, Oxford, since 1970.[1][2]


Born in Edinburgh, Kay was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh University, and Nuffield College, Oxford. He lectured in economics at Oxford from 1971 to 1978.

In 1979, Kay became Research Director and the Director of the independent think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies.[3] In 1986 he became a professor at the London Business School and founded London Economics, a consultancy firm. He was the first director of Oxford's Said Business School from 1997 to 1999, and has written at some length as to why he chose to resign after only two years.[4] He has served as a director of Halifax plc and of several investment companies.

Kay (2003),[5] addressed to non-economists, attempts to answer what Robert Lucas has called the most exciting economic question: across the globe, why are so few rich and so many poor?

He is a regular editorial contributor to the Financial Times, where he has also had a weekly column since 1995.[6] He sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[7]

Kay received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2009 [8]

In 2012 he presented a substantial report to the British government[9] on reform of the equity market, which suggested that "the stockmarket exists to provide companies with equity capital and to give savers a stake in economic growth. Over time that simple truth has been forgotten".[10] Kay suggested a series of reforms which he hoped would correct some problems with stock markets; some critics suggested his analysis of the problem was better than his proposed solution.[11]

Kay was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to economics.[12]

Kay has also served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers to the First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2011. Five months before the Scottish independence referendum, 2014, Kay said it was a "mistake" for voters to think claims of an independent Scotland being one of the world's wealthiest nations would mean more cash in their pockets. Kay warned that using GDP as a measure fails to reveal how much money bypasses locals by going straight to foreign companies and drew comparisons with Ireland, which appeared "better off" than it actually was before economic meltdown.[13]


Some of Kay's many columns on economics and business topics, published in the Financial Times, are reprinted in:

  • The Hare & the Tortoise (2006)
  • Everlasting Light Bulbs (2004)
  • The Business of Economics (1996)

Other books include:

  • Other People's Money: The Real Business of Finance (2015)
  • Obliquity: How our goals are best pursued indirectly (2010)
  • The long and the Short of it: Finance and investment for normally intelligent people who are not in the industry (2009, 2nd edition 2016)
  • The Truth About Markets (2003). Published in the USA in 2004 as Culture and Prosperity: Why some nations are rich but most remain poor. HarperCollins.
  • Why Firms Succeed (1995), a slightly revised, shortened version of Foundations of Corporate Success, written for the American market.
  • Foundations of Corporate Success (1993)
  • The British Tax System, (1979, and four subsequent editions), with Mervyn King. ISBN 978-0198283133.


  1. ^ Biography at St John's College, Oxford
  2. ^ "Bogus modelling discredits evidence based policy". British Politics and Policy blog. London School of Economics. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  3. ^ John Kay website - About John Kay
  4. ^ Kay, John (2000) "The Management of the University of Oxford... Facing the Future." Also see the following articles in Prospect: "A Lost Cause?", December 2000, Reply", January 2001, and ""Arguing over Oxford", February 2001. See his "Oxford Experiences," Times Higher Education Supplement, 24 November 2000. Morrison, Richard, "Has Oxford missed the boat?" The Times, 30 November 2000.
  5. ^ John Kay, "Political decisions are not a matter of statistics", 15 May 2003.
  6. ^ John Kay page, Financial Times.
  7. ^ Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board
  8. ^ "Annual Review 2008: Principal's Review". Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  9. ^ The full report is available here
  10. ^ Quote from The Economist magazine, print edition, 28 July 2012, available here
  11. ^ For example, The Economist magazine, print edition, 28 July 2012, concluded "his report... is unlikely to change much", available here
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 9. 31 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Alex Salmond's ex-economic adviser criticises claim at heart of poster campaign", 17 April 2014.

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