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Quantitative easing (in a manner or speaking)

July 26, 2013


In an effort to help residents lose weight local government officials in Saudi Arabia have announced a 30-day challenge in which it promises to pay participants a gram of gold for every kilogram of weight lost – worth the weight


I read about this in The Monday Briefing, written by Ian Stewart, my firm's Chief Economist in the UK, gives a personal view on topical financial and economic issues. In a world of too much information, this is one item I habitually make time to read, and recommend it to students, colleagues, clients who have an interest in the economy. It is subscribed (free) at

How much would I earn by losing some weight?

Presuming that it would be in my interest to lose some weight, and assuming that I should lose a stone, and translating one stone into French, then I need to lose 6.35 kg (good job Jane doesn't read my blogs: she will snort and say I need to lose a lot more). The google price of 9ct gold is £ 10.08/kg, so I would stand to gain £64. Or, if it were 24ct gold, £26.87/kg, then £171.

Should the state incentivise me in this way?

I think there is some merit: the benefit to the health service for instance, though maybe there is an additional cost to the state in terms of longer term care needs: no doubt there is a wealth of good and bad statistical studies on the subject. There must be at least as much merit as many of the other tax incentives or benefits that are presently offered. Maybe I would even need to buy some new clothes, thereby boosting GDP?

Government ministers, of all shapes and sizes, would have photo calls, at schools, workplaces and gyms. Interviews would be held with fat and thin people, and some would complain ’why should the overweight be paid for what they should do already?'. Someone is bound to object the system breaches Human Rights or is unfair, favouring males over females (or vice versa) or young over old; a claim would be sure to go to Europe. At least one restaurant chain would come out with a gold menu, promising low carbs.

Of course, even before it is introduced, there would be tax planning opportunities, and a new industry would be borne. The well advised would eat gargantuantly before their first weight test, to which they arrive in their heaviest of clothes. Their next visit will be in Lycra, starving. Or it might be self assessment.

And what if the weight is subsequently put back on?

I suspect I should stop thinking about this, since I am now on holiday. Alas, Ian's next Monday email may well be his much awaited holiday reading list…

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