Over the past couple of weeks there’s been a crop of stories in the media in which employers bleat about the “shortage” of trained scientists and the “shortage” of literate and numerate employees. As with most of these perennial news items—I’m sure most outlets now have ready-made Word templates so their journalists can bang them out over and over again with the minimum effort—I’ve dealt with this one before.

But, just for the sake of the surplus of economically illiterate managers and directors in Britain, here’s an explanation in terms they might grasp. If I go to my Porsche dealership and offer a salesman 500 of my securely-printed pounds sterling in return for a shiny red car then he will laugh at me heartily and move on to deal with another customer. This is not because there is a “shortage” of new Porsche Caymans. This is because I am not offering to pay enough money for one; I am offering enough money for a decade-old Citroen AX.