Percentages

A new series of BBC radio 4’s very wonderful More or Less has started – and I am proud to count myself among its ‘loyal listeners’. Lots of good stuff in the opening edition, but I especially liked this clever and topical look at percentages.

Perhaps partly because I worked there for 11 years, my ears pricked up at recent stories of Thomas Cook’s trials and tribulations, and I do remember hearing that their shares had been on a bit of a roller coaster: falling 75%, then rising by 200%.

So More or Less posed a question about the net effect.

Now I am pretty numerate, and more than capable of doing the required calculations – but even so, I still found myself surprised at the outcome.

Let’s say we start with shares worth £100.

A fall of 75%, from £100, reduces their value to £25.

And an increase of 200%, from £25, takes us up to £75.

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