Daily View 2×2: 21 May 2020

2 big stories

One of the interesting aspects of the Coronavirus crisis is how government, and in particular the Civil Service, has coped with the disruption and the demands placed upon it. At the centre of that is HM Revenue & Customs, who have, from a standing start, have processed one million applications under the Job Retention Scheme, protecting approximately 7.5 million jobs, and more than two million applications under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, with well north of £10 billion claimed. And all that with the majority of their staff working from home.

Its American counterpart, the Internal Revenue Service, is struggling. however, as the Washington Post reports

The UK’s Debt Management Office has sold £3.75 billion worth of bonds at an effective yield of -0.003%. Yes, people are paying to loan the United Kingdom money. The three-year bond, paying a theoretical 0.75%, was sold at an average price of £102.388 for every £100 of debt. The auction was covered more than twice over, which might indicate that demand for such investments is high, and that the United Kingdom could even profit marginally from its borrowings. I wonder what German bonds are trading at?

2 social media posts

Another (probably unsuccessful) rebellion to come from the Conservative backbenchers? After more than twenty of them voted against Government proposals in the Agriculture Bill to water down standards, the MP for Hazel Grove, William Wragg, is calling for NHS and care staff to be exempted from the NHS fee for migrants.

He’s right, of course, although it’s a disgrace that people who pay their taxes should be made to pay additionally just because they have come here to work in our economy.

Andrew Burgess, who works for the ALDE Party in Brussels, draws our attention to predictions of a second wave of COVID-19 infections…

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2 Comments

  • HMRC is working at a computer level but if you want to speak to a human being the system holds you for a while and then ends the call, telling you no-one is available. It used to take 20-30 minutes to get through to someone, which was bad enough.

    No chance they are going to be able to deal with the multi-level frauds resultant from the necessary largesse of the govn in propping up companies and individuals, they failed dismally to sort out the fraud resultant from in-work benefits and universal credit. It’s a creaking system ripe for radical reform and simplification, which may come post virus if the govn decides everything needs to be more resilient (or another way of cutting everything right back).

    With Trump looking more and more out if it and the Euro-zone possibly imploding, the UK,with more than four years of a stable govn to come, may begin to look like a good bet for investors, though the logic of paying a govn to take on debt escapes me, other than as a currency play.

  • Richard Underhill 21st May '20 - 11:24am

    Memorial day in the USA is coming. Casualties in the Civil War were heavy on both sides
    Lessons should be learned about military tactics.
    Casualties were also heavy in the Great War.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

    We can remember this in several ways.
    1) Add a comment to the Twitter feed of the current US President, or
    2) Add flowers to graves locally, for instance, former councillor Enid Lakeman OBE,
    3) Remember and commemorate Charles Kennedy MP, who set an example of political courage against war, when leader
    4) Remind other parties and the press that former PM Margaret Thatcher told then current PM Tony Blair that “you cannot be a great Prime Minister unless you fight a war” and remind them of the numerous casualties.
    5) Recall that the former King Hussein of Jordan played a prestigious part in peace negotiations when Bill Clinton was US President and that he had been an overseas student in the UK
    6) Remind others that an Egyptian President (Sadat) said “Salaam” and an Israeli Prime Minister said “Shalom”
    7) If you are Liberal you are international, you cannot be one without the other.

    Richard Underhill
    was an approved euro-candidate before there was a common electoral system.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

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