Tag Archives: economy

Is GDP almost everything?

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy made a much-celebrated speech in which he denigrated Gross National Product (GNP, now usually replaced by Gross Domestic Product, GDP) as a measure of America’s well-being. He said:

… counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them … Yet does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials … it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile …

Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh voices his disdain for this view in a recent article:

Yes – GDP is almost everything: The recession should kill off the romantic idea that growth is a mixed blessing.

He says, rightly, that wealthy countries tend to do better on indicators such as homicide rates than poor countries. Yes, poor countries do badly on a range of social indicators. But Kennedy was talking only about America. The richer we are, the less an increase in wealth boosts our well-being.

Ganesh also says:

The looming recession will be painful. But it will also drive a certain kind of post-materialist humbug from polite discourse. Growth will be harder to dismiss as a bean counter’s tawdry obsession when there is so little of the stuff to go round.

Yes, growth will be missed if it’s replaced by recession – growth is good for the feel-good factor and not everyone is post-materialist.

Recession would hit poor people in the rich world hard but we don’t need growth to eliminate most rich-world poverty. We just need to be fairer and more generous to people whose earning power is low.

Ganesh doesn’t mention the costs of growth – such as the demise of the stable physical climate in which our civilisations have evolved. We seem to be getting into a zone where we lose our ability to limit global warming and where our physical environment deteriorates eventually to where the present human population can no longer be supported. The change may be so rapid that, for one or more generations, perhaps in most of the world, human life will be nasty, brutish and short. Whatever the scale of the resulting fall in GDP, the decline in human well-being would be catastrophic.

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Crown Imperial Madness

Yesterday was a day of pageantry, cheering crowds and an unforced display of respect for the monarch from many in our nation. Boris Johnson’s government has now crowned that achievement with proposals that will make the UK a laughing stock worldwide. Proposals to bring back imperial measurements fly in the face of modernity and the needs of enterprise. But they suit the needs of this out of touch government, which seems to believe that if we bring back crowns on beer glasses and allow grocers to sell only in imperial measures it will lift the popular mood.

Although this scheme is the brainchild of Jacob Rees Mogg, who seems to be living in the century before last, business minister Paul Scully is the fall guy who today is presenting the daftest idea to come out of any government’s stable in decades. Not so much Build Back Better as Build Back Backwards.

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Ed Davey highlights “Sunak Scam” and other Lib Dems respond to Chancellor’s statement

Ed Davey was unimpressed with the package announced by Rishi Sunak aimed at helping people with the soaring cost of living.

He described it as the “Sunak Scam.”

The Chancellor is hammering families with a £800 tax hike this year, more than wiping out what he announced today.

It is the Sunak scam, promising you help but picking your pockets while you’re not looking.

Soaring inflation and devastating tax rises have left proud families who never dreamed they would find themselves in trouble struggling to pay the bills.

The British people need help right now, but instead have been left abandoned again for months on end.

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Can the UK recession be avoided?

Just before polling day the Bank of England published the May Monetary Policy Report as well as increasing the Bank Rate to 1%. They expect the Bank Rate to continue to increase and peak at 2.5% by “mid-2023”. They state, “That predominantly reflects the significant adverse impact of the sharp rises in global energy and tradable goods prices on most UK households’ real incomes and many UK companies’ profit margins.” They expect unemployment “to rise to 5½% in three years’ time”.

They state, “CPI inflation is expected to peak at slightly over 10% in 2022 Q4, which would be the highest rate since 1982”.

“Total real household disposable income is projected to fall in 2022 by the second largest amount since records began in 1964 before picking up thereafter” they forecast. Total demand in the economy will fall below total supply by the fourth quarter of this year. They quote an ONS survey of March where 42.5% of people, “said they had cut spending on non-essentials” due to lower real incomes.

This means that people will be able to buy fewer things. Demand for items will decrease. This leads to businesses producing less and unemployment increasing.

The Monetary Policy Committee produce different projections based on different assumptions. Their main projections are based on the assumption that the Bank Rate “rises to around 2½% by mid-2023, before falling to 2% at the end of the forecast period”. However, they also state that, “In projections conditioned on the alternative assumption of constant interest rates at 1%, activity is projected to be materially stronger than in the MPC’s forecasts conditioned on market rates. As a result, unemployment remains close to its current rate over the forecast period, instead of rising by around 1½ percentage points. CPI inflation is forecast to be significantly higher, with inflation projected to be 2.9% and 2.2% in two years’ and three years’ time respectively.” Also economic growth in the second quarter is higher – in 2023, 0.3% compared to 0%; in 2024, 0.6% compared to 0.2%; and in 2025, 0.9% compared to 0.7%. With their main projections they forecast negative growth of 0.2% in the first quarter of 2023 and 0.8% in the third quarter. Also with this forecast it is likely that economic growth in 2023 will be either zero or close to zero.

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“There is a great deal of ruin in a nation” — But how much? And where is it?

When the Chancellor raises National Insurance, are the effects the same everywhere? We don’t know.  But we ought to — regional inequality in the UK is so stark that comparisons to reunified Germany bear out. If fiscal policy plays a role in this, we need to know ‘how much’ and ‘where’.

There’s very good reason to ask for answers: long-established economic theory holds that governments will create poverty through taxation on economic activity:

All economic principles must be tried and proved at the margin. On marginal land there is no surplus above non-land costs, hence there is no taxable

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Christine Jardine: Families need a lifeline to help with impact of inflation

Today inflation reached a 30 year high of 5.5%. Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson called for the Government to take action to help those facing being cold and hungry as a result:

Families are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis, with a triple whammy of spiralling energy bills, Conservative tax rises and 30-year high inflation.

People are worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table, yet all we’ve seen from this Government is half measures and a raft of tax hikes in April. That’s not the leadership people need in this crisis.

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What we should have been saying in our response to the budget

On Thursday I received an email from Dan Schmeising giving me a link to an “exclusive budget briefing” setting out our reaction to Wednesday’s budget.

The budget briefing states:

  • Provide at least the full recommended £15 billion to fund the catch-up needed in Education over three years.
  • “Double the Warm Home Discount on energy bills and extend it to everyone on Pension Credit and Universal Credit”.
    Why haven’t we included extending it to the legacy benefits? The Warm Home Discount is currently a £140 refund on a person’s energy bills if they receive particular benefits.
  • Implement (it is implied) our 10-year plan to insulate homes.
  • “Invest £150 billion into a Green Recovery Plan to promote active and zero-emission travel, protect our countryside and clean up our air. This will be paid for by taxing the wealthy and frequent fliers – not the less well-off”.
    We don’t say we want to do this over three years and if we want to split the money evenly into £50 billion a year or invest £30 billion in the first year, £50 billion in the second and £70 billion in the third. We don’t say how much the extra taxes will raise.
  • Restore spending 0.7% of our Gross National Income on Overseas Development Aid.

The budget briefing includes, “The Local Government Authority projects councils will be facing an £8 billion black hole in their budgets by 2024. The Tory Government has responded with… £4.8 billion.”

This £4.8 billion is £1.6 billion a year. But we don’t say we would provide the £8 billion and we should.

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Getting a story out – the Liberal Democrat press team in action over furlough extension

The Press Team at Lib Dem HQ don’t just write press releases and send them out, hoping that journalists will publish them. They actively go out and try and get them published. A great success story is a push on the end of furlough, highlighting a letter written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak by Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine asking him to extend furlough for six months to those sectors which are still struggling such as tourism, travel and the creative arts.

Christine says this is important to avoid a “tidal wave” of job losses as the scheme comes to an end.

Christine points out that the cost of six months’ vital support would cost less than last year’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Christine urged the Chancellor to “consider the impact on the lives of those that could find themselves out of a job at the end of the week.” She added it would be “devastating for countless families already facing a winter of spiralling bills and cuts to working benefits.”

Christine said:

The withdrawal of furlough risks having a devastating impact on countless families already facing a winter of soaring energy bills.The government needs to rethink its approach or the country could face a Coronavirus Black Thursday.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding that furlough is extended for the industries that are being hardest hit by the pandemic, to prevent a tidal wave of job losses in the coming weeks.This would support the most vulnerable workers through winter and cost less than what ministers spent on last year’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Thousands of people relying on furlough are worrying about their livelihoods at a time when the impact of the pandemic is far from over. Supporting them and their families is both the right and responsible thing to do.

So where was this covered?

Basically everywhere:

The Independent 

The Standard

Wales online

ITV

The Graun

Sky News

Trade Travel Gazette – article by Christine

Trade Travel Gazette – report

City AM 

The Metro 

The Scotsman 

The Mirror 

The Express and Star

The Torygraph

Planet Radio

Even the Fail

Well done to the press team.

And if you want to see Christine’s letter to the Chancellor, it’s here.

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Christine Jardine: Government breaking promises and backbone of our economy

Christine Jardine slammed the Government’s proposed increase in National Insurance constributions in the debate yesterday.

The full text of her speech is below:

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Observations of an Expat: The High Seas

About the only time the world’s land-based public thinks about seaborne traffic and the globalised trade it underpins is when they look above the parapets of their sand castles and spy a ship on the distant horizon.

Or, when something happens, such as a war or a vital sea artery is blocked and prices creep up and super market shelves start to empty.

The latter is happening.

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An economy for society based on Lib Dem values

We are part of a wide fellowship in search of an intrinsically fairer economy and social outcomes. We stand explicitly for the ‘well-being of the individual’.

We are democrats. Democracy binds our society together, but struggles to do so when our day to day experience of economic life does not accord with our values of mutual support and well-being. A plural democratic society requires a plural economy and politics but we do not have either.

I founded a not-for-profit organisation advocating the use of our existing housing stock to create affordable tenancies, and identified it as an intervention to societise the housing market, correcting its imperfections (homeswithinhomes.org). I realised we need systemic change in favour of society and our common good, a system that co-exists with capitalism and statism in all its forms but is uniquely identifiable and attributable to a philosophy elevating collective values of equality.

These values will appeal to a significant part of the general population, they are core Lib Dem values. We are uniquely placed to give a voice to such market based, societal economic reform and by doing so can help develop a unique economic platform reflecting Lib Dem ideology, of equality and liberty, with l believe, mass electoral appeal.

Our economy developed during a period when there was no universal franchise, nor meaningful women’s or minority rights and little societal perspective. This history, based on outdated notions of ownership and control, of private share ownership on the one hand and state control of production on the other has driven us towards economic and political polarities; we have an economy that is not mixed enough.

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Unforgivable choices – Lib Dems respond to the Spending Review

For the second time in three days, Christine Jardine pressed the Government to do more to help those who have thus far been excluded from Government support. Three million self-employed people have had nothing since March and some have had no income at all because they work in areas that aren’t yet open. In March they were stressed. Eight months on, they are desperate.

Rishi Sunak was dismissive, but not as egregious as Boris Johnson had been the other day when Christine questioned him.

“I hope we haven’t excluded anyone” said the PM. If he doesn’t know that there is a massive All-Party Parliamentary Group fighting for these people, if he hasn’t been aware of the many questions that have been asked in Parliament, then that shows unforgivable ignorance. If he did know of the plight of the three million, his remarks show callous disregard.

Later, Christine talked to BBC News arguing against the public sector pay freeze and the abandonment of the 0,7% aid target.

On that international aid issue, Wendy Chamberlain highlighted how the Government had gone back on its word:

Ed Davey said that the Chancellor had made some unforgivable political choices:

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22 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Economic support plans made “on the hoof” are failing millions
  • Tracing failures shows Hancock needs to overhaul test and trace

Economic support plans made “on the hoof” are failing millions

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Chancellor of “making up plans on the hoof” when it comes to financial support for businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19. Responding to the Chancellor’s statement in the House of Commons today, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Yet again the Chancellor is taken by surprise by events unfolding exactly as predicted months ago. He has utterly failed to address the gravity of the economic crisis, with people and businesses facing devastating pressure across the country.

Beyond tinkering around the edges of the Job Support Scheme and correcting some of its blatant errors, he has offered nothing for those slipping into poverty. 67% of salary is just not enough for people to get by on. The Chancellor is making up plans on the hoof and is failing millions of people.

We need real leadership from Government, not a patchwork of ever-changing measures. It’s clearer than ever that the Government should have kept the furlough scheme in place as the Liberal Democrats called for, yet they are too proud to do the right thing and U-turn.

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5 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need
  • Lords defeat Government on Immigration Bill

Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference will have “disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.”

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.

Instead of an extension to furlough, measures to help the millions excluded from help or a boost to universal credit, we were instead given

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On blood letting, Covid economics and Goldilocks

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that just ain’t so.” (Mark Twain)

Blood letting is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to address illness, used for about 2,000 years. It harmed patients! William Harvey disproved its theory in 1628. Practice and professional endorsement continued into the 20th century via expert endorsement, “official” endorsement, public trust, inertia, fashion and lack of analytical thinking.

How powerful expert ignorance, endorsed by the powerful, politically and socially, and accepted by an insufficiently educated and ill-informed public can be! And this includes current economics and its “Deficit Myth”. (See Stephanie Kelton’s book of this title which informs this article.)

Our alleged deficit is a myth. We are a currency issuer, not a currency user. Our government does not function like a household which cannot issue its own currency. It cannot run out of money and is not solely dependent upon taxes and borrowing for its spending. “Book balancing” is a theoretical restraint. Real restraints are inflation, employment levels, natural and social resources and infrastructure efficiencies.

Efficient economy balance matters more than budget balance. Increasing “deficits” will not make future generations poorer nor will reduction increase their wealth. Such will depend upon our management of the actual economy.

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GDP share; a more timely and effective alternative to Universal Basic Income

That’s your bloody GDP. It is not ours’. Thus a Brexit supporter expressed their detachment from the national economy in 2016.

This proposal addresses both the perception and reality behind this comment. It provides poorer households with a bigger share of GDP, achieving a more deliverable redistribution of income than a Universal Basic Income. It makes more people feel that this is ‘our GDP’. It also steers the national conversation about growth towards ‘net zero’.

UBI and its problems

A conference motion calls for the party to campaign for UBI.

But the practicalities mean we are doomed to deliver a very small and disappointing version of a very big and (somewhat) controversial idea. The UBI promise of a reasonable income for everyone is not achievable. Recent work by sympathetic academics has shown how far we can (and can’t) get. Even if we raise higher rate taxes a lot and get rid of personal allowances (so that for most people there is no net benefit) to fund a UBI, we cannot sustainably pay a UBI of much more than £3000. At this level, many poor people would lose out unless all or most current means-tested benefits stay in place – thus forgoing one of the significant supposed advantages of UBI. And even to get to £3000, we would likely have deployed the money from all of our tax-raising ideas on this one concept cutting out anything else we might want to do.

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21 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • The Chancellor needs an ambitious plan to save the economy
  • Government continue to threaten economic recovery
  • “Shameful” that bereaved families of NHS and care workers risk losing access to welfare benefits
  • Extending eviction ban nothing more than kicking the can down the road
  • Brexit reality falls short of rhetoric again as “no deal” threat looms

The Chancellor needs an ambitious plan to save the economy

Responding to reports that debt has increased to over 100% of GDP for the first time since 1961, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

This news must not be used as a reason for the Government to make cuts or return the country to austerity.

We know that borrowing is historically incredibly cheap, so it is absolutely clear that borrowing money to boost the economy is the best way to get public finances back on track.

The Chancellor must be far more ambitious in his plans to rescue the economy. The Liberal Democrats have called for a £150bn Green recovery plan to boost the economy and create thousands of new jobs.

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Lib Dems: The party of wellbeing?

Lib Dem leadership elections often bring up the same criticisms of the party:

  1. People don’t know what we stand for.
  2. We aren’t radical enough.
  3. We need to advance a “core voter” strategy based on values, not just on being “hard working local people”.

I agree with all of these criticisms, but get weary when they are repeated ad infinitum without solutions. Both Davey and Moran talk about the importance of building a distinctive liberal message without saying what this distinctive liberal message should be. What I’m seeing from both candidates is a list of reasonable policy ideas which aren’t meaningfully linked (except by the vague claim that they are “liberal” or “evidenced-based”).

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14 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government must be more ambitious to save the economy
  • UK needs a Green Recovery plan to deal with biggest recession in 300 years
  • Liberal Democrats welcome Government’s “screeching u-turn” on Huawei

Government must be more ambitious to save the economy

Responding to this morning’s monthly GDP estimate from the ONS, showing that the economy grew by only 1.8% in May – lower than the 5.5% forecast by economists – Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Regrettably this dashes any hope of an early recovery and is bad news for millions of people experiencing real financial hardship. It confirms fears that

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Who gains from Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement?

It is easy to criticise Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Statement for not doing enough. The Chancellor had a difficult task to assess what size of economic stimulus would be effective.

His main aim was apparently to create jobs for those who had lost them or will be losing them soon. But the Statement.is very disappointing because it doesn’t deal with the realities of the situation for lots of businesses. Social distancing is very likely still to be in place after October, so it just will not be possible for many businesses to provide their services to as many customers as before lockdown.

He should have included a new coronavirus staff retention scheme (turnover based). It should have provided a proportion (say 80%) of the difference between the takings of a business in a month compared to the relevant month in 2019, for businesses that can demonstrate that because of social distancing they can’t deal with the same number of customers.

Rishi Sunak reported that £4.6 billion of consumer debt has been paid off and households have increased their bank deposits by £25.6 billion. This means there is the potential for more than £30 billion (about 1.5% of last year’s GDP) to be spent into the economy when households have confidence restored.

With an economy valued at £2000 billion I believe the maximum economic growth per year with which the UK can normally cope is about £60 billion. Therefore an economic stimulus of £30 billion at this stage is about right.

Instead of allocating up to £9.4 billion for his Job Retention Bonus scheme, I think Rishi Sunak should have used the amount to increase all working-age benefits such as Universal Credit, Family Tax Credit, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance by £20 a week, the same value as his temporary increase of Universal Credit and Family Tax Credit in March. This would have targeted the money to the poorest in society who are most likely to spend it and to the areas where more of these people live. Giving employers £1000 per worker retained is not going to do much to encourage them to retain the most marginal workers, and will do very little if anything to increase demand in the economy.

A lot of the £5.6 billion for infrastructure projects is not new money and includes maintenance projects. £900 million is for shovel-ready projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22. But some of this, maybe the majority, will not be spent until the next financial year. We must hope that most of the £5.6 billion will go into the areas worst affected by job losses.

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Transforming our economy while remedying our environmental crisis – Part 2

In a previous article, I started to highlight policy areas that could advance our fight against the climate emergency and looked at legislation and taxation. This article continues the discussion and looks at additional policy measures to drive change in the way we treat the world we live on.

3. Education – all schools should have climate crises as a part of their social learning – this can be written into the personal, social education time which schools use to address and educate on issues. For adults, continued government promotion on single-use plastics, diets and other life choices is essential, and each individual must take responsibility for their actions. The crisis is unfathomably large but broken down into a single person among 8 billion, and a single footprint to wipe clean, if we all clean up after ourselves, it is possible.

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Transforming our economy while remedying our environmental crisis – Part 1

The fight against climate change is a global one; we understand the issue and science. We also understand the urgency, and in the Paris Agreement, every country committed to reducing emissions to target a significantly lower than a two-degree rise over pre-industrial temperatures. While the complexities are significant, the issue is that globally we continue to put too many greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The wealthy western countries have been the leaders of this pollution which are making the entire planet suffer, and the poorer countries are suffering more than the wealthiest; we need to lead the recovery.

The good news is that solutions do not have to be complex. For a start, we can put less harmful gases in and take more out. To achieve net-zero means that whatever we put in, we take out, essentially like wiping a footprint in the sand clean, so it looks like you were never there. At net-zero we, as humans, stop making the problem worse. However, we can strive to be better and to take more out than we put in, to allow the planet to get back to its natural cycles of carbon release and absorption.

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Post-C19 UK economic recovery; a new economic orthodoxy beckons?

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Economic crises, and the C19 pandemic certainly is one, have a habit of initiating a major change in economic orthodoxy.

Arguable examples include mercantilism after the collapse of the feudal system, Adam Smith after two long pan-European wars, end of the Gold Standard post-WW1, Keynes after the Great Depression and WW2, ‘market reforms’ after the 1973-5 recession & crash, and the ‘Washington Consensus’ after the collapse of communism 1989-91. Then came the 2008 financial crisis, which was still unresolved when C19 hit. To a great extent, each crisis arose from the ‘flaws’ in each new orthodoxy.

Each of these changes was highly controversial at the time, at first, and even subject to ridicule. But it is easy to forget that the emerging new ideas were aimed at particular problems perceived at the time, where the prevailing orthodoxy no longer had perceived relevance for the problems faced. The new ideas that endured above others did so in that context.

We appear to have reached that point now.  But it’s very messy.

In the UK the post-2008 orthodoxy we are probably leaving behind had already become something of a hybrid. Austerity in public spending aimed at partial debt reduction, was still there, but reductions in regulations had gone. Monetisation/Quantitative Easing had been introduced to purchase bank ‘assets’ (derivative securities). These bank assets had initially been the cause of the 2008 crash, as their value evaporated. However, the asset purchases still continued twelve years later, keeping interest rates artificially low, but leaving international markets awash with cash; evidenced by a rise in international share prices, to two to four times what they used to be, relative to company profits. Culprits’ reward.

Up until Brexit, this was the hybrid orthodoxy.

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Q: Coronavirus state aid.  Who pays the bill?

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A: No one has to pay.

I can imagine the fog in an economist’s head confronted with my question and answer.   This new thinking appears as alchemy to orthodox economists.  Conversely, what they trot out appears to me as an outdated theology, an irrelevant contorting of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Their hand wringing is hollow, “Things cannot go back to how they were.  No More Austerity!” they cry, “The New Sense of Community will not stand for it!”

Chests puffed out quickly deflate as that thread of managerialism runs deep, doesn’t it?  Someone HAS to pay for this Coronavirus aid package that Rishi Sunak has found tucked behind the sofa cushion!   They sweat bullets feverishly calculating the final cost and devising ingenious ways for only the hated bankers and Richard Branson to pay for it, before finally acknowledging that maybe the darkest, quietest voices in the Tory Party have a point….maybe taxes do need to go up, maybe some services do need to be cut.

Any Liberal Democrat who carries on dancing to that Tory tune will lead us to our final death throes.   So let me be clear.

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Return of the Keynesians?

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Since the end of the Second World War British economic policy has largely been an ideological battle between two schools of thought. One embraces the state interventionist ideas of John Maynard Keynes. The other the ideas of free market thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

But as the financial pressures of the coronavirus hit, and as countries around the world are faced with rising unemployment, a reduction in economic output and the failure of major industries the phrase “We’re all Keynesians now” has never been more apt in our modern history.

The economic and political fallout from the COVID crisis will be huge and bring new challenges to Governments and political leaders around the world. The UK government has already provided a £30 billion stimulus package to help mitigate the financial fallout, followed by a further £330 billion in guaranteed loans to businesses.

With that in mind it the support measures announced so far are time limited. Support for the self-employed and causal workers is focused on mitigating the effects of not being able to work during lockdown. There have been no moves towards permanently readdressing the low pay or inequalities these people routinely face in their day to day lives.

Such short-term changes will be easier to revoke once the crisis is seen to be resolved. It’s also very noticeable that there has been no discussion of pay increases for NHS staff and that in all likelihood a public sector pay freeze will be instituted by the Chancellor in a bid to drawback the costs of the Government response.

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Daily View 2×2: 7 May 2020

2 big stories

Who’d have thought it? The achievement of the testing target on 30 April is already looking deeply shady, with the inclusion of posted tests included in that figure, plus allegations that even those posted weren’t actually usable. And now, subsequent data shows that the numbers are going backwards, not upwards. The solution, a new target. The distraction from failure – some relaxations in terms of going out and about.

Meanwhile, the European Union is predicting that its economy will shrink by 7.4% this year, the worst performance since World War II, with the economies of Southern Europe worst …

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After the virus: an economic future for Wales

Our economy in Wales was already facing difficulties. The Welsh economy’s long-term problems are well-documented; low productivity, a long-term lack of investment, a declining working-age population, significant public health issues. Add to that the likely effects of Brexit – especially a no-deal Brexit, which, on the basis of the OBR’s own figures, would be likely to deliver a severe productivity shock to the UK economy – and the effects of February’s floods, and even before the effects of lockdown are considered, it is clear that Wales was facing serious economic challenges. A recent report by the Centre for Towns and …

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Rennie calls for UBI summit to help those who can’t get government support

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today called for an intergovernmental summit on a universal basic income to take place to ensure that support is urgently made available for those who have fallen through cracks of the current furlough and income support measures.

He highlighted the plight of self-employed workers who were not trading for the entirety of the last tax year, PAYE freelancers,  self-employed workers who are paid in dividends, people who work from home and those who have recently changed jobs as examples of people who have experienced a sudden and dramatic loss of income as well as those struggling to access existing anti-poverty measures.

Across the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that roughly 675,000 people will be ineligible for the government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which mirrors the 80% wage subsidy scheme for the employed.

The IFS says another 1.3 million people with some self-employment income are likely to be ineligible because they received less than half of their income from self-employment last year.

His call comes as the The Poverty Alliance, Scotland’s anti-poverty network, has identified a number of shortcomings in the current crisis responses, including a lack of targeted social security support for families with children at either the UK or Scottish level, limited access to community care grants and gaps in employment protection programmes.

Willie said:

I fully understood and supported the decision to use the existing tax and spend apparatus to help people financially. Time was short and we needed to act fast. Now that those schemes are getting into place we need to take the next steps.

With economic uncertainty destined to loom for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure that everyone can afford to keep a roof over their head and a meal on the table.

We should be adopting the principles of a universal basic income: no one should be left behind. The UK Government has acted swiftly to back businesses and support furloughed workers but too many are slipping through the cracks and there’s a real risk that furloughed staff will lose their jobs when the current scheme ends.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 30 April 2020

2 big stories

So, will Matt Hancock reach his target of 100,000 tests today? And even if that capacity is reached, will they be carried out? It’s not looking terribly optimistic when even NHS Providers, which represents foundation trusts in England, dismisses the 100,000 target as a “red herring” that distracted from the failures of ministers.

Setting targets and missing them is bad enough, but setting meaningless, and possibly even misdirected ones, and msssing them anyway, seems to be the story of this Government’s handling of the crisis.

It’s a sign of the general uselessness of the British print media that, for …

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 24 April 2020

We’ve almost staggered to the end of another week, and there’s a weekend to look forward to…

2 big stories

The Government, having missed every target for Coronavirus testing that they’ve set, have upped the ante by setting a new, even bigger target – 100,000 tests per day. Of course, the question of how you get to one of the testing centres, especially if you’re ill, hasn’t really been addressed. Keir Starmer slowly, and patiently, shredded Dominic Raab’s attempts to deflect their failure thus far at PMQs on Wednesday – but the news that Matt Hancock is looking to recruit 18,000

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments
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