Category Archives: Economy

Tax cuts proposed by both Truss and Sunak are unfunded. How are they affordable?

Grinning idiots: the tax cuts both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have promised will worsen the cost of living crisis and make it impossible for them to fund relief measures for struggling families, a leading think tank has said.

Oh dear, oh dear, it looks like neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak have bothered to think how they will make their tax cuts work.

The politically-independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said large, permanent tax cuts could make some spending unaffordable as the UK slips into the recession that Tory policies have triggered.

The claim seems to be based on a discredited economic model that says our taxes pay for public spending, meaning if taxes are cut, equivalent cuts must be made in spending.

That’s not true; governments spend according to their priorities and then borrow from the private sector and/or tax appropriately in order to prevent inflation from exceeding targets they have set.

In this case, the end result is the same: if Sunak or Truss is to cut taxes, spending will have to come down or inflation will rise above even the current high level.

And Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS, warned that spending will probably have to increase if the government intends to support families that will not be able to cope with the increasing cost of living and sky-high energy bills.

Truss has pledged to scrap April’s National Insurance rise to help households and cancel a planned rise in corporation tax, while Sunak as promised to reduce VAT on domestic energy bills from five per cent to nothing, and to cut 3p off income tax by late 2029.

Neither has explained how they will deliver this cuts without adding to inflation, although Sunak has said he will not implement his plan until the current inflation crisis has been brought under control.

So it seems they have been building castles in the air, rather than taking the grounded outlook on the economy that the UK needs. It is impossible to bankrupt an economy like ours, that can create its own money – but it seems both Tory candidates are going to try.

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FOOD drives double-digit inflation figure as Tory UK plummets into recession

Inflation has hit double figures for the first time in 40 years – and this time the driver is not energy bills but the cost of staple food products.

It has soared to 10.1 per cent due to a 12 per cent increase in the cost of what most people consider staples: bread, cereal, eggs, milk and cheese. The increase in these items’ prices was three times that of their nearest rival.

The UK is currently in a “calm before the storm” moment as we await a rise of around 80 per cent in the energy price cap in October.

A drought now sweeping Europe is expected to make matters even worse, affecting trade and crop yields to push food prices up even further.

Ultimately, inflation is expected to peak at 13 per cent or more, meaning people will no longer have money to spend in the economy because their earnings will not cover the amount they will be asked to spend on necessities: housing (mortgage or rent), food, water, and power.

Without that spending, the economy will contract, and a recession lasting more than a year is currently being predicted in which many people are likely to lose their jobs – compounding the crisis even further.

These are all outcomes that the UK’s Conservative government has created.

The rise in food prices is a consequence of Brexit and increased border controls that the Tories fuelled.

The energy crisis has happened because the Tories pandered to donors from the fossil fuel industry rather than investing in green energy, generated within this country. Energy is also a natural monopoly that should never have been privatised by Margaret Thatcher.

And the water crisis is a consequence of privatising that natural monopoly. Instead of investing in improving infrastructure, greedy executives have maximised their profits with large dividend payouts, bolstered by the sale of reservoirs to foreign firms.

Both the privatised energy and water systems are majority-owned by businesses based abroad, many of them wholly-owned by foreign governments.

Or so it seems to This Writer.

Worse is the fact that the Tories are determined to deny that they did anything wrong.

And they’re absolutely refusing to accept the urgent need to re-nationalise these privatised utilities that have failed us all so badly; they are cash cows for Tory donors and the party likes their cash.

Sadly, it’s a myopic, short-term view. The economy will collapse because of it.

Source: Double-digit inflation marks another grim milestone as recession looms

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Interest rate rise will hit your wallet hard and cause a deep economic recession

The Bank of England: its interest rate rise will hit you hard in the wallet.

The Bank of England has increased interest rates by a huge (for these times) 0.5 per cent in an apparently inexplicable move that won’t do anything to stop the current enormous increases in the cost of living.

What can possibly have possessed the Monetary Policy Committee at Threadneedle Street to do this monstrous thing?

The bank’s own forecasters are predicting that inflation will remain above 10 per cent until at least October 2023, putting huge pressures on ordinary people.

The bank is already predicting that the UK will fall into recession this year, and the interest rate rise will prolong it – so that, in three years’ time (after the next general election, take note), unemployment is expected to stand at six per cent of the workforce – and rising.

Energy prices – the main cause of the cost-of-living crisis – are expected to fall back during this period, although the predictions don’t take this into account. The hike in interest rates will not reduce the cost-of-living crisis in any way.

And the ultimate result, as Professor Simon Wren-Lewis points out in his latest Mainly Macro article, will be to reduce inflation to a point far lower than the Bank of England’s two-per-cent mandate permits. Who benefits from that?

Professor Wren-Lewis adds that it is possible the bank expects a new Tory prime minister – whoever that may be – to introduce support for people on low incomes in a bid to stop the excessive inflation and recession.

But there is no indication from either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak that they will do that; tax cuts promised by Truss will go to rich people and/or corporations.

And, as Professor Wren-Lewis points out,

Excessive monetary tightening based on a guess of fiscal loosening is a dangerous game to play.

Sadly for most of us, the danger applies only to the poor, working people who actually keep the economy moving.

Source: mainly macro: Why does the Bank of England appear to be ignoring its mandate?

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UK businesses expect no growth over next three months

Sunak and Truss: it seems not to matter which of these becomes the next UK prime minister – neither will do anything to address coming surges in the cost of living.

Apparently it doesn’t matter who the next prime minister is going to be; the UK economy is still going down the toilet.

As a lay-person, this suggests to me that neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak are promoting any policies that the experts – if I can call them that – at the CBI can recognise as being helpful.

British businesses do not expect any growth over the next three months, as a surging cost of living squeezes consumer demand, a monthly survey showed on Sunday.

The Bank of England has warned that Britain’s economy is likely to contract later this year, when a 40% jump in regulated energy tariffs hits consumers in October, and has forecast the economy will contract slightly next year.

Last week the International Monetary Fund forecast Britain would see the weakest growth of any major economy other than Russia next year.

Source: UK businesses expect zero growth over next 3 months – CBI

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Johnson and Sunak delay economy speech – nothing to say?

Sunak and Johnson: their big speech on the economy has been delayed. Is it because they can’t decide how to diddle more money away from the poor and into the hands of the rich?

A planned speech on the economy by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak has been delayed until next month – because it’s not that big a problem for them?

The speech will be delayed until after Johnson attends international summits at the end of the month, including meetings of the G7 and Nato.

The Sunday Telegraph reported divisions in the Government over when tax cuts should be introduced and if they should focus on businesses or individuals.

And This Writer does not doubt it. Look at the grant to help us cope with the cost of increased energy bills: people with two homes get twice as much as those with one. Those with three get three times as much.

And landlords have no obligation to pass on the grants to their tenants who will pay the energy bills for their buildings.

So a grant claimed to be a boost for the poor is in fact a subsidy for the rich.

I fear we must expect a similar lie over any future economic “help”.

Source: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak delay economy speech as Conservative demands for tax cuts grow

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Johnson tries to take credit for Crossrail – but he won’t railroad us

Lying Boris Johnson has been caught being dishonest again – this time about the new Elizabeth Line in London, formerly known as Crossrail.

In Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (May 18), Johnson attacked his opponents in the Labour Party, saying:

“It was fantastic to see Her Majesty the Queen open Crossrail yesterday…Who was the Mayor of London when Crossrail was first started to be built, and who was the Prime Minister who completed it?

“We get the big things done. And that’s why there’s never been a Labour government who’s left office with unemployment lower than when they began.”

He was being extremely economical with the truth, as usual.

Crossrail was approved under a Labour government in 2007. Work did indeed start on it around a year into Johnson’s first term as London Mayor, in 2009 – but that was still under a Labour government.

And Westminster Labour councillor David Boothroyd had something to say about that. He tweeted: “The Mayor of London who got the Crossrail scheme going was [Labour’s] Ken Livingstone.

“The Mayor of London who forgot about Crossrail and led it into delay was Boris Johnson. The Mayor of London who got Crossrail delivered was Sadiq Khan.”

It is true that the central stretch was due to open in 2018 but was delayed, and costs soared from a predicted £14.8 billion to nearly £19 billion.

A spokesperson for London Mayor Sadiq Khan was more diplomatic: “Crossrail got the green light under the previous government and first started to be built back in 2009. Since then the project has been supported by successive governments, Mayors and businesses in our city, with over two-thirds of the budget coming from London government and London’s businesses.

“The completion of the Elizabeth Line shows the benefit of politicians working together and taking long-term decisions when it comes to crucial infrastructure projects that will have a positive impact across the whole country for many decades to come.”

Johnson made a blatant factual error when he said the new rail line had already delivered 72,000 jobs. In fact, it will be able to transport 72,000 people per hour.

Possibly worse than all of the above is the fact that Johnson was trying to use the new Elizabeth line to justify, in some way, the huge costs his government has forced onto ordinary people – pricing a dialysis user, in his own words, “out of existence“.

In fairness, he had requested details of the case but it was not reasonable to make a bald – and false – claim about the economy and the Elizabeth Line.

It demonstrates what a despicable opportunist Johnson is.

Source: Elizabeth line: Boris Johnson mocked for claiming credit for Crossrail despite law passing under Labour

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Why is the Bank of England trying to stop us spending when we’re already doing that?

The Bank of England: it seems, behind this imposing facade, there lurks a circus complete with clowns.

It seems the economists at the Bank of England don’t have much of a clue.

They say they have raised interest rates to make it more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow, so people start spending less, helping cool demand for goods and services and, in turn, slowing the pace of price rises; it’s a bid to curb inflation.

But people are already reining in their spending, because of inflation!

So the interest rate increase is pointless. Right?

Furthermore, as people are choosing to save (where they can), rather than spend, the growth of the economy is slowing – which is what the interest rate rise aims to do anyway. So it isn’t needed.

In fact, it may throw the economy into reverse, sending us into a recession.

And economists have warned that increases in interest rates may have little effect given rising global oil and gas prices, over which domestic changes can have little effect.

So there seems to be only one possible reason for the Bank’s decision:

Insanity.

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UK is heading into recession – probably – as your savings run down

Consumer confidence has fallen off a cliff: will spending do the same – and, if so, will the UK economy go into reverse at the worst possible moment?

Be careful with those savings you racked up during the Covid-19 lockdowns, because you’re going to need them to ride out the cost of living crisis!

That’s the message, as far as This Writer can tell, from economist Simon Wren-Lewis on his Mainly Macro blog – and it’s as close to a prediction that the UK is going into recession as you’re likely to see.

Most economic forecasters aren’t saying it because they’re afraid to, it seems.

We know we’re looking at the biggest fall in living standards since records began in 1956-7, because of Brexit-fuelled increases in the cost of goods (including food), rising energy bills and the largest number of tax rises to be inflicted on a UK population in around 40 years.

You will be expected to use your savings to cushion this blow.

That’s fine – as long as you can be sure that the cost-of-living crisis will be only a short-term shock. But there’s no evidence that this is the case; the effects of Brexit are expected to last for decades, we’re being told to brace for another energy bill shock in October, and the Tories have absolutely no intention of reducing taxes – they want to squeeze you until your pips squeak.

With these expectations in mind, consumer confidence is flatlining:

“The GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell for the fourth month in a row to -31 from -26 in February, its lowest since November 2020, deep in the coronavirus pandemic. Readings of -30 and below have presaged recession on four out of five occasions since the survey started in 1974.” Since then the March data is available, and it’s at -38!

That’s the weakest consumer confidence since the 2008 financial crisis, and weaker than at any time during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So it seems likely that spending will tail off as the year progresses, people see how the cost-of-living shocks affect their savings, and improvements in their financial position fail to appear.

As spending tails off, the economy will falter. And the Tory government has already told us it does not have any plan to stimulate growth with an injection of public cash.

So, even if you have a well-stuffed savings account now, expect those funds to run low by the end of the year, while bills and taxes remain high. What are you going to do then?

Source: mainly macro: Is the UK heading for a recession?

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Brexit is far worse for the UK than Covid. Why didn’t Sunak mention it in his Budget speech?

Big mistake: Johnson said Brexit would release a huge amount of money into the UK economy – instead it has shrunk the economy by four per cent. That’s more than any of the recessions of the 1970s and 80s.

Rishi Sunak’s big lie: in his Budget speech he referred time and time again to the effect of the Covid crisis, and the need to recover from it – and not once to Brexit.

So the Budget “does not draw a line under Covid”; it prepares for “a new economy post-Covid”; it forecasts that the economy with “return to its pre-Covid level” at the turn of the year; it says the Tory government has been “more successful” than feared in preventing the “long-term economic damage of Covid”.

Sunak talked about supporting theatres, orchestra, museums and galleries “to recover from Covid”; he refers to the business rate cut as being among “Covid reliefs”; and he says Covid was “not just a public health challenge and an economic challenge – it was a moral challenge too”.

What about the public health and moral challenges of Brexit, then – now that we know it has caused twice as much harm to the economy as Covid-19?

According to the Guardian article,

Richard Hughes said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assumed leaving the EU would “reduce our long run GDP by around 4%”, adding in comments to the BBC: “We think that the effect of the pandemic will reduce that (GDP) output by a further 2%.”

“In the long term it is the case that Brexit has a bigger impact than the pandemic”, Hughes told the broadcaster.

And yet it hasn’t been mentioned by the government in its most significant financial statement of the year.

Could it be that someone (Boris Johnson) is a little embarrassed?

He should be:

Only yesterday – the day after the Budget speech – Parliament was hearing about the devastating effect on the economy… of Brexit:

Let’s be honest, minister Victoria Prentis’s reply wasn’t very reassuring, was it? The questioner had already said people aren’t queuing up domestically to harvest fruit and vegetables, and the EU recruitment schemes have all failed. That leaves automation, which will stop people from having jobs in the future.

It’s the elephant in the Treasury.

Sunak won’t talk about it because he knows a Tory government caused it.

And it has caused twice as much harm as the pandemic he has blamed for so many of the UK’s current problems.

It seems to This Writer – and doesn’t it seem the same to you? – that nothing he has said will count for anything if he continues to ignore the biggest single threat to our well-being, just because his boss caused it.

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Inflation is expected to hit four per cent – but is it really all down to Covid?

The Bank of England: don’t believe its claims about inflation.

The Bank of England reckons inflation will hit four per cent – twice as much as the target level – as the UK recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But do we believe the claim?

The Bank of England says the increase reflects “higher energy and goods prices, which in turn reflect rising commodity prices, transportation bottlenecks, constraints on production and strong global demand for goods”.

I can understand that demand across the world for goods that have been under-produced because of pandemic-related lockdowns will push prices up.

But energy prices – in the UK at least – are increasing at a time when the companies are recording their highest-ever profits, most of which go to bosses and shareholders. Consumers are being bled dry by greed.

And what about the inflationary effect of all the money Boris Johnson has been spaffing off to his Tory friends on the pretext of awarding Covid-related equipment supply contracts, for which he’s had nothing in return?

Oh – and flags. Don’t forget the fortune the Tories have paid for flags:

The point about wages is well made. Back when This Writer was a sprog, Tories used to complain that pay increases pushed up inflation. Now it is happening after a period of prolonged pay depression.

I understand teachers’ pay has fallen at about the same rate as that of nurses.

The message is clear: any increase in inflation is due to Tory economic mismanagement. But they’ll make you suffer for it.

So if you have been able to save up some money – as many of us are said to have done while lockdowns kept us indoors, then it’s a good time to invest in solar panels for your roof. They will provide all your electricity needs and you will be able to sell some of it back to the grid.

Apart from that, keep your money in the back and enjoy the interest rate boost when it comes. Considering what the Tory government will do to you in the future, you’ll need it!

Source: Bank of England warns inflation will hit 4% this year but holds interest rates | Interest rates | The Guardian

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