Category Archives: Economy

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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Rishi Sunak is trying to create another Great Depression. Here are his (bad) reasons

Tweedledum and Tweedledumber: Rishi Sunak wants to cut Covid-19-related spending before the pandemic is over. He’ll cause another huge recession – and more deaths – and Boris Johnson will let it happen because he is too stupid, or too greedy, to care about the harm it will do.

This is worrying from Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK.

He reckons Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is either so stupid that he wants to kill off even more of us with Covid-19 for the sake of a few extra coppers in cash…

… or he’s so stupid that he thinks the economy will get a huge boost if he puts it into another disastrous recession – possibly even a depression (which is worse).

All the noises Sunak is making at the moment are about stopping Covid-19-related government spending – indicating that he’s putting the Treasury into “full austerity mode”, as Mr Murphy puts it.

He wasn’t calling for a relaxation of Covid-related travel regulations because he thinks the pandemic is over – it clearly isn’t. But he’s indicating that he thinks he is because he wants to stop spending money on it…

… even though all the money he spent on it was specifically created for that purpose and hasn’t done any harm at all as it has washed through the country.

What a strange man.

Mr Murphy continues:

Sunak wants furlough to end, even though he knows this will significantly increase unemployment.

Sunak wants to cut universal credit even though his own backbenchers are indicating this will result in very real hardship in the UK.

Spending cuts are to be demanded.

He goes on to say that this is about maintaining ‘The Treasury View’ as put forward by Winston Churchill in 1929 – a false argument that there is only a limited amount of money and if the state uses any of it, then investment – and growth – by the private sector cannot take place.

It is a completely false view to take:

Churchill spoke when we were on the gold standard. But now we have a fiat currency, and the only constraint on the money supply is full employment at a living wage, which we are very far from achieving.

What is more, there is not a shred of evidence that there is any shortage of capital available to business right now. All business is absent of is ideas.

And to suggest the state does not add value in this era is an insult.

Churchill was economically incompetent.

His decision to follow ‘The Treasury View’ drove the UK into the Great Depression of the early 1930s.

Now Sunak wants his own great recession, whether working for Johnson or in his own account, given that his ambitions are so obvious.

And it seems clear that Boris Johnson is going to do everything he can to help. Already travel restrictions are being lifted.

Not only will the economy bomb, but Tweedledum and Tweedledumber are literally inviting more Covid-19 variants through the UK’s front door, and thousands upon thousands of us may suffer and die as a result.

Source: The UK cannot afford Sunak: he is a massive threat to our well-being

Propaganda alert: UK economic growth is nothing to crow about and here’s the reason

Back in business? But how far will the UK economy restore itself after Covid, with the shadow of Brexit hanging over it?

What a way to spin something we all knew would happen.

According to economic forecaster EY Item Club (who?), the economy is growing at its fastest rate in 80 years. Gosh!

But… isn’t that because it stalled altogether last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is just now bouncing back?

Is it not the truth that, rather than growing, we should say the economy is being restored to the level we might expect after the crisis?

I think it is.

As The Guardian‘s report puts it,

The EY Item Club said it now expected GDP to grow by 7.6% … The UK economy shrank by 9.8% in 2020.

So that’s 2.2 per cent of shrinkage that the economy won’t make up this year, meaning the nation as a whole will be worse-off than before the pandemic hit.

There are other elements likely to affect the UK’s economic performance, including inflation and unemployment.

The recovery is extremely fragile, and another Covid wave could bring it crashing to a halt or even into reverse.

And there’s also the elephant in the room. I notice that nobody involved in this article has mentioned Brexit.

Source: UK economy growing at fastest rate in 80 years, says forecaster | Economic growth (GDP) | The Guardian

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The Tories have run the UK into the dirt and Labour needs to ram the point home. Here’s how

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson thinks it’s for handing out to his party’s friends and donors rather than for investing in the UK economy. Labour needs to explain why his Tories, despite their false claims, are silly with our cash.

It’s no secret that Labour under Keir Starmer is failing to make the right points against Boris Johnson’s lying Tories.

Some of the worst falsehoods in the Tory narrative are about the economy – but, as Mainly Macro‘s Simon Wren-Lewis mentioned (on which I expanded), Labour has consistently failed to address them in any meaningful way.

Professor Wren-Lewis has followed up his article with a new piece suggesting possible pressure-points Labour could attack.

I think he’s wrong to suggest Keir Starmer should do so, as Starmer is unlikely to want to – or indeed to be around for long after the local elections next month, but the ideas are sound and whoever becomes the new leader should certainly consider them seriously. They are:

1. Austerity – Conservatives from David Cameron onwards claimed austerity was a vital response to the economic crisis of 2008 onwards; in fact it harmed the economy.

Labour should assert – forcefully – that there was no debt crisis and the economy needed stimulation rather than starvation. Tory austerity not only delayed any recovery, but diminished it so that wages are now – perhaps permanently – lower.

So the Tories attacked the UK’s economic well-being in order to impoverish the wider population.

2. The second wave of Covid-19 was much worse that it could have been because Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak resisted an early lockdown.

This delay meant not only that many more lives were lost to the virus than ever needed to be, but also that the lockdown that eventually had to be imposed had to be much longer.

So the Tories attacked the UK economy – and caused many thousands of unnecessary deaths – by failing to lock down strongly and early when cases started rising.

3. Brexit has created a bureaucracy mountain that has hit exports and many firms very badly. I suspect Professor Wren-Lewis wrote his piece before the extent of the violence in Northern Ireland became clear to him, otherwise he could have mentioned this.

It means the Tory-created bureaucracy has harmed the UK economy in a way that has actually re-kindled the Troubles in Northern Ireland after 23 years of hard-won peace.

Professor Wren-Lewis goes on to state that Labour avoids the argument because party leaders know the Tories will answer it with claims about “overspending” by the last Labour government.

But these claims have always been false:

Prof Wren-Lewis also suggests a few responses to the usual attacks we can expect from the Tories and their lackeys in the mainstream media. For example:

No, the Coalition government’s austerity measures did not save the UK from a financial crisis. The Conservatives have demonstrated, many times now, that the Bank of England will create any money needed to cover the UK’s debts, if the markets won’t or can’t do so. Risk of inflation is negligible for reasons we’ve seen in action in the Covid crisis.

No, it isn’t reasonable to suggest Labour was partly responsible for the damage the crash of 2008 onwards caused by pointing at its failure to regulate the banking sector. At the time, the Conservatives were demanding even less regulation, meaning they would have caused more harm to the economy if they’d had the chance.

And no, Labour did not “overspend”. That party left office in 2010 with a record deficit of more than 10 per cent of GDP, but only because of global economic events and measures taken to prevent job losses after banks started collapsing. After 11 years of Conservative rule the UK has a record deficit of 17 per cent of GDP – because of “overspending”? Arguments that Labour would also have introduced austerity can be overcome by pointing out that the party’s critics can’t criticise the party for both over- and underspending.

Finally, Prof Wren-Lewis suggests that the argument about Tory economic incompetence may be wrapped up in a larger attack on Tory incompetence in general:

Boris Johnson and his Tories have been incompetent in handling Covid, running the NHS, looking after law and order, and handling public money.

Their only success has been in handing public money to their personal friends and funders.

Put it like that and Labour is on a path to electoral victory again – if that party can devise policies that capture the public imagination (Jeremy Corbyn was very good at that) and defend them against Tory attack lines (he wasn’t quite so successful there).

But Keir Starmer won’t put it like that because he simply doesn’t have the grit for it. That’s why we have to wait for the next Labour leader and hope that they will.

Source: mainly macro: Labour should start contesting the Tory record in running the economy

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Banning protest won’t save the Tories if a hot summer of discontent boils over into violence

Sound and fury from 2011: discontent with the government of the day boiled over into riots – and for much less reason than might present itself in 2021. Boris Johnson is hastily banning large protests – but will anybody care?

Here’s a disturbing truthbomb from Richard Murphy:

He makes good points.

Boris Johnson is promising a much better summer than we had in 2020 but the early indication are that he will disappoint us yet again.

As matters stand, history is sure to remember him as the prime minister who promised us the world and then took our world away from us instead.

So he reckons Covid-19 will be under control. Why are our health experts planning for another surge in cases, to hit us around July?

At the moment, half of the UK population is half-vaccinated, and there will be shortages from April onwards. That’s the reason variant strains of Covid are appearing; the virus is mutating to beat the defences of a half-protected population.

Johnson reckons we’ll all be able to resume our foreign holidays. How can we, considering the state of foreign nations’ vaccination regimes?

And Johnson reckons the UK’s industries are going to bounce back – what’s the phrase? “Build back better”? – with a boom during the summer. But post-Brexit problems indicate that any such economic explosion is likely to be a damp squib.

He knows all this.

Why else do you think his government has legislated to restrict protest events to the point where anything that is actually noticeable is to be punished with imprisonment?

It is exactly the wrong response. But he’s a Tory and doesn’t know how to do anything apart from punish the poor.

His decisions are all wrong. They are equivalent to clamping the lid on a pressure cooker and turning it up to maximum. What do you think will happen?

I hope I’m wrong.

If I’m not, I just hope that anyone resorting to violent protest remembers that indiscriminate vandalism won’t do anybody any good – 2011 taught us that. It is pointless harming the innocent.

If you’re angry with the government, make sure it’s the government – and its enforcers – who feel the brunt of that anger.

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Here’s why a DECENT NHS pay rise will help us all

Paying NHS staff more money will improve the UK’s economy massively.

That’s the educated opinion of Tax Research UK’s Richard Murphy, and who are we to argue with him?

In his latest video clip, Mr Murphy explains that the Tory government’s decision to offer only a derisory one per cent pay increase – less than the rate of inflation – is actually harmful to its own hope of economic recovery.

The Tories have based their offer on a false belief that the NHS does not contribute to the economy. This is easily disproved because a person who is fit and healthy is clearly more able to create profit than somebody who is ill or injured.

The benefit to the economy provided by the NHS has actually been measured and it seems that for every £1 invested in the health service, the economy benefits by between £2 and £4.

That’s a hell of a markup!

Think about it. Most supermarkets operate on the basis of profits between – what – five and 15 per cent, if I recall correctly. This is a profit of up to four HUNDRED per cent.

In a nation that badly needs to re-establish its economy after Covid-19 – not to mention Brexit – that’s not to be sniffed at, but sniffing at it is exactly what Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and the other Tories are doing.

At the moment there are 80,000 staff vacancies in the health service because the wages aren’t enough to compensate for the long hours, stress and heartbreak involved.

This, along with the ongoing effects of Covid-19, means that patients aren’t getting the treatment – even the routine work – they need and there is a knock-on effect for the economy because they are being prevented from getting back into it and producing the content of work they should be able to provide at the standard they are expected to.

“It’s as much as we can give,” said Boris Johnson. But this is sheer short-sightedness. A five per cent pay rise, as suggested by Mr Murphy, would pay for itself as the benefits spread through the economy.

This Writer is left wondering whether Johnson is deliberately sabotaging the health service in order to make privatisation more acceptable; if it can’t recruit staff, then perhaps it should be handed over to private firms.

The trouble with that is, private firms won’t pay any better because they’ll be busily grubbing for profits for their shareholders.

And they won’t provide the service the NHS offers because most people simply won’t be able to afford their prices.

So the economy will suffer a much greater downturn as increasing numbers of people fall into illnesses from which they simply won’t be able to get up.

It is economic idiocy.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Mr Murphy:

One part of the clip that I don’t understand is where he says the NHS is perceived to be free. It isn’t and never has been.

Originally, the cost of the service was said to be paid by National Insurance. Nowadays I think that is not true – or certainly not as true as in the past. Much of the cost is now said to come from general taxation (although we know that tax doesn’t actually work like that; the money taken back by the government is more correctly said to be recycled into use to pay for the NHS).

Either way, the NHS is at least partially supported with payments from the general public. It isn’t free and never has been.

Isn’t it funny how that disappears from the minds of politicians whenever it becomes convenient?

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Sunak’s Budget is ‘for the fairies’ because it assumes that Covid is over

His next job: because Sunak has just served up a Budget ‘for the fairies’ that is likely to fall flat on its face in a few short months.

It seems the phrase du jour is ‘for the fairies’.

Some daft Tory MP said nurses’ calls for pay increases were “for the fairies” – see my earlier story on that.

Now I see Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has used the same phrase to describe Rishi Sunak’s budget.

He also said the Johnson government is “firing blanks” at every level.

And that Sunak is likely to be back at the Dispatch Box in a very short time with emergency measures to cope with the disastrous failure of all his Budget predictions.

He says these things with confidence because of one simple fact: Covid-19 has not agreed to follow Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” (it’s actually a timetable but you can’t expect a numbskull like your prime minister to understand the English language) out of lockdown.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Mr Murphy:

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Budget response by the Leader of the Opposition to the Tory Government

Here it is.

It is particularly enlightening where it refers to the Member for Hayes & Harlington:

You didn’t really expect this to be a video of Keir Starmer, did you?

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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