Tag Archives: economic

Leaked report warns of Covid-Brexit “horror show” – remember THIS IS WHAT BORIS JOHNSON WANTS

Two-fingered salute: the UK might fall into lawlessness and chaos because of Boris Johnson but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets what he wants.

A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case” report on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit combining with another wave of Covid-19 has laid out exactly what Boris Johnson wanted for the UK when he became PM.

Johnson, you’ll remember, did not want any trade deals with the European Union after the UK leaves that bloc.

It was widely believed that this is because the hedge fund managers who supported his bid to be Tory leader have bet heavily on the UK going into recession, with many big-name firms going out of business. The claim was that they could make £8 billion out of it.

Of course, none of these multi-billionaires care a fig about the rest of us. If the country falls into chaos they’ll be off to their holiday homes in the sun, with their cash safely stowed in a tax haven.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, you will be left to deal with food, fuel and power shortages, illness and deaths caused by flood, flu and Covid-19, and incursions into the country from outside such as EU boats coming into our fishing waters.

And, as may reasonably be expected from his government’s failures so far on Covid-19 – the school reopening furore, school meals, exam results, care home deaths, PPE procurement, face mask procurement, test and trace, contract nepotism… the list goes on and on – on flooding (remember that?) and on any other subject you care to mention, the Johnson government has not planned any response to this at all.

The article goes on to state:

  • One in 20 Town Halls could go bust in a second Covid wave, sparking social care chaos.
  • The economic impact of the virus and Brexit could cause public disorder, shortages and price hikes.
  • Troops may have to be drafted on to the streets to help the police in the worst-case scenario — 1,500 are already on stand by.
  • Social distancing measures and masks will have to continue until 2021 regardless.
  • Supplies of food and fuel are all under threat this Christmas if Dover becomes blocked.

The planners warned that “pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a Covid second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on ­disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability.”

It could be combined with likely “coordinated industrial action” as well as shortages risking public disorder and a mental health crisis that will hit the poorest hardest.

Nobody in a Tory government is going to worry about a mental health crisis that harms poor people, of course.

And the attitude by leading Tories to this frankly terrifying report seems to be that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Michael Gove is quoted as babbling: “We got Brexit done with a great deal in January.

“A brighter future awaits as we forge our own path.”

A government spokesperson did add that this was a “reasonable worst case” scenario.

But on the Johnson ministry’s record so far, it is stretching the facts to breaking point to suggest that the government is “ensuring we are ready for all eventualities”.

That simply is not going to happen. On the evidence of the last 12 months, it would be irresponsible to believe anything Johnson, his ministers or his spokespeople say about it.

But there’s one more matter to remember:

If this disaster happens, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than to prepare as well as you can (because the Tories simply won’t).

I anticipate another stockpiling splurge, worse than the rush for toilet roll in March, at the very least.

Obviously the worst-case will be social unrest and violence – and I’m not ruling that out, either.

Whatever happens, if we end up with no deal and any of the feared outcomes are triggered, you must remember (because he’ll lie about it):

It is what Boris Johnson wanted all along.

Source: Leaked document reveals Cabinet’s emergency plans for perfect storm of No Deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave

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Johnson caught lying about economic growth in Prime Minister’s Questions

Boris Johnson: He’s all ‘blood and thunder’ in Parliament but analyse what he says and it turns out to be ‘bull**** and bluster’ instead.

I was going to ask why Boris Johnson keeps making false claims like this in Parliament.

But I can already answer that question:

Because he knows he will always get away with it.

That’s what happens when you have compliant – indeed, supine – Tory-loving mass media reporting your behaviour; the lies are ignored.

Did I say lies? Yes, I think they were.

His claim was that the UK economy has grown by 73 per cent under the Conservative government, and this was a lie.

I’m sure he knew that the date from which 73 per cent growth can be claimed is 1990, and that it was achieved under both Conservative and (New) Labour governments. But he didn’t say that.

The current Tory government – in office since 2010 – has achieved economic growth of just 20 per cent.

Worse than the lie is the fact that, due to Tory policies enacted since 2010 (with the help of the Liberal Democrats and the Democratic Unionists at different times, let’s not forget), the benefits of economic growth since that year have been restricted to the very rich.

Wage and benefit increases for the very poor have been frozen or cut, plunging millions of people – including and especially children – into poverty.

So-called ‘Victorian’ diseases linked with lack of money have also returned.

And the death toll among people who have seen their benefits restricted or cut off – most probably because the Department for Work and Pensions has altered their claim and lied about it – has been enormous.

But very few people know about that because the Tories don’t monitor the deaths properly and never provide reports.

And then there’s the matter of public debt:

Yes indeed, Mr Johnson – if you’re going to crow about economic growth, what have you done with the money? You’ll be pleading poverty, the instant anybody says it is needed to shore up a service you have cut.

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Labour spending plans are backed by leading economists

Yes, that’s right – it is Labour that has won endorsement for its economic plan.

You wouldn’t believe that if you were reading This Writer’s Twitter feed, though.

After neoliberal mouthpiece Kate Andrews appeared on the BBC’s Politics Live, spouting drivel in opposition to Labour, I tweeted in support – and received what seemed like hundreds of indignant responses from armchair economists across the UK.

But here are the hard facts, courtesy of The Independent:

Labour has received the firm backing of 163 prominent economists who say the party understands the nation’s deep-seated problems and has devised a “serious programme” for dealing with them.

The group said Labour’s plans to invest in homes, schools and infrastructure make “basic economic sense”, partly because borrowing costs are at a historic low.

The government must step in to invest where the private sector has failed to, directing capital towards the rapid decarbonisation of energy, transport, housing, industry and farming, they said.

“As the IMF has acknowledged, when interest payments are low and investment raises economic growth, public debt is sustainable.”

The 163 economists who signed the letter pointed out that a number of Labour’s proposals are considered orthodox in other wealthy social democratic countries.

Germany has a successful national investment bank, for example, and most European countries – unlike the UK – give workers some form of representation on boards and a stake in their employer.

“It seems clear to us that the Labour party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them.

“We believe it deserves to form the next government.”

I don’t know if Simon Wren-Lewis, author of the Mainly Macro blog, is among those 163 economists, but it seems he supports Labour too – and has attacked what he calls the “standard excuse” for opposing its plans, which is how to pay for them:

The figure for the increase in current spending and taxes is large. I personally would not call it colossal but it is large. I would argue that reflects the extent of the squeeze we have seen on the public sector since 2010.

But what about the argument that it makes the share of government current spending in GDP the highest since the 1970s? A much better comparison is to look at other countries.

What Labour’s plans do is to move the UK from the bottom of the league table in terms of the size of the state to somewhere around the middle.

Who is going to pay for getting us to the average of European countries. Under Labour’s plans it is the rich and corporations.

There is no ‘black hole’ in Labour’s costings.

Most analysis misses the elephant in the room, and that is Brexit.

I think it is highly likely Brexit will not happen under Labour, and even if it did it would be far less costly than either the Tories plans, or the effects embodied in the OBR base numbers that many people use. For this reason the LibDems have talked about a ‘Remain bonus’ (in the incredible event they could form a majority government). Labour will also get this bonus.

As to the investment part of the programme, the key issue is once again whether the investment is needed and well spent.

We should not be talking about whether it is safe to borrow it.

There is virtually no chance that this money will not be available at low long term real interest rates.

No one should be scared of investing in the future of our economy and the planet, whether its by adding 2% or more to the deficit.

If you read some people there will be an immediate run on sterling as capital takes its money out of the UK. Of course if enough people believe this nonsense it might happen, for a day or two.

But the one area where Labour are not radical is macroeconomic policy design. We will have Bank of England independence and a solid state of the art fiscal rule. As soon as that becomes clear any depreciation will be more than reversed, and I suspect there will be an appreciation from day 1. Sterling will appreciate on the expectations of an end to a hard Brexit and rising interest rates.

We should ignore the tired old discourse about whether we can pay for it, and focus on the benefits each individual spending increase or investment project might bring, and on the revitalisation of the economy that this manifesto will generate.

My critics were certainly thinking in ways outlined – and dismissed – by the 163 economists and Professor Wren-Lewis.

Do they have any arguments that can survive the analysis above? I doubt it.

Until they provide some, the economic opinion is clear: Vote Labour.

Source: General election: Labour’s spending plans backed by more than 160 economists and academics | The Independent

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Terrible Liberal Democrat policy blunders: they’d impose permanent austerity

Evolve Politics has called this one right, I’d say.

Starting from the terrible position into which the Tories have plunged us – huge and increasing national debt, with profitable public services privatised – it would be impossible for them to provide the investment we need and meet their “budget surplus” rule.

It’s playground economics – and may be worse even than the Tory economic plan revealed by Sajid Javid a few days ago.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed Labour’s plans to invest in public services and promised to put Britain into a state of permanent austerity if they win power in the upcoming General Election on December 12th.

Announcing the party’s economic vision at a speech in Leeds yesterday, the Lib Dem’s Deputy Leader, Ed Davey, hit out at Labour’s promise to pump investment into the NHS and other public services by labelling the plans as “fantasies” which would wreck the country’s finances.

Davey also promised that, if they attained power, the Lib Dems would implement a fiscal rule which would compel them to run a permanent 1% budget surplus at minimum.

Davey’s fiscal rule pledge would mean that, under the Lib Dems, spending on public services would remain permanently lower than the amount brought in through tax reciepts.

The Lib Dems’ plans would effectively prohibit the party from providing any extra investment into public services, such as the NHS or schools, unless the government were able to raise more money through tax rises or spending cuts elsewhere – even if the services were in desperate need of extra funds.

Source: Liberal Democrats pledge to implement PERMANENT AUSTERITY if they get into government | Evolve Politics

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‘A great deal’ for whom? The UK will haemorrhage money!

Thumb up: But Boris Johnson won’t lose money on his Brexit deal like the rest of us.

Read this, which refers to Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal:

A “great deal”? Or a nightmare?

Some of you will no doubt be saying, “Don’t give us all that Project Fear talk, Mike! It’s all just scaremongering to keep us as vassals to the fascist EU superstate!” Or whatever.

But is it scaremongering? Is it really, when the economic figures come from Boris Johnson’s own official government analysis?

Isn’t it more accurate to say that the unelected prime minister is once again lying through his teeth in the knowledge that the kind of voter who would respond as I suggest above will lap it up?

Analysis published by the UK government last November suggested that a deal along the lines of that agreed by Johnson would have a major adverse economic impact on the UK, with British people hit by falling wages and declining growth.

Consider this:

Johnson’s own government’s analysis suggested that a deal along the lines of that agreed on Thursday will reduce annual economic growth by 6.7% compared to staying in the EU. That’s a major hit to the UK economy which will make average households thousands of pounds poorer than they would have been had we remained in the EU.

The UK government’s own analysis also suggested that a deal along the lines of Johnson’s would have a big impact on the average wages of people living in the UK. According to its central projection, average real terms wages would fall by 6.4% compared to staying in the EU.

The economic hit would inevitably lead to the UK government being forced to borrow more, or dramatically slash the services it provides to the public. According to the government’s own analysis, there would be a 3% increase in borrowing as a percentage of economic growth.

Admittedly, negotiations over the final shape of the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe – and the rest of the world – have not yet begun – Boris “Get Brexit Done” Johnson lied about that too.

But the broad direction is clear. The UK economy is going into a ditch.

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Anti-NHS think tank that funds the Tories – hugely – is itself funded by ‘Big Tobacco’

Kate Andrews: This woman – and the IEA think tank she represents – is bad for your health.

Think about the British Medical Journal‘s findings: Tobacco and food firms whose products are harmful to health have been secretly funding the Conservative Party, through the think tank known as the Institute for Economic Affairs.

So next time the odious Kate Andrews appears on Question Time, or Politics Live, or The Andrew Marr Show saying the NHS should be scrapped, bear in mind she’s speaking for British American Tobacco…

And she’s giving the Conservative government instructions.

A secretive think tank which called for the NHS to be scrapped while its heads pour millions into the Conservative Party – and its MPs’ – coffers is being funded by big tobacco, an investigation has found.

British American Tobacco is one of the groups funding the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think tank which is notoriously close-lipped about its donors.

The IEA has been an outspoken critic of public health measures for tackling smoking, obesity and harmful drinking, and past funders include organisations affiliated with gambling, alcohol, sugar and soft drinks industries.

Health experts said the findings, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), raise the prospect of a future Conservative leader aligning with big business at the expense of the public’s health.

Source: Big tobacco secretly bankrolling anti-NHS think tank whose bosses donate thousands to Tory leadership contenders, an investigation reveals | The Independent

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How can we trust the Tory government when its ministers behave like this?

 

Puppet: Matt Hancock mouths the words – but who wrote them? Him? The press barons? Or the IEA?

Matt Hancock is a naughty boy, isn’t he?

It seems his fat ministerial salary isn’t enough for naughty Matt, and he’s been taking donations – from a think tank dedicated to the end of the National Health Service.

And he’s the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The Independent reports that after becoming an MP in 2010, Mr Hancock has received regular donations of between £2,000 and £4,000 from millionaire currency manager and Conservative Party donor Neil Record.

Mr Record heads the board of free market group the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

That organisation has claimed that opponents of its plan to privatise the NHS are really opposed to patients having a choice.

In fact, privatisation would force patients into insurance schemes that are unlikely ever to pay out, meaning patients would end up with no choice at all.

The IEA is a firm fan of such insurance schemes.

And our Health Secretary takes its bribes cash.

We’ll need to watch this one carefully. Will he try to use Brexit to put through his real paymasters’ plan?

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Tory economic policies at work: Britain falls another place in world rankings

Theresa May visiting India last year. Who knows? She may have been buying shares in Indian companies; people like her know how to land on their feet [Image: Getty].

This is the result of Conservative economics; they simply don’t know how to run a country.

All that tommyrot about the nation’s economy being like a household budget was an indication of the way the wind was blowing.

But those of us who knew it was nonsense didn’t expect the Tories themselves to believe it.

Well, it seems they do.

And Brexit will make matters worse – the unforeseen and unwanted result of an internal squabble within the Conservative Party.

It will weaken the economy to an extent we do not yet know. The prediction in the Mirror article, quoted below, is that it won’t be as bad as many expect and the UK will bounce back above France (while remaining below India), to be the world’s number six economy again.

But you’d be a fool to expect that under a Conservative government.

India has leapfrogged Britain and France to become the world’s fifth biggest economy.

The Asian giant seized the spot as the UK prepares for Brexit, according to the 2018 World Economic League Table.

Source: Britain falls another place in world economic rankings to seventh as India soars – Mirror Online


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Pound to be renamed the Yo-Yo while UK continues to have Conservative government


No – not really.

But the comparison with a toy that bounces up and down according to the actions of its custodian is useful, considering the woeful effect on the UK’s currency whenever certain Tory politicians open their mouths.

Obviously the pound plummeted when it was revealed that more Britons had voted to leave the European than remain in it.

Then Theresa May became prime minister and Sterling took a tumble whenever she made a speech.

Now the infection has spread to Philip Hammond.

Thankfully, our currency regained at least a little of its value after all of these… incidents, let’s call them.

In seriousness, it is an indication of market jitters over Brexit – the effect of which remains a mystery, and a dangerous liability for the economy and the well-being of everybody in the United Kingdom.

But This Writer believes it has as much to do with the failed government of the Conservative Party under Theresa May and her lieutenants, including Mr Hammond.

The pound briefly fell against a slew of currencies on Wednesday, after the Office for Budget Responsibility slashed its growth forecast.

Sterling initially slipped by around 0.2 per cent against both the euro and the US dollar. It also fell against other major global currencies, including the Swiss franc and Japan’s yen, but was trading higher again by the end of the day.

The pound has endured a turbulent ride since June 2016’s Brexit vote. Even though it has stabilised somewhat in recent months, it remains around 10 per cent lower against the dollar since the referendum and around 13 per cent lower against the Euro.

In the longer term, analysts are cautious about forecasting a sustainable recovery for the currency – especially considering the stubborn uncertainty over what Brexit will eventually look like.

Source: Sterling falls after UK economic growth forecast is slashed


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Poverty is the enemy of good mental health. Why do Tories increase it?

Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson. He ‘found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual,’ writes Maureen Tilford [Image: Linda Nylind for the Guardian].

It’s a classic example of failed Tory thinking.

They say they want the NHS to work properly, within the budgets set out for it – but then they worse conditions in society, forcing more people to seek medical help.

In this case, more people are seeking help with mental illnesses because of poverty that has been forced on them by stupid Tory austerity policies.

Only yesterday, This Site published an article on medical experts’ plans to record social issues including poverty as contributing factors to mental illness.

Now, people have been writing in to The Guardian to support political action against poverty – precisely to stop it affecting mental health.

Here’s Dr Maureen Tilford:

As far back as 1963, research by Langer and Michael found that psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities. Money is not a guarantor of mental health, nor does its absence necessarily lead to mental illness. However, it is generally conceded that poverty can be both a determinant and a consequence of poor mental health.

More recently, the epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual. It is clear that poverty and inequality are closely linked and that income inequality produces psychosocial stress.

The wealth gap in the UK is greater than at any time since the first world war and continues to grow. Unless this is addressed at a most senior level in government, the demand on the police will continue, not to mention the suffering of all those callers. This cannot be viewed as a purely health service issue. Allowing the wealth gap to spiral out of control is having serious adverse effects on the UK population on many levels.

And Reverend Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty has this to say:

Prevention of mental illness, and hunger created by low income and debt, requires an increase in taxation and unemployment benefits which many of us would be willing to accept. Central government is making households destitute by shredding unemployment incomes and then stopping them with the benefit sanction, allowing zero-hours contracts and by rolling out the universal credit. Local government then taxes the benefits and sends in the bailiffs to collect the inevitable arrears, adding court costs and huge bailiffs’ fees.

It takes a very rare degree of resilience for mental health to withstand three powerful government departments shelling out threats of bailiffs, prison, eviction and homelessness against a single debtor, who is often struggling to put food on the table for dependent relatives. As Psychologists Against Austerity have reported, such abuses of power are creating humiliation, shame, fear, distrust, instability, insecurity, isolation and loneliness in trapped and powerless citizens.

Source: Poverty is at the heart of mental health crisis | Letters | Society | The Guardian


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