Tag Archives: quantitative easing

Bank of England pumps £100bn into UK economy – but who gets the money?

Money: the Bank of England has pumped £100 billion into the UK economy to ease the strain caused by the Covid-19 crisis – but you won’t see a single penny of it. In fact, you are more likely to be asked to pay back the investment.

This is a wake-up call.

If you’ve seen reports that the Bank of England is bailing out the UK economy with £100 billion of what’s called QE (quantitative easing), you may have been lulled into a belief that everything’s going to be fine.

You would be mistaken.

The UK economy has taken a pounding because of the Covid-19 crisis. We are currently in the grip of an economic recession that makes the 2008/9 financial crisis look like the temporary misplacement of a back-pocket fiver.

In March, the economy shrank by around six per cent. In April, it shrank by a further 20.4 per cent. This Site doesn’t have numbers for May and June.

That meant 600,000 people lost their jobs between March and May. Many more found themselves suffering 20 per cent pay cuts as they were put on the government’s furlough scheme.

Employers were also put under extreme pressure as they have to pay what’s known as “overheads” – rent/mortgage on the land/buildings they use, power, supplies if they are perishable, and so on.

It is an established economic fact that money pumped into a financial system has a far more beneficial effect, if it goes to the poorest people – those who were hardest-hit by the current crisis, as they were by the financial crisis of 2008/9 before this.

They didn’t see a single penny of the QE that came into the economy after the recession of 11/12 years ago, and they won’t see a penny of the new £100 billion.

In fact, they’ll be told to pay back the cash that the government has provided for them, even though they’ve been given less than enough to survive comfortably as it is.

If This Writer recalls correctly, QE for the financial crisis went no further than the large financial institutions the Bank of England deals with on a day-to-day basis.

These would then lend the money to businesses and other organisations, with a view towards receiving the cash back – with interest – in the future.

The businesses then increase the prices of their goods while depressing the pay they give their workers.

Have you spotted the reason this won’t work?

Source: Coronavirus: Bank pumps £100bn into UK economy to aid recovery – BBC News

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Cameron’s global crash warning: He’ll do nothing about it

"Our long-term economic plan is working!" says Cameron - and the debt keeps rising.

“Our long-term economic plan is working!” says Cameron – and the debt keeps rising.

It’s more accurate to say he’ll do nothing right.

David Cameron is warning that another global financial crash is on the way. It’s an accurate warning – others have been forecasting it for a while but, seeing him saying it, didn’t you ask yourself who he’ll be blaming this time?

It can’t be Labour’s fault – Labour has been out of office for a few years and besides, Labour policies were sorting out the fallout left by the last right-wing-precipitated global financial catastrophe until the Tories lied their way into office and then twiddled their thumbs for four long years.

He reckons emerging markets that sustained the recovery (what recovery?) are slowing down but the British economy is growing and needs to be insulated from any crash. He says employment is up massively and new businesses are proliferating – but if you scratch the surface of that claim you’ll see that the number of hours worked is no higher than in 2010 and new businesses are being ‘run’ by people who are claiming tax credits as self-employed because then they won’t be hassled by the DWP while claiming JSA. There are new businesses, of course, but not nearly as many as Cameron wants you to believe.

Cameron’s article in The Guardian, if read properly, is comedy. It certainly isn’t to be taken seriously.

“When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity,” he writes. Which politicians? Gordon Brown is the only Chancellor in recent history to manage a surplus, rather than a deficit; his policies brought the UK unexpected prosperity (which, unfortunately, led to the EU surcharge that has so badly embarrassed George Osborne); and his successor Alistair Darling introduced policies that knocked £38 billion off the deficit created by the right-wing bankers’ gambling binge.

Cameron must be referring to Conservative politicians in his own government.

Yes, look, here’s a bit where he writes: “It is more important than ever that we send a clear message to the world that Britain is not going to waver on dealing with its debts.” He could have cut that sentence down to read: “Britain is not dealing with its debts.” The national debt has more than doubled since the Conservatives started running the economy – from around £800 billion to £1.8 trillion by 2015, meaning George Osborne’s pitiful attempts to tackle the national deficit by cutting public services and selling off the country’s assets have achieved less than nothing.

“This stability is vital in attracting the business and international investment that delivers growth and jobs, and which keeps long-term interest rates low.” You couldn’t make this up. Interest rates are low because lenders know the UK has its own sovereign currency and will always be able to pay its debts, one way or another, even if it means printing more money (quantitative easing, anyone?) – remember when the UK’s triple-A credit rating went downriver despite all Osborne’s efforts to keep it? He claimed this meant the cost of borrowing would leap, but the effect has gone unnoticed.

There’s a lot more waffle and you can read it on The Guardian‘s site. It’s amazing a paper of its standing bothered to publish it.

For a more informed opinion, let’s go to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, pausing for a moment to wish him well in his recovery from recent surgery.

“His focus is instead on highlighting problems in Europe and on signing TTIP – the trade treaty that will require the privatisation of the NHS whatever he says now,” writes Mr Murphy – possibly from the recovery ward.

“This is a man who can see a crisis coming and who must know that his austerity programme can only make it worse (anyone but a fool can see taking money out of a failing economy, as he plans to do,  is bound to make it worse) but who is resolutely refusing to recognise the issues that will cause this next wave of economic collapse.

The wrong people have the money… The people who spend least of their incomes have had the biggest pay rises and are the only ones to enjoy effective tax decreases over the last few years. These people are the highest income earners in the UK.

“At the same time, cutting benefits for the poorest and increasing VAT (which together with deliberately enforced wage cuts have reduced the net disposable income of most people) and cutting taxes for the wealthiest, this has been the inevitable outcome. And we know this outcome has not happened by chance: this is deliberate.

“When there’s a shortage of spending in the economy to let the wealthiest get wealthier, [it] simply means that the imbalances within it get worse. And it’s imbalances that cause crises.

“Corporation tax cuts and reforms to our corporation tax system that means that multinational corporations based in the UK can, since 2010, find it much easier to make effective use of tax havens to cut their UK tax bills have also made the problem worse. I reckon these cuts are costing at least £10 billion a year. What these cuts do is transfer money that would have belonged to the state to companies in the hope that they will be encouraged to invest it as a result. But they aren’t doing any such thing.

“Companies are taking the tax cuts and banking them. They aren’t even giving them back to their owners. They’re just hoarding it. Like the wealthy (perhaps, unsurprisingly) large companies are simply sitting on their cash.

The tax gap is another indication of this. What really belongs to the government is in the hands of crooks and cheats, with massive economic consequences.

“What can be done? I’ve always pointed out that there are only four drivers of the economy: consumer spending, investment, net foreign flows and government spending.

  • “Investment is not happening; business will not do it: that’s why they havecash.
  • “Net foreign flows are broadly neutral: the trade deficit is dire but hot money still comes to the UK, although we cannot rely on that.
  • “Consumer spending is poor and may get worse: most people do not have the money.
  • “And that leaves the government to put matters right. It has to generate new economic activity.”

Mr Murphy proposes more quantitative easing – printing money and then investing it in a new, sustainable infrastructive (not the kind that Cameron is pushing); rebalancing tax by increasing taxes for those who can pay; and closing the tax gap.

You won’t see any of those under a Conservative government!

Get ready to batten down the hatches for another round of financial catastrophe, and this time, be prepared to put the blame where it really belongs – on Conservative politicians whose supposed reputation for financial competence is a myth and who should never have been allowed near the national economy.

And remember where the blame lies when you vote next May.

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Does anyone remember those pesky banks? (Fixing the economy part three)

I was listening to Gideon George Osborne’s Autumn Statement the other day – and my word, don’t I wish I hadn’t! In between lapses of concentration due to boredom and bursts of sudden fury, depending which idiot pronouncement he was drooling, I had the odd lucid thought, one of which was this:

The financial crisis was caused by bankers. Did anyone ever identify who they were?

It’s a good question and one that I don’t believe has ever been answered. A cursory search reveals no list of British names on the Internet but I don’t think we can blame it all on Fred Goodwin, can we? (Fred ‘the Shred’ was, you’ll recall, stripped of his knighthood due to his role in the banking crisis, as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland)

If nobody else has been named, we can conclude that none of them have been made to account for their actions or pay recompense to those of us who have had to suffer hardships – some extreme – indeed, some fatal – as a result of the foolhardy way they gambled with money that was not theirs and nearly brought the global financial edifice crashing to destruction.

It’s nearly five years since the crash. We can reasonably expect that these people are still in position, still taking home huge bonuses every year (debate among yourself whether they have earned these amounts or not). They have not been held accountable. It seems increasingly unlikely that they ever will.

But their organisations have absorbed huge amounts of public money, paid during the great bailouts of 2008 onwards by the UK Treasury in order to keep them going. It seems to me that these fatcats should be on starvation rations until that debt is paid off but I don’t see that happening. This leads me to my next question:

When are we going to get our money back?

The answer comes to mind immediately: If events continue along the current pattern – never.

That’s not good enough. In fact, it’s downright disastrous for the British economy because we all know by now – and the Autumn Statement confirmed it – that the welfare squeeze and other measures that Gideon has levelled at those of us on low or medium incomes, for the hideous crime of having nothing to do with the banking crisis that led to the recession, isn’t going to make anything better. In fact it can only make matters worse.

Consider fiscal multipliers. Every pound invested by a government in its economy generates more money as it goes through the system. The classic example is investment in construction, which yields more than £2 for every £1 spent. But if you subtract money – for example, by a fiscal squeeze – it follows that the economy suffers a greater loss than just the money that was taken away. I believe writers other than myself have suggested that the planned extra £10 billion welfare squeeze will remove £16 billion from the economy.

Meanwhile the banks, that caused the crisis, are off the hook and free as birds.

I have already stated my belief that the economy needs government investment in order to grow. If that investment took place, people would start making money again and they would logically put it into the banks. At this point, I suggest it would be reasonable to start encouraging the banks to start paying off their debt to us; there could be no argument that repayment would harm their viability as they would be benefiting from new money.

They could start paying a financial transactions tax (FTT) at a rate of 0.1%, applicable to all transactions through the CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payments System) which is used to make same-day, irrevocable payments. If spent on deficit reduction alone it was envisaged in 2010 that this would halve the deficit by 2013/14. The introduction of the tax at that time would also have fended off overtures of a rise in regressive taxes such as VAT to 20 per cent, which left the most vulnerable in society picking up the bill for the mistakes of the very well-off. It differs from the ‘Robin Hood’ Tax Campaign for a 0.05 per cent tax on banking transactions, as the latter targets a broader range of banking activities. Most of the major EU countries supported such a tax, and on July 18, 2010, the then-head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, announced he would back it.

I would also continue levying the Bankers’ Bonus Tax introduced by Alistair Darling in 2009, which raised £2 billion, and extend it to other institutions such as hedge funds and private equity houses, which benefited from the bailout through government-backed guarantees and quantitative easing.

If banks continued to pay excessive bonuses then the tax yield would remain high, accruing a large amount for the Treasury, and a permanent bonus tax could lead to bonus payments being reduced as a way to avoid tax; discouraging the payment of bonuses.

This windfall tax has been replicated in France, where the government warned banks that if they did not obey the strict guidelines on pay they would be excluded from competing for exclusive government contracts.

How about a remuneration cap? This would be a short-term ceiling on total remuneration, given as both cash and share options. This would tackle flagrant high pay, shoring up balance sheets and providing a level playing-field across the banking sector.

The link between excessive pay and the economic crisis is widely acknowledged. Remuneration caps could therefore give greater economic stability to the banking system.

I would also create a High Pay Commission – an open, balanced and thorough examination into pay and income at the top in order to find long term and tested solutions into how better to reduce excessive risk and excessive rewards.

Obviously I would separate banks that engage in ‘retail’ activities from those that engage in ‘investment banking’. I would close that casino because the players use other people’s money. Also, ‘casino’ bankers would be less likely to make riskier choices as they would not have protection from the taxpayer. They would also be regulated, to ensure their actions do not put the economy at risk. I understand this is taking place but I can’t fathom why the government is dragging its feet.

Banks should be encouraged to profit by serving their customers well and collectively providing liquidity and capital to the economy.

These banking regulations would be best enforced multilaterally, by other countries as well as the UK, but this should not stop the UK government taking action on its own.

The disproportionate influence of the financial sector over the UK economy leaves it particularly vulnerable to future crises and we should not allow ourselves to be at the mercy of international consensus.

We know that some automatic opposition to these policies will include fear-mongering that talented individuals will leave Britain in droves and growth will be hit. Evidence indicates this is unlikely but if they want to go, I say, let them. There are plenty more talented people just itching for a chance to take their place.

Others will claim that some tinkering with the system, such as banks planning how they wind-up and toughening up existing rules on capital adequacy and liquidity, will solve all our problems. They won’t. There are some fundamental problems that need to be solved if we are to avoid repeats of this crisis.

Better people than myself have said we must reverse the trend of the past 30 years, where private financial risk has been publicly shared and the gains increasingly privatised.

That’s the truth of it. If we can’t punish the transgressors, we can at least claw back the money they have taken.