Why Britain should not worry about Brexit-motivated bank relocations

On April 26, 2017, some smarta*!se journalists wrote a Bloomberg piece – The Brexit Banker Exodus Gains Momentum – with some not-so fancy graphics purporting to show where the “U.K. banking jobs might be headed” allegedly because Britain is to leave the European Union. On May 9, 2017, the increasingly terrible UK Guardian bought in on the frenzy with its article – City banks could move at least 9,000 jobs from UK due to Brexit . And so it goes. Apparently, Deutsche Bank is “leading the threatened exodus”, followed by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. All exemplars of virtue, not! While the threat of the ‘City’ leaving London is now used to frighten British people about Brexit, the reality is, in my view, quite different. I would be celebrating the cleaning out this infestation of unproductive enterprises, which remain one of the destructive legacies of Margaret Thatcher and, later, New Labour and its so called ‘light touch regulation’.
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    Posted in Britain, UK Economy | 22 Comments

    Australia’s Overseas Aid cuts reveal a nation that has lost its spirit

    In last week’s fiscal statement (aka ‘the budget’), the Australian government decided to make the poorest citizens in the world, including those living in close proximity to our shores, the target of its austerity mania. It decided to increase Overseas Development Aid (ODA) to match the inflation rate until 2018 and then freeze that contribution for the next two years after that. Effectively cutting real aid over the next four years at a time it forecasts strong growth in total national income. The Government claimed it was just a “pause” and follow several years of cuts in absolute levels of aid. The austerity is not only hampering growth in Australia and maintaining elevated levels of labour underutilisation, but, it is also revealing how mean we are as a nation. As one of the wealthiest nations in the world (currently we are ranked 2nd behind Switzerland for per capita wealth), we are now cutting into the resources we extend to poorer nations in our region as part of a mindless quest for surplus. The problem is not only the economic idiocy that underpins these cuts. The other, perhaps larger problem, of which the first is a symptom is that, as a nation, Australia is losing its moral compass. In this neo-liberal era, we have become an increasingly ugly nation – lacking in generosity to each other and to outsiders. We engage in criminal behaviour (indefinitely detaining refugees in prisons on remote islands; engaging in illegal invasions of foreign nations, etc) and punish poverty rather than do everything we can to reduce it and provide the equal opportunities to all that we so often congratulate ourselves as being champions of. We are a mean-spirited nation these days and an international pariah. There is no pride in holding an Australian passport. It is easy to live here if you have money. The climate is good, the beaches great, plenty of open terrain, great sport – but our national spirit is disappearing.
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      Posted in Economics | 12 Comments

      The Weekend Quiz – May 13-14, 2017 – answers and discussion

      Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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        Posted in Saturday quiz | 5 Comments

        The Weekend Quiz – May 13-14, 2017

        Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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          The way forward for progressives

          Today’s blog represents the notes that make up the conclusion of my upcoming book with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi which will be entitled – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World – and is due to be launched by Pluto Press in London on September 26, 2017. More details of that event and the promotion tour that will follow in due course. We have just about finalised the events through Europe and hope to see as many of you as is possible. As previously noted, this work traces the way the Left fell prey to what we call the globalisation myth and formed the view that the state has become powerless (or severely constrained) in the face of the transnational movements of goods and services and capital flows. Social democratic politicians frequently opine that national economic policy must be acceptable to the global financial markets and, as a result, champion right-wing policies that compromise the well-being of their citizens. The book traces both the history of this decline into neo-liberalism by the Left and also presents what might be called a ‘Progressive Manifesto’ to guide policy design and policy choices for progressive governments. We hope that the ‘Manifesto’ will empower community groups by demonstrating that the TINA mantra, where these alleged goals of the amorphous global financial markets are prioritised over real goals like full employment, renewable energy and revitalised manufacturing sectors is bereft and a range of policy options, now taboo in this neo-liberal world are available. In today’s blog I present some notes that will form the conclusion of the book. The manuscript is now at the publishers and it will be available for purchase in a few months.
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            Posted in Demise of the Left | 25 Comments

            Australian government in contractionary bias when stimulus is needed

            This will be my only commentary on last night’s fiscal statement (aka ‘the budget’) from the Australian Treasurer unless I make another one. There were few surprises and lots of tricks all aimed at presenting a government that has abandoned its extreme right-wing ‘hit the poor the most’ past (as in 2014 and 2015) and decided to quell the deficit and debt hysteria that the right-wing of its party had determined was the best way to win votes. The conservatives are still in office but now they just claim that “the government has to live within its means” and spreads the adjustment profile by which it claims it will force the government to do that over a longer time period (2020-21 the first fiscal surplus is projected). It is big on claims about infrastructure development but, in fact, it tricks the population into believing that cuts are increases. It talks about fairness but introduces compulsory drug and alcohol testing for income support recipients because apparently you “can’t go to work if you are smashed”. It also includes projections that are required to get the surplus projection which are simply unbelievable, which means the 2020-21 surplus is just a token. Even the Treasurer has stopped short of promising its realisation saying the figure is just a “projection”. The government is cutting spending on universities despite saying it wants Australia to be a clever country. And in making changes to secondary education funding in general it is squeezing into the natural territory of whining Labor Party opposition and giving them nowhere to go. That Party has become trapped by its own adherence to neo-liberalism and now just looks stupid. In summary, it still delivers contraction in the year ahead at a time when Australia is growing well below trend and domestic spending growth flat. In other words, to be a fair and responsible policy document it should have increased the deficit over the next few years to stimulate employment growth and bring down unemployment and underemployment.
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              Posted in Fiscal Statements | 10 Comments

              Eurozone recovery is much weaker than the headline figures might suggest

              It is fiscal statement (aka ‘budget’) frenzy in Australia at present, with the Treasurer about to bring down the annual policy strategy tonight. There is so much claptrap in the press and electronic media that I have tried to avoid saying anything about it. I may stick to that. I have been trying to understand the French election results though. That has occupied my attention a bit given the success of Macron (where a record number of voters stayed away and he barely scraped through the first round). He will be proven to be duplicitious I think. He is a Eurocentric neo-liberal who is anti-union, largely, anti-regulation and state intervention and believes the ‘market’ and an incentivised middle-class will do the trick for France. He is caught up in the Europe thing and so cannot see that the Eurozone straitjacket will ensure a growing underclass is retained. There was some interesting research published by a private investment bank (BOAML) – Job Quality and Escape Velocity – which provides a rather sombre view of the much-touted Eurozone ‘recovery’ over the last three years.
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                Posted in Eurozone | 5 Comments

                US labour market continues to improve but a jobs deficit remains

                On May 5, 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – April 2017 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by 211,00 in April up from the miserable 98,000 the previous month. The unemployment rate fell from 4.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent. The estimate of employment change from the Labour Force Survey was also positive (156 thousand net jobs added). Last month, we wondered whether the poor showing signalled the beginning of a slowdown after the positive ‘Trump’ spike or whether it was just a monthly variation that will iron itself out over the longer period. We are probability safer concluding it was monthly variation. Whatever the direction, there is still a large jobs deficit remaining and other indicators suggest the labour market is still below where it was prior to the crisis.
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                  Posted in US economy | 2 Comments

                  The Weekend Quiz – May 6-7, 2017 – answers and discussion

                  Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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                    Posted in Saturday quiz | 1 Comment

                    The Weekend Quiz – May 6-7, 2017

                    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
                    Read the rest of this entry »

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                      Posted in Saturday quiz | 2 Comments