Monday, 30 January 2017

The Brexit Bankers' Dilemma

This piece in the FT last week is very revealing about the state of Brexit.


At Davos, the Chief Exec of Goldman Sachs was joined by the other Chief Execs of US Banks in warning that a Hard Brexit will see them move their European Operations into EU jurisdictions.


As a reminder, Goldmans actively financed Greece to the point of bankruptcy, shorted the CMBS and RMBS bonds that created the Great Financial Crash and then begged the Fed (run by an Ex-Goldmans alumni, natch) to bail out AIG which owed it billions of Credit Default Swaps such that its collapse would have taken down Goldmans too. There are newer scandals over Aluminium and other commodity hoarding, but the charge sheet is long enough.


So, anything told by a Goldmans CEO is every time and always talking their own book. The US Banks have a big dilemma, none of the Execs they send to Europe want to work or locate their families anywhere but London. At the moment, strikes are threatened and even enacted every time Paris is mentioned.


This is a big headache, one might have thought the Banks would do well to lobby the cause of the problem, the EU, who after all are the ones insisting on Hard Brexit, thanks to their overblown commitment to the four freedoms.


Anyway, the Banks whine on in the article how about how tough life is for them and why they are annoyed that their special pleading is being ignored. Then right at then (this is an FT article after all), they note how Prime Minister May understands their issues perfectly and is quite aware of the real impacts upon them of Brexit.


That must have both killed the journalist to write but also must have ruined the day of the US Bankers - how can they square the circle of not firing their friends and colleagues (read cousins etc)and replacing them with work to rule French people?

Saturday, 28 January 2017

What are the priests afraid of?

Nick Drew has previously described the EU as a priesthood. Well the high priests have been out in force trying to convince the Great British Public that they have made a terrible mistake.


Of course, priests have a long history of not wanting people to call their bluff. But here in contemporary secular Europe we like to think we are more scientific, more pragmatic, more democratic. You might like to think that the the elite of Europe simply want what's best for British voters despite British voters' record. Then their warnings of a Britain worse off outside than inside could be seen as helpful, neutral advice. However, that is not how it comes across. These messages are threats: do trade deals with non-EU countries and you'll get a worse deal from us. 

But why would they mind if we did? After all, if membership the EU is so beneficial to its members, then its leaders should be confident that the UK will indeed be worse off outside - without any further intervention from them. Why should the Maltese government, for example, be concerned if Britain tries to sign a trade agreement with Australia if Malta already has the best possible relationship with Australia and its nearer neighbours? How might such an agreement negatively affect Malta?

If Nick Clegg is right that it is “economically illiterate” to think there is some kind of trade panacea waiting for the UK outside the EU then all he has to do is sit back and watch Brexit turn to disaster, then campaign (and presumably win) to re-join the EU.

One wonders what they are afraid of.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Mr Whippy - The Brexorcist

A single whip is simply a guideline, while a double whip (or two line whip) is stricter - and attendance at the vote is required. The three-line whip is a 'vote with the party or get out'. The number of lines comes from the number of times that a vote is underlined by the Chief Whip in the parliament's schedule.
-WIKI

http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1441974371i/16176015._SX540_.jpg
THE BREXORCIST


 Corbyn told Sky News: “It will be a clear decision that we want all of our MPs to support the article 50 vote when it comes up next week. It’s clearly a three-line whip.

Corbyn may the worst leader of the labour party since ..well... the last one, but he does possesses a low cunning.  A Kremlin politburo apparatchik  like ability to plot his way through the beloved arcane rules and obscure minutiae of the Labour Parties rule book. 
The workings of the process that allowed him and his entryist followers to infiltrate and usurp the positions of power and influence within the structures of the byzantine cult of the left.

For decades Labour have enjoyed the Tory parties discomfort at being unable to reconcile the two opposite wings of their pro and anti European MPs. Europe has been a topic so toxic that it has fractured the party on more than one occasion. And ended the career of more than one leader. 
UKIP arose from Tory members dissatisfaction with the decision to always back the EU all the way towards the ever closer political union and eventual federal superstate.
The Referendum on Europe occurred as a direct result of David Cameron trying to stop the UKIP insurgency from stealing 15% of his natural supporters.

For a long while now, Labour has been very happy with the evermore socialist embrace of the EU. Evermore regulations and unlimited free movement have been seen as a wonderful opportunity for the labour party to  bask in its virtue, top up its voter base, occupy the metropolitan cities and call anyone they don't agree with a racist. 

The science was settled. 
The EU was lovely and all bar a tiny percentage of its MPs and fellow travelers on the progressive bandwagons agreed.

Sadly for Labour, one of their minuscule number of anti-European Union MPs was lifelong backbencher, anti-corporation, anti- the disallowed state investment and anti-tax rise restricting Jeremy Corbyn.
And he now, and always has, wanted to leave the EU. 

Corbyn has told his Remainer MPs that they MUST vote to leave.

It is a golden opportunity for the newly launched Post-Truth-Pre-Trump agitator.

He is a disastrous leader whom most Labour MPs would like to get rid of. But he has won an overwhelming popular mandate not just once, but twice. Much of his Northern heartland voter base would like to leave the EU. His chief opponents are staunch remainers. He forces them to choose between backing or sacking. Most of his very pro EU supporters within his Shadow Cabinet have now said they will obey the leader, after originally suggesting they would not. 
Jeremy's whips and Comms will have told them that if they vote against, with the Labour's-Red Tories, Jeremy will fall, and the Communist-Socialist-Trotsky-Stalinist project will fall with him. The Blairites {spit} will have won and will take back the labour party from the people!

Some will quit his cabinet. But not enough to worry him, he's enough supporters if they all manage two or three roles each. 

A great win for Jez. An epic fail for Labour who within just 6 months have gone from Europe being the sole issue that united the warring factions, to itpossibly being the crisis that finally breaks the labour party.

Meanwhile, the 'broken Tory party' have mostly united around their Brexit leader and can safely watch the meltdown that will engulf their opposite numbers.

And reflect how very fortunate they are that, just for once, it isn't them tying themselves in knots over Europe.

UK GDP for last Quater estimated at 0.6%





#Despite Brexit


Be fun watching this get spun all day by remoaners, I expect to see;


- Brexit has not happened yet


- Inflation will kick-in to kill us all


- Article 50 will be the start of the crash


- Trump effect creating a false economy (funny, the same people said Trump would wreck the economy and the Dow is at 20,000)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Don't forget the flying Unicorns there, Mr Starmer





Labour's Keir Starmer on Labour's wishlist - the great white hope as he is known - on Brexit in The Gaurdian today:




Jobs and the economy must come first. That is why we have insisted throughout on the importance of tariff- and impediment-free access to the single market – which is crucial for our manufacturing sector – and a deal that works for services as well as goods
All rights enjoyed because of our EU membership over the past 43 years should be preserved in full and without qualification. Those include all workplace rights, and environmental, consumer and human rights
- Any new agreement should promote the continuation of collaborative working between the UK and the EU in areas such as science, technology, medicine, crime prevention and counter-terrorism, among other things
There can be no question of implementing the prime minister’s threat to destroy our social model and turn the UK into a tax-haven economy if she fails in negotiations. That would completely undermine social protection and workplace rights.


The UK  is such a weird place at the moment. The above list effectively insists we do not leave the EU - all rights enjoyed must remain. These are guaranteed by the European Courts, so in effect we must stay under the jurisdiction of the ECJ and also have free access to the single market which means compliance with the four freedoms and payments to the EU.


This is literally EU membership in all but name. A much worse outcome than we have now or indeed, as Hard Brexit will create.


Not that this matters, the EU WILL DECIDE what we get, not the UK. As has always been the case, hence the Leave vote in the first place. Saying Parliament can have a wishlist is meaningless. All Parliament can do is remoan about how badly talks go with the EU (they will go badly, the EU have been consistent here at national level and in Brussels).


You can add Unicorns, Happiness and Universal Peace to the list - none of that is on the table. Only Hard Brexit is on the table - FROM THE EU.


Of course, perhaps these Labour types are just playing clever and looking for the long-game where they see Hard Brexit as an opportunity for themselves to regain power in 2025. I doubt it, as they have shown to date only pavlovian remoaner responses to all issues re the EU.


Indeed, they should be careful what they wish for, a difficult Parliament ad House of Lords will result in a massive Tory majority at a snap election and much needed reform of the House of Lords by popular mandate.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Government loses Brexit appeal...oh happy days

Hey nonny-nonny....


This will be a fun day now because:


- Remoaners will think there is some sort of victory


- Lot of Lefty hand-wringing about the sovereignty of parliament


- Threats from the Lords about not playing ball as Article 50 is not in the Tory manifesto and so lots dark threats about not passing a Government bill.


- The Lib Dems will declare a need for a new referendum and an end of hunger globally.




All the while, the bullet is already shot. The EU already hate us and want us out; there will be no going back to them as the terms have been changed already.


Furthermore, May is in a great position, if Brexit is blocked by the Lords or Parliament then a snap election it is, with a 100-Seat majority as Hard Brexit as clause one of the manifesto.


Still, as they say of remoaners, its the hope that kills.....

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cold, Hard Reality Check

Check that top left-hand dial.  I think we all know this, but it bears repeating:  often, during the coldest periods of winter, the wind just doesn't blow

                                               http://clivebest.com/rgraph/wind.html

It's been like this most of the week, BTW.

ND

Tariffic!



We have been having a lot of discussion about the implications of moving to "WTO only" trade relations with the rEU once the UK has left. But not much has been said about the costs we already pay thanks to the EU's existing common external tariffs. It is almost not worth repeating that the EU is not a paragon of free trade with the rest of the world. While the EU treaties (claim to) aim at an undistorted market within Europe's boundaries, they do not shout from the rooftops the protectionist goals of Fortress Europe. We tend to forget that for a long time the UK ran a unilateral free trade policy with the rest of the world. When we joined the Common Market we agreed to erect barriers with former major suppliers. Food prices soared as a result, and this was much discussed during the 1975 referendum apparently.

The EU customs barrier is protectionist, aiming to save certain national industries from international competition. It (sometimes in combination with other EU policies) keeps certain prices in Europe much higher than world prices. In some areas it deliberately forces world prices down while keeping internal prices high. This is especially true with food, where Europe actually exports processed food to poorer countries - trashing their agricultural industries while we pay more than we need to. We then often send the same countries aid money. Meanwhile capital is invested inefficiently in the production and processing of food which could be imported more cheaply from elsewhere. How many whammies is that now?

This is especially visible when there is a European industry in processing a raw material that does not naturally occur in Europe. Coffee and chocolate spring to mind. Raw coffee beans can be brought into the EU without a tariff, but if an African company dares try to export roasted coffee beans to the EU it is hit. The more the developing world tries to rise up the value chain, the more it is taxed. Do you know which country dominates the EU coffee processing industry? Hint: it isn't Italy. 

The EU slaps around a 32% levy on wine imported from the new world and about 18% on processed chocolate. One wonders who these are supposed to benefit. These numbers are all estimates because the rules are extremely complicated (shock) and opaque (shock): there seem to be exemptions and surcharges and quotas aplenty. So much for "frictionless" trade.

Still keen on staying in the EU Customs Union? 

But surely we should not be cutting tariffs unilaterally? After all, we put ourselves at a disadvantage if we allow foreign goods in without them allowing in our exports in return? Who cares if a bottle of Chilean red is a bit more expensive than it otherwise might be? Well maybe this recent BBC article will help.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Two Autopsies and a Funeral

May and her clever GCHQ buggers eclipse Corbyn and his daft buggers
 
(1)  Corbyn's Relaunch

The political relaunch is always a soul-destroying exercise, forever associated with doomed leaderships:  IDS, Brown, Miliband (several times) ...  One supposes the corps of political hacks must get a sort of professional kick from it - they, after all, are the primary target, it being the sole aim of the exercise to get just the faintest soupçon of a favourable review out of them.
March to the gallows

D-Day will be announced;  a speech will be carefully crafted; a bizarre venue, supposedly of deep symbolic significance, will be chosen;  a fake audience will be invited (on terms of bewildering secrecy);  the speech will be rehearsed, then re-crafted; focus groups will be hastily convened;  sound bites will be trialled, then trailed;  should we brief Michael Crick? - but he'll just remind us of when we said the exact opposite fourteen months ago?;  packages will be prepared for the Sundays;  every broadcasting studio will be awarded an exclusive interview in a logistical plan requiring SAS precision to deliver the leader hither and thither across London over a six hour period; the speech will be re-crafted (again);  big packs of Tena-pants for grownups will be procured and distributed;  favours will be exchanged with news editors (OK, how about if you are the only paper to be given the full text in advance?);  pre-spun headlines and gobbets that it is hoped will command the airwaves on D-Day are issued in strictly embargoed press-releases;  the leader's best suit is dusted down and his shoes polished (do I really have to wear a tie?);  the pre-spinners make their final calls to maximise the chances everyone gets the message on Jeremy 2.0 (sic) ...

And then - the sun rises on D-Day and HMS Corbyn (Corbyn the corvette: there is no battleship of that name) heads for the beaches.  Carnage!  He runs ashore miles away from the intended target and Oberst John Humphrys is well-prepared.  The leader forgets all his special training and looses off a clip of non-issue ammunition that misfires.  By midday he is well off the intended track and his staff are obliged to hatch a new plan from scratch and insert a lavish retraction in the afternoon's speech - thank the Lord they are all former journalists and can turn out that crap at 500 words to the hour - and pretend they are delighted with the outcome:  "am told Team Corbyn pleased" - (Norman Smith, BBC).

Yes, that's what they did alright: a classic reverse-ferret.  You know it, because "Mr Corbyn's office are said to be relaxed about his unscripted early-morning remarks on capping pay, and are pleased that it dominated the headlines".  That's relaxed as in senna-pods and syrup-of-figs.  *Said to be relaxed* is code for chewing the carpet, sobbing.

And how did it go down with the political hacks?  Pretty much the best Corbyn's office could muster was "all publicity is good publicity".  Anyone taking comfort from that is way too easily satisfied - and clearly didn't read the actual write-ups.  "Still a coherent message on Brexit eludes him"; "his proposals flipping around like a dropped hosepipe"; "Corbyn could no more approximate Trump-esque barnstorming rhetoric than he could fly".  And that's just the Guardian writers.  The fragrant Laura K summed it up in her closing words on the 10 O'clock News: "doomed to fail".  

And since the re-launch?  More of the same, including mockery of the utterly contrived parrotting of Trump's "rigged system" meme in the desperate belief Corbyn can ride the anti-establishment wave that is deemed to sweep all before it.  It's hard though, isn't it, to associate that dynamic metaphor with the man whose instinctive posture when riding is ... crouched on the floor of the train.  Behind the lavatory.

(2)  May's Speech

Bit of a contrast here.  Nicely trailed; everything kept tidy; pretty respectful write-ups.  Nine-out-of-ten.  Contrasted pointedly and favourably with Corbyn everywhere, in fact.  And actually revealing something worthy of note: she's concluded (as have we all) that by their churlish demeanour over the past several months the eurofed-leadership leaves us with no alternative but to plan for Hard Brexit.  Hurrah (or YAY!, according to choice.)

A couple of other highly encouraging things.  (i) P.Hammond properly onside - at last, but hey, he got there in the end - and coming onto the dancefloor with a nicely choreographed and plainly worded newspaper interview for German consumption.  (ii) That fantastic story in the Guardian that had me so happy last weekend.  The one with the leak from a briefing for MEPs by M.Barnier, where he said they badly needed a special deal with the City.  How very convenient - and so beautifully timed.  Leaks like that put the bastards on notice that if they reckon to hold any planning meetings in nice, comfortable offices in Brussels or Strasbourg, or use telephones, or email ... GCHQ will have 'em for supper. 

Grown-ups - 3.  Kindergarten - nil  (points deducted for fielding a player out of his league)

(3)  Rick Parfitt RIP

Anyhow, it's the weekend, and a proper C@W tribute is long overdue to the great Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, whom we lost last month.  Take four minutes out and enjoy this.  Sorry, I know the pic below is not of the man himself - blame the blogger/youtube embedding function.  But the song is one of his.  A great intro - and quite a lot more than 3 chords ...


ND

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Mischief in The Gambia: The Remainer of Banjul

                                                                                                Map:  Wiki
Politics in the UK and the USA, it has to be said, are pretty interesting just now: but meanwhile, in the rest of the world ...  As Gambian president Yahya Jammeh plays his post-election game of Will He, Won't He (go without a fight), his neighbours steaming across the border to offer menaces against him and tourists reluctantly coming home on FCO advice, the Army declares itself a non-participant.  “I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men” said Ousman Badjie, chief of the defence staff
... stopping to pose for selfies with admirers. “If they [Senegalese] come in, we are here like this,” Badjie said, making a hands up to surrender gesture.  
Sounds about right, from my modest experience of this strange little country on business 18 months ago.   (This boosted my stock of crazy third-world anecdotes, which I may relate in some future Saturday post if it's quiet one week.)   His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa - el presidente for a few more hours perhaps - was always a bit flaky, e.g. his recent declaration that The Gambia was going to become an economic superpower a few years from now.   His electorate were evidently sceptical about this; and to be fair, there were no outward and visible signs of superpower-type things happening.  Or anything, really. 

I couldn't help noticing that the locals in this longtime British Commonwealth country spoke English and French equally, and the explanation I was given (plus a glance at the map) makes it obvious enough.  The lengthy border with francophone Senegal is totally porous and bears no relationship to the tribal boundaries: people drift in and out between the two countries all the time.  Not a propitious basis for armed resistance against the local heavyweights of the country that surrounds them on three sides, plus Nigeria. 

The majority of the population are Muslim in an easygoing sort of way (hey, for years before ebola it was a major-league holiday destination for scantily clad, boozy westerners); but there is no shortage of Christians either.  The entertaining local newspapers devote the front page to obsequious coverage of the president's latest witterings, but inside the crime reports are colourful, and a page each is given to an Imam and a Catholic priest, from which columns I learned several worthwhile doctrinal points.


The beaches are stunning (my pix, not a brochure).  But my "4-star hotel"  - a household name global franchise - had an extremely dodgy electricity supply (no fun in a hot conference room when the OHP and the aircon die on you)  and no telephones ... 

Jammeh has been offered exile in Nigeria, but at the time of writing he hasn't taken it up.  The whole of the dark continent is watching this one closely as it might still represent an exceptionally rare event - an African dictator giving up power without bloodshed.  And with a strategic position as weak as the one conveyed by the map, I think we must assume that'll be the eventual result.  Hopefully so - for all concerned.

ND

EU show their teeth




Been very busy here at Capitalists Towers, what with the need to earn salaries and income etc.


So apologies for the lighter posting this week.


The EU seem to be really goading themselves for a fight though. Anything said by Mar or Johnson at the moment is being taken as a horrific insult worthy of instant response and denigration.


There are a couple of obvious themes:


- Left-Wing Euroers are much worse and are very akin to remainers.
- The Brussels crowd are this doubleplus
- There is the strange outlier here of Donald Tusk who seems to be acting like a grown-up.
- Key player Merkel is remaining very quiet, lots of the national political whining is by politicians trying to shore up their positions ahead of elections this year they are likely to lose.


These 'negotiations' are unlikely to last very long in this environment.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Monday, 16 January 2017

Brexit battle ready to begin...

More downside for the Pound. This is of course great news for the UK as a whole:


- Our debt is in Sterling, so we become less indebted in real terms as the Pound falls.
- Inflation is needed to regularise our economy after the QE inspired mess.
- Our exports will flourish as they become more competitive.
- Foreign Direct Investment will increase as it buys more for less.
- Tourism will increase as the UK becomes cheaper to visit.
- As our relative wages fall, immigration may drop slightly as we become more competitive in this respect.


The only negative is travelling abroad is more expensive for us Brits, but staycations are also a net benefit to the economy in any event.


So none then.


Anyhow, the cause of this is the Prime Minister and Chancellor making noises about negotiating from a Hard Brexit stance and then adding in that we can make threats also. Turning the UK into a massive offshore tax haven (which of course we are already....) for one.


This added to ND's post of Friday where Michel Barnier has woken up to the threat of a UK exit causing the cost of capital to rise for European firms and we are in a much better place.


Remoaners are going to go full steam now, as final defeat for them hoves into view. For the majority though, at last the phony war is ending and the meat of the discussions can happen.


Putting it about like this is refreshing for the Brexiteers; Europe holds lots of the cards and so we will need to be strong in trying to negotiate any deal at all with them.


And that is before we get to Trump and his over-friendliness.....

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Jeremy Corbyn relaunch press conference


{video - Guido Fawkes H/T}

Jeremy Tramp, leader twice elect so far, is at his relaunch press conference with his all new 'can-do' combative, audacious, outrageous style.

 " My friends..I just want to say ..how great it is to be here..its truly a great thing ..to be at the center of local-world socialism ..the Fabian Society...a great and ..wondrous thing and its an honour for the members of the press to speak to me...I will be taking questions in just a second. But not from anyone from a fake news channel. 
But firstly, I want to talk about this failure..in our medical-healthcare sickness system. I am concerned, personally and deeply, deeply and personally concerned about long term care for the vulnerable, elderly, confused people in society who are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous union bosses or shadow chancellors ..no wait? ..It says don't say that ..just a ..momentum here...Ok .. Vulnerable old and frail, sickly looking, ancient, willowy, reedy armed old men..who are being failed by Camerocare.
 Camerocare..is a total failure..A total costly failure. The privatisation of social care instead of being solely something for the government to mess with..He..Mr Cameron..he messed around with social care and ruined it for everyone. Everyone..and I'm going to put a stop to it. So very frail and weak old men...or ladies..but especially grey-bearded men..can have the care they need in their looming, imminent,old age. And i'll tell you how I am going to do it. The same way that made this country great..Like it was in the 1970s. By Nationalisation. 

 {crowd cheers enthusiastically}

We are going to nationalise..EVERYTHING. Roads..Buildings..Hospitals..Shoe Shops.. Children..clouds..cats.. Everything, folks. Ok ..thank you for that rapturous applause. I will now take some questions..yes..You sir..Graham Ilyanovich..Islington Gazette ..yes ..you go ahead..

 "Thank you Mr Tramp. Can you answer those who say you are getting too old to be Prime Minister?" 

"Well..my good friend..Fidel Castro..he was 90 years old and still running the best healthcare systems in the world. If you don't count any of the other, much better ones. Look..I am a very healthy guy..I eat only vegan food and drink only turnip wine..I cycle all the time and get lots of exercise running away from difficult situations..So I am in great shape..great shape..better than 'Diabetes' May, eh?

..Yes..you madam.. who is that. Romilly Weeks.. ITV..the "I Luv Theresa Vision?..You are fake news..I'm not answering...next question..No ..no...not you..next question.I won't talk to ITV fake News...Stop talking  - I'm moving on ..you ..Daily mail..Quentin Letts - the funnies guy..

 "Daily Mail - How on earth will you stop high net wealth individuals from fleeing this natonalised, regressive, communist, Cuba like nation?" 

"I am glad you asked ..And , by the way, its not a Cuba model. I want to go full Venezuela.. The answer is very simple. Our Russian friends had the answer years ago .The corporates are going to get the bill for this one..  

"We .. are ..Going to build a Berlin style Wall. And Texaco is going to pay for it!"
{crowd applauds loudly - they like this slogan}

 "You don't seem to have any ability to lead the Labour Party, Mr Tramp!" 

 "Who ..is that..the Biassed BBC.... That's another beauty..Listen..I have lots of ability..I have great ability ..my friends are always talking about my Huge ability..So you don't have any worry on that score..I have fantastic ability..I am very able. I was ably when I was in my twenties and I am abling now. I have great, lasting, ability. Youge Ability..Bigly so..
Next question please..You ..Mrs Sky lady..with the nice rack.."

"Mr Tramp. Do you want to respond to these damning allegations about the Russians?" 
{mutterings and discontent from the audience. They don't like the question}

 "You see..this is more fake news..from the rigged media..the system..is rigged..Let me tell you ..I don't  know Vladimir Putin.. I work for Vladimir Putin on his Russia Today channel..But I have never met him personally. When I used to go to Russia during the cold war, he wasn't there. I have great respect for Mr Putin. Great respect. But he doesn't pay me..Except for the TV work I just mentioned. I think he and I could do business. If he wanted to resurrect the USSR, I would be very happy with that.  ..This report about certain activities I'm supposed to indulge in. At night ..in a hotel room ...is just lies. Its..Fake News.

Let me tell you .. ..The outrageous report that I was filmed being a typical lefty bedwetter is totally..undeniably ..untrue.
I wear TENA Maxi plus nighttime pants...nothing leaks out! I never leak. And you know ..I am a bit of a germaphobe. I don't like to connect with anybody. That's why my policies are deliberately so bizarre. And this bed I was supposed to have had an accident in? Because it was once slept in by Cherie and Tony Blair? Well..You know my thoughts on them..

Folks .. You know why they want to rig the system to keep people like me from setting up a commission of my own? I said, as my first act as Prime Minister, I would investigate Tony Blair's illegal Iraq war." And Alistair Campbell said that was why I was unfit to be leader..
And I said  "Because you'd be in jail!" 

{crowd cheers and loudly chants - lock him up! lock him up! lock him up!} 

My friends ..That's it ..no more questions..Let us just work together or apart, to end this corrupt, capitalist system.. and 
"MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN ! "

{wild cheering and applause. Jeremy throws his Lenin cap into the crowd! Placards wave and band strikes up "Back in the USSR"}

Friday, 13 January 2017

Brexit Negotiations: Now We're Talking!

The Grauniad, bless their little red socks, has an Absolute Cracker of an exclusive. 
EU negotiator wants 'special' deal over access to City post-Brexit:   - minutes of Michel Barnier’s meeting with senior MEPs reveal he wants 27 member states to have easy access to London’s financial institutions ... Barnier wants a “special” relationship with the City of London after Britain has left the bloc, according to unpublished minutes seen by the Guardian that hint at unease about the costs of Brexit on continental Europe ... The fear is that European governments and companies would find it harder and more expensive to raise capital if they were denied access to the City, which acts as Europe’s investment bank.
And so it goes on - you'll want to read the whole lot.  Good on yer, Guardian!

Now there's a Frenchman who might actually understand the way of the world - as opposed to the lumpen euro-mass of morons who truly do not understand (particularly German morons - as we've written here many a time and oft).  Frankfurt?  Pff.

It's interesting, because a priori you'd imagine the superior and irredeemably statist products of les Grandes Écoles would be not at all well placed intellectually to grasp the facts about finance and free markets and the like.  But my experience has been that there are actually plenty of froggies who do, even if it is often admitted through clenched teeth.

By truly delightful coincidence, today was the day I was asked by the (French) friend-of-a-friend if Mrs D & I would act as honorary godparents to his daughter as she sets out on her career in ... London.  It's the only place, she says.

An honour and a pleasure, Monsieur. 

ND
 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Keynes, Always Waiting in the Wings

"Plans for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay will be backed in a government-funded review on Thursday." 

Exclusive to all media, so it must be true.  Tidal lagoons for generating electricity (and, doubtless, trashing the marine environment).   Needless to say the tide-farmers' ambitions don't stop at a beggarly £1.3 bn, they have decided £40 bn sounds like a nice round number.  And of course ...
One of the key questions will be over the so-called "strike price" - the deal with the UK government to provide a guaranteed price for the energy the lagoons will generate.
Why yes - we didn't imagine these monsters would be economic, did we?  At the last major outing for this idea they were *floating* (sorry) a strike price of £168 / MWh, which looks kinda awkward alongside Hinkley's £92.50 (in 2012 coinage and it's index-linked).  Using the traditional smoke and mirrors, the tidal boys have now turned their demand into £89.90  (why not £89.99, fellahs?  You know that's how you came up with your number).  With a 90-year government-guaranteed contract (yes, that's what they want) plus a 120-year payback (sic), it's not a difficult trick.
The firms hope that as Theresa May's government has already embraced two mega projects in HS2 and Hinkley Point, it may be enthused by another plan for engineering on a heroic scale.
I'll bet they do: and in the 'real world' (the one where base politics dictates such things) this one may actually run.  It was in the Tory manifesto; and it's a neat maritime variation on Keynes' prescription for paying folks to dig holes & then fill them in again.  The tide will leave the hole, & then ...   And as the nature conservation lobby swings into action against it all - think of all the work for lawyers!

What's not to like?  What could possibly go wrong?

ND

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

NHS Questions

Finally, Jeremy Corbyn had a good PMQ's today. He managed to focus on the NHS and the Government, as every Government seems too, looked a bit wobbly.


I have 3 questions to pose....


How much extra money has been spent on the NHS since 2010?


How many extra appointments are now needed in addition to service levels 2010?


How many immigrants has the country allowed in since 2010?


I only say google yourselves because my light research was fairly stark in its answer and yet I am sure just asking these questions condemns me to the alt-right loony bin in the eyes of many....

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Why Corbyn is F****d: Exhibit A

Around Xmas the massed ranks of the political correspondents were full of how Corbyn's new team were strategising a turnaround.  Spotting that the Brexit and Trump phenomena are widely attributed to a pervasive 'anti-establishment' zeitgeist (in some accounts, anti liberal establishment), they determined that Jezza would be positioned as the insurgent candidate, the perfect representative of anti-establishmentarianism:  Jezza the authentic, the man of the people, the inveterate rebel - and by no means a liberal.  

(Just one link to illustrate - and you can easily find more of this stuff. Chipping in with a perspective from my own rather unexpected window on this world, I can confirm that the impact (as they see it) and simplicity of the Brexit slogan 'take back control' has had a deep effect on Team JC, and they intend to make it their own.)

But then, they must deal with the holy idiot Jezza himself.  Once in a while (see this pack of nonsense) he can just about be made to put on a tie and read his lines.  But then someone talks to him, and off he goes, right off piste and straight down into the crevasse. 
John Humphrys asked if he would like to limit how much fat cats can earn.  Corbyn replied.   I would like there to be some kind of high earnings cap, quite honestly.  When asked at what level the cap should be set, he replied: I can’t put a figure on it and I don’t want to at the moment ... Then Humphrys asked him if he was really talking about a law to limit income.  At first Corbyn appeared to row back a little bit.  I think let’s look at it ... I’ve got a view on it ... I’m not wedded to a figure on it.  But, when pressed again, Corbyn was unequivocal.  I would like to see a maximum earnings limit, quite honestly, because I think that would be a fairer thing to do.
You know what, Jezza - I don't think your team are gonna let you do that.  Let's imagine what he might plump for.  

"Well, an MP earns 75 grand, and that's more than enough for anyone, so, let's say, £80k?  Sounds really generous to me ..."  

"But Jezza (*collective sigh*), half the management of the Beeb pay themselves a quarter-mill.  We gotta keep these people onside!"  

"Well maybe 100k - although I can't quite see how that would go down with those chaps we met last week at the Grimsby Working Men's Club - that wouldn't seem like much of an earnings limit to them!

"Which is WHY we can't have a limit at all!!"

"Look here, I thought you said we were going to be the People's Party again!  That's the only reason I agreed to wear that suit last week!"   

"Jeremy, trust us on this one ... remember?  You get to stand on the stage at those big rallies where they love you and wet themselves on the floor; we do the policy.  [Cancel that interview this afternoon!]   There - have another chocolate digestive; and we'll go to the pub later.  Oh, and we won't mention this to John - OK?" 

ND

+ + UPDATE

It's very instructive - and BTW full marks to John Humphrys for nudging him into this slurry-filled pit.  The Grauniad's pundits have leapt into action endorsing Jezza's mutterings about a pay cap, immediately interpreting it as a multiple of average company pay rates, i.e. something you could (just about) imagine being practical to legislate upon, even if the consequences would be dire.  But no!  The saintly one is indeed thinking (well, burbling) of an absolute £ number
"Corbyn, who earns about £138,000 a year, later told Sky News he anticipated any maximum wage would be “somewhat higher than that”. “I think the salaries paid to some footballers are simply ridiculous, some salaries to very high earning top executives are utterly ridiculous ...  An Arsenal fan, said he thought his team’s manager, Arsène Wenger, “would probably like it very much indeed, he’d probably like there to be a maximum wage cap on the whole of the Premier League”."
So he's even - in his brainless way - thought about the soccer aspect (see AndrewZ's comment below), proving yet again he has not a single clue as to how the real world operates.  As Hovis says (in Comments, too) he's in full-on rogue mode.  Which was the original point.  Complete, unreconstructed, unreconstructable nutter!

+ + FOOTNOTE

After a day of carnage for Corbyn's relaunch, which finally saw him being bounced from the top slot on the BBC 10 pm news, Laura Kuenssberg’s closing words on the subject: 
Doomed to fail”...  

Monday, 9 January 2017

BS Britain, part 2

to continue on BE's thread of yesterday with a view of a different C@W contributor...


With the UK, it is not the overall level of life, which is great (try travelling to non-first world countries, does the trick for me everytime!), but the BS re politics is related to the fact that the class gaps are much wider now than they were.


By way of example, my retired in laws live in a much nice house than I do, despite me earning in a year what they only ever did in about 5. This grates a little. My father in law, a sensible and numerate man, has saved more into his pension than I will ever manage, plus his went up in value whereas mine would be better in cash than with the rapacious fund managers.


Indeed, 'nice' places to live in the South East and London are now £1 million plus...even on a Prime Minister's salary you are not having it. It is not all about jets, or coke and hookers (desirable though these may be) or even as I saw some nice Arab lady do before Xmas spending £700 in Hotel Chocolat on a whim. It is achieving something for the toil of labour and learning


It is just the 'middle' is dropping away and the achieving group accelerating away. Look at public schools, previously full of sons and daughters on accounts, doctors, lawyers. Now only very senior bankers, foreign billionaires and what are euphemistically known as 'property developers' can attend.


This is why over the past decade we see lots of nonsense about 'Alarm Clock Britain' (remember that!) or March of the Striving Makers etc and other such fatuous dog-whistling. The fact is the both blue collar and white collar classes have had a big downgrade over the past 30 years, in line with the Country. With the collapse in oil revenues this last few years, it is really coming home to roost in our national accounts too.


At the same time the world's leading financial minds have had much success in attracting tax-evaders of all sorts to London and our cultural superpower excellence has acted as a huge magnet for the growing peoples' of the world. Thus the Country appears to be full of both rich foreigners - which it is and a multitude of poor immigrants. No wonder the debate on immigration gets so complicated and tetchy.


We can see that the politicians, perhaps like ourselves, have no answer to these events or even ideas on what to do about it. Hence Labour having no policies at al and May insisting on more fatuous dog-whistling only yesterday.


The biggest point though is the whinge-fest above is just that. A whinge, there is little to stop people trying harder, taking risks, going for new jobs and trying new things. The animal spirit is needed for this and you see it in abundance in the Far East, socialism is killing it in UK and Europe. Perhaps with Brexit it can be re-kindled. Blaming the Government and everyone else for your own predicament gets you nowhere - reaching out yourself is the key.


Of course this problem is getting worse as technology means services will not need human labour either. At least blue collar people can build the robots and maintain them, white collar workers will suffer even more in the future and currently this is 80% of the UK economy. So a need for capitalism to be at the heart of what we do net to make sure it is successful transformation is key for the future.


It will be very interesting to see how it all turns out.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

BS Britain

From this afternoon we will see the latest strikes by hard-line unions on public transport. This time on the state-owned Tube network. The RMT is cross that its members can no longer hide behind counters in stations and have to actually interact with customers, and do roles other than selling tickets. That we no longer really need ticket-sellers seems to be ignored. In a normal industry, the workforce would re-shape, with roles lost where they are no longer appropriate and - most likely - boosted in other areas. For example, banks no longer need so many staff at branches, but need more at the end of phone lines to deal with problems when they arise. In my own industry, we have lost secretaries but gained admin and other support roles. Times change, but in BS Britain customers and - inevitably - the overall economy are held to ransom by those resisting the inevitable.

We are back in the 1970s, make no mistake. The Thatcher counter-revolution has largely been undone. We have Butskellists in charge at all levels. The "centre ground" is coveted by all except those on the very fringes (such as Jezza). Nobody should be upset, if at all possible: in this world a minor tweak here to this policy or a change to that tax rule there will solve everything. A morale-boosting speech is worth a thousand actions.

Politicians make promises they know cannot be delivered, whether a "fare freeze" and "no strikes" in London, or getting the Mexican taxpayer to pay for a wall to protect the US border. Any upfront challenge is batted away, but as soon as the election is won the promise is diluted so much that even a homeopath would balk.

You can see why voters get frustrated. You can see why people lose faith in The System. It is basically impossible for everyone to be pleased at the same time. That is why we have elections and democracy in the first place. When one faction loses support, it is time for the other faction to take its turn in power. Except the system is broken: each faction in the UK tries to garner the support of the other faction's natural supporters. But in the end it does not work, and we just end up with a bigger state, more taxes, more economic friction and more frustration.

I should in no way feel "hard done by". I earn a good salary (somewhere above the 90th percentile, if the official numbers are to be believed), my mortgage is cheap, I have money left over to save at the end of the month; and yet I do not feel prosperous. I have - on paper - a healthy net position, but that money does not buy me very much. I save a lot of my income into a pension and even if I continue to do so until I am 70+ it will give me very little in retirement income. My flat has nearly doubled in value since I bought it yet, if I move, most of my cash savings will be wiped out in transaction costs. Despite my good salary and savings ethic, I cannot even really buy anywhere significantly nicer to live if I stay in London. I know people on much higher incomes who have the same problem. I spend a small fortune on public transport, which frequently lets me down. 

If people in my situation (highly educated, highly skilled, well paid, healthy) are frustrated, what hope is there for everyone else?

I had high hopes for Theresa May, but tomorrow she will apparently launch the Sharing Society. The state will intervene more, on behalf of those just above struggling. Will it also intervene less where that would be appropriate? We are not told. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we should presume that it will mean more taxes, less efficiency and so ultimately slower growth.

It is time for firm action on the BS. Let's call things out where they clearly aren't working properly: whether it is overstaffed public transport systems or a completely dysfunctional housing market. Let's accept that sorting this stuff out means that for any particular action about half the electorate will be disappointed or angry - whether it is NIMBYs, those in public-sector unions or Soft-Brexiters. Let's stop trying to appeal to everyone, and crack on with clearing up this malaise. And quickly, before too many of the highly-educated, highly-skilled, well-paid and healthy decide to look for better-functioning, lower-taxed, sunnier climes.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Made Me Laugh, Anyway

Not new; but on Labour List I have just come across this.


Who wrote that for him ?  Whatever does he think it means?

It gets funnier: "Britain now has the most extreme regional inequalities of any country in Western Europe.  Labour pioneered devolution in Government.  We devolved power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".  (That's unedited, verbatim - and I don't detect irony.  Or anything, really - certainly not an open mind as regards possible cause & effect.)

ND

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Corruption Then and Now

An entertaining FT piece on corruption in China, which sets out how Mr Xi's much vaunted anti-graft drive has had only the most superficial results, i.e. driving it into ever more subtle modes.
Businesspeople complain that their bribery costs have actually risen along with the greater risks facing corrupt officials, many of whom now demand backhanders paid in foreign currency directly into offshore bank accounts. Some entrepreneurs have concocted elaborate schemes to funnel cash to the right officials. One businessman in a provincial Chinese city hired an American professional card shark to play private high-stakes card games with party bigwigs and intentionally lose to certain players ...
There was an earlier article on the same subject by Martin Wolf, also in the FT, last month:
If a market economy is to be combined with reasonably non-corrupt government, economic agents need legal rights protected by independent courts. But that is precisely what a Leninist party-state cannot provide, since it is, by definition, above the law. The party-state may govern by law but cannot be governed by it. Thus, its agents are above effective legal recourse from private citizens.
That's the irredeemable philosophical aspect neatly stated:  but I am almost equally intrigued by the practicalities - these rigged poker games, it all sounds very ingenious.

I have never done business in mainland China, but I did spend a memorable year in Russia.  As I was operating under US anti-bribery laws at the time, I needed to become acquainted with the subtleties of 'expediting' and 'facilitating payments', which could be legitimate in certain circumstances, ahem.  (You'd even get a reciept ...)

One day we took a call from a company in Canada that was unknown to us, pitching a business development proposition in Russia that seemed as though it could be right up our street.  So when I was next bound for corporate HQ in the States, I detoured via the Canadian firm to hear their story.  It turned out not to be as interesting as it sounded; but over dinner the conversation took a different turn.  My host named a handful of senior Russian counterparts he thought I probably did business with (he was correct) and said that he knew I would have difficulty in seeing them right, what with the pesky (US) Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and all.  However, he said, as a Canadian he did not labour under such constraints, and proffered me a smart brochure, complete with photos and potted CV's of all the Russians he claimed were 'on his books' and 'open for business'.

In the words of the song, I made my excuses and left.  Twenty years on, in the age of social media, his entrepreneurial modern equivalent would presumably be flashing an app on his 'phone ...  Fixr?  Backhandr?   Something of that sort, I imagine.  PayPal OK?

ND
  

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sir Ivan Rogers is right on all counts





So 2017 and off we go with the endless, remoaning festival of whining. This may last some time.


However, the reaction to the loss of our esteemed EU negotiator does rather split as usual on Remain (he was god, we are now lost) and Leave (EUSSR traitor, best rid of him).


So perhaps the key part that is unnoticed but of the most import, as I often repeat here, is that what Sir Ivan says is indeed truth.


The EU are not about to offer us a goldilocks deal but negotiate an exit treaty, then we will need to negotiate a future trade deal - AFTER Brexit. This trade deal maybe in stages but could take some time. I think 10 years is pushing it, but certainly 5 or more must be on the cards.


It can only be a 'Hard' Brexit on the terms of Article 50 and there is no will in the EU to make it otherwise for the traditional reasons - pour encourager les autres.


Plus with all the elections in the EU this year, not much is going to really happen - hence my despair at the hot air created for of all of this. First the EU will make some outrageous claims to negotiate with in the exit treaty (EU pensions payments for 50 years etc). This will keep the diplomats busy for 18 months. Then once this is agreed the Article 50 time-limit is nearly over and the UK is out (or free, rather).


The only possible change to this is if there are major changes in the French and German Governments - but even then little Luxembourg and Wallonia can have their say. This after all is the false democracy of the EU where the power of the few outweighs the will of the many.


So, I am in complete agreement with the Leavers that Sir Ivan was right to go to be replaced by someone whose heart was in it. But also that his resignation letter was not really meant for the Prime Minister but for everyone else as it contains a fair assessment of the situation - Utopia is nearly upon us!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Hoping to Swivel in 2017?

So while we're all busy predicting for the year ahead, hark! - from stage left, the carefully orchestrated sound of New Year's whistling in the dark.  In Saturday's Grauniad we find a total of 22 reasons for lefties to be cheerful in 2017.**  Twenty two! - in the main newspaper section alone (the magazine had twelve pages of determinedly optimistic reckoning the previous week).  We get the message: you'd very much like to think 2016 can be put behind you without too much wailing & gnashing of teeth.  Haven't they seen BQ's video?

They could of course, and much against their better judgements, be normalising again: but it doesn't quite read like that.  Ostensible 'reasons' they seem to cling to:
  • lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place
  • chickens will start coming home to roost
  • it was all a big mistake
  • everyone's better natures will shine through
  • the checks and balances are about to come swinging into play
  • Germany / France / Netherlands do voting-type things so much better, and the show will soon be back on the road
  • folks like us at C@W can have our moment with BQ's 2016 video, but it'll soon be a fading memory
Now of course lefties tend to believe history is fundamentally on their side anyway.  This doesn't play well for them, in two ways.  (1) They ought to recall - it's been mentioned to them a lot quite recently - that it's a large part of why ordinary punters find them so insufferable;  (2) it makes the bulk of them strategically complacent (even while a hyperactive few dash around trying to stir things up).

So we should let 'em carry on in that vein; but it's hard not to point out that the last time they got two big electoral results they didn't fancy (Thatcher '79 + Reagan '80), there was no speedy resumption of normal service for them.  I'm old enough to remember very clearly how the British left comforted itself in the early eighties: it'll all be fine - just as soon as the miners come out ...

This time around, people of all political colours have been earnestly examining straws in the wind since 2008-9.  But as Paul Mason endlessly finds, a convincing new narrative has proved hard to conjure up - and not for want of trying

Perhaps 2017 will yield more clues for all of us first-draft-of-history merchants.  Meanwhile, real history is made by the do-ers; so back to some more immediately profitable demands on my time.

ND

________________
** That's five opinion pieces under the heading "Here's why there are reasons to be hopeful";  a full-page spread entitled "Reasons to be cheerful" (there are eight, apparently); the Letters page has a section called "Reasons to be cheerful about the world in 2016";  Hugh Muir opines that "History shows we're better than this"; and one Emine Saner - crazy name! - offers "Plenty to look forward to" - a further six themes, including "A new golden age of protest".  (It seems that on 20 February we can look forward to "the One Day Without Us boycott ... immigrants in the UK and their supporters taking the day off work in lieu of formal strike (sic) to show how vital their labour is".  It may, of course, lead people to reach quite another conclusion, but we shall see.)


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017 Predictions

I quite liked last years game, so here we go again, five issues - what do you thinks will happen?

1. Will trump start a hot war?
2. Islamic state defeated and Raqqato fall?
3. Article 50 passed and UK set for Brexit?
4. Le Pen elected in France?
5. FTSE to end 2017 over 7100?


I know I have missed UK interest rates to rise, Frau Merkel's re-election, mad North Korea
 but we can't have it all....

 Predictions in the comments, happy new year all!