Wednesday 31 March 2021

Scottish & Welsh election prism

 I very rarely get excited over the town council elections for Scotland and Wales. On any level, we can see devolution, a core part of Blairisms destruction of the UK to be a total failure. Lots more gobby politicians, lots more facilitated ethnic strife with no discernible benefit in terms of resources generated or allocated. 

The only part of interest seems to be at leas tin Wales there is a growing vote for Abolish the Assembly - a realisation of the extra burden of politico's adding no light but much heat to the nation. This alone will temper some of the separatist extremists nonsense as they see their is a large chunk of the electorate for whom their fantasies are a big turn off. 

In Scotland, the SNP capture of the populace looks more complete. Everything this framed in the prism of 'Westminster's fault'. Even the pandemic, where Scotland has done about as well as England overall, maybe a tad worse, is sold to the people by the SNP as a great success as compared to sorry Sassenachs. 

However, can the SNP ever overstep on its rhetoric? Recent calamities such as the Hate Crime bill seriously undermine freedom in Scotland, the response to the pandemic is to push for a referendum sooner. Alex Salmond has come on side with an Alba party designed to gerrymander Parliament for another expensive and timewasting referendum charade.

All political parties have their time in the light, the SNP appears to have become notably odious but as yet remains very popular with its deep nationalist vibe. If they win, more issues for the Scottish economy will bound forth as the uncertainty principle comes back into play for a few years. 

Monday 29 March 2021

Tech IPO's flounder and hedge fund collapse

 Slight warning signs for a Monday morning. 

The Deliveroo IPO has been trading at the bottom of its range. Not the 100% upsides we see in the US over the past year or two when high profile tech companies float. 

Meanwhile in China, Bilibili - a kind of China YouTube behind the Great FireWall, has debuted below its offer price too and is falling further as the day goes on. 

So definitely some wobbles in the market for insanity that we have seen for so long. Of course, these might be caused by the furore that a Chinese Hedge Fund, Tiger Asia, blew up using excess leverage last week and promptly had to face a margin call for  a mere $20 billion to pay its way. It blew up because it was using very high risk strategies to try and make a return (and the guy who runs it is, er, interesting with several charges against him for insider trading etc over the years).

All in all a propitious start to the week!

Thursday 25 March 2021

Geo-Engineering: Here We Go!

It has always been obvious that when actual Warming became a clear and present global danger, geo-engineering would hove rapidly into view.  It's so obvious: we all know how to reduce ambient temperature - indeed Krakatoa2 could do it for us at any time!  CO2 "control" was always an indirect proxy for the actual objective -  temperature control.  And here it comes.

The swampy-leftie-greenies Really, Really Hate This - because it's a scientific solution executed by industrial means, as opposed to just de-industrialising and living in caves.  I suspect the non-swampies on the green left hate it on slightly different grounds: because they kinda feel they could take control of current "green" policies (though personally I doubt it, see my several posts on how it's mainstream Bizness & Finance now, and has been since 2019) - see Ed Miliband's recent outpouring.**

But the World Government types will easily "pivot" towards it (I think that's the modern phraseology), because of course you can't have geo-engineering being done on any other basis.  Unilateral geo-engineering? - perish the thought!

Well, they may be wrong again.  Because three very big players will be having none of that: China, Russia and (mark my words) the USA, even under Biden.  Unilateral actions will start, just as soon as they are thoroughly fed up of forest fires etc.

Watch it happen.



** can't vouch for the accuracy of this, but I read that when Mili gave his speech online it attracted, *ahem*, 76 viewers ...

PS: of high comedic value, Miliband (very wealthy man on reasonably high salary) - advocating we all get electric cars - admitted on air he doesn't have one!  Blamed it on lack of zero-interest loans and scrappage scheme.  Pr**k.

Interesting view on Virus recovery winners and losers


This Avonhurst firm do quite a good line in political insight, so I thought quite interesting to see their view of how they perceive the winners and losers from here on in. 

Tuesday 23 March 2021

One year on and halfway point reached in the Covid-19 mess?

It has been a very long year and more transformational for our society and economy than any other year in my lifetime. Little did I ever think there would be challenges to life defining moments like 9/11. But here we are and with Brexit as an added bonus too!

The economy on communistic style life support with ever increasing Bank of England balance sheet and the liberal use of the magic money tree with all thoughts about the future and its impact being ignored. 

60,000+ excess death, over a thousand extra people a week dying has contributed to a fall in the population for the first time since 1941. With no casual work, an arm of Eastern European casual workers has left, with some estimates of the population fall at over a million in a year. 

The Government has settle easily into its role as advisor to Public Health England and the NHS. The ease of this position is clear to see and leadership from any politician has been sorely lacking. The only right move they have made is putting Kate Bingham in charge of Vaccine procurement.

However, the move to blocking foreign holidays until at least July, plus the upcoming slowness of the vaccine roll-out due to supply issues is a yellow flag for us. Additionally, the EU has predictably got itself into a political mess over vaccines. There will not a a significant portion of Europeans vaccinated until the end of the summer at best. Meanwhile, a vaccine-evading variant is rampant in Brazil and every other major variant has quickly spread around the world. 

This is why I think we are at only the halfway point in this mess, with another full year of measures of varying kinds likely before a real return to something like normal in 2022. 

Monday 22 March 2021

Short-sighted, Self-interested B-S

KWARTENG WARNED AUDIT RULES THREATEN UK RECOVERY thunders the front page of the DTel business section.  What can this mean?

"... his plan to make company directors personally liable for the accuracy of accounts risks stifling entrepreneurship", it goes on; "... and undermining the Covid recovery".  Apparently the animal spirits of "entrepreneurs" mustn't be tempered by the need to tell the boring old truth: why, they're much too busy saving the economy to keep proper records, dontcha know?

OK, we know the business pages of the DTel are an hilarious and often mutually contradictory morass of vested interests being given a platform for their shameless, disingenuous special pleading (presumably paid for, in one way or another).  But this is utter bollocks.  Anyone seeking to evade responsibility for accuracy in their accounts isn't fit to run a company that expects to trade with third parties.

In case anyone imagines otherwise, I know what it is to start up a company.  Yup, I'm an entrepreneur: after a number of years as a wage slave, some partners and I set up a new firm.  We took it public when we were able.  Since that was always our intention, we took care to build it soundly and keep it that way - including its accounting.  No contradiction.  Anyone fundamentally unwilling to undergo the scrutiny of a public offering ain't doing anything that's going to save the economy.

And it's not just small companies that need to be steered onto the straight and narrow.  Disgraceful accounting decisions proliferate, and are generally part & parcel of any big corporate meltdown / scandal.  How much do they aid the economy?  Well, all activity, even bent activity, helps keeps the wheels turning.  Crime contributes to GDP.  But efficient, accurate, above-board business contributes a lot more in the long run.



Saturday 20 March 2021

Desert Storm (6) - The Air War

This was essentially the first war played out in realtime on our TVs.  There is tons of excellent stuff on the air campaign to be found easily on t' www (see footnotes), so after a few openers I'm not going to do more than hit a few headlines that I consider interesting, either from the perspective of high-level conclusions, or personal reminiscence.

Many of us will recall all manner of really memorable aspects, generally with the force of vivid graphical portrayal: 'Shock and Awe' impacts being captured live by CNN; Tomahawk cruise missiles spotted by Baghdad correspondents "flying up the street and turning left at the traffic lights"; grainy b&w film coverage of impressive detonations and other incidents, often with individual human beings clearly discernible; captured Coalition aircrew paraded for the cameras bruised and bleeding.  Prime-time newsworthy, or what?

The air campaign was of course the first significant element of the whole Coalition response to Saddam's seizure of Kuwait the previous summer, being the quickest and most intimidating to deploy.  A non-shooting aerial campaign had been building steadily over the months and by January 1991 was already at an epic scale before a single shot had been fired.  This was for several purposes:

  • show of force, and of intent;
  • defensive cover for Saudi Arabia, and a general deterrent against who-knew-what (as already noted several times, Saddam was capable of springing surprises);
  • training for what was to come: the US, UK, French, Canadian and Italian elements were already fully NATO-indoctrinated of course - a massively sigificant factor - and the Saudi airforce, fairly much a US/UK construct (with a lot of US/UK expat pilots, too) was easily knocked into the same shape.  Even so, the sheer scale of the anticipated air war meant that no ring-rustiness could be tolerated;
  • maskirovka for what was to come: Iraqi air defence radar had been totally saturated with traffic for many weeks before the Go button was pressed;
  • recconnaisance for what was to come: to some extent obtained directly overhead of Kuwait and Iraq, but also a huge amount of material (not least, AA radar locations and frequencies) safely gathered obliquely from within friendly airspace by various highly effective high-tech means.   

It was always pretty obvious that the Coalition was going to lead with its incomparable air assets.  Achieving and exploiting total air superiority was a central tenet of Allied doctrine from WW2 onwards, and of course central to AirLand Battle, the NATO doctrine of the time.  The sheer number of Coalition aircraft deployed (wiki says more than 2,780 fixed-wing; and many of the vast fleet of helos were armed to the teeth), from in-theatre including aircraft carriers and of course US bombers and recce aircraft flying from much further afield, was astounding.  If we add in cruise missiles - which also clutter the skies - that's a bunch of aggressive airframes aloft.

They (we) weren't unopposed - at least, not at the outset - for Saddam had a sizeable airforce of his own and substantial anti aircraft resources; and they (we) weren't without casualties (wiki says 75 Coalition aircraft lost & 46 aircrew killed, though a large % was down to blue-on-blue incidents and outright accidents - always a big risk when the air was so densely packed with friendly aircraft).  Ironically, dumb AA artillery around targets like Baghdad city, firing almost randomly en masse, can be an even bigger problem than carefully suppressed AA missiles for large-scale airborne flotillas.  As you'll read & watch from the accounts given in the footnotes and elsewhere, huge early emphasis was - of course - put on defeating Iraq's anti aircraft assets (note particularly the mass use of sacrificial drones); after which matters became a great deal simpler. 

So, some random notes.

1. Iraqi Airforce Flees    One of the surprises I've mentioned before: almost immediately the shooting started, the Iraqi airforce attempted to de-camp - to Iran! (as did some of his naval resources.)  A number of his aircraft made it, after which a Coalition aerial blockade was mounted.  This totally unexpected strategy had us really on the hop for a couple of days:  this bloke is clearly thinking ahead, and has more options than we necessarily anticipate.  What's next?

2. Live on CNN    Last time, we looked at the media aspects of Desert Storm.  CNN and others had the Middle East well staked out - an entirely private-enterprise initiative - and let me tell you, we had it all streaming into every HQ.  (I might add, we also had a few facilities not available to domestic TV viewers.)  This, alongside technology like the real-time Scud Alerts I've mentioned before, gave us the bizarre facility of knowing what was sheduled to happen after buttons had been pressed, ours and theirs, then leaning over to the big monitors to watch it actually happen.  That can't regularly have been available to wartime commanders since they were last mounted on horseback on a prominent hill overlooking the battlefield with their own telescopes.  

Repeating myself yet again, this also must have presented dreadful temptations, particularly for George Bush Snr, to meddle minute-by-minute.  Glory be, he didn't.

3.  Recconnaissance     We were deploying for the first time in earnest a tremendous new airborne technology: moving target indication radar (MTI).  There's a limit as to what I can say about this (albeit loads of stuff you can find online, some good & some less so) but it will crop up again in this blog series.  Anyhow, I think you will readily guess that the ability to track individual vehicles / vessels, in real-time, as a dot of light (whenever it moved) on a dark screen with a map overlaying it, could be kinda valuable ... and even more so when it was ten dots moving in formation!   The sort of cover that radar had long given us as regards aircraft, but now for surface movements too.

4.  Russia and AirLand Battle    The Russians were deeply interested spectators at this military extravaganza (as they had been with the Falklands a decade earlier), with enough regional assets to obtain a fairly good ringside view.  This is still 1991, so the Cold War is barely over.  They knew a lot about the theory of NATO's AirLand Battle (in fact they had a slightly differently-oriented version of their own) but their overall position was one of scepticism that it could be made to work, based on the extraordinary complexity of managing the sheer weight of air movements in a (relatively) confined space.

To their utter horror, it worked near-perfectly.  More than 100,000 sorties ...




Wednesday 17 March 2021

Government Completely Off The Rails

Knowing our esteemed BTL crowd, I recognise that many of you have already formed the view that there is nothing to be expected from the present government.  Fair enough: like many others - millions, probably - when I voted for Johnson's party in GE2019 I had little hope of consistency or integrity.

But.  Drafting a Bill so that "putting at risk of serious annoyance" qualifies as "causing serious harm"; and making that a criminal offence?  OK, sometimes these things are included in a Bill at an early stage for the purpose of abandoning them later as a concession.

(The grotesque mis-use of the word "harm" is a very modern, essentially leftist gambit, exemplified by the insistence that to state trans women aren't actually women is to cause "literal harm".  Obviously enough, it's a malign attempt to co-opt the ethos of the physical HSE sphere, where all manner of things can readily be outlawed without further ado, leaving very little space for argument.)  

So, funnily enough, for the woke brigade this should be their ultimate wet dream: we know what runs the risk of "seriously annoying" them.  The only reason why they aren't piling in behind this is that for the time being it would be Pritti Patel calling the shots.  Put that putative legislation into woke hands, however, and it's the end for free speech: they are getting close to something similar in Scotland, too.  Hey, lots of things cause me serious annoyance too: but never introduce a dangerous weapon into a fray when it will promptly be turned upon yourself.

We know Boris is a populist clod; and Patel ... well what can we say without risking serious annoyance?  But - Not Being Corbyn only takes a government so far.  Can Tory MPs put a stop to this nonsense?


PS: at the risk of causing further serious annoyance ... where are those feminists who used to say that if only we put women in charge of everything, the world would be a much nicer place?

Tuesday 16 March 2021

This time, it ain't so different to 1999

As if the entirely predicable surge in asset prices, including the new digital tokens, after the US stimulus cheque was not sign enough (hint, how much is the money needed or wanted if a large percentage goes straight into assets, rather than say, food or utility bills) was not enough. 

Now we have the glory of non-fungible tokens. Pieces of digital material whose rights you can own even if the object is free to share. I am tempted to make this blog post an example. Selling ownership forever to the highest bidder so that they can proudly own a piece of Cityunslicker, errr, art. Happy to put it in the blockchain if anyone is interested in the comments. 

In reality, this is pure bubble nonsense, it has been coming a while but the wave is nearly upon us. This feels to me so very 1999. Digital currencies explode upwards, prices of things like Tesla are unstoppable, the whole world is allegedly undergoing a rapid evolution - this is all just grift. Make an app, make a claim, take your money, rinse and repeat.

So, definitely 2021 for a bit reset. The nutters will call it "the great reset", but it is coming now, the stuff going on is just so out there and fools are rapidly being parted from their money. It ends in a big mess, every time. This time is not different. 

In the meantime, bids welcome in the comments of course.

Monday 15 March 2021

Greensill - and Other Goings-On in the City

It is much to be regretted that CU finds himself unable to write more about Greensill** because it is a story rather up our street.  The DTel has a fairly good piece here, offering the common-sense approach to risk management in circumstances where some newcomer seems to be claiming to have discovered the philosopher's stone in a basic area like supply-chain finance.  Is this likely?  No, it isn't - even if he is fronted by Call-Me-Dave.  (Blair doesn't have the monopoly on ex-PM avarice: and let's see how the financial exploits of Boy Genius stack up ten years from now.)   Not rocket-science at all.

Just once in a while, something new(ish) really does crop up.  Securitisation was one helluva smart innovation in its time, and those quickest onboard the train (Guy Hands / Nomura / Terra Firma and, errrr, Enron) did some very good, sound business in the early days.  By the time we get to sub-prime mortgages however, the whole thing has spiralled right out of control, all rigour and discipline gone.

Which bring me to the next puzzle: the remarkable rise of the brothers Issa and their petrol forecourt 'revolution'.  I understand clearly enough how high-throughput, well-located petrol stations might have an eminently financeable profile - better even than Guy Hands' pubs, maybe.  (I say "maybe" because the margins are notoriously tight, too.) 

What I don't understand is how this rather obvious attraction could have been missed by the pretty sharp operators of big supermarkets, oil companies etc.  "Retail is detail", and they don't miss much.  So if these assets were already sitting on the balance sheets of big, smart players, (a) they would (surely?) already have been effectively leveraged to the full already, even if as part of overall corporate finance; and (b) couldn't be prised away into new ownership at anything other than a full price. 

So who've been the suckers here?  All insights gladly received.



** "I can't write at length about Greensill unfortunately, too much real life conflict. Suffice to say, he is a right twat who has met a fair ending. How people decided such an arrogant bore was worth backing to the tune of billions is beyond me"  - CU, here (BTL)

Friday 12 March 2021


 These are a big US idea, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies. The idea being how do we scam retail investors into fake Private equity plays. 

They work because the whole finance industry gouges them at launch, then let's retail investor pump them up in the current delusionary market, before really celebrating the odd one that does a deal.

How do they gouge them? Well of course the investment banks and other plays all make plenty of fees by setting them up, these fees are set off against the IPO money raised. Also most of the fees are for money raising and getting the cornerstone investor. This is easy, warrants are issued to the cornerstone investor on a one warrant per one share basis. This way, insider investors are getting a buy one get one free issue. As soon as the IPO happens, they sell their original holding, often at a small profit. Then they are still in 100% of their original stake value for free. What is not to like! 

Retail investors don't get the warrants. They buy the shares and as they buy the shares after IPO every purchase is likely diluting the share value by turning in warrant into a share. Oh Dear, better hope they do that big acquisition quick. 

Also, to allow for all the warrants to be exercised, the SPAC holds cash on the balance sheet that it wont invest into its takeovers - so alot of the money 'raised' only exists to pay off the original investor group anyway. So the takeovers are always a bit less sexy than advertised. 

It becomes very hard for the savvy investors to lose any money and very hard for retail investors to make any. 

Anyway, SPAC's are such a good idea (also they are driven by a lack of IPO's, because Private Equity has really taken over the corporate ownership space) that we should copy them in the UK. How did the clever boys in the City not spot this opportunity first.  

We can't give financial advice here, suffice to say I won't be investing in any SPAC's as a retail investor. 

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Don't Like Piers Morgan, BUT ...

 ... in fact IN MY HONESTLY HELD OPINION, hahah, he has often behaved reprehensively in the extreme ... but this is superb!


Tuesday 9 March 2021

I have nothing to say

Current news and affairs holds no interest to me.

As and when the caravan moves on, maybe things will change. 

Saturday 6 March 2021

Desert Storm (5): Managing Media - & Politicians

Mr BQ raised an interesting issue BTL last time

... a question for Mr Drew. We recall how Norman used the media. Smart bombs and footage we’d never seen before. 'Luckiest guy in Iraq’ crossing the bridge before it was destroyed seconds later. Did Mr D have any involvement with the media? Contrasted with the Vietnam catastrophe of open media. The very closed Falklands war coverage, gulf war press coverage at the time, was seen as a triumph for all sides. Did the coalition deliberately feed the MSM leaks? Or was it just a lucky happenstance?

 The lucky aspect was the leadership that was in place at the top.

  • George Bush Snr, whom I've lauded before.  Genuine military experience; an intelligence insider; hands-on (and wise) as regards policy; hands-off when it came to execution; reasonably media-savvy and, like the whole of the US side, determined to remember the lessons from Vietnam.
  • Schwarzkopf, Powell: perfect for their jobs.  (They'd been given the freedom to choose their subordinates - and they did that well, too.)
  • John Major: no military experience, but had been Foreign Secretary.  Struck a most un-Thatcher-like tone but it worked brilliantly.    

As I've noted before, there was a real danger: our comms were so good, and so much info was available real-time, that meddlers at the top (as many politicians are) could have wreaked havoc.  Bush and Major weren't having any of that.  (I might add that certain politicians amongst our allies were agitating for access to the real-time stuff.  They were not indulged.  I have a strong feeling that Thatcher herself, by 1991, would have been a nightmare.  But we shall never know, because she too was not indulged over her request to "let me stay on until Kuwait is re-taken".)

Concomitantly, the meejah had a lot of excellent resources of their own: commercial satellite comms had reached a fairly advanced stage by 1991 (even if the US could shut them down in the blink of an eye); and after all, this story was a media-magnet nonpareil.  So there was no point in doing anything other than co-opting them wholesale via "embedding" of correspondents at selected points at the sharp end, and giving them a fair amount of access and reporting freedom.  And an embedded correspondent is not entirely a free agent ...

They revelled in it - almost everyone is much taken by the military when they meet it in person - and of course were soon in love with their minders.  (I might add that some of the minders were soon in love with Kate Adie, who is a very game lass; and can take a joke, too - quite important with the soldiery.)  We'd learned this with the Falklands - you might add WW2, for that matter - and instincts in the USA were the same.   So we were all officially up for providing and facilitating prime-time visuals. 

The media angle was, in fact, central to what we did, not just a bolt-on extra.  To illustrate.  In the twice-daily live-streamed tele-briefings for the War Cabinet, there were four parts: Operations (including meteorology, always critical for the military); Intelligence; Diplomatic; and Media - what was being covered and commented in the press etc.

I'll end with a funny, and deeply revealing story.  Items 1, 2 and 4 on that running order were prepared and presented by the military; item 3 by the Foreign Office.  We knew we had to get these briefings just right - to obtain what was needed from the War Cabinet, and to give them enough (but not more) for what they needed in turn.  Being simple soldiers, we reckoned it was best to leave nothing to chance; so we rehearsed the material meticulously, and asked non-specialists in beforehand, to tell us if we were using too much jargon or skipping points that needed more explanation.  It worked really well (and again I give credit also to Major, who chaired things brilliantly).

But not the w*****s from the FO, who fancied themselves as being able to wing it.  On the very first briefing, their man just had a few notes instead of a proper script.  He made an arse of himself.  The difference between the stumbling *smart* FO man and the crisp simple soldiers was rather stark.  

They had a different frontman next time.  And the new chap had a script.


Wednesday 3 March 2021

What the UK budget should be in 2021...but won't be.

 Most of the budget this year appears to have been leaked, those running the Tory party can't resist speaking to Journalists - I guess when an ex-Journalist is the big boss, this culture is bound to arise (and Michael Gove is two, so 2 of the top 3 in Government - must be a first?).

Anyway, we can re-read the grim old news later. 

The key thing is what should be done. As I said on Monday, now is no time for a full budget in the midst of the pandemic, better to delay it. However, the outlines of good Governance and a way forward can be set out so that businesses have time to adapt:

1) A slow move away from property business rates to digital and sales volume rates. Less fixation on corporate taxes and more encouragement for companies to invest, employ and succeed. This will help re-balance the economy away from London too in the long-term

2) A real need to focus on productivity - the high immigration environment of the last 20 years has taken a big toll on productivity, investment is needed across UK PLC, including infrastructure to support it like 5G roll out etc. Tax breaks for business investment and research are essential. 

3) A debt re-organisation, the UK has massive debts but is paying record low interest. Longer term gilts with lower yields should replace short-term 10 year loans. the savings for the future are huge. 

4) Pension relief needs to be hugely improved, there is no point the state playing an ever greater role in older peoples' lives when they could be persuaded to save if it avoided a lot of tax.

5) Financial reforms - almost impossible with the sclerotic FCA - but a new funds structure to compete with Luxembourg, freer trading regulations for the City to entice more investment, simple regulation and encouragement for digital currencies - all these will help the City and its huge tax base thrive. 

6) Continue most of the support for the economy until after it has re-opened as this will pump prime it for expansion although it will stoke some inflation. 

I wonder how many of the the above will actually be done, worryingly I think only one or two at best.

Monday 1 March 2021

David Cameron is right - no new taxes now

Rishi Sunak, so beloved of the media last year as Chancellor giveaway, had a harder time addressing the media ahead of the UK Budget this week. over the weekend. 

He has been harassed by panicky mandarins into raising some taxes to plug the enormous deficit caused by the Covid pandemic inspired economic shutdown. 

However, as David Cameron said last week. We don't know how deep the damage really is until we re-open the economy. It might well bounce back fairly well. 

Of course, there are hundreds of billions blown on furlough and tax collection is well down, there is a huge hole in the Government balance sheet. But the same is true across the world. Raising taxes on business is his favourite idea, along with taxes on entrepreneurship. 

Given the current impact of Brexit, this is the worst idea of a tax rise. Right now, we need to stop businesses relocating to Luxembourg, Dublin and elsewhere in the EU. Having paying businesses leave the Country for the EU is a loss in a zero sum game. 

Instead, the Chancellor should be doing a mini-budget, introducing some austerity to public spending ex-NHS and reducing the furlough scheme from April. Then, when hopefully things are more normal in the Autumn better stock can be taken of what needs to be done to pay for the pandemic over future years. 

All that really matters is that we get Government income and tax rises at the right level to start reducing the debt as a percentage of GDP in 2022 - anything before that is likely to have a net negative impact on an already sclerotic economy. 

Tax rises during lockdown is surely the worst idea yet from the Treasury! If you had too, then maybe a digital tax on online sales as part of the great re-balancing around business rates and the changing economic model - but in theory these should be tax neutral changes in any event.