Tag: economy (page 1 of 3)

No benefits to post-Brexit deregulation

Coupled with the pandemic and the energy crisis, Brexit is absolutely destroying the UK at the moment. If you haven’t watched The Brexit Effect made by the Financial Times, then you really, really should.

This article in the New Statesman argues that the deregulation touted as a huge benefit of Brexit isn’t wanted or needed by most UK businesses. It’s the red tape added by being outside the EU single market that’s the problem.

Most businesses have no interest or understanding of the government’s plans for post-Brexit deregulation. And a majority of companies could not name a single EU law that they would change or remove to become more profitable, according to findings shared exclusively with the New Statesman by the British Chambers of Commerce.

[…]

In a new survey of 938 businesses, made up largely of SMEs (and therefore representative of the UK economy), just 14 per cent specified an EU regulation they would remove; 58 per cent of firms had no preference over the amendment or removal of any EU regulation. Half said that deregulation is either a low priority or not a priority at all.

Source: Exclusive: Most UK businesses see no benefit in post-Brexit deregulation | New Statesman

Hyperfinancialisation has taken over UK politics

I’m reading This Could Be Our Future by (Kickstarter co-founder) Yancey Strickler at the moment. It rails against hyperfinancialisation and then provides a way of thinking about the world differently.

As this opinion piece in The Guardian points out, we need a way of thinking about politics and the market which isn’t driven (literally!) by investment bankers.

City

Rishi Sunak’s first job was at the US investment bank Goldman Sachs. He went on to spend 14 years in the sector before becoming an MP. In many ways, his unelected appointment marks the highpoint of big finance’s takeover of Britain’s political and economic system – a quiet infiltration of Westminster and Whitehall has been taking place over several decades and gone largely unremarked.

[…]

Looking at the coalition government, every senior figure who managed Treasury economic policy – George Osborne, Danny Alexander, David Cameron, Rupert Harrison, John Kingman and Nick Macpherson – later gained well-paid positions in the financial sector. And three of the last five chancellors have come from the sector. Jeremy Hunt’s current advisers all come from investment banking.

This matters because investment bankers have very little to do with the real economy that ordinary people inhabit. They don’t run businesses. They don’t deal with actual product and customer markets. Their work is confined to financial markets, aiding corporate financial manoeuvres, and trading and managing their own financial assets. Their primary aim is to make profits from such activities, regardless of how it affects the real economy, the national interest or employees. If that means shorting the pound or breaking up a successful company for quick profits, then so be it.

[…]

And an overpowered financial sector has certainly not been conducive to good governance, either. There’s nothing democratic about extensive public service cuts being used to pay for saving the private banking sector, as in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, or the bond markets determining the credibility of governments, or the fact that the bankers and hedge funds are the biggest single source of Conservative party donations. Nor is trust in British democracy likely to be enhanced by a super-rich PM who has allegedly avoided taxes and made a fortune as a financier at the nation’s cost.

Source: With Rishi Sunak, the City’s takeover of British politics is complete | Aeron Davis

Why go back to normal when you weren’t enjoying it in the first place?

Shop shutters painted with sun mural

Writing in Men’s Health, and sadly not available anywhere I can link to, Will Self reflects on what we’ve collectively learned during the pandemic.

In it, he uses a quotation from Nietzsche I can’t seem to find elsewhere, “There are better things to be than the merely productive man”. I definitely feel this.

[T]he mood-music in recent months from government and media has all been about getting back to normal. So-called freedom. Trouble is… people from all walks of life and communities [have] expressed a reluctance to resume the lifestyle they were enjoying before March of last year. Quite possibly this is because they weren’t really enjoying that much in the first place — and it’s this that’s been exposed by the pandemic and its associated measures.

The difficulty, I think, is that lots of people (me included at times) had pre-pandemic lives that they would probably rate a 6/10. Not terrible enough for the situation by itself to be a stimulus for change. But not, after a break, the thought of returning to how things were sounds… unappetising.

We all know the unpleasant spinning-in-the-hamster-wheel sensation that comes when we’re working all hours with the sole objective of not having to work all hours — it traps us in a moment that’s defined entirely by stress-repeating-anxiety, a feeling that mutates all too easily into full-blown depression. And we’re not longer the sort of dualists who believe that psychological problems have no bodily correlate — on the contrary, we all understand that working too hard while feeling that work to be valueless can take us all the way from indigestion to an infarct.

I’ve burned out a couple of times in my life, which is why these days I feel privileged to be able to work 25-hour weeks by choice. There’s more to life than looking (and feeling!) “successful”.

It’s funny, I have more agency and autonomy than most people I know, yet I increasingly resent the fact that this is dependent upon some of the very technologies I’ve come to realise are so problematic for society.

[I]t might be nice in the way of 18 months of being told what to do, to feel one was telling one’s self what to do. One way of conceptualising the renunciation necessary to cope with the transition from a lifestyle where everything can be bought to one in which both security and satisfaction depend on more abstract processes, is to critique not just the unhealthy economy but the pathological dependency on technology that is its sequel.

Ultimately, I think Will Self does a good job of walking a tightrope in this article in not explicitly mentioning politics. The financial crash, followed by austerity, Brexit, and now the pandemic, have combined to hollow out the country in which I live.

The metaphor of a pause button has been overused during the pandemic. That’s for a reason: most of us have had an opportunity, some for the first time in their lives, to stop and think what we’re doing — individually and collectively.

What comes next is going to be interesting.


Not a sponsored mention by any means, but just a heads-up that I read this article thanks to my wife’s Readly subscription. It’s a similar monthly price to Netflix, but for all-you-can-read magazines and newspapers!