THERE can be no doubt that this Winter Budget – as it should really have been called – was a great win for George Osborne. For the first time since around 2007, Britain is moving in the right, rather than the wrong, direction.
THERE has long been a debilitating tension at the heart of this government’s thinking on the economy.
IT is not possible to put a positive spin on Britain’s results in the latest global education league tables: they reveal an appalling, shameful, tragic waste of talent. It is an embarrassing failure for a country that ought to be doing so much bet
IT WAS meant to be one of the most basic rules of economics: the more people produce, the more they get paid. It is a long-standing, near-universal relationship that helps to explain why some jobs are so much more lucrative than others.
EVERY little helps. George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on Thursday will contain some positive changes, for which it would be churlish not to congratulate him.
ONE of the great but ultimately vacuous buzzwords of the Blair years was “joined-up government”; a fuzzy, heart-warming attempt at making sure that every part of the state machinery worked together, trying to achieve the same objectives.
WHEN Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century Prime Minister, wrote of “two nations, between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy”, he was of course referring to the rich and the poor.
BUSINESSES are often very good at predicting the trends in their own, narrow markets – but they are not always able to see the big picture clearly.
SOMETIMES I really do wonder who is in power in this country. Is it a Tory-Lib Dem coalition, dedicated to ensuring the UK is open to business, or is it the Labour party?
IT was the fiftieth anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination this weekend. Yet amid all the retrospectives, not enough has been said about his tax policies, which were better than those of almost any Western government in power today.
SLOWLY but surely, George Osborne’s budget deficit is going down. It is still far too large for comfort, and the rate at which it is improving remains disappointing, but at least the numbers are moving emphatically in the right direction.
IF you want to see what real austerity looks like, take a trip to the US. Real federal spending is set to slump by six per cent in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period a year ago, according to Goldman Sachs.
IMAGINE the following scenario. It’s 2024 and we are in the middle of a major banking crisis caused by a political implosion in China.
REMEMBER the righteous folk telling us that the problem with banking was all those nasty, profit making global corporations, with their horrid shareholders and especially those awful hedge funds?
LISTEN up, entrepreneurs: you are about to get your own trade union. Yes, you read that right – a union, or at least a pressure group, specifically set up to fight for those who create and set up businesses.
IT is welcome news that a US federal court ruled last night that Google can continue to build a digital library by scanning more than 20m books.
IT’S official: even the Bank of England now agrees that the economy is recovering.
IT IS usually a pretty good rule of thumb that nobody really learns anything from booms and busts.
GOVERNMENTS shouldn’t try to centrally plan economies. It is absurd for the coalition to have decreed that it wants UK exports to reach £1 trillion a year by 2020, for example.
LONDON is a global city, and together with a handful of other ultra-successful urban centres worldwide, the closest we have today to the ancient Phoenician and Greek city-states.
BELIEVE it or not the European Central Bank did the right thing yesterday by cutting interest rates.
ONE of the perennial myths about this country is that we are somehow uniquely keen on home-ownership and are culturally averse to renting.
IN the long run we are all dead – that was John Maynard Keynes’ excuse when justifying short-termist policies to boost the economy.
SLOWLY but surely, the public is turning its back on the free market economy and reembracing an atavistic version of socialism which, if implemented, would end in tears.
IT is clear that the working poor desperately need help. With the cost of living rocketing, they are being hammered.
EVEN the Bank of England sometimes makes mistakes. It was forced to correct its most recent data on consumer borrowing yesterday, in a development that confirmed what many of us feared all along: credit is beginning to surge dangerously.
WRONG, wrong, wrong. That, I’m afraid, is the only way to describe the shameful decision last night by the Privy Council to institute a system of statutory regulation for publishers.
SOMETHING very exciting is about to happen in Milton Keynes, of all places. Starting in 18 months’ time, the Buckinghamshire town will host the first proper UK test of driverless cars.
LONDON’S housing policy is in a mess: rules, restrictions and levies make it hard and expensive to build homes in the right places, crimping supply. Combined with growing demand, this has pushed prices up.
THREE major forces help drive progress: economic and legal institutions; people, especially risk-taking buccaneers and entrepreneurs; and chance.
BANKER bashing is over – that was the dramatic message from Mark Carney last night, as he finally ditched his predecessor Lord King’s hostility to the City, replacing it instead by a much more sensible approach.
1 IN the US, over 8,000 waiters have PhDs or equivalent qualifications, as have 5,057 cleaners. Roughly 317,000 waiters have university degrees, as have 80,000 bartenders and 18,000 parking attendants.
EVERY so often, when I get depressed about the state of contemporary British politics, I begin to recall with something close to fondness Sir John Major’s time as prime minister from 1990 to 1997.
FORGET the old politics of left versus right.
OUR energy policy is going from bad to worse.
LIKE most readers, I have had my run-ins with energy companies. One especially pushy door to door salesperson once tried to forcefully convince me that I needed to sign up to his firm because I had just moved into a new home.
SO IT appears to be a case of crisis deferred: as I write, the US seems sure to avoid default, for the next few months anyway.
IT goes without saying that, with the benefit of hindsight, the government sold the shares in Royal Mail too cheaply.
SOME people still remember their university exam questions; I can still vaguely recall a few if I really put my mind to it.
EVERY so often, financial markets spectacularly misjudge an issue. One such blunder took place immediately after Ed Miliband announced his policy to freeze gas and electricity prices for the first 18 months of a Labour government.
IT IS an utter scandal that those who applied for more than £10,000 worth of Royal Mail shares were awarded nothing. Why? Since when is a privatisation to be conducted along class war lines?
THERE is no better snapshot of modern Britain than the regular updates from HMRC on the taxes we pay and the income we earn. The latest batch doesn’t disappoint.
I F YOU want to understand the real crisis facing Britain, look no further than yesterday’s league tables on educational performance.
IT is easy to laugh at America’s political system, which is once again showing itself to be hopelessly defective as it trundles along towards a possible default.
WHEN this government was first elected, it promised to simplify Britain’s tax code, which over the years has become one of the lengthiest in the world. To say that it failed would be a pathetic understatement.
THINGS are either going very well or they are going very badly, depending on your point of view.
THERE is, of course, a place for soundbites. David Cameron’s speech yesterday had those in spades; some were even pretty good.
IT is time for Americans to decide: do they want to be a social democracy, Eurozone style, with high levels of tax and public spending, or do they want to be a small state society, with low taxes and low levels of public spending?
FISCAL responsibility is back – or so the chancellor would like us to believe. While the Tories shamefully backed Gordon Brown’s irresponsible policy of running budget deficits during the boom years, they have learnt the lesson the bitter way.
WITH just 20 months to go before the general election, the Tories need to get their skates on.