Category Archives: Views

Time to stop painting the Europeans as the enemy

Britain’s relationship with the European Union is becoming so fraught that even one of the most moderate members of government finds it hard nowadays to use the right words when talking about it.

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Euphoria grips the markets, but can it last?

Last week was a feast of records for Wall Street: the S&P 500 recorded six consecutive highs, something not seen for two decades. The streak only ended after a jobs report that showed the first negative reading in seven years, skewed by the hurricanes that hit the U.S. in September.

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Spain’s Catalonia issue turns into a test for the EU

The scenes in Catalonia, where local authorities say more than 400 people were hurt by police, are reminiscent of violent scenes in Eastern Europe that have tested, time and again, the European Union.

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Theresa May’s Florence Brexit speech is a disappointment

The excitement that had been building up before the Florence speech of UK Prime Minister Theresa May is quickly turning into disappointment. Many had expected the Prime Minister to find a way to unblock the stalled negotiations over Brexit, but the speech, as delivered, was far from achieving that.

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Brexit vote dramatically lowers Britain’s attractiveness

I know I have said it before, but at the time it was just a hunch: the price to pay for an “un-cool Britannia” after Brexit will be steep. Evidence for this is beginning to show. A survey released recently shows how fast Britain is losing attractiveness in the eyes of the world.

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Are ‘disruptors’ Amazon and Uber really to be admired?

Many people admire companies like Uber or Amazon for the speed with which they build market share and “disrupt” the competition. There is more and more talk about “Uberisation” and when retailers go bust, they are said to have been “Amazoned.”

But we should perhaps stop and think: are we in fact praising nothing else but the return to old-fashioned exploitation? These companies’ main, crucial competitive advantage is cheap labour. OK, technology helps, but if they were to treat people who work for them properly and pay them higher wages, they would not be as rich as they are now.

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Emmanuel Macron’s ‘posted workers’ reforms smell of populism

French President Emmanuel Macron went to Central and Eastern Europe recently to ask officials there to support his plan to change the legislation regarding posted workers, to prevent it being abused.

In essence, the posted workers’ directive allows one company in a member state of the European Union to send its workers to work on projects in another member state, but still pay them less than local workers. This is because, while the company has to abide by local minimum wage rules, things like tax or social security payments are still made in the country of origin.

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Libor manipulation suit could open the floodgates

The news that the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is suing European banks in London for manipulating Libor should worry central bankers everywhere.

It’s all hush-hush, with details coming from reports in newspapers, rather than made public officially. The Financial Times reported that the FDIC is suing Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Rabobank and UBS, as well as the British Bankers’ Association, accusing them of fraudulent misrepresentation.

Lloyds said it doesn’t believe the claim has any merit, while the others did not comment, according to the report.

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UK household wealth growth about to make a U-turn

The Bank of England has reason to pat itself on the back. During the financial crisis of 2007-2009, things could have taken a very ugly turn if it hadn’t cut interest rates to record lows and hadn’t started printing money.

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As Brexit bites, there is little the Bank of England can do

The Bank of England will publish its inflation report next Thursday, and this time it will get even more attention than usual.

Brexit is being felt in prices more and more now, with the cost of grocery bills jumping and prices for essentials going up. The phenomenon of “shrinkflation” is in full swing as well; many products are mysteriously losing weight, but maintain their price.

No matter how much it would like to help (or to meet its inflation target), the Bank of England cannot do anything to prevent prices from rising. In fact, to be more accurate, it could, but it will not. The central bank could raise interest rates, stopping the pound’s depreciation — but if it does this, the housing market would crash.

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