Borderless capital
and the consequences

This short Ted Talk, at TED Banff in Canada in June 2016, is by Gerard Ryle, exploring the way investigative journalists collaboratively exploited the leaked Panama Papers to cast light on the borderless nature of capital and how individuals and their secretive companies obscure both their holdings and their interests. What is interesting is how well it illustrates the internationalist nature of private capital, often capital accrued by public figures who, you would think, should have the interests of their nations and people at heart. The talk shows the persistence and pervasiveness of the work of Panama based laywers Mossack Fonseca and the success that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington USA had, in sharing and developing the stories, that led to the resignation of Prime Ministers and the exposure of connections to political elites of exploitative financial arrangements. The international and borderless nature of capital makes, I would argue, the recent territorial and administrative debates about the European Union irrelevant. If there is a problem with a bureaucracy in a country or group of states, the deeper malaise is the creation of laws of preference for one group of actors and not another. If my road building project in Europe has not been administered properly, then we should, in an open democracy, be able to exercise rigorous accountability and audit to remove the problem and to rectify the injustice. If my  bank account in the British Virgin Islands has been used to divert funds to my…

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Après moi, le déluge

Louis XV of France, in predicting the French Revolution after his demise, cannot have had David Cameron in mind. However, the last week of June 2o16 saw a number of unedifying political manifestations of the turmoil and collapse driven by the ‘Brexiteers’. The titular phrase of this article is derived, according to which source you read, from après nous, le déluge arguably by Madame de Pompadour. The use of the plural is even more apposite as the recent scene in the Commons unfolded, where Cameron berates Jeremy Corbyn for not ‘leaving’ his post as leader, whilst the Tory Party under the tottering leadership of Cameron careers into crisis, effectively leaderless and arguably adrift in an ocean of conflicting ideologies. The Conservative Party is now a bastion of Free marketeers, decrying the ready movement of labour. It has a one nation rhetoric, betrayed by dishonesty and spin, arguably intent on driving ‘foreigners’ from our shores. This latter philosophy creates popular incantations summoning ‘the other’, which will have terrrible consequences for some communities. Its leadership promoting this dissent and schism in civil society, seemingly regardless of the consequences to an economy now in freefall. This week we hear that the principles of austerity, cuts and deprivation, designed to reach a fiscal target which deems our nation to be a sort of grocery shop where costs must be cut at any price – now this too is swept away. The writer Kazuo Ishiguro, writing in the Financial Times this week is angry… Angry…

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Vale Angliae

I was driving to my office in Cambridge on Friday morning (24th June 2016), from Suffolk and across the land of a large estate owner. The early morning sun was shining through the trees and looking, I saw the deer and pheasants abroad in the verges, seeking their early breakfast. Having an historical sensibility I was reminded of that warm, sunny day I had read about, in the July of 1914 when war was declared. The one which became known as The Great War. As then, after a climactic announcement, nothing seemed to have changed. There were still scones for tea and sport to be undertaken the next day. Yet then,within four years of complete military, social, economic and cultural destruction, millions were to lie dead from Flanders Fields to the harsh, dusty landscapes of the Middle East and Africa. There was something of that ‘phoney war’ sensibility about the post ‘Vote Leave’ result. Nothing seemed to have changed, yet as the weekend progressed the markets and our currency were in freefall, we had lost a Prime Minister and within the Labout Party the Shadow Cabinet began to fall on their swords, in order to ferment a revolution in the palace. The majority of the polity had voted, we were told, to endorse a strange ‘Faragist’ notion of good people declaring themselves against the ruling elite, big banks and an imagined anti-democratic Europe. There had not been many celebratory banners for European achievements, or detailed analysis of the support the…

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Clarity in debate: The EU

In the short video below Professor Michael Dougan of the University of Liverpool, the School of Law, offers insights from his professional research on the forthcoming referendum. This is twenty minutes of exposition truly worth listening to. In his film Michael Dougan explains how the current, complex and historical engagement with the EU has benefited UK trade and infrastructure. How the tabloid headlines about sovereignty and the lack of democracy are simply wrong and how, in a Europe without the UK, the actual negotiation timetables and lack of formal agreements will stagger UK industrial output and threaten the welfare of workers and citizens. Leaving the EU would, says Professor Dougan, give the government mandated power from Parliament to effect a root and branch redrawing of the legislatory landscape of our country. With the right in ascendancy, and no ‘European’ voice of conscience to mediate legislation vested with self interest and the interests of Capital,  workers rights and welfare would be under attack, we would argue. In another moment of clarity, we hear how the Swiss negotiated their first extra-EU Trade Agreement at the start of the Seventies. Their process is still ongoing. As a counter to the ‘free of regulation, free trade’ proclaimers, in reality many years would pass before we have negotiated our new position with the EU, post leave referendum, with our potential trade partners holding off in terms of their relationship with us until clarity for their interests, not ours, emerges. The UK EU Referendum takes place…

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Speaking for Labour In

    In a recent speech Jeremy Corbyn succinctly laid out why those of us on the left should vote to remain in Europe. Connected interests, whether for organised labour, educational organisations, social justice or ethical, market driven enterprise…all are more powerfully able to argue their case collectively, rather than in isolation. In fact, the very basic tenet of a political party with a distinct and clear emancipatory view of the world. The Labour Party in the UK. Challenges for people across the globe in the 21st Century are many and will continue to be immense. Jeremy outlined the work thus… How to deal with climate change. How to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes. How to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism. How to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation. How to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world, and how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire. (Source: Speech by Jeremy Corbyn, http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/jeremy-corbyn-europe-speech  Accessed 15.06.2016) The EU and its workings can, by default, often seem complicated and distant from the lives of ordinary people. If only to protect the interests of workers and to be able to have access to the largest market in the world for British enterprise, we should vote to stay in. In a recent article, A Long Requiem for Europe, we looked at how the the threat of war…

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A long requiem for Europe?

Embed from Getty Images Heading towrds Europe?   The European Union, the European experiment, emerged in the Twentieth Century from an unimaginable horror of war and destruction. The notion that England would withdraw from this partnership, and the largest single economic market in the world, is an idea that is fraught with socio-political tension, community fear and yes, even individual emotion. No short article can encompass the macro-economic arguments and social disengagement consequences in detail. Indeed, neither it seems can current political debate in the UK. What it does strive to do is contextualise sixty years of being a European and the claim that economic history has on that journey. Then we vote… In England we have a long history of conflating a fear of others and economic malaise. William Cecil in a speech to Parliament in 1588, spoke ‘…for a Bill against strangers and aliens selling wares by retail‘(1). Cecil was socially compassionate but economically rigid. ‘…in the person of the stranger, I consider the miserable and afflicted state of these poor exiles, who, together with their countries, have lost all (or the greatest) comforts of this life, and, for the want of friends, lie exposed to the wrongs ans injuries of the mailicious and ill-effected. The condition of strangers is that they have many harbours but few friends…’ None the less, Cecil was petitioning to ban newly arrived ‘strangers’ from retail sales for a period of seven years. An echo of contemporary embargoes and restraints in our own…

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Struggle is the reality!

The mainstream press and right wing political opinion would have us believe that Britain is a nation of millionaires, with a quest to hermetically seal our borders, to the detriment of our trading efficacy, and that individual choice from a menu of abundance is the default position for all ‘hard-working’ families and households in the UK. How wrong can they be? The reality for many working families is that choice does not exist and resources do not, under any prevailing economic conditions, match aggregate demand as a household unit. (‘…my income does not even cover my rent…’ a plaintive comment in this film from the Labour Party…). Policies of austerity and the tolerance of vast inequality in social and economic matters create voices of despair in our communities. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to the Keynesian interventions in the rebuilding of Europe after devastatingly destructive war and resource depletion, the solution to a fairer, more compassionate and prosperous society is spending on public infrastructure, with that infrastructure in public ownership, and the creation of economic motive and delivery that sees the redistribution of wealth, not downwards for the few, but upwards for the many…vote Labour and change the model!  

Economic apocalypse? …a versioning

Embed from Getty Images  Afloat in the economic ocean?   Are we heading for a new depression, economic collapse or is the ‘great recovery’ under way? Thomas Carlyle is credited, in reference to the work of Malthus, as characterising economics as a ‘dismal science’. The truth appears to be more prosaic. Carlyle was, in fact, writing about the promotion of slavery, the better to regulate labour and markets. Read more here. A wonderful example of how pragmatic economic theory changes over time. Not to say that sometimes the moral ascendancy can triumph over cash! It is ironic that economists, in wrangling with future financial forecasts, gambling in all but name in a free market, should so often be wrong or just plain at odds with each other. In this short article we look a set of distinct economic analysis, leaving it to the reader to cleave to the one most favoured. What does the future really hold, perhaps we will only know when we get there? In the mainstream: Weekly Economics Podcast on Twitter: www.twitter.com/weeklyeconpod Olivier Vardakoulias Twitter: www.twitter.com/o_vardakoulias Kirsty Styles on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirstystyles1 This is is the first of a revised New Economics Foundation weekly podcast on matters economic, always available on SoundCloud. The message from economist Olivier Vardakoulias is cogent, articulate and persuasive. It tracks the major players and movements in world commodity and financial affairs across the coming year, but it does not question the veracity or effectiveness of the market mechanism, nor does it decline to…

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A message from Jeremy Corbyn

The latest TV broadcast message from the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has just been made available on-line. Jeremy speaks, as always, with conviction, calmness and certitude. In the short film below he highlights both recent victories for communities and individuals, but goes on to present a clear position on community support, education, health and social care. It is this calm clarity, we would argue, that as leader of the Party, is one of the most important characteristics that Jeremy brings to the policy development debate. It is not the clamour of ideological disruption, but a process of consultative, active listening. You can join the Labour Party here.

Twittering to election victory!

Embed from Getty Images   We have a bye-election pending in our constituency for the election of a new County Councillor. Of course we all want our party candidate to win a stunning victory, reflecting new leadership, new members and a revitalised political agenda. Fighting elections is nothing new, but we offer here the first of a series of occasional technical ‘get elected’ reports. This first item is a very generous document from the Twitter Government and Elections team. This is The Twitter Government and Elections Handbook (pdf- 137pp). It is written exclusively for an American audience of course, but the techniques, suggestions and flexibility prompted by formal research from the Twitter team hold good for any electoral candidate in a western, democratic and technically enabled community. The report has sections on Twitter basics, list building, tweet rules, use of images, calls to action and importantly for political candidates, claims to authenticity. There are similar interesting and detailed sections on integrating a Twitter campaign into events, as well as useful list of Twitter resources at the end of the report for both the Twitter novice and seasoned new media professional. The core content is derived from the rich Twitter experience of Barack Obama’s November 2012 campaign. But whether you have aspirations to be President of the USA, or more local and equally important aspirations to represent us in a democratic civic society, this could be the engaging read of the festive holidays in 2015/2016. ‘The best way to earn a…

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