Prem Sikka and economics

At the heart of the intensifying debate about fairness and inequality is tax. Who can think without shuddering of the opportunity costs incurred by needy economies robbed of the tax to which they are entitled?

Well, yes, if you stretch a bit, you can say opportunity cost there. Tax not paid means revenue which the government cannot spend.

But if we are to consider opportunity costs then we’ve got to consider them all. What is the rise in revenue from having a larger economy as a result of tax dodging foreign investment? Standard economics tells us it’s really rather large in a developing economy. Possibly (and this is contentious, whereas “large” is not) more than 100% of the dodging actually.

The blacklist does not include any western country, even though accountants, lawyers, banks and much of the infrastructure that lubricates global tax avoidance are located in the west.

Note the rhetorical shift there. “Entitled” should mean tax evasion. A government is only entitled to the tax that the law says is due. Avoidance isn’t the same at all, is it?

The issue of tax avoidance is not going away.

Well, no, obviously not. It’s actually a right to organise your affairs so as to reduce your tax bill.

So everybody:

The EU, the UK and other countries could also ensure that no individual or company under their jurisdiction would be able to import or export any goods or services from designated tax havens. The UK is being asked to pay a fee to secure access to EU markets after Brexit; by the same logic, a fee should be demanded from tax havens in the shape of better transparency and accountability. Persistently aggressive jurisdictions might suffer travel and visa restrictions, or be denied the use of international satellites that tax havens rely on for communications and financial transactions.

Can you say colonialism? Picaninnies must do as we European say or else.

Way to go here, way to go!

Now it is perhaps encouraging to see the Co-op gain more traction, but much more worrying is that the concentration of our food supply channels only encourages the corporations, which have an easy ‘route to market’ as the jargon has it. Small, local, food finds it difficult to get a look in. And small local food is what we should be trying to encourage – not only from a climate change aspect but also in an effort to fix the UK’s disastrous diet. A recent Sustainable Food Trust report estimated that diet-related disease added 37p to every £1 spent on food.We need to steer away from food that is well travelled, well marketed, supplied in brightly coloured packaging and which contains much of the delights of the (American) label below. We won’t be able to improve the nation’s health until we improve its diet.

More expensive food, food only available in season, reliant upon the vagaries of local weather conditions, is the way to improve the nation’s diet.


If you start from here you’re never going to get it right

Note: the UK has massively de-industrialised since 1979 (manufacturing is now only 10% of GDP). The White paper gives little acknowledgement of this, but why would it, this de-industrialisation is the product of successive neoliberal (Tory/Tory-lite) governments.

Manufacturing and industrial (roughly, manufacturing plus minerals and energy) output is significantly up since 1979.

What fucking deindustrialisation?


European public discourse has been hijacked by a neo-liberal ideology, promulgated by a powerful wealthy few, which has successfully dominated the continent for decades. This ideology in the meantime permeates all aspects of life, including media, politics and universities. Today there is still no sign of a coherent pan-European alternative programme that benefits the majority of Europe’s populace, resulting in largely isolated and ephemeral protests against the neo-liberal agenda.

To facilitate the formation of a coherent alternative discourse to disseminate innovative political and economic ideas, BRAVE NEW EUROPE will be offering in-depth information and analyses, enabling European citizens to better comprehend their political and economic realities. It will provide ideas for achieving greater equality and social inclusion, challenging the neo-liberal monologue that increasingly dominates corporate and state media.

The EU is neoliberal, eh?

This is grand, most grand

BoM November 2017

In The Joy of Tax, tax campaigner Richard Murphy

BoM does mean book of the month, yes. At which point

Noel Scoper – about 4 hours ago
In order to be open and transparent, perhaps it should be reminded that Richard Murphy is a director or Progressive Pulse Limited and a 50% guarantor of the company to a whole £1. Given he has 2 BoMs as well as in the “suggested reading”, it would appear a bit smelly otherwise.

Sean Danaher – about 2 hours ago
Noel, thanks. You are absolutely correct. Richard’s position is however very non executive and he played only a small part in the choice of the the November Book of the Month or indeed the “suggested reading.” The editorial team (Richard was not on it and had only a minor part in the correspondence) looked at about 1/2 a dozen book as possibilities for the November BoM and the “Joy of Tax” was chosen on merit and without Richard’s knowledge.

For complete transparency one of the books we considered was Eve Pool’s “Capatalism’s Toxic assumptions” which Peter May suggested, but no one on the editorial team had read. We contacted Richard to see if he had read it, who replied “I have to admit I have never found much to agree with in what she has written, But I have not read this latest book and so she may have improved”. We decided to reserve judgement and moved Eve’s book back to a possibility for future months. The video looked promising (link below) and we may indeed choose it as BoM but only after someone on the team has read it.

Err, yes.

Most interesting from Nick Shaxson

The “competition” between countries that Hammond describes bears no relation to competition between firms in a market. The latter can be beneficial but the former is always harmful. Think of the difference between a failed company and a failed state.

What, a failed state like Venezuela? Which failed from too much government of the wrong sort? Zimbabwe?

Or even 1970s Britain with anyone who could getting on the plane to leave?

Competition between countries works exactly like that between companies – although as Ol’Adam pointed out there’s a lot of ruin in a nation so it takes rather longer. States which enact bad policy lose the citizenry eventually, the very thing which limits the bad policies that will be imposed.

This is different how? And wouldn’t we actually want to limit this enactment of bad policy anyway?

Erm, what?

But energy retail is not enough – the energy company must immediately and progressively begin to bring energy generation into public hands, too, so we have an integrated system. All those windfarms should belong to us, and be making us wealthy. They are close to being a public monopoly.

There are many different windfarms owned by many different people therefore they are close to being a public monopoly?

As ever, progressives entirely miss the point

David Laws, Consultant Anaesthetist, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 7TP

Professor Charles S. Adams, Department of Physics, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE

The unquestioned assertion that a highly developed currency-issuing nation cannot afford high quality healthcare [1] is based upon a set of inter-related and almost universally-held false assumptions:
Money is in limited supply (as there is no ‘magic money tree’).
Taxes fund government spending.
Private banks lend out pre-existing savings.
NHS spending is a burden on the economy rather than a boost to the economy.

Excellent, a physicist and an anaesthetist decide to tell us about economics and money.

So, they’ve grasped what Modern Monetary Theory is saying about money. OK. We may or may not have our issues with that but let’s just accept their points for the moment.

They’ve still missed the damn point. Economics isn’t about the allocation of money – although there is most certainly that interesting subsection, monetary economics. Economics is about the allocation of scarce resources. And as they point out, money in the sense of fiat money isn’t a scarce resource. Yes, quite obviously we can just make more – with interesting effects no doubt. But that still doesn’t solve our problem, because we still face scarce resources.

There are only so many people in the country, there’s only so much labour. We’ve some limited number of buildings, the resources to build more, labour, land, cement, they’re all scarce.

Having more pieces of paper with which we price those resources doesn’t change the fact that the resources are scarce. Which means that if you want more resources to be applied to health care then there are other things we are not doing as a result of that resource allocation. Nothing you can say about money changes this, absolutely nothing.

We’re not worried about the allocation of money, we’re worried about the allocation of resources. Thus the insistence that we’ve no shortage of money to allocate doesn’t solve the problem.


Even if we restrict ourselves to purely economic progress, still there is little evidence that the market is the thing. Economists know this but do not always say it. Prosperity roughly equals productivity and increasing productivity is the ability to do things faster. The thing that helps us do that is replacing human power (or horse power) with machine power which requires machines, and machines come from advances in science and technology.

During this economic golden age between 1945 and 1975, GDP per capita in the UK grew at an astonishing 2.7% per annum. But this rate could not be sustained and we are now back on the 1.4% trend dating back to the time of Robert Stephenson.

Now you could argue that technology needs free markets to flourish but the evidence is not there for this. In fact between 1920 and 1980 GDP per capita rose much faster in the `non-free’ Soviet Union (by a factor of 12) than in the `free’ USA (a factor of 3.4), albeit the Soviet Union started from a much lower base.

Actually, this has been tested. The Soviet Union managed no increase in total factor productivity over its 70 years. The US however…..

Well done to Progressive Pulse here

It only goes to prove even more that anyone who voluntarily chooses to buy chicken from a supermarket when they can afford something more expensive is foolhardy at best. Chicken is the UK’s most widely consumed meat yet antibiotic use among intensively reared chicken flocks is scandalously widespread and is more than likely to constitute a health danger to those who eat it and then subsequently rely on antibiotics in illness.

Quite why antibiotic use is permitted in animal husbandry I have never understood. Probably just because we can.

Of course the news that the Food Standards Agency is going to rely on the big supermarkets to police themselves was rather earlier in the year – so that’s something else that is clearly working well. In fact even better, included in this ‘experiment’ are Mitchell and Butlers, owners of Toby Inns, whose establishment in Exeter had to be closed not once, but on two occasions because swathes of its customers were taken ill with norovirus.

Norovirus is normlaly a human to human transmission, not from infected poultry…..

Ely Sage Productions

Why are there so few Credit Unions in Britain?
Credit Unions are non profit organisations run by members for members, which are part of the co-operative movement and run for mutual benefit. They are very much to be encouraged and indeed their promotion is certainly part of the Progressive Pulse vision. However British credit unions have strikingly failed to become widely established despite strong government support (on both sides of the house), leaving the ‘sub-prime’ sector vulnerable to pay-day lenders such as Wonga with very high interest rates which can reach as much as 1509% APR.

In contrast Credit Unions have a capped rate of 1% per month or 12.7% APR.

Err, the rate cap means they can’t attract the deposits?

If only they actually understood economics

It was recently announced that the UK came 19th in the World Happiness Report and yet we are allegedly the fifth richest economy in the world.

What is the point?

– the economy is not achieving what its essential purpose should be and we are at least 14 places too low.

Now if we were number 4 in the World Happiness Report that would be a result.

Err, we want GDP per capita, not just gross GDP, and we want it at PPP too. Where the UK is 24 in the list. Meaning that our happiness is 5 places up from our economic ranking. Neoliberalism makes you happy, you see?