Hope springs ever eternal

Let’s put this in context. Apparently, one in ten UK taxpayers has an offshore account.

I have always argued the scale of offshore abuse is significant. But this exceeds any estimate that I might have made.

The data has been advised by foreign governments. I suspect it is true.

Let me be clear: some will be accounts that are not in tax havens e.g. those held by those letting properties in France, for example. But all might involve evasion. And that is just as important as those that are tax haven based.

Well, yes, but we should all recall what happened over those Swiss accounts. Spudda and the like told us all that there were billions, billions I tell ‘ee, to be got from scouring the vaults of the Gnomes for tax evading accounts.

So much so that Osborne pencilled in those billions that he’d get from the agreement he made that the vaults be scoured.

As it turned out near all of the accounts were either of British citizens who weren’t resident for tax purposes, or were and were declared. Total receipts were not, you’ll be amazed to hear, those billions.

Then those Panama Papers. David Cameron had offshore! Which was all declared and tax paid. And the Liechtenstein Facility had one and only one named user. Lady Margaret, Dame Hodge, Spuddy’s fellow campaigner on tax evasion.

There just ain’t the money out there evading tax Ritchie says there is. On the very simple basis that as, by and large we don’t find ourselves oppressed by British law then we generally, being unoppressed, obey British law.

All of which would change if we changed British law to be oppressive of course.

This is rather Pooter, isn’t it?

Friday’s are teaching days for me this term. I like teaching. I like students. They seem to like me. Although that said, I am not sure that Friday’s, teaching and students always mix as well as they might. Students seem to have an MP’s attitude to Friday afternoons: they’d rather be somewhere else.

Is it the Friday or the teacher?

It’s a mess.

And what is astonishing is that after a week of debate it is effectively the same mess. We went nowhere.

What a way to run down a country.

If the government was a company it would be in administration.

If it was a local authority it would have been relieved of its responsibility.

And if a public agency its management would long ago have been sacked.

But a government can just blunder on. And without an effective opposition also able to hold its party together that’s what it will keep doing.

And so the rundown will continue.

This from the man who wants government to have more power….

Interesting research document

Using global directories of the firms as indication of presence in a location and the number of employees by jurisdiction as an indication of scale, our research indicates the disproportionate activity of particular GPSFs firms, namely the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms, providing tax based services in secrecy jurisdictions. This suggests that they are major suppliers of offshore financial services.

You don’t say!

Slightly career limiting, don’t you think?

Devereux is wrong. His proposal is just another example of a neoliberal fantasist’s unicorn approach to policy making: suggesting an ideal that is great in an Oxford paper that has not the slightest shred of evidence that it could ever be of benefit to the world at large.

I would hope we had enough experience of the believers in unicorns to kick such ideas into touch by now.

Oh dear

It appears that no radio station has asked Ritchie to come on and discuss the Spring Statement:

This will not happen of course. He will talk about all he proposes. And never will a Chancellor have spoken so purposelessly. He has no clue whether anything he says will be delivered. Less still does he know if he will be Chancellor. Or even be in government.

As such I will, by and large, be treating the event with the contempt it deserves.

Collapsing from inherent contradictions

Corporation tax has three purposes. One is to protect the income tax base from attack. The second is to tax capital, which by and large it does, making it a rare tax as a result. And third, it is a tax that should be used to apportion taxable benefits to those locations where value is added in the global supply chains that benefit us all.

Corporation tax isn’t – solely at least – incident upon capital, that’s the very problem with it.

But OK, suppose it is. Thus the tax will be incident upon where the capital is, and so it should be, not upon where the value add is. For it’s the capital adding the value, that’s why the return is to the capital.


Kidde 7COC Carbon Monoxide Alarm (replaceable batteries) 10 Year Sensor and Warranty

Hmm, well, you know

But let’s be clear: if, as I think, at least 10% of the UK economy is unrecorded (and this is what all peer-reviewed evidence suggests) and much of this is identified by non-recording consumption, then this cannot be done by the wealthy alone. They are wealthy, but they could not fail to record so much of what they spend without the active connivance of hundreds of thousands and quite likely millions of others who are in receipt of that spending and who would not declare it to HMRC. More plausibly, the non-recorded spend and non-recorded income is spread right across the economy and anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that to be true. The builder, cleaner, coach, and trader taking unrecorded cash are all part of this problem, as are countless others. They are not wealthy. Many, I know, may just be trying to make ends meet. But they all break the law. And they all contribute to the tax gap. And they all undermine a fair tax system, and honest taxpayers.

Unless Labour acknowledges this it will allocate resources to the wrong issues when seeking tax justice.

And it will not direct enough resources to HMRC to put matters right.

It will also not ask the right questions about how to correct the income distribution.

If all the first is true then your estimates of the income distribution are wrong, aren’t they?

As Ritchie insists, people don’t move for tax rates

The cat-and-mouse game between state tax collectors and wealthy New Yorkers who are moving to Florida has reached new levels — and gone high tech.

New federal tax laws limiting the deduction of state and local income taxes have created incentives for wealthy New Yorkers to move to Florida or other lower-tax states. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month blamed wealth flight for the state’s $2.3 billion revenue shortfall in December and January.

“Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich,” he said. “We did. Now, God forbid, the rich leave.”

There really is a Laffer Curve…..

So, who are you going to believe?


There is excellent, and wholly rational reason for not investing in oil now. It is that the worth of any company is dependent upon its future revenues. And these companies are as a result valued upon the basis of their supposed reserves. But the fact is that those reserves are going to have to stay in the ground if there is any hope at all that the world can survive climate change.

Norway is selling out of oil because it knows it has no future.

Or me?

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund – the Government Pension Fund – has just announced that it’s to sell off its stock in the gas and oil exploration sector. This makes very good sense indeed – so much so that they should never have invested in the sector in the first place. No, this is nothing to do with the climate crisis, nothing to do with stranded assets and all that malarkey. It’s just the simple and basic rules for investing – you diversify.

Well, that tells us then

Is some, and maybe a large part, of that fall in life expectancy due to austerity then? I very strongly suggest that it is.

And much of the rest may be down to the lifestyle promoted by neoliberalism, with excessive consumption of inappropriate foods at the heart of that.

My conclusion: neoliberalism kills.

Neoliberalism promotes that extra pizza apparently. Is there nothing that can’t be blamed upon it?

And he calls himself an economist

But, second, and much more importantly, they are not admitting this because very large numbers of jobs will be threatened by scrapping tariffs. The fact is that whilst we might have free trade with the EU we do not with many other nations on earth for very good reason. The tariffs we impose protect UK jobs. Remove the tariffs and those jobs disappear. The biggest gainer will be China, of course.

The government is, unsurprisingly reluctant to admit that this is what free trade means.

As every economist knows trade as no effect upon the number of jobs at all.

It’s entirely monetary and fiscal policy which does – the state of aggregate demand that is.

Trade affects which jobs, not the number of them.

This man teaches economics at a British university. Lucky us.

Interesting really

And so we end up with an act of wilful self destruction, which is what Brexit is. The vast majority can see that in itself it is glaringly obviously not the right thing to do.

Strange then that the majority who voted did so in favour of Brexit. And if the opinion polls are to be believed, so would a plurality again. So what is this vast majorty who can see that Brexit is obviously not the right thing to do?

The euro is neoliberal apparently

I am deeply disappointed for the cause of Scottish independence and Scotland itself. The change on currency that has been proposed is a sop: it drops the commitment to the pound but it does not commit an independent Scotland to its own currency on its first day in existence. The result is that the plan still shackles Scotland to uncertainty. Worse, it leaves open the possibility that the pound will still be used. And that would be a disaster for Scotland as it will have no control over its economic policy, at all, in that case.

I note that amendments to this proposal can be tabled until late this month. I sincerely hope that a much more radical policy alternative will be put to the conference as a result. For the second time this morning I have to note the curse of supposedly left of centre economists who are actually dedicated to the structures of neoliberalism to the enormous cost of the societies that they claim to have close to their hearts.

A country without it’s own currency is neoliberal apparently. Bit of a bugger for that eurozone then. You know, the eurozone which entering is an eventual condition of joining the EU which we must so adamantly stay in?

As Spudda notes

New data shows fall in bus passenger use by 7.5 per cent over the past five years, while fares are up 18 per cent over the same period of time

Changing prices seems to change demand.

And yet:

First of all, we know that pricing does not change demand perfectly.

Amazing how beliefs can trump evidence.

There’s also this loveliness:

If emissions are to be tackled then the bus issue has to be tackled. There have to be more of them, more often, on better routes, at lower cost, with subsidy provided if required to transform local transport with the result that the last mile problem can be solved. That’s what the Green New Deal would look like. It may not be big, bold or that costly. It may not deliver massive political reward. But it would create real change. And that’s what matters.

Now recast your emissions numbers on average passenger usage, not capacity. Running lots of empty buses will reduce emissions now, will it?

This would be an interesting test, wouldn’t it?

Tax-conscious investors could save 30pc on their bill if they transfer their old Isas into a venture capital trust (VCT) before the April 5 deadline.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange, VCTs are investment companies that provide generous tax breaks in return for investing in risky smaller companies.

They offer 30pc tax breaks on any cash invested up to £200,000 in new shares issues by these companies and typically invest in smaller or unlisted companies.

As such they are typically more risky than other investments, although these stocks are also more likely to grow quickly.

That last is nonsense of course. However.

Consider Ritchie’s mantra. Pensions savings don’t go into new investment, they just buy second hand stocks. This doesn’t build the new infrastructure the future needs. Therefore there should be no tax relief. Tax relief should only go to new investment in real stuff.

So, here’s tax relief purely for investment in new stuff.

The test? This is unconscionable tax avoidance or exactly what Ritchie is arguing for?