Tree stump thinking again

That scuppers the investment and employment growth plans that underpin George Osborne’s forecasts for the next five years. Then add this:

According to a poll of UK contractors by Aecom, an infrastructure and support services group, labour shortages are driving up costs so much that contractors are putting up prices and turning down work from projects and clients they perceive to be high risk.

Aecom [also] said that parts of the industry are already cutting their exposure to the residential market because of fears the capital’s house price boom may be starting to falter.

If manufacturing and both residential and commercial building are in trouble that’s a triple blow for the UK.

Hmm.

In the light of all this if we survive 2016 without a significant downturn I will be surprised. We might, but I cannot see how right now. And that is worrying for us all, most especially when we have no plan for how to deal with it.

And we’ll only have that when People’s Quantitative Easing is accepted as a necessary step to manage such a situation.

So the construction industry is facing severe capacity constraints. And our genius, the Murphaloon, says the solution is to pump £50 billion more demand into that industry facing the capacity constraints.

There’s nothing quite like joined up thinking, is there, and this isn’t anything like it.

44 thoughts on “Tree stump thinking again”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    “and turning down work from projects and clients they perceive to be high risk.”

    Isn’t that a good thing? And that should help reduce prices as profit and risk are two sides of the same coin. Reduced risk means they can reduce profits leading to lower prices.

    “Aecom [also] said that parts of the industry are already cutting their exposure to the residential market because of fears the capital’s house price boom may be starting to falter.”

    Note that’s the capital’s house price boom not the rest of the country’s because there isn’t one. And isn’t that a good thing as well as we’re always being told that house prices are too high?

    If manufacturing and both residential and commercial building are in trouble that’s a triple blow for the UK.

  2. I’m sure the same is true in most western countries: the percentage of the potential workforce (i.e. both employed and useful unemployed) able to produce something useful is diminishing, leaving only a small number of companies/people able to do stuff like infrastructure and construction projects. Until we see a shift away from the Middle Classes cluttering up law firms, admin and diversity departments in otherwise useful companies, the public sector, and other non-jobs (such as HR), then we’re always going to have a shortage of people doing real work and they will be able to pick and choose the jobs they do and cash in regularly.

  3. Tim Newman said:
    “Until we see a shift away from the Middle Classes cluttering up law firms, admin and diversity departments ”

    Isn’t that pretty much the definition of the middle classes? If they stop doing that, they won’t be middle class any more.

  4. Tim Newman: time for a new class divide between the useful and useless middle classes before working out how to bolster the former and eliminate the latter short of building an ark for them.

  5. “if we survive 2016 without a significant downturn I will be surprised. We might, but I cannot see how right now.”

    So if there is a downturn Murphy will claim he predicted it and if there isn’t Murphy will claim that he predicted that it might not happen.

  6. “We might, but I cannot see how right now. And that is worrying for us all

    I refuse to be worried by what Murphy cannot see.

  7. Well, that’s how markets work iznit? If demand exceeds supply, prices go up, reducing demand, and if a labour shortage causes wage and conditions improvements that attracts more labour into the industry increasing supply, and…

    I mean, I appreciate that I am a free market fundamentalist and neoliberal sophist, but surely this is like Economics 101?

  8. Frances/Rob

    You both bypassed the ‘For Paree’ phase I see.

    SE

    For DBC Reed (an acquaintance of one of the mass murder advocates on TRUK) LVT is the equivalent to ’42’ in the Hitchhikers Guide…

  9. @ SE
    Well, if the tax on land in Schleswig-Holstein was paid to the EU Commission in Brussels was set at 200% of market rent, then neither Denmark nor Germany would want it and it would become a directly-owned fief of the EU Commission. Problem solved!
    All bow in admiration before DBC Reed (except, of course, the unfortunate inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein who are paying people-traffickers to ship them in rubber dinghies across the Aegean, sorry North Sea, to Norway).

  10. Anyone seen ‘Lawrence from Guernsey’ in the past fortnight? I hope nothing untoward has happened….

  11. VP

    I have seen Lawrence making a remarkably profane posting here recently – almost in the manner of the Viz character that continues under the radar to comment on Murphy’s site!

  12. Rob/Van Patten/ Frances

    Given that Climate QE was a joint effort with Colin Hines did it include any element concerning the limiting of movement of goods AND people (or ‘refugees’ as Richard calls them when he’s wearing his Quaker humanitarian hat)?

  13. TN:

    ‘Useful’ and ‘useless’ are relative terms – x is useful to y for doing F. It isn’t some non-relational property like square. Lawyers are very useful if you want to avoid or pursue litigation, want a tight contract for a major deal, etc. And, depending on your goals, so generally are dentists, doctors, engineers, teachers, linguists, accountants, IT specialists, architects….Given the volume of (admittedly, very tiresome) employment legislation, an HR unit can be very useful, too.

  14. Actually, we really shouldn’t try.toove this beyond Tim’s original comment; to propose money printing to.overcome a supply side restriction is cretinous even by Murphy’s standards.

  15. If trends hold, all you need to get Lawrence to show up is for yours truly to post a note stating he’s a loser and a dimwit. You know, something along the lines of this:

    Hey, Arnald, how’s work on that first album goin’ for ya?

    Give it a few minutes…

  16. ” Lawyers are very useful if you want to avoid or pursue litigation, want a tight contract for a major deal, etc.”

    Er…isn’t that because of other lawyers?

    “Soon after the creation of the First Law came the spontaneous evolution of the First Lawyer. Who pointed out the areas of contention in the First Law & lobbied for a second law to address them. Thus begins the History Of Jurisprudence…”

  17. From the idiot’s lantern: – a verbatim quote from the LHTD:

    ‘It will be – except that PQE would provide work in places where people want to work – not the City of London where the shortage is

    I doubt there is anything likle the skills shoprtage talked about across the country as a whole’

    Apparently it is only the City of London which had a skills shortage- Trebles all round!

    That is arguably the most moronic comment I have ever seen from him – and that is against stiff competition.

  18. Bis

    “Er…isn’t that because of other lawyers?”

    Your intellectual perspicacity and rigour never cease to amaze. Let’s just get rid of all laws, and then lawyers will be unnecessary!

  19. Given that there seems to be a limitless appetite for construction activity in the UK – the constant thirst for “infrastructure” projects – and the sheer number of cones that are currently distributed around the motorway network, in addition to the building construction in London and my local areas, plus Osborne’s call for 400,000 affordable homes – it is worth considering what could be done to get more people into the construction sector. It would have to start, I imagine, with the planning permission side of things, but it would need to spread to all the commercial landbankers. The number of people who have advocated LVT, from Adam Smith, to David Ricardo, to Milton Friedman, to Paul Krugman suggests that it might be worth a trial.

  20. >Let’s just get rid of all laws, and then lawyers will be unnecessary!

    There are a lot of things which would be better done without them. I’m up in front of the beak just after Christmas for a minor motoring offence. Sort of thing that’s likely to end up costing me £300 and three points.

    Theoretically I could plead innocent, represent myself and get off (as I didn’t actually do the deed of which I am accused). In practice, for any hope of success I’d need a solicitor (as the law is complicated, unclear, relies on a good deal of case history, and basically requires I prove I wasn’t committing an offence, rather than the prosecution having to prove that I did). That would be about £2k in solicitors fees, which I still have to pay if I win.

    So instead I’m pleading guilty, and have had to use a solicitor to sort out a statement of mitigation, because they know what you can and can’t say and so on.

    Why we can’t set they system up so I can realistically represent myself is beyond me, but sadly that is life…

  21. Not that it’s my job to edit you, Tim, but

    There’s nothing quite like joined up thinking, is there, and this isn’t anything like it.

    isn’t funny.

    There’s nothing like joined up thinking, is there? And this is nothing like it.

    is – at least a bit.

  22. Given the volume of (admittedly, very tiresome) employment legislation, an HR unit can be very useful, too.

    Yes, occasionally. But they exist only to support those who are actually doing useful things, they don’t exist in their own right. This is something which appears to have been lost on many who make up the laughably named “support services”. Ditto for lawyers.

  23. @Theo
    During the final years of my father’s life & due to my absence abroadhe was unwise enough to grant his lawyer a power of attorney to manage simple affairs. Nothing complicated. Arrange for utility bills to be paid. His nursing home & then at-home care fees.No actual legal work at all. When I came over & took it on it occupied around an hour a month.
    For the two & a half years of their administration we have a total of £36,000’s worth of invoices, most using the expression “inter alia” to detail their purpose
    I would very much like to challenge this fucker on exactly which part of this could be described as acting in my father’s “best interest” during the time of his incapacity. However, it’ll probably cost me another £36,000 to set another fucking lawyer on him, as he has no doubt acted strictly in accordance with the law.
    Cunts. Every single one of them. (The learned Mr Lud excluded, of course.)
    “Perspicacity and rigour” are things best applied with the blunt end of as tyre iron, in my legal opinion.

  24. TN

    If an HR unit is useful “occasionally”, then HR is not a “non-job” (though, possibly, something to be contracted out).

    Support services are useful in so far as they add value and prevent its loss. Nobody is useful per se, because ‘useful’ is only meaningful relative to an organisation’s or a person’s (boss, consumer, etc) objectives.

    And, by the way, the UK’s legal services sector had a £3.1bn trade surplus in 2013, which suggests many people globally think it’s useful.

  25. Bis

    Your father was very unwise to do that. I’d suggest you complain – to the solicitor, the Law Society, the SRA, the Legal Ombudsman, his MP…

    Every profession has bad eggs. I’ve never found lawyers to be particularly disreputable, unlike builders….But I don’t conclude that all builders are cunts.

  26. If an HR unit is useful “occasionally”, then HR is not a “non-job”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. An HR department being useful somewhere, once, does not validate the existence of every HR person in the land. Stop being a twat.

  27. BiS
    Your lawyers will have a complaints process – use it. Same time register with legal Ombudsman (who are very helpful and will give you a case number) but you have to use the complaints process the lawyers have. Ultimately, as they find you can write and use their process and get the ombudsman’s case number, they are much more co-operative, However, given the numbers you quote, I suspect you’ll need the ombudsman to take this up on your behalf. (all this is free).

  28. TN

    You claimed that HR was a non-job, or, what is equivalent, that [1] ‘All HR jobs are useless’. Then you agreed that HR people can be useful occasionally, or, what is equivalent, that [2] ‘Some HR jobs are useful’. And [2] contradicts [1]. I am not claiming that [2] validates all HR jobs, as you put it. I am just pointing out your inconsistency.

    And your misunderstanding of the meaning of ‘useful’, of course.

  29. “I’ve never found lawyers to be particularly disreputable, unlike builders…”
    If you asked me to quote for work you would get a full & detailed estimate. Often several pages long, Or for a big project, the size of a small book.This is what you would pay at completion & is based on labour & materials. If supplementary work was required you would be invoiced. Again fully detailed accounting of labour & materials. You will note that there is no reference made to the value of your property. It’s based purely on performance.
    When a lawyer charges for executorship of an estate, a fee is charged based on the value of property. A percentage. It’s not charged on performance. It’s charged simply because they can. You get the legal bill separately. Based on what they say they’ve done. Sketchily itemised & well adorned with inter alias.
    Bunch of cunts.

  30. And thanks for your advice Max. I’m in the process of dragging a stockbroker through the financial ombudsman. Shame it’s not the old Council of the SE. The particular point of argument was one I got forcefully impressed upon me, by them, when I got my badge. Many moons ago. Duties of care.
    Lawyer’s next. But I’m not so hopeful. Slippery as eels, lawyers..

  31. “If you asked me to quote for work you would get a full & detailed estimate. Often several pages long, Or for a big project, the size of a small book.”

    It’s the “estimate” bit that can lead to trouble.

  32. BiS has a point on opacity, though don’t legals use “disbursements” as the cover-all phrase?

    When you see these admin charges one can only assume the firm has rows of clerks in wigs with quills, runners and huge leather-bound ledgers.

  33. Just landed in this thread. Would’ve said all that’s been said above about challenging the bill, Mr in Spain. £36k does sound awfully high. For the work you’ve described, I’d expect maybe £5-£10k.

    And whoever, above, said they need a solicitor to mitigate for them, I’d say not. Get a public access barrister. Will cost £350-£750, depending. Or look at the magistrate’s court sentencing guidelines, see what they look for by way of aggravating and mitigating features, and do it for yourself. Sentencing in those types of cases is done by numbers, very few surprises.

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