There’s something tragically appropriate about the fact that the most high-profile British industrial story, as the country staggers in the direction of a no-deal Brexit, should involve Nissan. The proximate cause of the Japanese company’s reversal of its decision to build a line of SUVs at its Sunderland plant was the collapse of European demand for diesel vehicles. But as its management has made perfectly clear Britain’s departure from the EU was a factor too. It’s worth re
The Irish “backstop”, the legal clause that offends the sensibilities of hardline Tory Brexiteers – to the point where they would be prepared not only to immolate their own government but even possibly lose Brexit altogether to be rid of it – is often described as “insurance”. It’s insurance, of course, for the people on both sides of the Irish border in that it means – if there’s no trade deal between the UK and the EU by 2021 – a hard border on the island will not descend.
The Irish "backstop", the legal clause that offends the sensibilities of hardline Tory Brexiteers - to the point where they would be prepared not only to immolate their own government but even possibly lose Brexit altogether to be rid of it - is often described as "insurance". It's insurance, of course, for the people on both sides of the Irish border in that it means - if there's no trade deal between the UK and the EU by 2021 - a hard border on the island will not descend.
In 1909 the British empire was locked in a frantic race with Germany for naval military supremacy. The continent was carved into antagonistic power blocs of states and kingdoms, jealous of each others' colonies. The atmosphere was thick with anticipation of a major new European conflict. In that year, a Labour Party MP and journalist Norman Angell came to the rescue, with a pamphlet designed to put this febrile talk of European war to bed. Angell's thesis was that the cost of
One could tell a surprisingly comprehensive history of the Brexit project by simply talking about food. From curved bananas to non-recyclable teabags, Eurosceptics have long relied on myths and scurrilous half-truths about groceries to stoke public resentment over the supposed red-tape lunacy of the European Union. More recently, Brexiteers have taken up the (mostly false) idea that the EU discriminates intensely against African smallholders in order to protect its own ineffi
At the peak of the global financial crisis a decade ago there were some who insisted that politicians and regulators should sit back and just let crumbling banks go bust. No bailouts. No rescues. What we needed, they said, was creative destruction. There was plenty of other similarly terrible advice in the following years. There were those who argued that governments needed to slash state spending, even at the very height of the global recession. There were those who shouted
If visions from ministers were effective in boosting UK exports we would long ago have surpassed the £1 trillion target set by George Osborne when he was chancellor. Last year we managed total overseas sales of £616bn, according to the latest official data. With just three years to go before we were supposed to hit the magic £1 trillion figure, we need exports to grow at an average annual rate of 17 per cent. So only triple the average rate of 5 per cent achieved since the tu
A sword of Damocles hangs over the economy of the North-east of England. That at least is the implication of the government’s own economic analysis when it comes to Brexit. Internal research leaked from Whitehall earlier this year suggested the North-east’s economy could take a hit of up to 16 per cent from an ultra-hard Brexit, in which the UK crashed out of the European Union with no trade deal. That’s compared to the 8 per cent injury estimated for the UK as a whole. And t
The bonanza, in the end, failed to materialise. There had been a fair amount of talk before the Spring Statement that Philip Hammond would be in a position to unveil a new dawn for our beleaguered public finances. City analysts had been chattering like South London parakeets about a potential £10bn permanent improvement in the public finances. And the excitement had jumped the species barrier from the Square Mile to Westminster. The ardent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg had squawk
When it comes to trade, liberal Brexiteers are cut from a very different cloth from Donald Trump. Or so we’re led to believe. Trump wants protection. But Brexiteers want more trade, even unilateral tariff cancellations on imports to the UK. Trump has a pinched and paranoid vision of “America First”. Yet Brexiteers nourish an expansive and open-minded dream of “Global Britain” signing major new deals with emerging market superpowers. Trump is in the mould of his late 19th cent
One would need to have been living under a rock not to know what the headline findings are from the Government’s internal economic modelling of Brexit scenarios. All the outcomes – from departing with no trade deal, to staying in the single market – are projected to leave the British economy worse off relative to otherwise, according to last month’s well-publicised leak. So Brexit, according to the Government’s own modelling, will do economic damage to the UK. Yet the Governm
Comparisons between politicians and business leaders are generally to be avoided. But sometimes they can be instructive. Imagine if a chief executive was explaining to her governing board how she planned to tackle a major looming economic threat to the company’s profitability. Imagine if she started her presentation with the words: “Close your eyes and envisage a new technology, which doesn’t currently exist but which we very much hope will soon come along…” How long would sh
Not long ago there was an official Government target for UK exports. “We want to double our nation’s exports to £1 trillion this decade,” the former Chancellor, George Osborne, proclaimed in his 2012 Budget speech. Many said at the time that it was a foolishly unrealistic target. But ministers insisted it really could be done. Comparing it to Maoist pledges of a great leap in steel production was unduly cynical, we were told. So, five years on, are we nearly there yet? Not ex
The economic headlines of the past 48 hours have been thoroughly miserable, if not apocalyptic. So what’s going on? Has the UK’s economic outlook really suddenly become very much worse – or has this reckoning been coming for some time? To what extent is Brexit to blame? And is there any way out of this mess? Below we explain what’s going on with the British economy behind the headlines. The key is something called productivity…. The fundamental reason for those awful economic
As you would expect, Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate economist and possibly America’s most influential liberal commentator, gets inundated with emails from the general public. But one seems to have lodged in his mind. It came in August after Krugman had savaged Donald Trump for pardoning the notorious immigrant-brutalising Nevada sheriff, Joe Arpaio. In his regular New York Times column Krugman claimed that Trump’s pardon amounted to an endorsement of American-style fascism.
In his 1960 book The Strategy of Conflict the late Thomas Schelling made a significant contribution to the field of game theory by showing that recklessness can work. Schelling, who won the Nobel prize for economic in 2005, argued that in a confrontation one side can maximise its chances of getting the outcome it desires by adopting an irrationally inflexible position. His theoretical modelling suggested that brinkmanship, or deliberately running the risk of an accidental out
What is your reaction to the re-ignition of the row, courtesy of an “essay” by Boris Johnson, over whether or not Britain will be able to “take back control” of £350m a week of money that currently goes to the European Union after Brexit? Perhaps it is a weary shrug of the shoulders. “So what?” you might say. “Whatever the precise figure no one disputes we send rather a lot of cash to Europe. Why obsesses about the exact amount? Why send everyone to sleep by debating ‘gross’
Who will be the next winner of the Nobel Prize in economics? One answer is that it might be a modest and quietly spoken professor who sits in an eyrie-like office, high above the busy Euston Road in central London. Earlier this year, Richard Blundell was awarded the Nemmers Economics Prize, second in prestige only to the Nobel. Seven of the past 11 Nemmers winners have gone on to win a Nobel. And Blundell has been widely tipped in recent years for the profession’s big gong it
If Labour supporters want a glimpse of what Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 general election manifesto would look like in practice, they don’t have to dream. They simply need to cross the Channel. In France, they will discover university tuition funded by the taxpayer. In Portugal and Slovakia, they will see domestic energy consumers who benefit from regulatory price caps. In Germany, they can witness an extensive network of publicly-owned local savings banks. In Spain, the Netherlands,
On the floor of Gertjan Vlieghe’s wood-panelled Bank of England office sits a small doorstop in the shape of a hedgehog – an animal not renowned for its speed. And its patient owner is certainly in no hurry to put up interest rates. Mr Vlieghe, 46, who joined the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee as an external member in 2015 has established himself as the most dovish member of the rate-setting committee. Even before the Brexit referendum Mr Vlieghe was publicly fretting about