Tobin or not to bin? Gordon Brown’s apparently sudden conversion to supporting a tax on financial transactions – initially proposed by James Tobin – has, if nothing else, put new energy into the related debates about the banking sector, paying off the costs of the economic crunch, and financing basic social needs. But will it fly? And should it? There are several strong reasons why but there is a negative side that we also need to attend to. Continue reading
Posted in Climate change, International development, The economic crunch
Tagged adaptation, banking reform, Brown, budget deficit, carbon trading, finance sector, G-20, green economy, Tobin tax
DFID’s impressive White Paper came out in July; it marks a major step forward in thinking and policy-making on international development (see my post on 21 August). But there are at least a couple of points that deserve a second, sceptical look. Without detracting from the achievement registered with the White Paper, but just to have it on record in a quiet way, DFID takes an unguardedly if necessarily optimistic view about recovery from the recession and over-states the success of peace agreements quite dramatically. Continue reading
Two of the big issues the world faces today are how to recover from the economic crunch and how to reverse global warming and deal with climate change. On Wednesday 15 July the UK government addressed both with a major policy statement reshaping its energy policy to reduce carbon emissions. It signals a bold effort to green the economy and create several hundred thousand new jobs. The biggest risk it faces is getting politically entangled – and in this regard, the media reaction was a worry.
Posted in Climate change, The economic crunch
Tagged Cameron, carbon trading, Conservatives, Copenhagen, EU, green economy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, New Labour, news media, UK
The International Monetary Fund’s July World Economic Outlook report portrays the world economy shrinking in 2009 by 1.4% and growing though not strongly at 2.5% in 2010. This both reflects and buttresses a widely held view that at global level and in some countries and regions, the end of the worst of the recession is occurring or is in sight but that recovery will not be strong or quick enough to take this year’s overall economic results into the realm of growth. Moreover, some of the sharp variations in IMF projections from one quarter to the next, on which I commented in my 24 April post, have flattened out and there seems greater to be greater consistency, confidence and certainty than before. But underneath, a plethora of uncertainties remain. Continue reading
British politics is in one hell of a hole because of stupid abuse of a stupid set-up for covering the living expenses of Members of Parliament. The system was meant to augment MPs’ income because successive governments since the 1980s have been too gutless to agree to raise MPs’ pay in line with, for example, doctors. So the arrangement was always a piece of classic British hypocrisy and now it’s backfired into the fan. As the scandal and ridicule unfolds, though not all MPs are embroiled in it, the body as a whole is naturally obsessed by it and their real business suffers. Here are ten key problems Parliament should be talking about instead of staring up itself.
Posted in Climate change, Conflict & peace, Power, The economic crunch
Tagged banking reform, Copenhagen, finance sector, green economy, MPs' expenses, On the fiddle, Parliament, peace agreements, poverty, public service
Swine flu – what happened to it? Two to three weeks of seeming panic and suddenly silence descends. Panic over, then, but is that the same as saying problem over? And what does our news media’s cock-eyed treatment of swine flu tell us about what we can expect on other issues as serious and various as the economy, global warming, crime rates or risk of famine in parts of Africa? Continue reading
During this decade the number of routes flown by Ryanair has increased by over 1,000 per cent. It currently carries more international passengers than any other airline. It has outdone the old-fashioned subsidised national airlines. Its disciplined, no-frills approach to the mass market for air travel is a wealth generating emblem of our age. Its boss even welcomes the recession and looks forward to the company being strengthened by it. Just one thing: if you’re flying Ryanair, don’t throw up. Continue reading