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Updated 2017-12-16 18:31
David Cameron to lead £750m UK-China investment initiative
Former prime minister will take charge of £750m fund to improve transport links between China and its trading partnersDavid Cameron has taken a job leading a billion-dollar investment initiative agreed between the UK and China.
Household finances are worse since Brexit vote, says Bank of England
Study of over 6,000 households found an increase in people reporting high mortgage debt, repayment costs and rentsAlmost a decade of improvements in household finances has started to be unpicked in the year since the EU referendum, according to the Bank of England.Findings from a biannual study for Threadneedle Street of more than 6,000 UK households found an increase in people reporting high mortgage debt when considering their income, while there were also worrying increases in repayments and in costs for renters. Continue reading...
The Tories are savaging libraries – and closing the book on social mobility | John Harris
Since 2010, more than 478 libraries have closed in England, Wales and Scotland. It’s the old Tory con: talk up advancement, then attack the institutions that make it possibleIf they weren’t already here, we’d have to invent them: public spaces, crammed with books, computers and information points, where events and meetings regularly take place, and children in particular get an early taste of the world beyond their own immediate experience.Related: The UK no longer has a national public library system | Laura SwaffieldRelated: No one needs libraries any more? What rubbish | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett Continue reading...
Black Friday lifts UK retail sales despite income squeeze
Official data suggests shoppers are defying inflation increase, weak wage growth and slump in sterling since Brexit voteBlack Friday discounts encouraged British consumers to increase their spending on the high street and online in November, despite the most protracted squeeze on household income in memory.Officials at the Office for National Statistics said the American-inspired promotional event had helped drive a 1.1% increase in the number of goods bought last month compared with October, with sales of electrical household appliances making the biggest contribution to growth. City economists had forecast growth of 0.4%. Continue reading...
ECB hikes growth forecasts but admits losses on Steinhoff bonds - as it happened
All the day’s economic and financial news, as central bankers hold their final monetary policy meetings of 2017
Think our governments can no longer control capitalism? You’ve been duped | Larry Elliott
In reality there has been a class war, in which the right has spent decades using the state to undermine workers. We can fight backBlue Planet 2 demonstrated the terrifyingly fragile state of nature’s ecosystem. One of the key messages from the BBC series was that a delicate balance exists in the oceans between predators and prey. If there are too many predators, the stocks of prey fall. The predators go hungry and their numbers dwindle, allowing the prey to recover. Balance is restored.Related: Workers' rights are under threat across the world | Keith EwingTo the victors have gone the spoils: higher profits; lower personal tax rates; a higher share of national incomeRelated: Is the growth in living standards worse now than in the Great Depression? Continue reading...
Fall in employment rate spells end of UK jobs boom
Official figures reveal drop in number of people in work and pay rises lagging behind inflationBritain’s long jobs boom appears to have come to an end after official figures showed the number of people in work fell by 56,000 in the three months ending in October.The Office for National Statistics said an upswing that began in 2012, and persisted for a year after the vote to leave the EU, had petered out.The International Labour Organisation (ILO) jobless rate is a measure of unemployment adopted in a number of countries to reflect the state of the labour market. It is expressed in percentage terms, as a proportion of working-age people who are out of work but want a job and are actively looking for one. Continue reading...
Scottish jobless rise prompts calls for tax restraint
Business leaders call on government to rein in planned tax increases after figures show 32,000 fewer Scots in employmentThe Scottish government is facing renewed pressure from business leaders to temper its plans for income tax rises after the jobless total increased and inflation rates rose.
UK employment total drops, but pay growth picks up - as it happened
Economists warn that the UK labour market may have peaked, as the number of people in work falls for the second month running
World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas extraction
Bank announces in Paris it ‘will no longer finance upstream oil and gas’ after 2019 in response to threat posed by climate changeThe World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas extraction within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change.In a statement that delighted campaigners opposed to fossil fuels, the Bank used a conference in Paris to announce that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019.Related: Insurance giant Axa dumps investments in tar sands pipelinesRelated: Banks should disclose lending to companies with carbon-related risks, says report Continue reading...
Inflation rises to 3.1%, adding to UK cost of living squeeze
Dearer computer games, smaller than expected falls in airfares, plus rising food, transport and clothing costs spur rate to near six-year highThe government has admitted households are feeling the pain from rising inflation after the cost of living rose to a near six-year high of 3.1% in November.Amid fears that the intensifying pressure on living standards will hit high street spending in the runup to Christmas, the financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said 2018 would bring better news.Inflation is when prices rise. Deflation is the opposite – price decreases over time – but inflation is far more common.Related: North Sea pipeline closure 'could have significant impact on consumers' Continue reading...
UK faces Christmas squeeze as inflation hits 3.1%, outpacing wages – as it happend
Food, fuel, airline fares and recreational costs have driven the cost of living up at its fastest rate since March 2012
UK Christmas shoppers to spend record £4.2bn on food and drink
Friday 22 December on course to be biggest ever shopping day for food and drink as families stock up for Christmas DayShoppers in the UK will spend a record £4.2bn on food and drink in the final week before Christmas, shrugging off higher prices caused by the fall in the value of the pound since the EU referendum.
No-deal Brexit will cost everyone in UK £1,585, says US thinktank
Rand Corporation study finds that under even the softest Brexit scenario, Britain will be worse off than under ‘no-Brexit’A no-deal Brexit would take 4.7% out of UK economy over 10 years, costing the UK £105bn and each member of the population £1,585, research by a US thinktank has found.Staying in the single market and customs union Continue reading...
UK jobs boom is petering out, claims employers' survey
Manpower poll shows hiring staff is flatlining in London and depicts firms as the least confident for five years about taking on new workersBritain’s employers are the most pessimistic about hiring staff than at any time in five years, underscoring fears over the number of new jobs available as the country prepares to leave the EU.A poll of 2,102 employers across nine different industry sectors found a net balance of just 4% were planning to increase staff levels rather than make cuts in the final months of the year.Related: UK employment falls for first time since aftermath of Brexit voteProductivity is an economic measure of the efficiency of a workforce. It typically measures the level of output per hour of work, or per worker. Continue reading...
NHS trust will greatly miss Bob Kerslake | Letters
It is a sad day for the NHS and for King’s patients when someone of his calibre feels they have no alternative but to throw in the towel, writes Andrew McCallYour report on Lord Kerslake’s resignation as chair of King’s College Hospital, London (Head of top NHS trust quits over cash squeeze, 11 December) finishes with a statement from NHS Improvement saying “We will replace him with a highly experienced chair to take charge of the trust’s position”.This is an inaccuracy. Under the constitution of foundation trusts, it is for the trust to select and appoint their chair, who is an independent director. I assume that, as usual, King’s nominations committee will soon start the process of appointing a new chair. But I know that we will struggle to find one so skilled, so experienced, or so dedicated as Bob Kerslake. Continue reading...
The Guardian view on NHS funding: hospitals are hurting | Editorial
Lord Kerslake is a big beast in the public sector. His resignation from the hospital trust he chaired ought not to be dismissed as a face-saving exercise. The Treasury is imposing a brutal decline on resources for healthcareBob Kerslake has been a big figure in public service for most of the past 20 years. He was a successful chief executive of Sheffield city council, before he was enticed to Whitehall where he became permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and for a time head of the civil service. In 2014 he left Whitehall to run King’s College hospital foundation trust in south London, and in 2015 he was made a member of the House of Lords. His public image is of a combative man who is not afraid to speak his mind and who is passionate about public service. It is little surprise that the opposition have sought his advice.On Sunday night, Lord Kerslake announced in these pages that he was resigning from King’s in protest at what he called – correctly – the failure of government to face up to the depth of underfunding in the health service. Such a high-profile resignation by a well-respected figure is profoundly embarrassing, and he correctly anticipated a counter-attack. On Monday morning it was widely reported that he was expecting to be asked to step down by NHS Improvement, the regulator created by the Conservatives to monitors trusts’ financial management, because King’s is spending way over its budget, and has been since before he took over. King’s is now a hospital in special measures, adding to the impression that Lord Kerslake jumped before he was pushed. Continue reading...
Economic gap across Irish border 'set to widen' as Brexit looms
Report says uncertainty and breakdown of Northern Ireland’s assembly will increase disparity between north and southThe gap in fortunes between the economies of Northern Ireland and Ireland will increase in the next two years as Brexit looms, according to a new report published in Dublin.Consultancy EY predicts 144,000 new jobs will be created across the entire island of Ireland between 2017 and 2020. However, the vast majority, 138,500, will be in the republic – the population of which is more than twice the size of its neighbour – with just 5,800 jobs in Northern Ireland, said EY.Counties and customs Continue reading...
How far will Trump go to keep his core supporters on his side? | Nouriel Roubini
He has sold out the blue-collar voters who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocratsDonald Trump won the US presidency with the backing of working-class and socially conservative white voters on a populist platform of economic nationalism. Trump rejected the Republican party’s traditional pro-business, pro-trade agenda, and, like Bernie Sanders on the left, appealed to Americans who have been harmed by disruptive technologies and “globalist” policies promoting free trade and migration.But while Trump ran as a populist, he has governed as a plutocrat, most recently by endorsing the discredited supply-side theory of taxation that most Republicans still cling to. Trump also ran as someone who would “drain the swamp” in Washington DC and on Wall Street. Yet he has stacked his administration with billionaires (not just millionaires) and Goldman Sachs alumni, while letting the swamp of business lobbyists rise higher than ever. Continue reading...
Outside the EU, Britain should be an evangelist for world trade | Liam Fox
Brexit gives us the chance to reshape Britain’s role on the global stage. We should champion the poverty-busting power of rules-based trade
UK business investment on ice until more Brexit progress, warns BCC
With rate rise expected to remain on hold this week, British Chambers of Commerce urges ministers to finalise transitional dealBritain’s biggest businesses are warning the economy will remain in the slow lane, as uncertainty from Brexit puts their investment plans on ice despite progress with Brussels.The interjection by British Chambers of Commerce comes before a meeting of Bank of England’s rate-setting committee this week. The BCC have told ministers they now need to finalise a transitional deal to smooth the Brexit process before firms will increase spending on staff and production capacity, despite the breakthrough last week that moved talks with the rest of the EU on to trade.What are Brexit options now? The four scenariosRelated: Business leaders urge government to create productivity watchdog Continue reading...
Labour could move parts of Bank of England to Birmingham
Report launched by John McDonnell says Bank needs to help hi-tech firms and tackle regional inequalityParts of the Bank of England could be moved out of London to Birmingham under Labour plans to push investment into other parts of the UK.The radical plan threatens the historic association of the Bank with Threadneedle Street in the City of London, where it has been based since 1734. The recommendation is part of an interim report into the UK’s financial system, led by the economist Graham Turner of GFC Economics and launched by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. Continue reading...
Chancellor faces attempt by MPs to vote down budget
Labour objects to finance bill over tax cut to banks and Stella Creasy demands data on how measures affect womenPhilip Hammond will face attempts to vote down his budget at the first hurdle on Monday on the grounds that tax cuts for big banks must be stopped and all policies should be subject to a gender audit to show how it affects women.Labour will object to the finance bill at second reading mainly on the grounds that cuts to the bank levy costing £4.7bn should be reversed to finance children’s services.Related: ‘Ladydata’ could help solve gender inequalities | Stella Creasy Continue reading...
Attacks on McDonnell a sign Tories know stance on borrowing is defunct | Larry Elliott
Obsession with debt reduction has been disastrous and arguments against a borrow-to-invest approach no longer pass musterRarely has a chancellor had to publish economic forecasts as downbeat as those in last month’s budget, but so far the political fallout has been minimal. Philip Hammond has had a good couple of weeks.That is partly explained by the focus on other matters, such as the investigation into Damian Green and, of course, Brexit. An added bonus for Hammond is that the post-budget attention has not been on him but on John McDonnell, his Labour shadow. Continue reading...
Kansas's ravaged economy a cautionary tale as Trump plans huge tax cuts for rich
Kansas slashed taxes at the top to try to spur growth – but the plan crippled the state’s finances and proved disastrous for its Republican governorIs Donald Trump about to turn America into Kansas? It’s a question some worried people who live in the state are asking as the Republican party pushes through the biggest tax overhaul in a generation – an overhaul that, they claim, bears an uncanny resemblance to a tax plan that left their midwestern home in disarray.After a failed economic experiment meant to boost economic growth blew a hole in the Kansas budget as big as a prairie sky (a $350m deficit in the current fiscal year and nearly $600m in the next) state jobs and services have been slashed.Related: 'We are a cautionary tale': Kansas feels the pain of massive Trump-style tax cuts Continue reading...
As corporate goliaths grow ever larger, Britain looks increasingly exposed | Will Hutton
A handful of companies now wields massive global power. Outside the EU, we will be their preyWe live in a world of corporate goliaths and the trend to gigantism is accelerating. The new era of hi-tech data capitalism has an embedded proclivity to monopoly. The bigger the network, whether Facebook or Google, the more valuable it is to be connected. Big is good in the digital universe, while even bigger is better.Meanwhile, analogue capitalism, confronted by the challenge of the new, is reacting by consolidating and merging into ever larger entities. Unless they do, comes the reply to any challenge from national competition authorities, they won’t have the heft and scale to meet the new competition. Increasingly, we are surrounded by the most awesome concentration of corporate power in the history of capitalism. In every industry, reported the Obama administration last year, the market power of the biggest companies has been growing and mark-ups and profit margins with them. America’s era of the robber barons in the late 19th century had nothing on this. Continue reading...
Low skills, low pay: that’s really why Brexit campaigners want to be out
Hard Brexit is still a clear prospect: and while leftwing and centrist Leavers may see new futures, the right has always envisaged a return to 70s BritainA hard Brexit is still on the cards despite the cheers of business leaders for Theresa May’s fudged deal on the Irish border, concessions on EU citizens’ rights and the rise in the exit fee from £20bn to nearer £50bn.It’s easy to see how phrases like “regulatory alignment”, when coupled with a two-year transition period, could be welcomed by corporations as offering the prospect of a soft Brexit. Another reason would be the flailing of Nigel Farage and his fellow Brexiter Gisela Stuart as they accuse May of signing just about as bad a deal as they could imagine. Continue reading...
Five reasons the US job market is not as rosy as it looks | Dominic Rushe
On the face of it, the US job market appears in rude health, with unemployment at a 17-year-low. But look beyond the headlines, and it’s not all milk and honeyUnemployment in the US is now at a 17-year low, having grown for 86 months in a row since the Great Recession. Hiring did grind to a halt in September after hurricanes Harvey and Irma tore through Florida and Texas, disrupting some of the country’s most economically important areas.But on Friday, the economy appeared to have shaken off the slump that followed in their wake, adding 228,000 new jobs in November according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beneath the surface, however, there are still some deep scars and structural problems remaining in the labor market. Continue reading...
Car makers drive longest period of manufacturing growth in UK since 1994
Auto exports and pharma output soar, but mining, energy and construction drag down total industrial production, says ONSBritain’s car factories are helping drive the country’s manufacturing production to its longest period of growth in more than 20 years, according to government figures.The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said cars made for export and a bumper month for pharmaceutical firms helped output grow for the sixth month in a row in October – the longest unbroken period of manufacturing growth since 1994. Continue reading...
Bitcoin surges over $15,000 despite 'Dante's Inferno' warning – as it happened
Royal Bank of Scotland’s chairman says central bankers should hang an ‘abandon hope’ warning over bitcoin
Leave campaigners warn May against 'regulatory alignment' with EU
Gisela Stuart of Change Britain says move aimed at solving Irish border issue in Brexit talks would be ‘completely unacceptable’A pressure group linked to the former Vote Leave campaign has warned Theresa May that signing up to regulatory alignment with the EU to solve the Irish border problem will not allow Britain to “take back control” from Brussels.Change Britain, which was launched last year with the backing of the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the environment secretary, Michael Gove, made clear its belief that such a move would fail to respect the mandate of the referendum result. Continue reading...
Amazon is running its own hunger games – and all the players will be losers | Jathan Sadowski and Karen Gregory
US cities are selling their souls to be the company’s second HQ site. It’s part of the techno-capitalist takeover of cities, ultimately funded by ordinary citizensAmazon, the online retail giant, is in the midst of running its own hunger games. The contestants are 238 cities and regions across North America. The prize is being chosen as the site for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2), which promises to employ upwards of 50,000 people. These cities are locked in a fierce battle to outbid each other and they’ll do anything, give anything, to be chosen.In an era of brutal austerity, cities are hollowed out and hoping for a savior. Since the tech sector is flush with cash, by showing up and saying the magic words – growth, jobs, investment, innovation – city leaders bend to their will. Amazon’s HQ2 competition is the latest egregious example of a techno-capitalist regime that’s bewitching cities around the world.Related: Bids are in for Amazon's HQ2. Now the contest begins – but will it be worth it?Related: Amazon wants goodies and tax breaks to move its HQ to your city. Say no thanks | Noam Maggor Continue reading...
Hammond suggests disabled workers to blame for sluggish economy – video
The chancellor appears in front of the Treasury select committee to answer questions on the November budget and says 'high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people' may be one of the factors keeping down UK productivity levels
Don’t let the Tories fool you: we must borrow to invest | Owen Jones
There will be a rightwing backlash against Labour’s strategy for reviving the economy, but it is clearly the right approachHere is a story about how crude dogma and a factually baseless political attack line are wrecking the country’s future. Britain desperately needs investment, and with interest rates this low it would be economic madness not to borrow to fund it.Even a Conservative cabinet minister such as Sajid Javid has broken ranks to demand £50bn of borrowing to solve the housing crisisRelated: George Osborne wants money to fight the poverty he caused? He has no shame | Polly Toynbee Continue reading...
China's debt levels pose stability risk, says IMF
Health check of financial system says reforms have not gone far enough and notes similarities to US before 2008 crisisFears that China risks being the cause of a fresh global financial crisis have been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund in a hard-hitting warning about the growing debt-dependency of the world’s second biggest economy.The IMF’s health check of China’s financial system found that credit was high by international levels, that personal debt had increased in the past five years, and that the pressure to maintain the country’s rapid growth had bred an unwillingness to let struggling firms fail.Related: IMF warns China over 'dangerous' growth in debtRelated: Adani coalmine project: China Construction Bank won't grant loan, PR firm says Continue reading...
Philip Hammond causes storm with remarks about disabled workers
Disability charity Scope and others call for chancellor to withdraw his comments implying disabled people are to blame for sluggish economyDisability charity Scope called on Philip Hammond to withdraw his “totally unacceptable and derogatory comments” after he said Britain’s sluggish productivity could partly be blamed on more disabled people in the workforce .In Wednesday’s treasury select committee, the chancellor was asked about low economic productivity levels, which he had reported during the autumn Budget last month.Related: 'No unemployed' gaffe adds to budget pressure on Philip HammondPretty shocked actually https://t.co/Z2fUrlwjE9Shocking that Philip Hammond is trying to blame disabled people for low productivity! Disabled people contribute enormously and disability employment gap has barely changed since productivity started to stall. Disgusting scapegoating! https://t.co/1BpOF4i0nf Continue reading...
Debt-based economy is real cause of our fixation on GDP | Letters
A debt-based economy cannot survive if it does not keep growing, writes David Ashton. While Maurice Vassie says that the UK should follow the Swedish model and learn to repair our possessions instead of discarding themCaroline Lucas (Letters, 2 December), is right about the need to have a more sustainable and people-friendly measure of our wellbeing. However, it is vital to understand why there is the fixation on GDP and economic growth in the first place. Ninety-seven per cent of all money circulating is borrowed and a debt-based economy cannot survive if it does not keep growing in order to service the interest on the debt. The economists at Positive Money among others have been working hard to raise awareness of how our money is created, the consequences of its creation by private banks and what the alternatives are. Coming from a similar perspective, the economist Joseph Huber has just written a new book entitled Sovereign Money: beyond reserve banking, which explains the workings of the current system, gives insights in the roots of the financial crisis and brings new solutions on how to fix a broken financial system.The pursuit of economic growth at all costs is driving planetary destruction and creating untold misery for huge numbers of people. However, policies to try to fix climate change, pollution, austerity, poverty and a host of other problems, which do not address the fundamental issue of the debt-based economy and its need for economic growth, are doomed to fail.
Markets edgy on geopolitical worries, but bitcoin surges through $12,000 - as it happened
Worries over Brexit, US tax reforms and the debt ceiling are all weighing on shares today
David Davis is bluffing on Brexit. And now it’s clear for all to see | Rafael Behr
The secretary of state’s blustering over the impact assessments reveals one thing: the whole of the government’s Brexit strategy is built on lies and obfuscationIt called to mind Bill Clinton’s sublimely evasive remark when questioned about the veracity of statements he had made about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” said the president. David Davis, when asked by a House of Commons committee to explain why he had failed to provide anything adequately resembling the Brexit impact assessments that had been demanded by parliament fell back on an extraordinarily devious defence. There are no “impact assessments” and never had been.The secretary of state did not deploy air quotes in his testimony but the implied inverted commas carried the full weight of his argument. It was, in essence, that MPs had voted to insist on the provision of something that didn’t exist and so there was no real need to question whether or not he had complied.Related: MPs feared a David Davis cover-up. Worse, he had nothing to hideRelated: Sector-by-sector Brexit impact forecasts do not exist, says David Davis Continue reading...
MPs feared a David Davis cover-up. Worse, he had nothing to hide
The select committee worried that the government wanted to conceal alarming Brexit plans. But there were no plans at allWith its Brexit strategy hurtling off the rails, this could have been a timely moment for the government to reassure parliament about the existence of a well thought-out plan B.Instead MPs were invited to take a leap of faith on Wednesday when the Brexit select committee asked David Davis to explain what had been done to assess the impact on British business of abruptly leaving the EU.Related: Theresa May finally gets DUP's Arlene Foster on the phoneRelated: David Davis says government has not assessed impact of Brexit for different sections of economy - Politics live Continue reading...
A civilised society supports people in need, but our brutal system shatters lives | Aditya Chakrabortty
Simon’s story is a tale of 21st-century Britain. He worked, he cared for his mother, he played by the rules. But when he fell, there was no safety netSimon’s death certificate tidies away his life in a few terse official phrases. Date of death: 12 November 2017. Causes: “a) Fatty liver” and “b) Alcohol misuse”. No bureaucratic curiosity about how a 51-year-old’s life came to be cut so short.Which leaves his only brother, Dave, dealing with the grief and asking all the whys. Why did Simon die so young? Why did no one else try to help?Yet there are so many people like Simon, all surplus to requirements of this shrunken economyRelated: The Guardian view on the austerity budgets: end the social and economic failure | Editorial Continue reading...
Sewing machines still wanted in Africa | Brief letters
Tools for Self Reliance | Ernest Marples | UK factory orders | Babies beneath the hedges | Labour poll leadI was very interested to read (Letters, 25 November) of the project started by Irene Owens to send sewing machines to Zimbabwe. I wonder if she knows about the charity Tools for Self Reliance? TFSR has groups of volunteers in many parts of the UK. They collect and repair hand tools, which are shipped to a number of African countries. They are particularly keen to accept donations of manual sewing machines. A visit to their website, www.tfsr.org, will enable anyone wishing to donate sewing machines to contact the charity to find their nearest collection point. Hopefully in this way Irene Owen’s project can continue to help many more African families to start a small business sufficient to feed and educate their children.
OECD: UK has lowest state pension of any developed country
British workers receive just 29% of their previous earnings, although private pensions bring figure up to near averageBritain’s workers can look forward to the worst state pension of any major country, according to a report by the developed world’s leading economic thinktank.The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study calculated that a typical British worker will at retirement receive a state pension and other benefits worth around 29% of what they had previously been earning. That compares with an average of 63% in other OECD countries, and more than 80% in Italy and the Netherlands. Continue reading...
UK car sales fall for 8th month running; anger over rail fares rise – as it happened
The slowdown in Britain’s auto industry has continued, as rising inflation and anxiety over diesel hits sales
Landowners reap benefits of soaring British land prices
UK’s net worth rose by £803bn over the course of last year to stand at £9.8tn at the end of 2016, says ONSBritain’s landowners have emerged as the biggest winners from the country’s largest yearly increase in national wealth on record, sitting on assets accounting for more than half of the net worth of nearly £10tn.The UK’s wealth rose by £803bn over the course of last year to stand at £9.8tn at the end of 2016, driven by a sharp increase in the value of land, contributing to the biggest annual rise since records began in 1995, according to the Office for National Statistics.Related: Tony Blair backs Labour’s ‘land value tax’ to tackle housing crisis Continue reading...
Gender equality should be at the heart of all policy | Jane Dudman
The OECD wants all countries to think about how policies will impact on women. Let’s take our cue from Sweden, where even snow-clearing considers genderWhen people think of gender equality, they probably don’t immediately think of snow. But the small Swedish city of Karlskoga did just that, when, five years ago, the city reviewed the way it cleared its streets.Related: UK gender inequality as bad as 10 years ago, EU league table showsSince 2010, the UK government’s austerity policies, including welfare cuts, have impacted massively on women Continue reading...
Globalisation: time to look at the past to plot the future | Joseph Stiglitz
Trade deals were hammered out in secret by multinationals at the expense of workers and citizens. Benefits must be shared if the global economy is to workFifteen years ago, I published Globalisation and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalisation within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was rigged against them, and global trade agreements were singled out for being particularly unfair.Now discontent with globalisation has fuelled a wave of populism in the US and other advanced economies, led by politicians who claim that the system is unfair to their countries. In the US, President Donald Trump insists that America’s trade negotiators were snookered by those from Mexico and China.
UK consumers face sharpest price rise in services for nearly a decade
Companies such as hotels and restaurants, IT and financial firms blamed weak pound since the Brexit vote for forcing up pricesConsumers face the sharpest increase in prices charged by services firms in almost a decade, according to a survey, as a range of businesses from hotels to IT companies seek to protect profits against rising costs since the EU referendum.According to a survey from the data firm IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips), companies in the services industries – such as hotels and restaurants, IT, financial services, transport and communications – blamed the weak pound since the Brexit vote for forcing them to drive up prices in November at the fastest pace since February 2008. That was the the second-fastest rise seen since the survey began in 1996.The purchasing managers' indices, or PMIs, track services sector companies, manufacturers and building firms around the world. Continue reading...
In rejecting this EU deal, the DUP has sold Northern Ireland down the river | Brian Lucey
The solution would have boosted the North’s economy by allowing it to remain economically part of the EU. The DUP has sacrificed its voters’ interestsSo to the legions of experts required to make any sense of Northern Ireland we may now need to add lexicographers or semioticians. Where does the line, the border as it were, blur between regulatory “non-divergence” and “convergence” and “alignment”?The EU-UK draft agreement that was on the table on Monday, suggests that, in all but name, Northern Ireland would have remained a part of the EU. Achieving the UK government’s agreement on this was a truly momentous achievement for Irish prime minister Leo Varadker, derided by the Brexiter ultras as being naive and out of his depth. This has been an international-relations baptism of fire, it is true, but he has come through unscathed. That the British government withdrew its own proposal was, to borrow a phrase once used by the former taoiseach Charles Haughey, “grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented”. It is now unclear that it will be back on the table, which is a pity as it had the great merit of ambiguity. But the proposal also throws up as many questions as it answers – nothing new in the context of either Northern Ireland or the EU’s dealings with crises.Related: Theresa May seeks to rescue Brexit deal as Dublin says it won't back down - Politics liveCounties and customsRelated: Theresa May must call the DUP’s bluff – this EU deal has to happen | Simon Jenkins Continue reading...
How Neolithic farming sowed the seeds of modern inequality 10,000 years ago
The prehistoric shift towards cultivation began our preoccupation with hierarchy and growth – and even changed how we perceive the passage of timeMost people regard hierarchy in human societies as inevitable, a natural part of who we are. Yet this belief contradicts much of the 200,000-year history of Homo sapiens.In fact, our ancestors have for the most part been “fiercely egalitarian”, intolerant of any form of inequality. While hunter-gatherers accepted that people had different skills, abilities and attributes, they aggressively rejected efforts to institutionalise them into any form of hierarchy.Related: Why 'Bushman banter' was crucial to hunter-gatherers' evolutionary successFarming-based societies created economies of hope and aspiration, in which we focus almost unerringly on the futureRelated: The Inequality Project: the Guardian's in-depth look at our unequal world Continue reading...
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