Tuesday 30 December 2008

Getting a new perspective

A morning stroll through the interwebby thing is always refreshing (providing you stay away from all those nasty areas), and helps to give you a new perspective on things. This morning I took a stroll through a few economic attitudes. Here's a banana's-eye view of some interesting penny dainties:

Luxembourg is an interesting country economically, with a large banking sector and interesting taxation policies. Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker gave evidence to a European Parliament committee on the fourth of November, here's a snippet or three:
Some of those now leading calls for international regulatory reform had refused to consider the proposals put forward by the German presidency of the G8 as recently as 2007, he noted.

Who could he possibly be meaning?
He called for governments with budgetary room for manoeuvre to use fiscal measures to help the most vulnerable sections of society, and to give support to SMEs.

Remarkable! That's exactly what the SNP Scottish Government did ahead of the economic meltdown (cutting business rates for small businesses, freezing Council Tax, cutting prescription charges, and so on), and exactly counter to what the UK Labour Government has done (abolition of 10p rate, increasing corporation tax for small businesses, etc).
Mr Juncker, who argued that the cause of the crisis could be found in the "deregulatory frenzy" of recent years

He's right, you know. You can tell he's right because I've been saying the same thing.

In other news, back in April when the French Government first suggested bailing out the banks (you know, that idea that Brown claimed to be his - it's also noteworthy that Christine Lagarde, French Finance Minister, tried to persuade her friend, Mr Paulson, to bail out Lehman Brothers and avoid the crisis in confidence), there was this point made:
But a senior Sarkozy aide sought to dampen expectations, saying the French leader, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi are not "going to save the world."


With the German Government and the IMF also criticising the Labour Government, perhaps it's not just the French who think that Brown didn't save the world?

I'm rattling about in any case, so let's have a pop at Iain McMillan of CBI Scotland (and, of course, a fine, upstanding member of the Commission to Repaint Devolution). He's reported as saying
"The Scottish Government holds the key levers of power to deliver Scotland's long-term economic success and, thus far, has put in place some welcome measures for business and the economy.
"Business is looking favourably on those policies that will improve the performance of the Scottish economy over time - transport, planning, education, skills, business rates and regulation.
"We are also supportive of the measures taken to assist businesses in the short-term
during the economic downturn.
"But, the Scottish Government's support for business often appears to be only skin deep and ministers need to do much more in 2009 than they have to date to develop our economy for the long term and improve Scotland's reputation in the rest of the UK and internationally as an attractive place in which to do business."
To translate - The SNP Scottish Government has done more in a year and a half to support Scottish business than could have been expected by anyone but Mr McMillan wants to have a dig and so calls that support "skin deep" and says that the excellent performance so far has to be improved upon - but he doesn't give any indication of how he thinks it should be improved upon.

A true visionary. Let's have a look at what he said when the 2007 budget increased Corporation Tax to 22% for small businesses:
"The headline cut in corporation tax announced in the Budget should only be the first step to reducing that burden."
He was, of course, referring to the 2% cut in Corporation Tax for the largest and most profitable firms rather than the 3% increase in Corporation Tax for the smaller firms which have to keep close tabs on all costs to survive and which together constitute a significant part of the Scottish economy. Interestingly, he was at odds with CBI UK:
"Some big companies that for one reason or another don't pay much tax will lose out. So will small companies that don't invest much, and so will not be able to benefit from the new capital allowances."
The Federation of Small Businesses:
"On the face of it, the rise in the small companies rate is very disappointing for our members because it is addressing a problem that I don't think exists, which is the notion that people incorporate for tax reasons,"

Chambers of Commerce:
"This budget could be damaging for small and medium-sized business in the long term,"
"Whilst the chancellor has offered incentives for investment he has also increased the amount of tax that those covered by the small companies' rate have to pay by over £800m."

I suppose, looking at Labour's record, that we shouldn't be too surprised that the Labour Government will provide billions of pounds to bail out the banks but nothing for the victims of the Farepak collapse.

Social justice would appear to be an alien concept for the Labour Government.

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