The Tragedy of Austerity

 Debate, Labour  Comments Off on The Tragedy of Austerity
Aug 042013

There’s a very good book by David Stuckler & Sanjay Basu ‘The Body Economic – Why Austerity Kills‘. Rather than attacking the problems of the Great Recession from a business or a moral point of view, the authors instead drawn on their expertise as healthcare statistical analysis experts. They provide examples of different recessions at different points in recent economic history and compare the impact of austerity policies on the health of the people who are affected by them. Russia as a post-Soviet experiment when it attempted to ‘Shock’ capitalism into the former state controlled economic system. Thailand following the Asian Economic Crisis of the 1990s, and America, Europe and Iceland following the great crash of 2008.

They come to a pretty stark conclusion, that “Ultimately austerity has failed because it is unsupported by sound logic or data. It is an economic ideology. It stems from the belief that small government and free markets are always better than state intervention. It is a socially constructed myth – a convenient belief among politicians taken advantage of by those who have a vested interest in shrinking the role of the state, in privitising social welfare systems for personal gain. It does great harm – punishing the most vulnerable, rather than those who caused recession”.

Read this book and then ask yourself how social democrats in the United Kingdom can better challenge the austerity-nutters who are running the British economy and ripping-up our social provision, and leaving more people to fend for themselves.

Are You Really in the Middle?

 Debate, Labour  Comments Off on Are You Really in the Middle?
Jul 272012

wpid-wpid-graph.php-2012-07-27-01-09-2012-07-27-01-09.pngHere’s a really handy website from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, that can work out for you where you sit on the income distribution scale. Are you a high-earner, or are you low-paid? Just how rich are you? According to the IFS

“When asked this question, most people think they are in the middle. From people in the poorest third of the income distribution, up to people in the richest five or ten per cent, many will happily report that they think they’re in the middle. Obviously, not everyone can be in the middle and IFS has used the latest data on household incomes to give you an accurate picture of where you actually are in the distribution.“Where do you fit in?” is a simple tool that lets you know your position in the income distribution and can be accessed online here or downloaded as an iPhone App.”

“Rogue Traders No Better Than Barrow Boys”

 Debate, Labour  Comments Off on “Rogue Traders No Better Than Barrow Boys”
Jun 282012

Rogue Trading?

Barclays Bank has received a record fine after trying to fix key interest rates. According to The Independent “Investigators from the US and the UK discovered that Barclays traders routinely manipulated one of the world’s most important interest rates, affecting everything from mortgage rates to the value of complex financial derivatives, all in the hope of increasing their trading profits and their own yearly bonuses.”

The Daily Mail reports that a series of emails examined by the Financial Services Authority “show how bonus-hungry traders promised each other bottles of Bollinger champagne to fix the figures that affect millions of homeowners and small firms.”
The Telegraph highlights the record fine handed out to Barclays Bank which was “fined a record £290 million for repeatedly distorting basic financial data which are used to set interest rates on millions of loans and other transactions around the world.”

At a time when many ordinary families and business are struggling, to find that the market has been rigged in this way is appalling. It’s time for a Royal Commission into Banking Practice to get to the bottom of this shady industry.