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inequality and the troika March 19, 2014

Posted by Bradley in : inequality , add a comment

Last week the European Parliament adopted a highly critical resolution on Employment and social aspects of the role and operations of the Troika (a resolution based in part on input from people affected by the policies in question). For example the resolution regrets:

that the conditionality imposed in return for the financial assistance has threatened the EU’s social objectives for several reasons: the EU was ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the problems that arose, not least the immense sovereign debt crisis, a situation that demanded an immediate response in order to avoid bankruptcy; while the programmes are of specific duration, a number of the measures stipulated under these programmes shouldn’t have been long-term in nature; the measures are particularly burdensome, mainly because the worsening of the economic and social situation was not noticed in time, because little time was allowed to implement them, and because proper impact assessments were not made of their distributional impact on different groups of society; despite appeals by the Commission, EU funds left over from 2007-2013 framework have not been used in a prompt manner; the measures could have been accompanied by better efforts to protect vulnerable groups, such as measures to prevent high levels of poverty, deprivation and health inequalities resulting from the fact that low income groups are especially dependant on public health systems

Ironically, on the same day the IMF Survey Magazine contained an article with the title Sound Policy Design: the Efficient Way to Cut Inequality which cited the IMF’s recent staff discussion Redistribution, Inequality,
and Growth
and policy paper on Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality. This work suggests that inequality was a factor which contributed to the onset of the crisis. But, as the European Parliament points out, the IMF’s responses to the crisis have also exacerbated inequality in the “rescued” countries.

cameron on benn March 14, 2014

Posted by Bradley in : britishness , add a comment

Here is the rather ungenerous reaction:

I am sorry to hear that Tony Benn has died. He was a magnificent writer, speaker, diarist and campaigner, with a strong record of public and political service. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even when you disagreed with everything he said

Is that really all he could think of to say? He might as well not have bothered. A magnificent writer? From the Guardian here’s part of what Shami Chakrabarti said:

In an age of spin, he was solid, a signpost and not a weathervane.

Nick Robinson writes that he was “one of the biggest political personalities this country has ever seen.”

Update: Tony Benn to become only the second politician (the other being Margaret Thatcher) to rest in Westminster chapel after request from speaker.

market manipulation and sports March 6, 2014

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

The UK Treasury has published a news release with the title LIBOR funds to support first Invictus Games in London (details of other payments from the fund to support armed-forces related projects can be seen here). According to the press release the Chancellor said:

I am pleased that we have been able to support the very first Invictus Games in London using the LIBOR fund. We’re using money raised from fines on those who demonstrated the very worst of values to support the very best of values, injured service personnel from around the world. This landmark event will be a real inspiration for future generations.

I have never really understood the rationale for applying these funds in this way. It seems to me that the Government has an obligation to support the armed forces in all sorts of ways and that relying on the happenstance of funds derived from fraud is not the way to go about providing the support. Then again, linking the two quite separate things almost makes it sound as though it was a good thing that people manipulated Libor over many years. What will the UK Government fund with proceeds from the investigations into manipulation in the foreign exchange market, I wonder? Early childhood education? Food banks? The dredging of canals? From this perspective we could say we need more fraud to help more people. But that can’t be right, can it?