The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
It is possible to forgive it as a congenital trait. After all, his Dad, the genial George Romney, successful head of the American Motor Corp and governor of Michigan (1963-69), lost his bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1968 by setting a world record for the mass manufacture of gaffes. He had such a penchant for saying one thing and then retracting it, the reporter Jack Germond announced he was fixing his keyboard so that one keystroke produced “Romney later explained…” It was charming for a time to hear what George had said lately, but when he came back from a look at the Vietnam War, he announced he’d had “the greatest brainwashing anyone could get.” His rival Eugene McCarthy cracked that a light rinse would have been enough to relieve George’s neurological condition, but this time George had gone a gaffe too far. Some American prisoners released by the Chinese had renounced their U.S. citizenship, saying they’d been brainwashed, and primary voters had no enthusiasm for electing a president who might turn out to have been the Manchurian candidate. So we got Nixon and Agnew instead. Thanks, George.
Mitt was on a similar jag through the nomination process. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me… My wife drives a couple of Cadillacs… I’m not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net…” Men and women who’ve been looking for work for a year are supposed to appreciate the irony when he opens up: “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.”
It’s tough getting through the Great Recession when your net worth is just a few hundred million. Mitt doesn’t understand why there should be an intake of breath across the continent when in a televised debate argument about a healthcare detail with Republican Governor Rick Perry he says: “I’ll tell you what, ten thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?” His attempt to cozy up to followers of Nascar races is: “I have some friends who are Nascar owners.” Arriving in Britain for the Olympics, of course, his tin ear wins a tin medal for finding the organization “disconcerting.”
These gaffes have been seen as evidence of the insensitivity of a man who inhabits a parallel world, embarrassments all round rather than manifestations of ineptitude disqualifying him from high office. He undoubtedly has the managerial competence for that. For all the left's demonization of Mitt’s venture capital company, Bain, he showed he could chart a future for dying companies and create a thriving new one (like the Staples stationery chain) just as he turned a corrupt shambles of the Utah Winter Olympics into a showcase. He will never be the president who can figure out bipartisan deals with the opposition, as Reagan did regularly over drinks with his “old buddy” Speaker Tip O’Neill (neither can Obama). Nor will he be a bumbling Warren Harding, captive of corrupt, whisky-sodden cronies. Mitt is squeaky clean. And it can fairly be said that while Obama is a very likable president who inherited a financial catastrophe, he has not exactly excelled as a Reagan-style rejuvenator. He gave priority to Obamacare over jobs, failed to retain convincing economic counsel and unwisely delegated his vital stimulus package to a pork-barrel Congress. He is seen more now as a caretaker of decline, rather than a healer of the planet, a pacifier of the oceans.
–Ben Stepney is a solicitor in the Employment Team at Thomson Snell & Passmore.–
The most significant of Business Secretary Vince Cable’s 14th Septmeber proposals as part of the government’s Employment Law Review is the dropping of “no fault dismissals”, as proposed by Adrian Beecroft in his government commissioned report. This would have enabled small businesses to bypass the unfair dismissal rules by making a relatively modest compensation payment to the employee, which could have seriously undermined the relationship of trust and confidence necessary for an effective employment relationship, as employees would know that they could lose their job at a moment’s notice without the employer being required to have a valid reason for doing so.
–By Oliver Smith, Media Lawyer at Keystone Law. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Whilst suing magazines after publication may look like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, in seeking an injunction against Closer, The Duchess of Cambridge may be taking the view that she wants to make the publication process as expensive as possible in terms of legal costs and damages in order to deprive the magazines of their profit incentive in the future. However this is unlikely to work in countries where the profits can vastly exceed any damages, such as France.
from Lawrence Summers:
It is the mark of science and perhaps rational thought more generally to operate with a falsifiable understanding of how the world operates. And so it is fair to ask of the economists a fundamental question: What could happen going forward that would cause you to substantially revise your views of how the economy operates and to acknowledge that the model you had been using was substantially flawed? As a vigorous advocate of fiscal expansion as an appropriate response to a major economic slump in an economy with zero or near-zero interest rates, I have for the last several years suggested that if the British economy – with its major attempts at fiscal consolidation – were to enjoy a rapid recovery, it would force me to substantially revise my views about fiscal policy and the workings of the macroeconomy more generally.
Unfortunately for the British economy, nothing in the record of the last several years compels me to revise my views. British economic growth post-crisis has lagged substantially behind U.S. growth, and the gap is growing. British GDP has not yet returned to its pre-crisis level and is more than 10 percent below what would have been predicted on the basis of the pre-crisis trend. The cumulative output loss from this British downturn in its first five years exceeds even that experienced during the Depression of the 1930s. And forecasts continue to be revised downward, with a decade or more of Japan-style stagnation now emerging as a real possibility on the current course.
from The Great Debate:
(The views expressed by former British prime minister Gordon Brown are the author's own and not those of Reuters)
The good news is that Europe is no longer going the way of Greece. The sad news is that it is threatening to go the way of Japan.
from The Great Debate:
Two days after the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, protesters continue to mass outside of U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen. The protesters are apparently reacting to a low budget, anti-Muslim video made by Americans that was distributed in a trailer-like segment on YouTube. The murder of Stevens and three of his aides in Libya seems to be the work of a paramilitary group using the protests for cover. That group may or may not be affiliated with al Qaeda.
In the West, this all sadly reads as another example of Islam proving unable to deal with the consequences of free speech. It recalls the threats surrounding the publication of Mohammad in a political cartoon in a Danish newspaper, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theodoor van Gogh and the late 1980s fatwa (death sentence) decreed by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini against the novelist Salman Rushdie. The strictest adherents to Islam will tolerate no heresy, even from outsiders. Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Europe, prevailing law largely gives individuals the right to be as offensive as they want.
from The Great Debate:
A lie wrapped in an apology is still a lie. It is a big lie, a particularly offensive lie, coming as it does from the German company Chemie Grünenthal responsible for inflicting its notorious drug thalidomide on hundreds of thousands of women in 52 countries. Some 90,000 babies are calculated to have died in spontaneous abortion, but at least 10,000 mothers are known to have given birth to malformed babies between 1958 and 1961; the most damaged survive today as limbless trunks, others whose legs and arms were reduced to digital “flipper” extrusions from the shoulder, and thousands have severe internal injuries as well.
Grünenthal (now GmbH) was a small private company set up after World War Two as an offshoot of an old family firm that made soaps and detergents. Its first pharmaceuticals were produced under foreign license, but thalidomide (which it called Contergan) was its own, a sedative discovered by accident in the spring of 1954 by a 32-year-old chemist and doctor, Heinrich Mückter. To exploit the postwar sleeping-pill boom, Grünenthal marketed it massively from October 1957 as “completely safe,” “completely atoxic,” and free of the unpleasant side effects of barbiturates. The sales department called it “the apple of our eye” because it was so profitable. From 1958 to 1961 they zeroed in on promoting it for use by expectant mothers.
–Andrew Hammond is an Associate Partner at ReputationInc, and was formerly a UK Government Special Adviser, and Senior Consultant at Oxford Analytica. The opinions expressed are his own.–
With the Paralympics now concluded, the curtain has come down on a remarkable London 2012 and Diamond Jubilee Summer that has more than delivered on the “like no other” tagline given to it. Now, significant, urgent effort is required so that the once-in-a-generation opportunity for meaningful economic and reputational legacy is not lost – we need an ‘Economics Team GB’.
The government’s latest plan to boost growth by relaxing planning permission rules has attracted a mixed reaction. In fairness, allowing homeowners who have detached houses to build an 8 metre long-extension is never going to get the UK economy out of the bolt hole it has found itself in. Likewise, the perceived U-turn on the plan to build another runway at Heathrow is unlikely to happen in time for Cameron and Osborne to take credit for the growth boost.
But all is not lost for the government. All it needs to do is to continue its policy of gently loosening the Treasury’s purse strings. “But we are going through a period of fiscal austerity,” I hear you cry. Indeed that is what the government wants us to think, but the economic data just doesn’t support that assertion. The latest GDP data reported that government spending was flat in the second quarter. That is down from the large 1.9% increase in the first quarter. However the UK’s fiscal consolidation effort looks fairly meagre when you consider that government spending has only fallen once in the last six quarters.
By Kristen Silverberg and Dr August Hanning. The opinions expressed are their own.
The case of Standard Chartered Bank has demonstrated that there are still gaps in the international sanctions regime concerning Iran. In the financial sector, the existing regime can be improved. However, the European sanctions targeting the Iranian oil and gas sector also have significant weaknesses. It is necessary to identify these weaknesses and to close them as quickly as possible.