Bureau Chief, UK and Ireland
Jodie's Feed
Sep 30, 2010
via UK News

From Celtic Tiger to road kill: Ireland’s rapid economic descent

Photo

How the mighty have fallen. When I lived in Ireland five years ago, the country had a spring in its step. Its property magnates were snapping up prime real estate in central London, or paying eye watering sums for prestigious sites in crowded Dublin. Their banks were some of the top-rated in Europe, busily acquiring businesses in the United States and eastern Europe. High-end housing estates mushroomed, a gleaming new tram system was installed, and the finance district buzzed and hummed with industry as international businesses flocked to a country they praised for its low taxes and well-educated workforce.

Of course, the warning signs were there. House prices were ridiculously inflated (I wrote back in 2006 that less than a fifth of houses for sale in Dublin were on offer below 317,500 euros – the level at which property tax kicked in for first time buyers). The economy was highly exposed to its banking sector and to external shocks, as the central bank recognised at the time – although it saw the risks as limited : “While the strengthening of domestic demand puts the euro area in a better position than previously to withstand a U.S. slowdown, this challenge would intensify if the U.S. economic situation were to deteriorate sharply,” the Irish central bank said in October 2006. “This, however, still remains a risk scenario rather than the baseline one.”

Sep 16, 2010
via UK News

Is there a Plan B for the government?

Photo

Our Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll is likely to make cheery reading for Britain’s Labour party.

For the first time since January 2008, they are level pegging with the Conservatives in terms of popular support; for the first time since May’s general election, more people are dissatisfied with the government than are pleased with it, and – perhaps most heartening of all for the opposition – three-quarters of the public would rather see slower public spending cuts than swift ones. And all that without Labour even having a leader.

Sep 16, 2010

UK’s Labour level with Conservatives as Lib Dems wane: poll

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Labor Party, ousted from power in a May election, is level with the Conservatives for the first time in over two years as support for the Conservative-led coalition wanes, a poll showed Thursday.

Three-quarters of those surveyed for the Reuters/Ipsos MORI monthly political monitor did not agree with the central plank of the coalition government’s economic policy of swift public spending cuts to tackle the budget deficit.

Sep 16, 2010

Labour level with Conservatives as LibDems wane

LONDON (Reuters) – The Labour Party, ousted from power in a May election, is level with the Conservatives for the first time in over two years as support for the Conservative-led coalition wanes, a poll showed on Thursday.

Three-quarters of those surveyed for the Reuters/Ipsos MORI monthly political monitor did not agree with the central plank of the coalition government’s economic policy of swift public spending cuts to tackle the budget deficit.

Sep 14, 2010
via UK News

House-love has skewed our outlook

Photo

Hi. My name is Jodie and I’m a serial-renter. If I say that in the manner of someone confessing a dirty secret, it’s for good reason. Though I have a good job, a husband who also works, and two small children (ie. someone who probably qualifies as a bona-fide grown-up), I often feel the need to make excuses when it comes to talking about my housing arrangements. When you get to your 30s in the UK – and let’s be honest, even your mid-20s, renting – as I have done for eight out of the past ten years – is just not the done thing. Adults own houses.

That’s because we are conditioned as a society to believe home ownership is the done thing, and that moving up the property ladder is the ticket to ever greater prosperity and – by implication – happiness. Home ownership in Britain has risen from around 40 percent in the early 1960s to just below 70 percent, while the number of homes that are privately rented halved in the same period to around 15 percent. By comparison, only around half of the French own their own homes. Though UK home ownership levels are slowly slipping back from highs seen five years ago, we remain stubbornly wedded to the notion that home ownership is an ultimate good. Public policy encourages this mania to own a home – and, as the past few years have shown, to borrow recklessly to do it.

Sep 14, 2010
via UK News

Do the coalition’s economic plans add up?: debate the spending review

Photo

On October 20, Britain’s new coalition government will outline its plans to cut the country’s deficit. Most departmental budgets will have to be slashed by between 25 and 40 percent in order to achieve the 80 or so billion pound of cuts needed, meaning the country will have to adjust very rapidly to the state doing much less – with much less.

To explore the government’s plans, Thomson Reuters is hosting an exclusive panel debate on Friday September 17 that will also mark the launch of the Reuters/Ipsos MORI political monitor.

Aug 25, 2010
via UK News

UK’s unions woo voters in campaign against government cuts

Photo

Britain’s unions have a problem.

Labour laws mean they have little chance of launching mass strike action to prevent the swingeing cuts the UK’s coalition government plans to introduce the tackle the country’s deficit.

But nor are they likely to follow the example of Ireland’s unions who largely went along with massive public spending cuts there because they saw little alternative – and yet who are having to watch as markets continue to bash their bonds despite the tough measures they were assured would shore up confidence.

Aug 18, 2010
via UK News

Nick Clegg’s vision of social mobility encourages to work – but what about play?

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, used day three of minding the governmental shop today to stress the importance of social mobility and of the coalition’s long-termist approach to achieving change.
There were a number of unanswered questions about the goal, not least how it’s possible to look out for the young and yet-to-be-born while ringfencing areas of spending – like healthcare and fuel allowances – that benefit disproportionately the elderly.
But the one that is currently preoccupying me is the challenge for government in simultaneously incentivising people to work while at the same time encouraging good parenting.
Clegg identified two key policies the government is pursuing to help alleviate the “poverty of opportunity”. One is a ‘pupil premium’ for schools. The other is tax reform to reward work.
Clegg alluded to the importance of ‘work’ and his ‘work ethic’ several times. Few would disagree that having gainful employment isn’t good for you and society. But to stress tax reform seems to me to be privileging paid, formal employment over the ‘work’ of those who choose to stay at home and look after their families.
This is the crux of the problem. On the one hand, the government wants to incentivise work, for us to go out and earn our daily bread and be happy and fulfilled members of society, whose children in turn will, as the products of economically and socially sucessful homes, achieve anything they want.
On the other, the government is well aware that parenting – the willingness to read to your children, to help them with their homework, to encourage a love of learning and a belief in their own abilities – is one of the single most important factors in enabling social mobility.
Clegg himself said on Wednesday that parenting was four times more important than socio-economic factors at determining educational outcome.
If that’s the case – what will the government do to encourage us to spend more time with our children, rather than just encouraging us to get out to work?

Jul 19, 2010
via UK News

A view to the future: investing in the young

Photo

Interesting to read today of a plan by The Co-operative Group to create more apprenticeships. With public funding for so many areas under threat in Britain’s austerity drive – including skills and education – what will others in the private sector do to ensure Britain has the workforce it needs to compete in the 21st century?

The Co-Op’s plan – which includes a promise to create 2,000 new co-operative apprenticeships, as well as investments in areas such as schooling – is also interesting for the approach it takes to young people.

Jun 7, 2010
via UK News

UK looks to Canada on cuts

Photo

The Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday that Britain plans to take a leaf out of Canada’s book in tackling its massive deficit.

The headlines look good: in the mid-1990s, the Canadian government managed to turn a 9 percent budget deficit into a surplus in less than five years. But the small print makes for more sobering reading. Canda’s deficit reduction program involved massive cuts in areas such as healthcare and education and thousands of job losses. It also required a huge collective effort.

    • About Jodie

      "Based in London, I manage our team of Reuters' text journalists and photographers here and in Dublin - covering everything from company news and economics to sport and culture. I have been with Reuters for 10 years, including three years spent covering equities in Johannesburg."
    • Follow Jodie