UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from MacroScope:

Some good econ reads from the Blogosphere

From the econ blogosphere:

UK BUDGET
-- The libertarian Adam Smith Institute says here that the UK government should look at every government job, programme and department, and ask whether they are really needed. "Do we really need new school buildings....? Should taxpayers really stump up for free bus passes, or winter fuel and Chistmas bonuses for wealthy pensioners?"

CHINESE FX
-- VOX publishes this post from senior research fellow Willem Thorbecke of the Asian Development Bank on China's latest move on the dollar peg. "China's action may facilitate a concerted appreciation in Factory Asia, helping the region redirect production away from western markets and towards domestic consumers."

U.S. JOBS
-- Karen Dynan, vice president for economics studies at Brookings, looks here at the latest U.S. jobs data and argues that Congress needs to extend unemployment benefits. "Reinstating the benefits would ... help the broader public by contributing to overall demand in goods and services and thereby mitigating the risks of a double dip in the economy."

BIG SPORTING EVENTS
--  And while the World Cup is still going on, here's a look by The Sports Economist at the economic impact of big sporting events on a community. "Research of (independent) economists looking at the historical record find, time and again, that the claims made by the (paid) consultants in the impact statements are overblown."

from Photographers' Blog:

A break in choreography on the campaign trail

On tightly-choreographed campaign trails there aren’t many photo moments that haven’t been carefully planned beforehand by spin doctors, so when Gordon Brown made an impromptu visit to a hair salon in Oldham, there was a ripple of excitement.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown accepts an invitation from Sue Fink to visit her hair salon as he speaks at the Honeywell Community Centre in Oldham, northwest England April 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Such unscripted moments create great opportunities for photographers because they offer a glimpse of reality and inject a human element into often monotonous days of speeches, handshakes and platitudes.

from Photographers' Blog:

A town of grief

BRITAIN-AFGHANISTAN/
The coffins of six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan are driven though the streets of Wootton Bassett in southwest England November 10, 2009. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Since the early 2000's, the bodies of fallen servicemen and women from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places have been repatriated to RAF Lyneham. They pass through the town of Wootton Bassett on their way to the coroner in Oxford. This has led to family members, friends, locals and mourners from further afield assembling along the route of the funeral cortege. It is an emotionally charged event that garners wide media coverage every time.

Jeremy Hunt unveils Tory technology platform

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Jeremy HuntAs the three main UK political parties vie for positioning ahead of a general election to be held by June, the Conservatives unveiled their “Technology Manifesto” on Thursday in London outlining the key issues they would address if they form the next government.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude presented ideas on everything from improving broadband speeds to making government data accessible online.

from Global News Journal:

Should Norway bail out Iceland?

icesaveWhile not exactly pocket change, Iceland’s $5.5 billion Icesave debt to Britain and the Netherlands amounts to just 1.2 percent of the value of Norway’s offshore wealth fund. For Iceland, it's more than $15,000 per citizen.

Given the two countries’ close historic links -- Norwegian Vikings discovered the Atlantic island where people still speak a version of “old Norwegian” -- speculation about Oslo coming to the rescue has Reykjavik licking its lips.

Hung parliament haunts Conservatives

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David_cameron       A once unthinkable prospect is striking fear into the hearts of the Conservative Party faithful as they gather for their last conference before the British election — that the party could fall short of winning a parliamentary majority.

After months of big opinion poll leads, the opposition Conservatives looked set fair to win the election, expected in May, ending Labour’s 13-year grip on power.

from MacroScope:

Britain heading for rude awakening?

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There is a divisive election ahead for Britain, the threat of a ratings downgrade on its sovereign debt and a deficit that has ballooned into the largest by percentage of any major economy.  UK stocks, bonds and sterling, however, are trundling along as if all were well. What gives?

For a fuller discussion on the issue click here, but the gist is that all three asset classes  are being support by factors that may be masking the danger of a broad reversal. UK equities have been driven higher by the improving global economy, bonds held up by the Bank of England's huge buying programme and sterling by valuation and the distress of others.

from FaithWorld:

Did Jesus headline Glastonbury before Springsteen?

glastonburyJesus Christ may have visited an English town now renowned for a raucous modern-day music festival to meet ancient druids, a new film argues.  "And Did Those Feet" explores the theory that Jesus accompanied Joseph of Arimathea on a visit to the area around the southern English town of Glastonbury. (Photo: At the end of Glastonbury Festival 2009, 29 June 2009/Luke MacGregor)

The Glastonbury Festival held on a farm near the town draws some of the 21st century's biggest music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Neil Young and U2 to the world's largest open air music and arts festival.

Drawing the line against the Taliban

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afghan1Fight them there or fight them here?

Former Foreign Office minister Kim Howells poses the question in the Guardian in a piece made grimly relevant by Wednesday’s shooting dead of  five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman.

Howells says troops should be brought back from Afghanistan and that the billions of pounds saved should be used to beef up homeland security in Britain – drawing the front line against al Qaeda around the UK rather than thousands of miles away in Helmand province.

from FaithWorld:

Climate change debate spurs warm feelings in London

china-climateIt is rare that religion and science find agreement, but that is what happened when Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks spoke at a meeting on saving the earth from climate change.

"The great Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson published a book in 2007 called "Creation", subtitled An Appeal to Save Life on Earth," Sacks told leaders of all the major faiths meeting at Lambeth Palace in London on Thursday.

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