Fiscal Policy & Regulation
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It is time to set up a powerful Commission on Public Spending - Telegraph

It is time to set up a powerful Commission on Public Spending - Telegraph | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The Commission could start cutting public spending by means-testing all benefits, undoing the universal free school meal policy and closing some government agencies
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Fiscal Policy & Regulation
Looking at Fiscal Policy, primarily in the UK
Curated by Bruce Fellowes
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Rail chaos: key points on official review of Britain's network | Business | The Guardian

Rail chaos: key points on official review of Britain's network | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Former BA boss to chair expert examination of system after timetabling fiasco

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 21, 2:43 AM

The Guardian looks at the remit of the rail review - and although interesting it doesn't have the humour of the Ian Birrell piece about the Transport Minister...

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US imposes new tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods

US imposes new tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The new taxes target $200bn worth of Chinese goods, marking the largest round of US tariffs so far.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 18, 2:43 AM

The much-heralded next round of tariffs has been imposed: watch this space.

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'Broken' rail franchise system to be reviewed

'Broken' rail franchise system to be reviewed | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The government inquiry comes after the East Coast Mainline was brought back under its control this year.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 16, 2:20 PM

It appears that the rail system is going to be reviewed after a summer of rail disruption. Critics of the current franchise model argue that the failure of the East Coast Mainline franchise indicates the flaws of the current system of rail privatisation and the Labour Party are committed to renationalising the railways. 

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Chile lawmakers mull additional mining tax for copper, lithium

Chile lawmakers mull additional mining tax for copper, lithium | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The proposed tax, to be applied on the nominal value of extracted metals, would affect copper miners that produce more than 12,000 tonnes of the metal and those extracting 50,000 tonnes of lithium a year.
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What does Ofgem's energy price cap mean for the Big Six? 

What does Ofgem's energy price cap mean for the Big Six?  | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
You might imagine news of a far-reaching price cap set to cost energy firms a cool £1bn would provoke a fierce rebuke from the companies and a sea of red share prices across the sector.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 7, 3:22 PM

The Telegraph poses an interesting question: what does the recent OFGEM introduction of a price cap mean for the Big Six energy companies?

 

Well, if you read the article, I don't think you'll find out very much, other than the fact that it will be reviewed every six months. And that, of course, adds to the opportunity cost of such an intervention, which in turn makes it less likely that it will enhance outcomes for consumers.

 

Not that such interventions are renown for increasing efficiency... 

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China 'will retaliate' if US imposes new tariffs on $200bn of goods | Business | The Guardian

China 'will retaliate' if US imposes new tariffs on $200bn of goods | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Proposed levies would come on top of existing 25% tariffs on $50bn of Chinese exports

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 7, 2:11 AM

I'm not sure what round it is, but the Chinese will retaliate if the US imposes yet more tariffs on Chinese goods.

 

And remember, the President himself said that a trade war was "easy to win".

 

Quite what anonymous senior White House officials make of this, I do not know, although they appear to want to sign letters that have been drafted for them by the President's staff in droves.

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Smart meter deadline 'should be extended'

Smart meter deadline 'should be extended' | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The deadline for installing smart meters should be delayed to 2023, Citizens Advice has said.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, August 10, 6:21 AM

The ongoing smart meter debate continues, with the Citizens Advice bureau arguing that the target for installing meters should be extended. However, other articles have suggested that their introduction itself is debatable. 

 

Expect more in the months to follow...

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Google hit with 4.3bn euro Android fine from EU

Google hit with 4.3bn euro Android fine from EU | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The European Commission has claimed Android unfairly extended Google's dominance of search.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 18, 6:33 AM

The extent of the European Commission fine has been revealed as 4.3 billion euros - $5bn, £3.8m. It represents the largest fine ever imposed by the regulator against a single firm.

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From eels to anvils: Trump's new China tariffs revealed | Business | The Guardian

From eels to anvils: Trump's new China tariffs revealed | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Donald Trump’s latest round of import restrictions affect a wide range of items including human hair and lithographs

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 12, 9:24 AM

An aside - what markets is the US targeting with its latest tariffs on Chinese goods and services? 

 

The Guardian investigates...

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Rail franchise model 'is bust' says former Network Rail chief

Rail franchise model 'is bust' says former Network Rail chief | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Sir John Armitt, who chairs National Express Group, has called for a review of UK rail franchising.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 11, 2:54 AM

Yesterday's National Infrastructure Commission, chaired by Sir John Armitt, has a number of interesting aspects. The headline captures the concerns about the current model for running Britain's railways, but of at least equal significance are the conclusions drawn about the future of electricity generation.

 

The report is explicit in suggesting that the future of electricity should be renewable, rather than nuclear - largely as a result of falling renewable costs - and it will be interesting to see if successive governments heed this advice. Remember, the National Infrastructure Commission is non-partisan.

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Water market competition branded a ‘failure’ in first year

Water market competition branded a ‘failure’ in first year | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The billion pound gamble to create the world’s largest competitive water market in Britain has been branded a failure after only a meagre number of businesses opted to switch to a new supplier.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 11, 4:04 AM

Government failure in the water industry? It would seem so.

 

This Utilitywise research into the introduction of competition to the commercial part of the water industry is a demining indictment of the relative merits of competition. As the article highlights, "the £421m estimated cost of the market overhaul has shaved just £8m in total off non-domestic water bills in the last year.".

 

Factor in the longer-term costs of stabilising the market, and the net welfare position doesn't seem to be a favourable one. 

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What are trade tariffs and who will they affect? | Business | The Guardian

What are trade tariffs and who will they affect? | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
As the US and China plunge into a tit-for-tat trade battle, we look at what’s at stake

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 7, 4:21 AM

The basics on the trade war. In the Guardian.

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New measures to protect 10 million extra holidays a year

New measures to protect 10 million extra holidays a year | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Government has today introduced new Package Travel Regulations.
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BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen face EU diesel emissions probe

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen face EU diesel emissions probe | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
BMW, Daimler and VW are being investigated to see if they agreed to restrict emissions control systems.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 18, 8:57 AM

Massive news in the car industry, in that EU authorities are looking into the possibility that leading German manufacturers colluded in agreeing to restrict emission controls systems prior to the VW scandal.

 

It's not beyond the realms of possibility: the oligopolistic market structure might sometimes result in collusive outcomes and it would benefit the firms if it reduced their costs of investing in 'clean' technology.

 

My only observation is that, by now, the firms will have had plenty of time to construct a counter case, and I'd also be sceptical about the existence of all of the evidence after this time.

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Train punctuality at 12-year low amid weather and timetable chaos | Business | The Guardian

Train punctuality at 12-year low amid weather and timetable chaos | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
One in seven trains missed target of arriving within five minutes of scheduled time

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 17, 4:03 PM

The Office of the Rail Regulation have stuck the knife into the ToCs, highlighting the fact that punctuality have dropped to a 12-year low and helped reignite the debate about whether or not the sector should remain in private hands for the foreseeable future. 

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Trump 'orders further China tariffs'

Trump 'orders further China tariffs' | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
US President Donald Trump reportedly tells staff to move ahead with tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 15, 3:04 AM

Round three, or is it four, I've lost count/interest.

 

The US is reported to be thinking about another $200bn worth of tariffs and the President seems convinced he's winning the trade war. I have to say, I'm underwhelmed by the size of the 'improvement' in the US trade deficit and the 'remarkable' rate of both reshoring and job creation.

 

It would be interesting to hear the President quantify the gains from his trade policy. 

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Trump warns further China tariffs 'ready to go'

Trump warns further China tariffs 'ready to go' | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
If both sets of tariffs go ahead virtually all of China's US exports will be subject to new duties.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 7, 3:29 PM

Here we go again!

 

Although I'm grateful that the President says nothing more complex than "ready to go". My Twitter feed has just suggested that he's got enough difficulty with longer words, like 'anonymous'.

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Cambridge Asda baskets swiped as 5p bags phased out

Cambridge Asda baskets swiped as 5p bags phased out | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The store in Cambridge has had to order 100 baskets to replace those that have gone missing.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 7, 3:17 PM

The very embodiment of the Law of Unintended Consequences: Asda have phased out 5p plastic bags, in the hope of promoting use of thicker 'Bags for Life'. The result? Customers have just started taking plastic shopping baskets home instead. 

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UK booksellers call for Amazon to pay 'proper share of taxation' | Business | The Guardian

UK booksellers call for Amazon to pay 'proper share of taxation' | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Growth of online retailers sees number of independent book shops halve, says Booksellers Association

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Graham Watson's curator insight, September 7, 2:08 AM

The question of tax avoidance is raised in this article which highlights the fact that traditional 'bricks and mortar' bookseller want Amazon to pay more tax.

 

The Booksellers Association has seen the number of independent bookshops halve since the arrival of Amazon, and argues that tax advantages have given the online retailer an unfair advantage. They may well have a point, at a time when business rates are a pressing concern for many small retailers.

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China warns of tariffs on imported US goods worth $60bn | Business | The Guardian

China warns of tariffs on imported US goods worth $60bn | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Beijing retaliates against Trump’s threatened tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports

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Graham Watson's curator insight, August 5, 9:02 AM

Retaliation - the name of the game as the ongoing trade war develops.

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Call for apprentice scheme revamp as training places fall | Business | The Guardian

Call for apprentice scheme revamp as training places fall | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Number of people starting an apprenticeship fell by 34% in first three terms of 2017-18

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 13, 6:15 AM

The definition of "government failure"? 

 

A very good example - the Apprenticeship Levy - which has seen a collapse in the number of people starting apprenticeships. However, I'm not sure that I agree with the calls to revamp the scheme - there's an earthy Northern saying: "You can't polish a turd".

 

It might be applicable in this instance.

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Ministers urged to up public spending on rail, green energy and digital | Business | The Guardian

Ministers urged to up public spending on rail, green energy and digital | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
OECD says UK’s lack of investment since 2008 is drag on economic growth

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 12, 9:21 AM

The latest OECD report on the state of the UK highlights a lack of investment in infrastructure - and argues that this has depressed growth, and productivity. 

 

That said, there are a number of areas where the UK has done well - in reforming pensions and product markets. 

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Starbucks to charge customers 5p cup levy in bid to reduce waste

Starbucks to charge customers 5p cup levy in bid to reduce waste | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Starbucks is to charge customers a 5p levy for paper cups across all 950 stores in Britain, in a bid to reduce single-use paper and plastic waste.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 11, 3:04 AM

Is this an example of coffee retailers trying to head of government intervention by engaging in a spot of self-regulation? Or is it part of their profit-maximizing behaviour in a competitive market? 

 

Either way, it must be a serious issue if Starbucks are now starting to charge customers for paper cups.

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Will Trump's tariff war alter the balance of economic power? | Mohamed El-Erian | Business | The Guardian

Will Trump's tariff war alter the balance of economic power? | Mohamed El-Erian | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
While it has sizeable risks, the US battle with China could open the door to a new era

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 11, 4:09 AM

Mohammed El-Erian tries to find a silver lining to the current trade war, arguing that it might permit a global realignment, and modernisation of outdated trade practices, and potential benefits in future.

 

I hope that he's right - I cant help thinking that the President's brain is incapable of strategizing in this fashion. But then again, he does suggest it could be "Reagan moment" - perhaps suggesting that the unintended effects" of the decisions taken by those of limited intellectual ability can occasionally have positive ramifications. 

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US tariffs on Chinese imports take effect as trade battle begins

US tariffs on Chinese imports take effect as trade battle begins | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
China claims the US has launched "the largest trade war in economic history" with tariffs worth $34bn.

Via Graham Watson
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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 6, 2:17 AM

After the phony war, the real thing begins, US tariffs on China take effect today. Let battle commence.

 

Easy to win - and listening to the Today programme earlier - harder for the average American to understand. Apparently, in their eyes, America has been taken advantage of for years. Try telling that to developing world farmers who've seen US agriculture protected by sizeable tariffs.