Fiscal Policy & Regulation
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Fiscal Policy & Regulation
Looking at Fiscal Policy, primarily in the UK
Curated by Bruce Fellowes
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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.

Via Graham Watson
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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

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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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Global economy 'under threat as tariff war bites'

Global economy 'under threat as tariff war bites' | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
World Trade Organization warns growth is in jeopardy as the number of tariff barriers doubles.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 5, 9:09 AM

I should have 'scooped' this yesterday - but perhaps I thought that it was too obvious.

 

A day later it's still obvious, mind you.

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Water companies have damaged trust, regulator Ofwat says

Water companies have damaged trust, regulator Ofwat says | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Regulator Ofwat says bosses' pay and investor payout levels at water firms have angered customers.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 3, 8:35 AM

Another interesting regulatory issue in that the water regulator, Ofwat, has taken a dim view of the behaviour of companies in paying their executives and giving generous dividends to shareholders. As a result, they are looking to enforce rules that will mean the companies will have to justify these actions in relation to customers' interests.

 

All of which is very noble - but will it generate the right outcomes?

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US car makers warn Trump import tariffs are the 'greatest threat to the US automotive industry'

US car makers warn Trump import tariffs are the 'greatest threat to the US automotive industry' | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
International car makers with US operations have hit out at President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on vehicle imports, saying the national security pretext for the levies is groundless.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 28, 3:02 AM

International car manufacturers with US operations have hit out at President Trump's plan for tariffs on vehicle imports, which raises the question of exactly who is being helped by their introduction.

 

However, I fear that this is the economic equivalent of shouting into a black hole.

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At last, a sound plan to tackle obesity. The food industry must not ruin it | Sarah Boseley | Society | The Guardian

At last, a sound plan to tackle obesity. The food industry must not ruin it | Sarah Boseley | Society | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Corporate power could still derail the government’s plans to clamp down on junk food, writes the Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 25, 4:02 PM

I'm going to state at the outset - there are clearly negative externalities associated with obesity. However, the first paragraph here is that of a zealot, and there's little in the way of good economics here. 

 

I'm not sure that all of the policy measures mentioned here by Sarah Boseley reperesent a "sound plan". A plan, yes. Sound, though, is somewhat more debatable.

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Government rejects plan for £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea | Business | The Guardian

Government rejects plan for £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Ministers say project is too expensive but decision sparks widespread criticism

Via Graham Watson
Bruce Fellowes's insight:

Local example. This is bad news for the area and also for the College. Clean, renewable energy and redevelopment of the city would have surely been a positive step for the Government. 

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 25, 3:24 PM

Oh dear! Guardian readers everywhere might spill their quinoa with the news that the government have eventually rejected a plan to build a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. The plan was to create a new source of renewable energy contributing to increased diversity of the UK's energy mix. 

 

However, perhaps the biggest gripe here is that the government have seemingly been keen to encourage the project until recently, as the price of other low carbon alternatives has fallen. If anything it illustrates the danger of trying to second guess markets.

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Greece crisis declared 'over' after eight years as eurozone agrees debt relief

Greece crisis declared 'over' after eight years as eurozone agrees debt relief | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Eurozone ministers declared the end of the Greek debt crisis early on Friday agreeing debt relief and a big cash payout for Greece, part of a broad bailout exit deal that will close eight years of financial rescues for cash-strapped Athens.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 22, 3:00 AM

It's official then: the Greek crisis is over. The Eurozone has agreed to debt relief and a large cash payout. Look out for dancing on the streets of Athens.

 

I suspect that the average Greek might not be in the mood for partying just yet.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Shell would support UK bringing forward petrol ban from 2040 | Business | The Guardian

Shell would support UK bringing forward petrol ban from 2040 | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
CEO says earlier date would ease investment decisions and shift consumer attitudes

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 5, 10:19 AM

Turkeys do vote for Christmas, apparently.

 

Or is there more to this than meets the eye - is Shell confident that by 2040 it will have divested itself of its petrol interests and this sort of move would give it a competitive advantage over its rivals.

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May close to lifting fuel duty freeze to help meet NHS promises | Politics | The Guardian

May close to lifting fuel duty freeze to help meet NHS promises | Politics | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Ministers also considering end to cap on alcohol taxes to boost public spending and cut deficit

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 3, 3:05 AM

The government has a bit of a dilemma in that the recent pledges regarding NHS funding still have to be met - and this doesn't seem possible without a change in the government's position on taxation. And bear in mind that, in common with many governments, the last manifesto pledged not to increase them.

 

However, it seems that the current caps on alcohol and fuel duties might get lifted - quite how the Conservatives plan to sell this, I don't know.

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EU says Trump car tariffs 'will put a tax on the US people' | Business | The Guardian

EU says Trump car tariffs 'will put a tax on the US people' | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
European commission hits back at president, threatening tariffs on $300bn of US goods

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Graham Watson's curator insight, July 2, 12:20 PM

And there's more....

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£40m nuclear facility project for Wales announced

£40m nuclear facility project for Wales announced | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
The partnership between the Welsh and UK governments is on top of a £200m UK-wide sector deal.

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 28, 2:36 AM

Positive multiplier effect for Wales, with a boost for the nuclear sector in Wales.

 

Simples.

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Supermarket watchdog's oversight may extend to Amazon and Boots | Business | The Guardian

Supermarket watchdog's oversight may extend to Amazon and Boots | Business | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Grocery Code Adjudicator hopes to win new powers after complaints from suppliers

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 25, 3:47 PM

The Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) is looking to expand its scope - including new retailers such as Amazon and Boots. In the former case, this seems inevitable, given the quantity of groceries that Amazon now sell, and the likelihood of further moves in that direction. 

 

However, Boots - it seems a little bit more unnecessary, but by the sound of the article - it's more the result of complaints from suppliers who feel that the company is using its market power 

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Supermarkets targeted in the battle against obesity | Society | The Guardian

Supermarkets targeted in the battle against obesity | Society | The Guardian | Fiscal Policy & Regulation | Scoop.it
Checkout offer bans and TV advertising watershed are key steps to tackle health crisis

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Graham Watson's curator insight, June 24, 11:43 AM

It strikes me that there's been a big push to tackle 'obesity' this year - however, I worry that it's been a bit underhand and that the haste and the range of measures being considered smacks of 'bad economics', and might be likely to result in government failure.  

 

Either way, it's clear that poor dietary habits generate negative externalities, but in itself that doesn't justify intervention, as any good economist should know.