The UK’s economic policy has it sitting in the naughty corner-September 27, 2022

In a swift set of reactions, international opinion about the UK’s recent mini-budget has shifted from adverse market sentiment, to critical assessments from international agencies:

First, the IMF has criticized, clearly, the “untargeted” fiscal policy underlying the budget:

The UK Treasury response to the IMF (below), doesn’t really say anything:

Next, Moody’s rating agency gave a harsh warning about future borrowing costs:


Sterling takes a pounding as the world thinks the UK’s budget is Kwesi-ness-September 26, 2022

It doesn’t take much to cock up economic policies. However, most countries have a solid cadre of economic and financial technocrats to stop ministers or other policy decision makers from getting it really wrong. Sadly, the UK, which would normally be a good example of this, has put itself on a bad path.

First, the new government headed by Liz Truss, sacked the aptly-named, Tom Scholar, as permanent secretary at The Treasury, on the first day in office:

Scholar had more going for him, you’d think, having seen the government’s economic policies through financial crises over three decades. Well, so long, farewell, Tom!

Fast forward. The new chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister), Kwasi Kwarteng, announced a so-called mini-budget, last Friday, which seems destined to do maximum damage in a short time. It’s main pillar was a massive tax reduction favouring the richest, with the kicker that more tax comes will come in a full budget. Markets haven’t taken to it well:

It’s a bit like telling the world that the barn has been set alight, and more fuel will be added to the blaze soon. The pound sterling got dumped across markets, over the weekend into the new week, hitting an all-time low against the US dollar, of $1.03, in Asian trading:

The main opposition Labour Party have jumped all over the budget, and it’s clear snub to the majority of Britons, languishing under rising inflation and energy costs spiralling. Those woes wont get better soon.

It’s said a day is a long time in politics. Well, the weekend may seem like an eternity, and the new week may soon seem like a year. Good luck!

Before you shed too many tears, though, remember the defeated ledership candidate, former chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister), Rishi Sunak, warned about “fairy tale” economics:

Queen Elizabeth II dies-September 8, 2022

The late monarch will be replaced by her eldest son, Prince Charles, who will be known as King Charles the Third.

All change in UK politics: Liz Truss “determined to deliver”-September 7, 2022

Boris Johnson gave his farewell speech, in London, then flew up to Balmoral Castle, Scotland, yesterday morning, to tender his resignation to the Queen as her prime minister (PM).

He was followed, soon after, by Liz Truss, who was invited, by the Queen, to become PM and to form a new government.

Those formalities done, the new PM got down to business, fast. She made her firm public speech, as PM, on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street.

She paid due reverence to her predecessor, whom she called “consequential”. She focused on freedom and making Britain “an aspiration nation”, with 3 priorities: working again-based on tax cuts, tackling energy costs, and putting the health service on a firm footing.

She said: “I am confident that together we can ride out the storm” and vowed to build a “modern, brilliant Britain”.

She then went about getting rid of opponents in the former Cabinet and adding loyalists and friends to her first Cabinet. Not everyone was happy, with one out-going minister’s wife calling the new PM “an imbecile”; the minister concerned said he may leave representative politics over this seeming lack of meritocratic action:

Her picks are unique: none of the major ministerial posts are held by a white man-a national first. The general impression is that her picks are also heavily tilted towards the political right wing. What that will really mean is not yet clear, but it suggests a wave of ‘free market’ economics and tighter policies on immigration, amongst other things.

In passing, Johnson’s teased that he’s gone now, but may return. His parting words were fact-checked by the BBC, and true to form, he was economical with the truth:

Later, today, Truss will face her first prime minister’s question time in the Houses of Parliament. Early on, it’s clear that her oral delivery is not on a par with her predecessor–“wooden” is her own assessment. She may find she’s also no real foe to the leader of the opposition, Sir Kier Starmer. But, that is a quality that can be reshaped, as shown by one of her predecessors, Lady Thatcher, whose spirit Truss seems to want to channel.

Truss has a reputation as a major shape-shifter, eg from ‘Remainer’ to ‘Brexiteer’. Whether this chameleon-like characteristic continues without damaging her politically, it will be revealing. She has also to sell her brand to the nation, having been elected by a tiny minority of the nation (160,000 Party members).

Passing the baton from Boris to Liz, as the UK gets a new PM-September 6, 2022

Boris Johnson made his farewell speech as PM, this morning, before heading to Balmoral Castle, Scotland, to meet the Queen:

Outgoing PM Johnson was economical with the truth, to the end:

Rumours of a comeback for Johnson, have been circulating, and he teased them by a reference to Ancient Rome:

The BBC reported: ‘Cincinnatus was a 5th Century BC Roman politician who famously left politics and “returned to his plough,” or his farm, according to professor of Ancient Roman history Mary Beard writing in a tweet.

Years later, Cincinnatus made a return to politics.

Some see this as a potential hint of Johnson’s possible long-term plan of returning to the political realm at some point in the future.[my stress]’:

PM Johnson handed his resignation to the Queen, and she formally appointed the new PM:

What kind of PM will Liz Truss be?

Her Cabinet choices will tell much about her real intent for unity-rumours are it will be filled with loyalists. On the big issues, the early soundings are for an “eye-wateringly” costly package to deal with capping energy bills. We’ll watch and learn.

Trussed by Liz, who says “I will deliver” as the UK’s new PM-September 5, 2022

The votes of some 160,000 Conservative Party members have been counted at the end of some 6 weeks of campaigning; Liz Truss got 53% of them and will become the new leader and prime minister (PM)-elect. Boris Johnson has to tender is resignation at PM to the Queen.

Her opponent, Rishi Sunak doesn’t expect to be in her Cabinet.

Global reactions have been mainly kind, with a few digs.

Friction appeared soon after the results, as a few Cabinet ministers resigned.

She has a boatload of problems to try to solve, fast, most pressing being the scary rise in the cost of living, especially energy bills, which reports indicate she plans to freeze. Her plans will be costly. Once she’s formally anointed by the Queen, we’ll see what she really will deliver.

5 things that make Jamaica the way it is, today-September 3, 2022

Heightened sense, and experience, of uncertainty. Doubt is worrisome; assurance is reassuring. Too many Jamaicans live their lives facing major doubts concerning their daily existence.

Poor quality is far too common as the accepted norm-in key areas of physical infrastructure, service delivery, and childhood education. That means the best most people get and expect is mediocre.

The legacy of poor educational attainment is a millstone on both individuals and collectively. It’s hard to find cases of national progress being when most of the people fail in learning, more so if that failure is in what is deemed the basics of numeracy and communication skills.

Most people’s eyes have looked too readily to the north than to the south. This is most understandable because the value of learning foreign languages has never been seized by most people-quite odd for a country that has built itself into a major tourist destination. That’s ironic, given that many Jamaicans are functionally bilingual (Patois and standard English). But, comfort in the English-speaking world is easier to achieve than in the French-, or Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking worlds that are important elements of our region. So, Jamaicans are more at ease in the midst of English-speaking tourists and business people than if they are Spanish, French, Portuguese or Russian, to cite some groups that send many to our shores. In a simple economic sense, it would be less of a sociocultural adjustment to function in South America. In almost all of Jamaica’s neighbours, political structures are different, being republics rather than parliamentary democracies (and not based on the ‘Westminster’ system). Simple truth, too, is it’s far easier to travel to North America than to Central or South America.

Political leaders and too many constituents have been content with streams of announcements unmet with the delivery of promises. That has fed a long legacy of little or no accountability in terms of loss of political power. It’s rational, therefore, that if politicians are not ousted for failure to deliver they will continue to fill the electorate with promises they can’t or wont fulfill. A clear example of that is to look at the socioeconomic fortunes of so-called ‘garrison’ communities, where, even those on whom political power has been easily built, live in some of the most parlous and deplorable conditions. (The continued acceptance of that is worthy of social and psychological study.) It’s equally rational that voters don’t really buy such promises. So, it’s a conundrum that the country is happy to peddle in emptiness. The price of Independence has been political indifference.

Dipping my quill back into the inkwell-September 1, 2022

I’ve had a really nice break from blogging, for over a month. It’s not been a difficult time, in any way; much of the summer has been spent, happily, with family, and friends, and travelling.

I’m sure you know many things happen, all the time, that are worthy of commentary or simple observation. I’m often happy to offer my views on that, which will resume. However, I’m not sure how that what will occur. I’m tempted to offer more often some more pithy, short takes on issues, rather than too-deep analysis. But, not set in my way, now or ever, I hope, so bear with me as I explore what works for me, and I hope for most readers. Meantime, I’m also happy to take feedback on what seems to inspire others.

Start a new month with vigour! September to remember. 🙂

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