IEA Wonk Could Be Trump’s EU Ambassador

Institute of Economic Affairs advisory council member Dr Ted Malloch is being interviewed by Donald Trump this week for the role of his EU ambassador. Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, to give his full name, is a distant relative of President Roosevelt who Maggie Thatcher once dubbed a “global sherpa” thanks to his decades of work at various economic conferences and institutions. It’s good news for Britain if Anglophile Malloch gets the job, he tells City AM:

“In the UK, Brexiteers can take heart from the victory of another anti-establishment figure. His political sympathies for Brexit could lead him to prioritise a trade agreement with the UK once the country leaves the EU. It will also ensure a stronger US-UK Special Relationship.”

And his views on Brussels are sound too. He told Brexit Central last year:

“The elite that dominates EU decision-making is managerial, bureaucratic and socialist,” he says, “with a view to higher taxation and redistribution of wealth — all qualities the EU elite tout proudly, despite growing populist sentiment among an increasingly economically pressed middle class in virtually every EU-participating country. The US and the UK have cast their lot in the same direction and the Anglosphere will not only survive but thrive…

Would they want the United States to join anything like the EU — a federal superstate that curtails sovereignty? Of course the answer is NO! We wouldn’t want that in any way, shape or form. And the British already decided not to become part of the flawed euro currency and the European Central Bank. So here’s an interesting and novel alternative no pundit is yet suggesting, and I say it only half facetiously: why not hook up our horses together?”

Make the special relationship great again…

Fabians: Labour’s “Looming Death”

report out this morning from the Fabians makes dire New Year reading for Jez. Catchily-titled “Stuck: How Labour is Too Weak to Win and Too Strong to Die” predicts electoral oblivion unless the party abandons the Corbynite left: 

“The politics of 2016 may have been frenetic but now an uneasy calm has descended on the Labour party…this is the calm of stalemate, of insignificance, even of looming death.”

Backed by YouGov numbers and its own seat projections it finds:

  • “Approaching half the people who voted Labour in 2015 no longer support the party”;
  • “Since 2015, the party has lost as many votes to the Liberal Democrats as it has to the two right-wing, pro-Brexit parties combined”;
  • “A disastrous election result for Labour would see the party lose around 90 MPs.”

The most interesting numbers show the flow of raw voters away from Labour:

It concludes: “It seems that Labour is equally vulnerable to losing support to another liberal-minded, pro-European party; and to the socially conservative, Euro-sceptic parties.”

This shows Labour losing votes in every possible direction, with the Tories gaining from every possible direction…

Gloomy Wonks are EU-Funded Europhiles

Britain will be “older, more unequal and blighted by Brexit”, according to a gloomy new report from the IPPR think tank. Apparently there will be a decade of disaster and misery caused by the Leave vote. Two things the Guardian didn’t include in their write-up: The IPPR was formerly run by the head of the Remain campaign Will Straw. It is funded by the EU. Probably worth mentioning…

Cable’s Ex-SpAd Giles Wilkes Heading to Downing Street

Usually reliable sources tell Guido that Giles Wilkes, the ex-SpAd to Vince Cable who is currently writing the Lex column and FT leaders, is joining Downing Street in the New Year. He will be covering the corporate governance and industrial strategy policy brief. His appointment shows how far the government has moved on from the free market neo-liberalism of the last three decades…

Nice guy. Big Remainer and Lib Dem obviously. Giles is vehemently opposed to Brexit and tightening up on immigration – so his policy differences with the PM are only on the core goals of Downing Street. As an ex-wonk from CentreForum he can be too clever by half, he was one of the few LibDems who thought tuition fees were the right thing to do, so he has the required classic political awareness and sensitivity of an autistic wonk. Obviously being an “expert economist” and former bookmaker he managed to publicly lose a bet to Guido on the direction of inflation…

His appointment will infuriate the right of the Conservative Party. Wilkes once described tax cuts as “gambling with taxpayers money”. Giles seems not to understand that it is their money in the first place. Mind you he did apologise for calling Guido “innumerate” after he lost that bet to him.

Guido was unable to confirm the appointment at the time of going to pixel despite reaching out to Wilkes.

N.B. SpAds wondering what he will be like to work with can watch him pontificating about SpAds here.

Adam SPLIFF Institute: Legalising Cannabis Could Add £1 Billion to Treasury Tax Pot

cannabisAfter California voted to legalise cannabis, several MPs are backing the Adam Smith Institute’s new report calling for the same. It is a terrible tragedy that people get criminal records and go to jail for smoking something less harmful than alcohol…

Sam Bowman, the Executive Director, said making criminals of otherwise law-abiding  people “makes an ass of the law” and the only sensible approach is to legalise and regulate a product used regularly by millions of Britons. The ASI report: The Tide Effect says the tax revenue could add £1 billion to the Treasury pot and the £50m a year it costs dealing with cannabis offenders could be slashed. Worrying that the ASI is seeking new things for the government to tax…

Brexit Inflation and Interest Rate Signals

carney-cpi

The Bank of England’s inflation target is 2.0% – with the fall in the pound inflation is set to overshoot to between 2.5% and 4.5% depending which rune reading economist you believe. When the 2% target is missed by 1% or more Carney has to write to the Chancellor explaining why he has missed his target. He’s been writing those letters for most of his term…

Inflation has now crept up to 1% after knocking along at zero for a while. Even at the extreme end of forecasts inflation will not reach the levels seen before the great taming of inflation in the 80s. (Unless the QE unwinding is a disaster, which is not impossible.) Having read many papers on the subject Guido is none the wiser as to how the world’s Central Banks can go cold turkey from the QE opiate without a very bad come down. In any event, at these levels interest rate policy is now symbolic, market loan rates are increasingly detached from base rates. Firms are not going to make or break investment decisions because base rates are 0.25% or 0.5%.* May is right that we need to see rates rising, to head off inflation and to boost confidence.

Nothing would more clearly signal that the Brexit apocalypse is not upon us than the Bank raising base rates. Normalisation of monetary policy has to happen. Or at least the Bank should signal the beginning of normalisation…

*Fans of reflexivity and paradox will contemplate the post-referendum rate cut with joy. Carney implies it boosted the economy, critics say it was unnecessary. Did it boost confidence that the Bank of England was ready to do whatever or was it a way for Carney to claim credit for his gloomy predictions not coming true?

IEA LAUNCHES £50,000 PRIZE

The Institute of Economic Affairs has just launched the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize.

First prize of £50,000 will be awarded to the best and most innovative entry outlining a ‘Free-Market Breakthrough’ policy to tackle poverty in the UK.

There will be runner up prizes of £7,500 each, and a student prize of £2,500. Judging panel includes former Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne (chair) and the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith.

The deadline for entries is Monday, 9 January 2017.

To learn more about the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize and the entry requirements, click here – and watch the video below!

OECD OMG GDP! Brexit Recession Forecast Reversed

oecd-omg

“Not a single serious economist does not think Brexit will be bad for the economy” was the message from George Osborne when he cited the OECD, IMF and the OBR to back up his arguments that Britain would require an emergency budget and that there would be a worldwide economic shock if Britain voted to Brexit. Yesterday the OECD said it got it got the recession forecast wrong and the ONS confirmed none of the latest data suggests the recession that was predicted by 71% of City economists after the referendum vote. That is worse than astrology hence the Sun’s cracked crystal ball. It is actually worse than just flipping a coin.

All this proves once again that economists are as prone to fashion as any other artists. Economic forecasting is not a mathematical hard science, despite the complicated formulas of which they are so fond. It is a question of judgement. Another area which similarly has too many variables to forecast with confidence yet has almost unanimity among those who claim expertise in the subject is “climate science”. The expert practioners in this area also predict doom and disaster. Do you think they could be related?

Centrist Think-Tank Concludes There’s No Progressive Majority

dead-centre

This morning the centrist, cross-party Social Market Foundation held a well attended seminar headlined by Chuka Umunna, Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg. It felt like a wake for the Labour Party. SMF claims – on the back of research from Opinium – that there’s no progressive left-leaning majority in the country – the majority of voters hold “traditionally right-wing views” that will guarantee a “healthy majority” in the future for the right-wing parties.[…] Read the rest

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City Boys Staying in London

surprise

Mark Carney is up in front of the Treasury Select Committee this afternoon where he is going to have to explain why he cut rates and re-started QE prematurely to Jacob Rees Mogg, who thinks “He acted too early in my view. […] Read the rest

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IEA: Osborne’s Living Wage Hits Poor, Young, Minorities, Consumers, Taxpayers

go

George Osborne’s Living Wage is likely to see those it is supposed to help lose out, according to a new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs. The IEA finds that modest minimum wage increases may not cause higher unemployment, but large increases will.[…] Read the rest

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Vote Leave Chief Launching New Brexit Site, Taxpayers’ Alliance Reshuffles

Vote Leave chief Matthew Elliott is back at Business for Britain post-referendum, and Guido hears he will be setting up a new website called BrexitCentral. Former Lobby journalist Jonathan Isaby is leaving the Taxpayers’ Alliance to join as editor. It sounds like the site will offer plenty of comment and analysis – there is a gap in the market for some proper wonkish insight making sure Brexit means Brexit.[…] Read the rest

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May Hires Top IoD Wonk

SPADS

Theresa May has hired Institute of Directors wonk Jimmy McLoughlin to lead Downing Street’s business relations. McLoughlin, who worked on May’s leadership campaign, will replace Cameron’s arch-Remain SpAd Dan Korski. It’s a smart hire – May’s ‘reforming capitalism’ shtick means she’ll need help bolstering relations and McLoughlin is one of the most likeable people in SW1.[…] Read the rest

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Long-Term Rise of Anti-Politics

This morning in Portcullis House researchers from the University of Southampton are presenting findings from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on the rise of anti-politics, Tristram Hunt and Isabel Hardman are going to stick their tuppence in during an audience discussion.[…] Read the rest

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Owen Jones’ Think Tank Helps Pay Off Deficit

The union funded CLASS think tank Owen Jones helped found has been fined £1,000 by the Electoral Commission. Unite veteran Steve Hart was stung with the bill after the Centre for Labour and Social Studies failed to deliver not one but two donation reports on time.[…] Read the rest

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Brexit Debate Live Streaming

Tonight’s debate at the Institute of Economic Affairs (above) is an example of the civil war on the right – two IEA wonks Ryan Bourne and Diego Zuluaga are on opposite sides of the argument, Douglas Carswell and former Tory MEP John Stevens are bolstering the wonks.[…] Read the rest

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