China’s rise – delayed again

The unstoppable march of China continues, according to Insider.com (and in turn according to Chinese scientists).  China’s latest satellite can take pictures at a resolution which eludes US satellites. 

Subtext: start learning Mandarin – now!

But you might be better employed seeking out stuff like the latest from George Magnus, a quirky former financier, writing in the Guardian – no less.

Continue reading “China’s rise – delayed again”

Transitory inflation retires but does not recede

His reappointment as conductor of the world’s monetary orchestra safely in the bag, US Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell let us know that the current bout of “transitory” inflation was a little more than that.

“It is probably a good time to retire that word”, he told the world.

As euphemisms go, it may not acquire the notoriety of the Nixon White House’s description of a previous statement as “inoperative”.

Continue reading “Transitory inflation retires but does not recede”

South Korea as the global exemplar? Think about it

Self criticism is a Good Thing.  It’s usually kinder than the external version, and you get a chance to revise your argument.

So what to make of the mea culpa in the Financial Times from Jim O’Neill – the man self-credited with coining the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) acronym back in 2001.  Does he succeed in his mea recta?

Back then he argued that:

“since these countries were likely to continue their striking gross domestic product growth over the next decade, we urgently needed them to play a bigger role in global governance.”

Continue reading “South Korea as the global exemplar? Think about it”

Global blues for good government

As the National party wrangles over Judith Collins’ replacement, they might take a crumb of comfort from the fact that a few of their corresponding centre-right political parties are also living dangerously.

Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Conservatives is being savaged by colleagues as Britain’s living standards sag (and poll ratings with it).  But at least he is in office, with a healthy parliamentary majority.

Continue reading “Global blues for good government”

Maybe Judith Curry will be more famous than Greta Thunberg …

Now, a substantive contribution to the post-COP26 debate.

Ted Nordhaus is the nephew of Nobel prize winner William Nordhaus (who got his “for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”).  But it’s fair to say they don’t agree on everything.

You wonder what uncle might think about his surprisingly angry but nonetheless coolly rational attack on ‘big climate’ in the Economist.

Continue reading “Maybe Judith Curry will be more famous than Greta Thunberg …”

Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Which, with baroque variations, is the story from the UK domestic energy market.

As we’ve reported before, the market is suffering from the unfortunate conjunction of soaring input prices and a populist price cap.  As suppliers collapse into the consumer-funded government safety net, the regulator is thrashing around trying to cobble together a fix which might avoid prices rising to their true level too fast, without offending voters or damaging long-term supply.

Continue reading “Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same”

Boris’s budget tests limits to destruction

Gosh, politics is a rum game.  Britain’s PM, Boris Johnson, took some big risks and triumphantly shattered Britain’s political status quo during the Brexit turmoil.  But last week’s budget statement set the country’s economic parameters in anything but a Thatcherite way.

The difficulty is less in the government’s post-Covid financial tidying up, and more in its approach to long-term problems.  And these look like they might become more urgent – and sooner.

Continue reading “Boris’s budget tests limits to destruction”

Government ‘in control’.  For how long?

The first year of Covid rattled confidence in governments round the globe. The 2021 energy price surge is exposing a swathe of vainglory and folly in policymaking.

Yet looking back over the last fifteen years or so, it seems remarkable how ‘hands on’ government has confounded its critics.  Global financial panic, Eurozone debt crisis, Brexit ructions, Covid pandemic – in each case the gloomsters were largely confounded.  

Worst case scenarios did not materialise. A handful of decisive policy steps and a great deal of ad hoc tinkering have seen living standards, jobs and house prices protected.

Continue reading “Government ‘in control’.  For how long?”