Monthly Archives: January 2017

NOW TIME TO COME CLEAN MR XI –

THE COMMUNIST CHAMPION OF GLOBALISATION AND OPEN MARKETS !

XI Jinping, the dour Communist Party tyrant, who now imposes his will arbitrarily on 1.3 billion Chinese, supported by the other political thugs in the Politburo, graced the World Economic Forum with his presence last week in Switzerland.

Was it a reward for Xi’s further clampdown on dissent in China, and even greater tightening of internet controls, that the IMF accepted the Yuan (or Renminbi) as a main world reserve currency? Apart from internationalising China’s currency, it helped to further the Asian giant’s global dominance in world trade.

However, the Trump threat of substantial import tariffs and a resulting trade war aside, analysts continue to be worried about the real state of the Chinese economy and think that the country is in big trouble. There can be little doubt that the other so-called ‘world’s business and political elite’, with their snouts in the same big money trough at Davos, were given very little opportunity for critical face to face questions with Xi; a pity.

Many believe that China’s GDP figures, and books, are cooked! The ‘consistent’ yearly GDP growth rate of around 7% is increasingly regarded by some with total scepticism. They think that overstating growth is so embedded in the system that useful information on the economy is no longer being provided.

China’s banks are over-burdened with low quality debt. They extended USD1.8 trillion in loans in 2016 as the government encouraged more credit-fuelled stimulus to meet economic growth targets. The explosive hike in debt has to be a major concern. 

Overall debt is comparable to other developed economies, but corporate debt at 169% of GDP is regarded as far too high. Furthermore, the overheated housing market, which has depended for so long on easy government money, is well overdue to explode. The effect of that on the slowing economy can only be imagined.

We are told that the long-term plan is to re-structure away from investment-intensive industry towards new ‘growth engines’ in services and technology, but there still seems to be a marked inclination to persist with major infrastructure projects ie roads, railways and airports. Many of these are unnecessary and located in sparsely populated areas. They will of course initially produce more GDP growth but the unproductive investment underpinning GDP targets remains a major problem. 

The sombre President Xi must also front the 5-yearly Communist Party Congress due to be held this Autumn, and convince the other Party bosses by then that his reforms are working. A few changes near the top may not be out of the question.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for those former British Chinese citizens still resident in Hong Kong. Their status as UK subjects was ended by our political elite and so conveniently ‘transferred’ in 1997 to end their days under the current communist dictatorship. Many of them had fled to Hong Kong from communist oppression in China years before. Shame on the British government of the time for not striking a better deal for them. These great Chinese people were among the most hard-working and enterprising anywhere. They are owed much.

NOW FOR A BIT MORE LIGHT –

THE UK TO LEAVE THE SINGLE MARKET AND CUSTOMS UNION –

We hope!

The media and the rest of the chattering classes are all geared up for Theresa May’s big speech tomorrow in which more definitive information on the Government’s Brexit strategy is expected.

The problem of uncontrolled migration from EU countries into the UK was a key factor in the Referendum outcome last June. If the result is to be respected, it follows that the UK must leave the single market and also the customs union. The only way we could stay in both is if we were allowed full and continued access to EU markets on the same terms as we now enjoy, but without being shackled by the freedom of movement requirement, and without the imposition of tariffs. This is the position for which our negotiators should aim. Would the EU countries not benefit from a similar future reciprocal trading situation with the UK, ie an ‘open’ relationship?

Obviously, British markets will remain vital to other EU countries. We should therefore be confident in our attitude to the negotiations to access and operate within the single market, without the freedom of movement and any other conditions. If the EU proves to be obstructive or unreasonable in the negotiations, and all things considered one cannot see why they would want to be, we should waste no time in giving Brussels notice of our intention to leave the EU at a time advantageous to us. Future trade would then be conducted under WTO rules.

Following the PM’s recent comments, it appears that leaving the single market may well be the direction of travel. It would be far from the end of the world. No trade agreement exists between the UK and the USA, for example, yet they are our largest single export market. Free trade deals with other countries facilitate and help to expand existing trading bonds. These ties have been continued by successive generations of British entrepreneurs on a foundation built by their predecessors over many centuries. Our business men and women are the real deal-makers.

With goodwill on both sides, we can retain our current strong trade links with Europe. But we must also re-establish serious trading links with other non-EU countries, unhindered by unacceptable conditions imposed by Brussels. If necessary, and as a matter of priority, the Government must be prepared to introduce radical new measures to make the UK an even more attractive place to do business. Here, inter alia, I refer to significant changes to existing tax and investment rules. In other words, we would change the UK economic model to make us seriously more competitive.

I’m sure Mrs May will not disappoint! 

THE PROSPECT OF A SECOND INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM 

HAS MS STURGEON LOST IT?
Although a competent enough and shrewd politician in the past, it seems that the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, is becoming increasingly politically desperate and painting herself into a corner from which she is unlikely to be rescued unscathed. Of course, when you’re at the top of the heap, there’s usually only one way to go after that, and its not higher.

Instead of getting down to the serious business of trying to reunite Scots in the face of the country’s many serious economic problems, the First Minister has done little since the Brexit referendum in June last year, but indulge in non-stop spinning because of the Brexit decision, and frequently threaten us all with the prospect of yet another Indyref which we would all welcome like a hole in the head, except for her most ardent hard-core supporters.

Her latest diatribe came this week when she warned us all that she ‘wasn’t bluffing’ about holding another referendum. She then said that one would not be held this year. The SNP former leader, Alex Salmond, has predicted that a 2nd referendum would be held next year. The former SNP Justice Secretary, Kenny Macaskill, a powerful SNP figure, has just said that the economy now is worse than it was in 2014 when the last referendum was held, and lost by the Yes campaign. He points out that circumstances for another vote are both less favourable and more complicated than during the failed referendum in 2014. 

It should be noted that Ms Sturgeon said she would respect that result. Why doesn’t she? And by the way, who gave her the power to call another referendum?

The respected Recruitment and Employment Confederation – ‘Jobs transform lives’ – has just reported a fall in the number of Scots finding permanent work and that the Scottish economy is underperforming the rest of the UK. While the Brexit vote has had a UK-wide effect on confidence, Scotland has double the uncertainty with the prospect of a 2nd Indyref constantly being threatened.

Obviously, the SNP strategy for growth is not working, and the Scottish budget deficit is now approaching 10% of GDP. Instead of getting down to tackling the serious underlying problems in the Scottish economy, and they now have sufficient legislative powers to do this, the SNP continue to live in their own magical fantasy la la land, still stubbornly cherishing the impossible dream of becoming an independent country within the EU.

Its important to get back to basics. Ms Sturgeon and her SNP wonks must have forgotten that the Scottish budget deficit of some 14.8 billion sterling is the worst of any nation in Europe including Greece. With a deficit level comparable with GDP of 9.5%, this is more than twice the rate of the rest of the UK. Now, unless things have changed dramatically since I last looked, to be a member of the EU you should have a budget deficit of no more than 3% of GDP. We all know that this can be fudged, manipulated, or whatever, but to the degree required in Scotland’s case?

There is also the little problem of Catalonia. Who could doubt that Spain would be determined to vote against Scottish membership, or is this just a minor detail to Ms Sturgeon and her SNP cronies?

So Ms Sturgeon, to qualify for EU membership as an independent nation, would you be prepared to cut your Government’s spending by 10% of GDP – or make all of us living in Scotland pay 20% more in tax?

Dream on!

Goodbye to 2016

GOODBYE TO 2016 and here to just one of the many people making decisions vital to our well-being who continued to disappoint.

Thankfully, we will only have to put up with Barack Hussein Obama ll for the next two weeks. Arguably, the most disappointing leader of the USA in modern times, to almost the very end, he was reaching out to adversaries and alienating long-standing allies. His great failures as President obviously have yet to be fully assessed, but surely Obama’s passivity in the face of the 400,000 deaths in Syria, the wanton destruction of entire cities by the ruthless dictator Assad, the use of barrel bombs, sarin gas and chlorine gas against the civilian population, and countless other atrocities against ordinary men, women and children, must raise questions on his role in the Syrian conflict, and for the consequences to the future global influence of the United States. 

By his inaction, Obama has effectively allowed the tyrants now running Russia, Turkey and Iran to circumvent the interests and influence of the Western allies, and impose a solution on the Syrian people. The USA and even the United Nations have been excluded, the latter again proving to be throughout this major crisis a useless talking shop, good only for the high-salaried, chattering classes who comprise its benches. 

Obama proved time and again that he was either incapable of appreciating, or contemptuous towards, the concept of geostrategic thinking in foreign policy. In turn, his apparent lack of forward thinking on Syria had the most serious repercussions for many European nations, and greatly exacerbated their problems in struggling to assimilate Muslim arrivals from the Middle East/Africa, most of whom arrived on our European shores with totally alien cultural values. 

Furthermore, President Obama will be judged far from favourably by his failure to revive any kind of peace initiative between Israel and Palestine, the extremely controversial Iran nuclear deal, the failure of his policies in Asia, the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the ineffectual manner in which he sought to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Some may point to Obamacare as a signal domestic achievement in Obama’s presidency. This measure provided some 44 million Americans, or 16% of the population, with basic Medicare previously denied to them for a variety of reasons. At the end of 2015, the percentage of the population without adequate medical insurance cover had been reduced to around 10%. Regardless of the fact that this statistic alone amounts to nothing less than a disgrace for the richest nation in the world, the Act governing Obamacare looks very likely to be repealed with Trump’s arrival at the White House, supported by Republican majorities in both Houses.

During his watch,  Obama oversaw a huge reduction in the influence and status of the United States in the world, with the direct result that all of us now live in a far more dangerous place. Both Russia and China now strut the world stage with a hugely greater expansionist appetite than at any time since the days of Kruschev and his Cuban misadventure. 

And what of relations, always too easily combustible, between the white and black communities in the USA after eight years of Obama? I leave you to answer that one.

Some legacy!