Sunday, 29 November 2020

Mis-selling Brexit

The British Parliament has finally had the chance to scrutinise the new UK-Japan trade deal that has been trumpeted for so long by Brexidiot Truss. Unsurprisingly, two committees found that the difference between the new deal and the terms available to the UK under the EU-Japan deal are not as extensive as the Secretary of State for International Trade had claimed. An opposition MP found that the government's own figures show the UK will be worse off than under EU terms.

The House of Commons International Trade Committee, did find some extra items on digital services and data (precedent-setting for future agreements) and financial services (including a ban on the need to store financial data in the host country).

The House of Lords International Agreements Sub-Committee pointed out that "exaggerating the gains ... courts unjustified scepticism about what is a respectable ... agreement". 

UK-Japan deal also depends on a trade agreement between the UK and the EU because, for example, "to secure existing trilateral trade flows between the EU, UK and Japan, the UK and EU would need to extend cumulation to Japan through their own trade agreement". 

The Committees want more effective scrutiny of future free trade agreements that are not based on existing EU arrangements, which are likely to be more controversial. 

Meanwhile, Emily Thornberry revealed the results of Opposition efforts to get to the bottom of the economic value of the UK-Japan deal relative to the UK's terms under the EU- Japan deal:


Saturday, 7 November 2020

Lipstick On A Pig: The Decade

The ten years since the first book rose from this bog blog have certainly demonstrated that bailing out the banks fails to change their behaviour and  'people power' is on the rise. Yet 'success' remains elusive, as does any clear sign of a winner in the war between 'intelligent practice' and 'uninformed, stupid practice'. 52% of Brits voted to leave the world's largest trade bloc, and nearly as many Americans just voted for a toxic Donald Trump as voted against him. Maybe we humans just love putting lipstick on pigs?

The successful 'facilitators' of 2011 have indeed become the 'institutions' of 2020, as the US Congress seeks to break their respective monopolies. And political parties have indeed proved to be more concerned with solving their own problems than those of their voters or society.

Individual narratives have begun to subvert the top-down institutional narrative - reality TV and the social media have catapulted lone footballers and 16 year old environmental activists to stardom, while enabling grifters to earn fortunes as social media 'influencers' and even to assume the highest office in their land.

Innovation has continued apace, and it's nice to see that the UK 'crowdfunding' market of 2020 has grown to a record £6.26bn, while the rest of the European has doubled in the same period to over €6.6bn. And this innovation did not 'kill' any other form of finance, as some feared (or hoped). The new and the old co-exist. Even cheques have not died out, while cryptocurrencies have boomed.

And our defences against disaster indeed weakened to the point where we were not ready for myriad floods, fires, global warming or the latest pandemic and its accompanying economic depression.

Financial regulation has flexed belatedly to address crowdfunding and more recently cryptoassets, but continues to lag too far behind ever more rapid developments and to protect regulated institutions at customers' expense.

On balance, greed and stupidity are still winning. Scepticism is applied just as often to hard facts as it is to political delusions or financial scams. Snake-oil vendors have done a roaring trade.

The working title of the next book evolved from "The Personal State" to "You: the war for control of your data and the money that flows from it." The abuse of personal data and artificial intelligence (not to mention encrypted messaging and distributed ledger technology) felt like the source of more bubble-and-crash. But that project stalled in 2015 due to workload and for some reason I lost all appetite for it in 2016... Most posts since then have examined developments in the Brexit farce, the bulk of which inspire nothing more than sarcastic dismissal on Twitter rather than anything approaching thoughtful examination. 


It turns out that the direct action of 'people power' merely results in culture wars - including those of the armed variety. We humans just love putting lipstick on pigs...

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