June 19, 2012
As the Greek economic tragedy reaches yet another climax, it remains fashionable from these shores to decry the Eurozone for its schizophrenic lurching between hapless inaction and spurts of frenetic, if misguided, activism. However, with this critique in mind, it might also be wise to examine carefully what is happening closer to home. For so long as global financial markets remain flooded with cheap money, courtesy of government underwritten bailouts, then political consideration will continue to outweigh sound economics. Conservatives are right to dismiss the Opposition claim that the UK economy...
May 18, 2012
Sarkozy is history, the Greeks are in paralysis, the Coalition has for the first time experienced mid-term electoral blues (just wait until May 2013 and 2014). This month has already been one of savage reprimand at the polls in Europe. Yet rather than a definitive judgement on the benefits or otherwise of austerity, I suspect electorates continent-wide are issuing a plague on all our houses...
May 9, 2012
Mark was asked by City AM to comment on the impact of Francois Hollande's election as French President on the City of London. His views were published in today's paper: Francois Hollande’s victory at the weekend by a majority only slightly larger than Boris Johnson’s over Ken Livingstone scarcely provides him with a convincing mandate for radical change. Constrained by a lack of executive experience and the watchful eye of the international markets, I suspect Hollande will follow in the footsteps of his Socialist predecessor, Francois Mitterand, who was elected on a radical platform which he was soon forced to water down ....
May 4, 2012
Hot on the heels of the controversy at Barclay’s Bank’s AGM last week comes news of a major revolt at Aviva where nearly 60% of shareholders refused to back boardroom pay deals after a 30% fall in the price of the insurer's shares. This surely the first of many high profile shows of shareholder strength. The abiding lesson here is that any AGM vote to overturn a Remuneration Committee recommendation must be binding. Like most Conservative MPs, only a few years ago I cannot imagine that I would have been open minded to the notion of government interference in the remuneration...
April 18, 2012
The following article by Mark was published in this morning's City AM: FEW readers of City A.M. may have lost sleep over the chancellor’s decision in the recent Budget to impose a 15 per cent stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on acquisitions of homes costing over £2m by “non-natural persons”. After all, why shouldn’t we clamp down on the purchase of residential properties through companies, collective investment schemes and the like – isn’t this just the tax-dodging mechanism of choice for super rich non-doms hoovering up British homes?
March 21, 2012
After three years of hard work and tireless campaigning, especially from Animation UK’s Oli Hyatt, I am delighted that the Chancellor has announced today the government's intention to introduce a tax credit for the UK’s animation industry. Finally, we have the level playing field our creative industries deserve. Combined with our animators’ flair and talent, this fantastic boost will help keep some of our favourite characters animated on these shores. As the Chancellor has declared...
March 19, 2012
"Maybe something will turn up."
One of the classic stratagems of last resort in politics - and indeed for life in general.
I suspect Chancellor George Osborne’s tactical handling of the UK economy owes rather more than he might willingly admit to the Mr Micawber principle. After all, waiting for something to turn up is not always the ill-advised course of action. The accretion of time often does alleviate, and sometimes even solves, what seems an intractably difficult situation.
The fragile state of our domestic economy at the time of the 2010 General Election and the indeterminate election result meant that a mandate to take radical action on the economy was neither sought nor won by any political party.
March 8, 2012
There is not much that unites Eurozone politicians and the financial markets. But it is undeniably the case that neither trusts the Greek government or its people to stick to their latest bailout deal. This matters because the real impact of the ongoing Eurozone saga is that the opportunity to erect a firewall around the Greek economy is fast fading. Contagion, which by rights should be a pure matter of economics, has now become a product of political interference. When – and it really is no longer ‘if’ – Greece eventually defaults on its debts...
March 5, 2012
Conservatives instinctively believe in lower taxes. We believe that individuals are better able to judge where their money should be spent than the State. We support choice and economic freedom. It came as something of a disappointment, therefore, last week to read virtually daily pre-Budget stories concerning proposals to raise taxes. Indeed this has been made worse still by recent careful coalition choreography from Downing Street allowing the Liberal Democrats to showcase themselves as promoters of tax cuts for the less well-off. As it happens, I am not convinced that a programme of personal tax cuts at the forthcoming Budget would produce...
February 25, 2012
As we have all learned from the graveyard of failed forecasts, economics is an unerringly inaccurate as well as a dismal science, inextricably bound to the whims of irrational human behaviour. All too frequently it follows that economies develop haphazardly and tend to reflect a nation’s collective ability (or otherwise) to innovate and provide conditions in which the experience and aspiration of its people can flourish. One of capitalism’s enormous strengths is its accommodation of human nature by the creation of broadly stable environments that liberate and incentivise people to pursue new ideas whilst casting aside defunct thinking....