Saturday, March 23, 2013

Listen In

For all those readers lucky enough to have had a sleep in this Saturday morning, here is the link to the BBC Radio Kent interview on the plans for a Tesco in Westgate and the local opposition to it.

You need to start it at 1h: 11 mins (which is 7:11am) and you can hear, Tesco, Ted Wolf and me, adding opinions into the debate.

The sudden snow this morning came as a bit of a shock but I was relieved it didn't happen yesterday, as I had to drive to a conference at a hotel near Farnborough. It took me three and a half hours to return home after I was finished and I'm almost forced to conclude, that these days, it's impossible to travel any distance without somebody causing an incident or a 'stupidty' on the motorway, which leads to delays and traffic chaos.

The presentation was to the managers of a multi-billion investment fund and I had had been asked to discuss what I saw as the most significant downstream technologies, that they might need to think about from an investment perspective and the impact of these technologies on nations like our own in the global economy.



All this rather gelled today, listening to Ed Milliband speaking at the Labour spring conference. I was somehow reminded of the Robin Williams film, 'Man of the Year' in which a comedian, decides to run for President. Why? Because there are no simple answers and probably not within my lifetime.

If politicians of all parties followed the example of Robin Williams, then they might collectively experiment with telling the truth but that's normally a very bad idea, because where the economy is concerned and with the example of Cyprus in front of us, it's not a great way of attracting votes.

If you were to talk to investment fund managers handling £billions of pounds they might see things very differently to the kind of rhetoric delivered by Mr Miliband today.

Fact #1 is that we are drowning in debt (£120 billion budget deficit) much like the average household with a large mortgage and with a £50,000 credit card bill to service. The generous welfare state we grew up with, is now simply unaffordable in its present form.

Fact #2 The engine of our economy is no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century global economy, as the world's centre of economic gravity slides inexorably towards Beijing.

Fact #3 You can promise jobs but rapid automation and increasingly intelligent machines, means that a larger and larger proportion of the workforce are no longer required and at the lower end of the skills market, the over-supply of cheaper migrant labour will depress wages further. As a example, South Africa will, in the next decade, automate 30% of its mining workforce out of employment and much like the Luddite revolt of 1812, you can already see the unrest starting to ripple across their society.

Every economic indicator that exists here in Europe, tells us what is going on but it would be a very brave national politician who could stand-up and admit it publicly.

Presently, the only game in town is to try slash the size of the public sector and reduce the debt as rapidly as possible in order to keep interest rates low. Stimulate business as much as possible with low taxes and attempt to create an environment that attracts new manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing and new industries, such as robotics, to our shores rather than Germany or France.

However, regardless of the small successes along the way, at home, we are in for a very hard landing which will demand considerable psychological adjustment at a national level. It will take at least another twenty years to re-purpose our economy and our workforce to meet the demands of a very different world. One, where China is busily creating an intellectually- property-based manufacturing and service economy to undercut and out-maneuver Europe and the United States.

Ed Miliband has to promise his supporters and the trades unions jobs and welfare and new homes and all those other good things that we have all come to expect but the harsh reality of the numbers, is that he knows he has absolutely no way of delivering any of this without a revitalised economy and consumer-spending to match.

Labour's answer last time was to mortgage our future through PPI and create a huge public sector, which created nothing and led the way to the debt and the pensions obligations which surround us to today. What we need is a thriving service and manufacturing economy but servicing who and making what? Those are really the questions that politicians, who speak in a mixture of promises and platitudes, regardless of party need to answer.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a good handle on what is going on in our economy, most Conservative MPs appear to realise it, John Redwood is one example, and there are many more, and there are even a few Labour back benchers too who can articulate the problems we face. Why then do we see the likes of Miliband and Balls jeering and making fun of George Osborne's efforts? He must have the worst job in the government. I thought Miliband's response to the budget totally irresponsible,with the grinning faces behind him hanging on every word and lame joke, he even mentioned railway journeys and George Osborne's seating problem. And as for Balls, his budget speech at the start of the debate was better suited to an end of pier comedian on a wet monday afternoon. To quote George Osborne from a sedentary position, "Pathetic".

Anonymous said...

Yes Simon. Deja vu. Just what the Kent NUM was saying in 70s and 80s.

Snowdown Colliery had 29 adult tradesmen attending day release studies (some entirely at their own expense) and had the expertise in place to absorb robotics, upgraded telemetry etc.

Meanwhile, more in accord with the postwar madness, Hilderstone was running courses called "New Horizons for the Unamployed". Teaching "Inter and Intra personal skills". Horizon shifting activity including playing charades and trying out creative writing.

A six month course, very costly to public purse, leading straight back to dole. Then another lot of benefits people would keep Hilderstone in public funded dummy activity.

Just one local example of public sector parasitism fiddling while Rome smoulders.

And that sort of crass head in the sand stupidity was endemic in UK for decades.

There will be a hard landing but cushioned for the public sector parasites (like the soft option lecturers) who have over generous public sector pensions.

Still all Thanet needs is an ice rink and an Olympic swimming pool. Why can't you see that. Stump up the cash ??

Anonymous said...

Of interest to you, Simon, may be that BBC is trying to recruit a private landlord or two, to make a documentary about benefits tenants from hell.

I hope they include that the benefits tenants have already worked out how to outwit IDS migration to Universal Credit. By changing their claims to be first in the queue to migrate. Thus getting paid their benefits rent money into their pockets, instead of direct to landlord, council or housing assn.

In the pilot areas rent arrears are, of course, rocketing.

Some landlords are suggesting UK must follow Australia and make rent arrears evictions quick and a police duty.

But the numbers of private landlords doing the negative equity trend and negative cash flow forecast may opt to return keys to lenders.

I suppose that would hit national economic importance at about 100,000 BTLs. Roughly speaking a mandatory repair liability and negative equity sum together equating to about 3.5 billion pounds. And a default sum of perhaps 10 billion.

Rent receiver costs 5 million (or more).

And nil cash flow against liability.

If lenders go for possession and auction look for an impact on housing market.

And 100,000 tenants from hell jumping the queue for social housing.

In tackling the benefits situation IDS is embracing the fallacy that, in a modern automated industry world, there can be work for all.

Perhaps time to set up state run "New horizons for the permanently unemployed" courses.

"News at six reporting from Margate. Tracey what was your experience ?"

"Well I had to go to New Horizons every day. I got so sick of playing charades and creative writing and inter and intra personal skills I got out of it in the end"

"How did you do that Tracey from Margate"

"Gotta job as a cleaner didn't I ?"

Anonymous said...

If you are opposed to Tesco at Westgate-on-Sea please resubmit your objections at http://www.ukplanning.com/ … Click Search Applications (Thanet District Council) quoting application number F/TH/12/0769, click Comment On Application and register your Objection online.

OR Post to: Planning department, Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XZ

Simon Moores said...

An e-petition has been submitted to the Council 'for approval', the wording of which is:

"Contrary to the statements made and published by the Council's Planning Department in recommending approval for this scheme, it does not comply with Policies TC1 and TC8 of the Thanet Local Plan 2006. There is no demonstrated 'need' for the store, nor is there any credible assessment of the development's impact on the local area, both of which are required under Policy TC1. Neither does it comply with Policy TC8, which requires a demonstration of need, and a demonstration that the proposed store would widen the choice, range or quality of shopping facilities available. Furthermore, the proposal does not comply with the Council's own Local Plan guidance at paras 4.87 and 4.88."

Anonymous said...

Couldn't they just build the development that already has planning consent and combine them ? Combined these are similar to the footprint of the proposed Tesco.

Why did the last scheme comply with the policy ? moreover wouldn't the previous development offer a similar impact if not worse as they do not have any further provision for servicing ?? would be interested to hear your views on these points.