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The Finance Bill 2013 – How to promote special interest lobbying


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Yesterday, I spoke against Clause 35 and schedules 15 to 17 of the Finance Bill 2013. They introduce tax relief for “high-end” television production (that is, posh drama and comedy) and video games development. They’re industries I’d like to see flourish but not by granting special privileges. It’s special privilege which is the most egregious objective of lobbying: it represents a subsidy for a preferred group at everyone else’s expense. I began by provoking laughter, for this kind of measure deserves to be […]

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Book review: Ouch! Ignorance is bliss, except when it hurts…


Once I saw George Selgin referenced on page 7, the paper dollar criticised on page 8 and a Zim$100 trillion note on page 12, I knew I would enjoy Ouch!: Ignorance is Bliss, Except when It Hurts- What You Don’t Know About Money and Why It Matters (More Than You Think). It’s a wonderful read. From the jacket: We live in a world dominated by a system that most of us aren’t aware of, never mind understand. When it comes […]

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Margaret Thatcher nationalised regulation of the City


For City AM, Prof Philip Booth writes, Thatcher changed the City forever but Big Bang isn’t the whole story: Let’s be absolutely clear: in general, the 1980s was not a period of financial deregulation. Insider trading was made illegal in 1980. The life insurance industry, which had been almost free of regulation for over 100 years from 1870, was re-regulated from 1980 to 1982. Bank deposit insurance was introduced in 1979. The sale of investment and insurance products came under […]

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New directory for small business finance


A new source of help for small and medium enterprises across the country was introduced yesterday when Treasury Minister Lord Sassoon launched a comprehensive on-line directory of finance companies providing alternatives to conventional bank loans or overdrafts. Businesses may need finance for a variety of reasons, including short-term cash flow or working capital, asset purchases, business development, the purchase of stock, and the financing of imports or exports.  Research shows that most small businesses have some awareness of the types of commercial […]

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Accessible and insightful fiscal analysis with Ray Stevens


American musician Ray Stevens has produced this superb analysis of the Obama Budget Plan: I’m sure Ray has much to teach politicians and the public in the UK and Europe too, particularly about ethics and decency in the public finances. For more on that subject, see Jörg Guido Hülsmann’s brilliant book The Ethics of Money Production (PDF) and these sovereign debt projections from the Bank for International Settlements.

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Vampire squid state capitalism – a debate on the Private Finance Initiative


My colleague Jesse Norman MP has done some fantastic work towards obtaining rebates on exorbitant private finance initiative (PFI) contracts. See for example his article It is time to derail the PFI gravy train. To that end, yesterday we held a lengthy debate in Westminster Hall which you can find here. PFI really matters to Wycombe and Buckinghamshire, where long, expensive hospital contracts have become fixed points in the local health system. A sensible, negotiated rebate would help NHS staff deliver more. My […]

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Inflation Must End in a Slump – Mises Institute


It was briefly fashionable to admit that interest rates were too low for too long, leading to a boom built on expansionist monetary policy. Unfortunately (related link my own): Economic theory has demonstrated in an irrefutable way that a prosperity created by an expansionist monetary and credit policy is illusory and must end in a slump, an economic crisis. It has happened again and again in the past, and it will happen in the future, too. If one wants to […]

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Financial regulation and the deception of government intervention » The Cobden Centre


I have written today on financial regulation for The Cobden Centre: In the aftermath of the financial crisis, we are now going down a road towards ‘judgement-based’ regulation of financial firms in an attempt to salvage capitalism. It is proposed that firms will be supervised by what amount to shadow management teams of disinterested, public-spirited individuals more able to reach sound views than firms’ own management teams: they shall possess “the optimal experience and technical ability”. Quite where these mythical philosopher […]

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Eurozone Financial Assistance – so much for Parliament asserting itself?


As you can see on today’s order paper, Mark Reckless MP has courageously brought forward the following motion, which I have signed (emphasis mine): EUROZONE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE That this House notes with concern that UK taxpayers are potentially being made liable for bail-outs of Eurozone countries when the UK opted to remain outside the Euro and, despite agreement in May 2010 that the EU-wide European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) of €60 billion would represent only 12 per cent. of the […]

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A Bill to expose banks’ false profits, overstated capital and hidden losses


My Financial Services (Regulation of Derivatives) Bill has now been printed, ready for second reading on 10 June. You can obtain the PDF here and track the Bill’s progress here. The press release, including links to background evidence and press coverage, is here. When I introduced my Bill on 15 March, I explained how the accounting rules for banks incentivize trading in derivatives by enabling unrealized profits to be booked up-front, leading to large but unjustified bonuses and dividends. On 30th March, […]

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